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Cremona Musica’s 2021 Edition

The annual music exhibition Cremona Musica opened up again after its digital 2020 edition. A rich program utilizing the new worldwide digital reality to enhance the experience of the physical event. Clearly, the pandemic has not only led to thriving business for traditional instrument makers but also increased the music world’s knowledge about technological solutions and its products. A “Remote in-sync concert”, a recital presented partly live and on video, roundtables with remotely participating speakers and a Disclavier composers contest with the composer on screen in front of a live jury are examples of Cremona Musica’s new creative measures.

The 2021 edition of Cremona Musica set a firm base for the future and marked an important take-off momentum from the various realities of the worldwide Covid-19 period. Moving ahead from the forced 2020 but excellently produced and innovative 2020 digital version, people could now – under precautions and smooth handling – get together again physically enjoying a rich and varied program of concerts, lectures, manufacturers exhibits, round-table discussions, project presentations and prize ceremonies, along with lovely touristic venues in ever beautiful late summer Cremona. The increased worldwide interest in the piano as an instrument during Covid-19, resulted in a massive representation of piano manufacturers and brands, including concert series with outstanding Italian and international performers presented.

Piano Experience – with eyes on hybrid solutions

Cremona Musica’s piano section Piano Experience was created and developed in response to instrument makers, distributors, buyers and musicians, as a meeting point to exchange ideas and thus develop new business and forums for discussion and development. It is now the only exhibition in Europe dedicated to pianos and keyboards. Visitors have a chance to try out a vast selection of high quality instruments, and in cooperation with the exhibitors a large number of musical performances are offered with Italian and international artists. The ”new” digital reality was clearly represented with screen presentations, presenters’ participation and a remotely synced performance. This year and on the occasion of the 18th International Piano Competition in Warsaw, pianists Aristo Sham, Alexander Gadjiev and Leonardo Pierdomenico performed parts of their competition repertoire at the Fazioli Piano Festival to the joy of the audiences.

The Media Lounge of Cremona Musica: still alive and kicking

The International Media Lounge in which Piano Street is a member, hosts 31 Italian and foreign journalists, representing both specialized and general outlets. These journalists, writers, disseminators, covering Cremona Musica, guarantees an international media coverage for artists and exhibitors, and will also be protagonists of two round-tables, to talk about the present and future of music. The topics are of current common interest: ”New formats and perceptive processes in classical concerts”, ”Live streaming and online music platforms: new perspectives and opportunities” and ”Hybrid Music Teaching: new perspectives”. All roundtables were streamed on Cremona Musica’s FaceBook channel. Coverage of the whole event is also carried out by Rai – Radiotelevisione Italiana.

Stay tuned for more reports from Cremona. Interviews will follow with, among others; pianists Alexander Gadjiev and Aristo Sham, pianist Roberto Prosseda on his new Morricone CD release and ”Remote in Sync Concert” and its Italian/Swedish software, Fazioli: 40 years anniversary and book release and the Disclavier Composer’s Contest.


New Book: The Piano – A History in 100 Pieces

Pianist Susan Tomes’ praised book “The Piano – A History in 100 Pieces”, charts the development of the piano from the late eighteenth century to the present day. Tomes takes the reader with her on a personal journey through 100 pieces including solo works, chamber music, concertos, and jazz. Her choices include composers such as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Robert Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Gershwin, and Philip Glass. Looking at this history from a modern performer’s perspective, she acknowledges neglected women composers and players including Fanny Mendelssohn, Maria Szymanowska, Clara Schumann, and Amy Beach. Piano Street talked to Susan Tomes about her book.

Piano Street: There is a multitude of different ways how we perceive history. One solid path is to go chronologically through important events and happenings and subsequently conclude what was to evolve from this. Susan, you are an active – and prize winning – pianist and your book has adopted a performer’s view, reading the map through 100 works, beginning in the late 18th century to today. This is a captivating and rich read touching many areas in music. Can you tell us how you chose these particular pieces?

Susan Tomes: When I was commissioned to write the book I realised I had a chance to include some works which might not be chosen by everyone faced with the task of selecting a hundred pieces to represent the timeline of piano music. A musicologist might have their own reasons for choosing works which seemed significant to them, perhaps for structural or historical reasons; a concerto soloist might focus entirely on solo pieces – of which there are so many wonderful examples! But considering that the piano plays such an important role in collaborative music, I wanted to take a broad approach to its repertoire.

I have always loved chamber music, and over the years I have come to feel that some composers have given us their best music in the form of chamber music – duos with other instruments, piano duets, piano trios, piano quartets and quintets. There is a quality of intimacy, of give-and-take, of idealistic conversation in this type of music which holds an enduring fascination. So I included lots of chamber music beside the solo works which one would naturally expect to find. Then I wanted to include jazz, which has produced some outstanding pianists and musical thinkers. Overall, my choice is influenced by my own experience of playing, performing, listening and teaching. I admit it’s a kind of ‘insider’s view’, but I also felt it was a golden opportunity to contribute a performer’s choice to the literature. I had to set aside many pieces which would have been interesting to write about – but I also knew that the discipline of keeping to 100 pieces was important. I didn’t want to overwhelm the reader with a tsunami of information!

