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Verbier Festival 2011 on Medici.tv

The Verbier Festival is considered as one of the most important European festivals. Every July, the greatest names of classical music gather during two weeks, among the wonderful landscape of the Swiss Alps for an exceptional concert series.

Khatia Buniatchvili

The festival gives the artists the opportunity to perform original programmes with other musicians that they admire and with whom they have never had the opportunity to play.

For five consecutive seasons, medici.tv has been the place for classical music lovers around the world to enjoy the spectacular array of top artists who perform at the Verbier Festival, which this summer takes place July 15 – 31. As Martin T:son Engstroem, the festival’s founder and executive director, says:

“Verbier is a tiny Swiss mountain village, far from any big towns, but we can connect with the global internet community and share our wonderful programs with a worldwide audience. People have followed our concerts from some mind-boggling places. Hats off to medici!”

More than 20 events from the 18th annual Verbier festival are streamed live as well as being available on demand for free. Here are some piano related highlights you may not want to miss:

Evgeny Kissin

July 15: Nelson Freire: Brahms PC 2
July 16: Lars Vogt: piano recital
July 17: Angela Hewitt: piano recital
July 18: Khatia Buniatishvilli: Rachmaninoff PC 3
July 19: Lars Vogt: Mozart PC 16
July 20: Bryn Terfel /Llŷr Williams: recital
July 21: Stephen Hough: piano recital
July 22: Jan Lisiecki: piano recital
July 22: Argerich & friends: chamber music
July 23: Martin Helmchen: piano recital
July 23: Evgeny Kissin: piano recital
July 26: Khatia Buniatshvili, piano recital
July 26: Verbier Festival Celebrates
July 27: Yuja Wang: Rachmaninov PC 2
July 28: Steinbacher / Goerner: chamber music
July 28: Wang / Kavakos / Capuçon: chamber music

All the concerts are available online for free (account registration needed) the day after their broadcast on medici.tv as well as on medici TV’s iPhone and iPad applications until September 30th.

The Verbier Festival Website


Robert Schumann’s Small and Large Universes

Creativity measured in small and large form piano compositions

In 1834 Schumann founded the music journal Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik. For a decade, he edited and wrote music criticism for this publication. He championed the work of numerous young composers. (Read his first published article, a review on Chopin’s Opus 2) His writings embodied the most progressive artistic aesthetics of the time. In his journal Schumann often wrote under two pseudonyms – Eusebius (his sensitive, lyrical side) and Florestan (his fiery, stormy side). These characters were members of Schumann’s fictitious “Band of David” (along with Mozart, Chopin, Paganini and Berlioz among others) – an artistic brotherhood sworn to battle against the Philistines, the purveyors of all that was antiquated, mediocre, and shallow in contemporary music and culture.

Robert and Clara Schumann, 1850

Robert and Clara Schumann, 1850

During this period Schumann composed primarily for the piano. Among these piano compositions were the “Abegg Variations,” Op. 1 (1830); “Davidsbundlertanze” (“Dances of the Band of David”), Op. 6 (1837); “Carnaval,” Op. 9 (1835) – a portrait of a masked ball attended by his allies and his beloved Clara; “Phantasiestucke,” Op. 12 (1837) – a series of mood pieces; “Kreisleriana,” Op. 16 (1838) – a fantasy on the mad Kapellmeister Kreisler from a short story by E.T.A. Hoffman; and “Kinderszenen,” Op. 15 (1838) – a poetic series of evocations of a child’s world. The uncompromisingly lofty and elaborate pianistic demands of these works and their widely varied range of dynamic nuances and densely textured web of primary and secondary voices confounded audiences at their initial performances.

The Schumann’s sonata form (or sonata form-like) compositions, little can be explained from the standpoint of tradition. Instead of classical dramatic contrasts, thematic action develops towards a definite goal. This type of musical narration often lasts to the end of the coda , in other cases the constant evolution of a thematic thought or the continual transformation of a motif receives the leading role. In order to obscure the essential events of the works or of the movements Schumann often employs “traditional” formal gestures. Hungarian musicologist Pál Richter argues that one of the most interesting compositional modi operandi is the repetition of a longer section in different keys, reminding of the exposition-recapitulation duality. The déjà vu feeling was generally one of the starting-point in Schumann’s workshop to move away from traditional sonata procedures. Influenced by the narrative content of the works, various strategies were elaborated by him to excite the déjà vu, or to relive musical moments.

The Piano Sonata No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22 (1833-1838), was not, in fact, the composer’s second such work in order of composition. The so-called Sonata No. 3, really a reworking of the Concert sans orchestre of 1836, acquired its present identity only after Schumann revised the earlier work (including the restoration of a scherzo removed before publication) in 1853. The Second Sonata, Schumann’s last large-scale work in the genre, is the most streamlined of the composer’s completed piano sonatas; within its very manageable and clearly organized confines one finds some of the composer’s most characteristic music for the keyboard.

