I don’t usually give colloborative pianists headline billing but last night’s packed Koerner Hall recital certainly had an element of “They came for Ms. von Otter but stayed for Ms. Hewitt”. Hewitt was phenomenal in a program that interspersed solo piano pieces with sets of songs. In the songs she was simultaneously an individual voice and supportive of her colleague while the solo piano pieces were breathtaking; elegant Scubert and Brahms before the interval, staggeringly virtuosic Chabrier after. She’s also fascinating to watch. Continue reading
Chabrier’s one act opera Une Éducation Manquée has possibly the most implausible plot in all of opera. It concerns a young aristocratic French couple on their wedding night. The whole plot turns on them having no idea what they are supposed to do. Not only are they French but they rejoice in the names of Gontran de Boismassif and Hélène de la Cerisaie. Titter ye not! Fortunately it only takes them 47 minutes to figure things out because a Wagner work on this theme would be quite intolerable. I’m not sure why anybody would bother with this piece of fluff but it made it onto DVD in a performance recorded in Compiègne in 1994. It’s probably the most amusing thing out of there since someone faked up a video of Hitler dancing in front of a train carriage. Which isn’t saying a lot.
Yesterday afternoon saw the final concert of the season for Off Centre Music Salon; the concert series organised by Boris Zarankin and Inna Perkis at the Glenn Gould Studio. This one, as the title suggests, celebrating philanthropy in music by putting together a concert of works by composers who were supported by patrons. It was very much salon style with many short sets by various combinations of performers. There was some instrumental music; an impressive performance of Khachaturian’s Toccata in E flat minor by twelve year old William Leathers, reprised later on accordion by Michael Bridge. Jacques Israelievitch and Boris Zarankin collaborated on a bravura rendition of Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne and Zarankin and Perkis gave their traditional one piano/four hands performance, this time an arrangement of Beethoven’s Egmont overture, which was received with enthusiasm.