PS: The piano, with its unique range and tonal colours, is perhaps the most important tool for any composer. Therefor the piano has been destined to sound, or rather imitate other instruments, not least in orchestral thinking and composition. We can think of the piano as a piano but also as an orchestra. How can we elaborate on repertoire with this fact in mind?

ST: When I practise, and also when I teach, I spend a lot of time thinking about and drawing attention to the tone colours of other instruments which one could imagine being involved in the piece – for example, an inner line which would sound just right on the bassoon, staccato notes for the left hand which remind one of a double bass playing pizzicato, or a high melody which would be marvellous in the hands of a skilled violinist. ‘Orchestrating’ a piano piece can be fun and informative.

Not only orchestral instruments are relevant, of course; the human voice often seems to hover nearby as well. There are many piano pieces which seem to suggest opera scenes, with different lines playing different characters. None of this suggests that I find the piano insufficient on its own! I just find that it enlarges one’s conception of sound, colour and texture to imagine the participation of other instruments or voices. These imaginative exercises do affect the way we play.

I think it works the other way around as well: composing at the piano has influenced the way that composers write for orchestra. There are many symphonies (by Brahms, for example) which transcribe very naturally into piano duets and make one realise that their composers probably thought in terms of the piano – or at least were influenced by the way the hands move on the piano – when writing for orchestra.

PS: You are an active performer. How did you cope during the pandemic and what are your plans now when the music scene is opening up again?

ST: I am in my 60s, so obviously I am surrounded by people who have retired, or are planning to do so. However, I never wanted to retire. When I approached my 60th birthday I looked around and realised that I had quite a few colleagues who, for various reasons, had already been forced to stop playing or performing. And I have some close colleagues who are no longer with us. I have been lucky (touch wood!) : I have not experienced problems with my playing. My appetite for music is as good as ever. I somehow felt that I owed it to ‘the gods’ to continue in my profession as long as I was playing well and enjoying it. After all, pianists are well known for keeping going into their old age!

Then the pandemic arrived and all my concerts were cancelled. Like many musicians, I experienced this as a shock and a loss. I felt as if I had been suddenly flung into deep retirement, a feeling I never wanted to have. At the beginning of lockdown I promised myself that I would keep playing the piano every day, so that whenever the pandemic came to an end I would be ready to play in public. I played each day and was glad I had done so when – a year later – I was invited to do some ‘streaming’ concerts and then some live concerts for small audiences. These occasions have provided points of light in the tunnel.

Most classical musicians worry that the pandemic will have a lasting effect on the arts and their audiences. For example, I have many music-loving friends who have not yet ventured back into the concert hall because they worry about the risk of infection. Yet those who have dared to go to concerts have found live music to be a moving experience. Musicians too have found it quite emotional. We can all benefit from learning to experience live music freshly and feeling its health-giving effect. I believe it is still too soon to predict what will happen to the music scene, but I am sure there will be lots of new ideas about how to bring music into the community so that more people can experience it, try it for themselves, and make it a part of their lives.



Get the book from yale.edu


The 17th ”Chopin and his Europe Festival”

The 17th Chopin and his Europe festival opens in Warsaw this Saturday and traditionally, accomplished musicians from all the world will arrive in the Polish capital: top pianists, virtuosos of all instruments, grand conductors and legendary ensembles. Following the same tradition, we will see and hear performances by winners of the Chopin Competition: both those who have enjoyed their theme for years and those whose great career is only starting.

Hear Eric Lu’s recital on 22 August:

In accordance with its title, the Festival showcases Fryderyk Chopin’s œuvre in the context of ‘his’ Europe, understood in four perspectives: Europe contemporary to him, pre-Chopin Europe, Europe after the great master’s death and, finally, the Europe of our time. For this reason, aside from works by Chopin himself, the repertoire played at the Festival also includes the music that inspired him, works by composers younger than him, and the reception of Chopin’s œuvre in music contemporary to us.
Among the pianistic highlights is a night with Chopin’s both piano concertos interpreted by Nelson Goerner and Orchestre des Champs-Elysees under Philippe Herreweghe, very special chamber concerts by the winner of the Wieniawski Competition, Alena Baeva with Vadym Kholodenko, while winner of the Chopin Competition, Rafał Blechacz, will perform with violinist Bomsori Kim. Moreover, other artists invited to this year’s festival include Benjamin Gosvenor, Alexandre Tharaud, Jos van Immerseel, Alexander Melnikov, Angela Hewitt and Isabelle Faust and such ensembles as the Belcea Quartet and Sinfonia Varsovia.