Hear Martha Argerich play Sonata No. 2 in g minor Op. 22:

2nd mvt | 3rd mvt | 4th mvt

The Fantasie in C, Op. 17, composed in the summer of 1836, is a work of passion and deep pathos, imbued with the spirit of the late Beethoven. This is no doubt deliberate, since the proceeds from sales of the work were initially intended to be contributed towards the construction of a monument to Beethoven (who had died in 1827). The closing of the first movement of the Fantasie contains a musical quote from Beethoven’s song cycle, An die ferna Geliebte, Op. 98 (at the Adagio coda, taken from the last song of the cycle). The original titles of the movements were to be “Ruins”, “Triumphal Arch” and “The Starry Crown”. According to Liszt, who played the work for Schumann – and to whom Schumann dedicated the work – the Fantasie was apt to be played too heavily, and should have a dreamier (träumerisch) character than vigorous German pianists tended to impart. Liszt also said, “It is a noble work, worthy of Beethoven, whose career, by the way, it is supposed to represent.” According to Hutcheson: “No words can describe the Phantasie, no quotations set forth the majesty of its genius. It must suffice to say that it is Schumann’s greatest work in large form for piano solo.”

Hear Sviatoslav Richter play Fantasie in C Op. 17:

Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

The Humoreske of 1839, far more serious-minded and substantial than its name might suggest, is built in five discrete sections. A name used as a title in the 19th century for a lively instrumental composition, often ‘good-humoured’ rather than ‘humorous’. Schumann, Dvořák and Grieg among others, used the French or the German title. Humoresques are generally short and in one movement, but Schumann’s op. 20 is one of his largest piano works and is more like a suite. Mercurial in it shifts of mood, it reflects the composer’s report to his wife Clara that, while working on the piece, he was “laughing and crying, all at once”. Originally entitled “Grosse Humoreske,” this piece has been regarded by some musicologists as an ill-judged attempt by Schumann to take his formula in Kreisleriana a step further. This assessment is harsh, however, for these pieces, unified by their extremes (“laughing and weeping”) and generally in the key of B flat major, are colorful and imaginative, full of energy and depth, and if they do not strike out new territory, they are rife with ideas and never sound tiresome.

Hear Piotr Anderszewski play Humoresque Op. 20:

Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Related articles:
Robert Schumann – A Musical and Literary Giant
Nicolas Economou Plays Schumann
The Grand Sonata – Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B Minor


Argerich in Nobel Prize Concert 2009

Nobel Media, in association with the Stockholm Concert Hall, present this year’s Nobel Prize Concert ­ an event of world class stature. The concert took place on 8 December as part of the official Nobel Week programme of activities.

Martha Argerich, headstrong, charismatic and technically brilliant pianist, was this year¹s soloist at the Nobel Prize Concert. Yuri Temirkanov, Music Director and Principal Conductor for the Saint Petersburg Philharmoni was
leading the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. The programme comprised Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major and Prokoviev’s Suite from Romeo and Juliet.

Martha Argerich was born in Buenos Aires in 1941, and had her performing debut at the tender age of eight. Her breakthrough came in 1965, when she won the prestigious Chopin Competition in Warsaw. She has worked with most of the world¹s leading conductors, and her repertoire includes Bach, Schumann, Liszt, Debussy, Ravel, Bartók and Prokoviev.

Ms Argerich is passionate about supporting young talent. The year 1999 saw the first International Martha Argerich Piano Contest in Buenos Aires, a competition that she founded and of which she is now the chief judge. She has also instituted the Martha Argerich Music Festival in Japan, with concerts and masterclasses.
The Nobel Prize Concert is held to honour the year¹s Nobel Laureates, who attend with their respective parties. Also present are members of the Swedish Royal Family and guests of the Nobel Foundation.

Link: Martha Argerich, Interview in Stockholm for the Nobel Prize Concert 2009

Link: Watch the complete Nobel Prize Concert, VOD by mecici.tv


Argerich Documentary on DVD

Martha Argerich (born June 5, 1941) is an Argentine concert pianist.
Her aversion to the press and publicity has resulted in her remaining out of the limelight for most of her career.
She has given relatively few interviews. As a result, she may not be as well known as other pianists of similar calibre. Nevertheless, she is widely recognized as one of the greatest modern-day pianists.
A wild child and a rebel at heart, this legendary musician is surrounded by an aura of mystery: some find her too uncompromising, others generous and beautiful, yet to all she is without a doubt incredibly talented. Thanks to these “evening talks”, Georges Gachot lifts a corner of the veil: Martha Argerich shares with us her memories, confides in us her doubts, and transmits to us her incredible appetite for music making.

Images of Argentina, rehearsals in the concert hall or at home, excerpts from recent concerts, and archival clips complete this unique film about one of the most secretive and endearing artists of our time.

”Evening Talks” on DVD (English, 2008):

A review and comments in Piano Forum


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