Hardship, triumph and redemption

Medtner Piano3sw
Pearls. © Charles Thibo

Few introductions of a piano concerto have captivated my attention as quickly as Nikolai Medtner’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in E minor, Op. 60. Tension, solemnity, grace – it’s all there. Medtner wrote it between 1940 and 1943, while he moved from London to Birmingham and from Birmingham to the countryside to escape the bombing campaign of the German Luftwaffe. He completed it upon his return to London, a city devastated, but not vanquished.

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Without relent – Raising questions, finding answers

Forward! © Charles Thibo

Schnell und rastlos – quick and restless – is the name of the first movement of Wolfgang Rihm’s String Quartet No. 5, a piece that itself has no proper name. Quick and restless – that’s me, to the great despair of my contemporaries. I have little patience and I like to get things done fast. At times my attention span is limited too, and I like to do several things at the same time usually messing up one or two. Quick and restless – is that the corollary to an ardent desire to live, to see, to hear, to do? I suppose it is.

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Shaping and experiencing time through music

Verunelli tune retune
Moebius loop. © Charles Thibo

“There are two kind of music: Music you can register passively – like an appearance.  And music that forces you to think, that you have to embrace actively by attentively following what’s happening.” This is the credo of the Italian contemporary composer Francesca Verunelli. She finds it fascinating that the audience needs to become involved and experiences the music through its own personal expectations. “I never try to illustrate something with my music. I don’t write Programmmusik […] Through the titles [of my works], I try to describe the poetic content of the music”, she said in an interview in 2016.

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Job hunting in the muddy streets of Paris

Versailles.

“I’ve always been a great lover of Mozart, a great, great admirer of this composer”, says Anne-Sophie Mutter in the booklet accompanying her recording of some of the most beautiful sonatas for violin and piano written by Mozart. “None of these pieces are easy. Mozart has a habit of suddenly demanding you after a wonderfully beautiful elegiac melody to perform a triple somersault from a standing start. And yet it must never sound merely virtuosic. Mozart’s music is never an end in itself. However we may have valued virtuosity, it’s always wrapped up in galanterie, elegance and expression.”

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