Of course, the program includes winners and laureates of past Chopin Competitions: Yulianna Avdeeva (the 2010 winner), Rafał Blechacz (the 2005 winner), Janusz Olejniczak (6th Prize, 1970), Kate Liu (3rd Prize, 2015) and Eric Lu (4th Prize, 2015).

The great musical festivity in Warsaw lasts from 14 to 31 August.
Hear and see the festival here:

YouTube livestreams: Chopin and his Europe




The International Chopin Competition in Warsaw – Preliminaries Are On!

The live streamed preliminary round of the 18th Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competition has started. Until 23 July, the Chamber Hall of the Polish National Philharmonic Hall in Warsaw will resound with the music played by 150 young pianists from all over the world.

Who will qualify for the 80 entries in Round 1 this fall? This is certainly a good opportunity to learn who the artists are and see the calendar of the auditions.

The performance of the contestants is assessed by the Preliminary Round Jury composed of 11 eminent pianists and piano teachers: Ludmil Angelov, Philippe Giusiano, Alberto Nosè, Piotr Paleczny, Ewa Pobłocka, Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń, John Rink, Marta Sosińska-Janczewska, Wojciech Świtała, Stefan Wojtas, and Dina Yoffe.

The auditions are held in two daily sessions: the Morning Session starting at 10am and the evening one, starting at 5pm.

Watch the performances here:

Chopin Competition – Preliminary Round – Videos

UPDATE 2021-07-23

87 pianists qualified to the 18th Chopin Competition in Warsaw. The auditions for Round 1 will commence on 3rd October until the 20th. Read more at nifc.pl


“We humans need music” – Martha Argerich at 80 – Ever Totally Irresistible

Noticed everywhere and named one of the greatest pianists of our time, Martha Argerich turned 80 on June 5. When hearing Argerich play, philosopher and musicologist Theodor W Adorno’s words instantly come to mind: “The most difficult should sound easy and effortless, overcoming all obstacles to return to a liberated game.”

To mark the 80th anniversary of the legendary artist, Symphoniker Hamburg presents Martha Argerich Festival 2021 featuring 12 live concerts – live streamed in very high quality video and sound for fans of Martha Argerich around the world.

Martha Argerich Festival 2021 – Livestreamed

DATES: June 20 to July 1, 2021

LOCATION: Great Hall of the Laeiszhalle Hamburg (Germany)

Martha Argerich Festival 2021 presents 12 exclusive concerts featuring world-class artists, including Martha Argerich, Daniel Barenboim, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Maria João Pires, Mischa Maisky, Renaud Capuçon, Gidon Kremer and many other artists.

Festival program >>
Schedule of livestream concerts >>

Did you know?

    • Martha Argerich was born in Buenos Aires and granddaughter of Jewish immigrants, and was taught by Italian-Argentine pianist Vincenzo Scaramuzza, who taught her to sing with her fingers ”like bel canto sopranos like Maria Malibran or Giulia Grisi”.
    • At eight she made her debut in Mozart’s Concerto in D minor KV 466.
    • At fourteen, supported by the government of Juan Perón, she went to study with Friedrich Gulda in Vienna, which was the “greatest inspiration of my career”.
    • In 1960 she made one of the most brilliant debut records ever: The staccatos, the broken chords and the brilliant passages of Chopin’s C sharp minor Scherzo; the repetitions divided between both hands on a note by Prokofiev’s Toccata; the octave thunder of the Sixth Hungarian Rhapsody by Liszt – mastered it in such a way that it was out of this world. The loudest applause came from Vladimir Horowitz, playing jokes on his friends telling them that it was him playing the Toccata…
    • In 1961 she spent time taking instruction with Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli in Piedmont and then stopped playing for a while, working as a secretary, and married the composer Robert Chen from whom she separated shortly before the birth of their daughter.
    • Two other daughters come from the marriages with the conductor Charles Dutoit and the pianist Stephen Kovacevich.

Known of her high demands on herself, Argerich sometimes has expressed wishes for a different profession. At times during her long career Argerich avoided the arena of the large concert halls and played neither concertos nor solo recitals. Instead, she devoted herself to chamber music with friends, among them generously sponsored young musicians, at her festival in Lugano. In the late 1990s she also won the battle against serious cancer.

Further reading and listening

To sum up Martha Argerich’s 60 years as a performer is virtually impossible. Piano Street therefore has selected a number of fine articles containing different aspects of the artist and her long career. These articles also offer video performances and Medici.tv’s film compilation ”80 minutes with the magical Martha Argerich”.

Deutsche Welle
‘Lioness’ of the piano: Martha Argerich turns 80

The Guardian
Martha Argerich review – our greatest living pianist? It’s hard to disagree

Martha Argerich: 80th Birthday Celebration

Martha Argerich at 80

Classic FM – Photo gallery
Martha Argerich: 11 stunning photos of the great pianist


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