The 36th edition of the Piano Festival in Riom opened on June 1 under the artistic direction of Franco-Hungarian pianist Suzana Bartal. Dedicated to piano and chamber music, the festival is expanding its scope this year and offers concerts of baroque, jazz and lyrical music, before returning to “pure” piano with the closing recital by Philippe Cassard on June 22. .
At the head of this event for 3 years, Suzana Bartal had to juggle, in her previous editions, with the restrictions due to the pandemic; the last edition took place with reduced gauges, between two closures of the places of culture. Thus, on June 1, at the presentation of the first concert at the Salle Dumoulin, she exclaimed: “This is the first time that I have seen the public without a mask! », remark greeted by great joyful applause.
The Festival begins with a trio, provided by violinist Daniel Rowland, cellist Maja Bogdanovic and Suzana Bartal, in a Brahms program (Trio no. 2 op. 87), Schubert (Trio D.929). Between these two masterpieces, a composition by Peteris Vasks, Castillo Interior. This last piece, published in 2015 and created by Patricia Kopatchinskaya and Sol Gabetta at the Schleswig-Holstein Festival (Germany), is imbued with great spirituality. Between the two instruments – the violin often plays in double string -, the proximity of the timbre and sometimes of the tessitura is confusing and we lose ourselves in the sound magic of Vasks: we do not know which note comes from which instrument. The two performers are fusional in this “mystical” music of astonishing beauty, and from this fusion emerges an almost celestial sound momentum, despite the very dry acoustics of the room. The dryness does not unfortunately play in favor of two Germanic Trio which would have revealed more their musical dramaturgies in a richer resonance. Despite these conditions, the three musicians do not give up and give themselves body and soul, each in his field of virtuosity and meditation, garnering general support from the audience.
On June 2, the recital by young pianist Théotime Gillot (born in 2002 in Rouen) was a resounding success. Currently at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki in the class of Tuija Hakkila thanks to the exchange program with the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris, he has already obtained the 2nd prize at the International Chopin Competition for young performers in Martigny ( Switzerland) in 2020, as well as the Special Prize of the Chopin Institute. A member of the Trio Zarathoustra, he passionately explores chamber music.
He is giving a demanding program tonight, including works by Chopin (Fancy op. 49, four Mazurkas op. 17 and Polish-Fantasy op. 61), Faure (Barcarolle op. 44), Glitch (number one) and Rachmaninoff (Variations on a Theme by Corelli, op. 42). He shows great sensitivity in Mazurkas and of a breadth imbued with mystery in the introduction of the Polish-Fantasy. His elegance in Fauré is also remarkable. This hints at his exceptional musicality for a young 19-year-old musician. However, a tendency towards precipitation, particularly in the Fancy, and to the rupture in certain phrasings, breaking the continuity and the fluidity. From number one of Camille Pépin, he takes more freedom. Pépin’s rhythmic vivacity certainly propelled him into a dynamic momentum. It is on this momentum that he ends his recital with the Corelli Variations of Rachmaninoff fabulously interpreted, showing great maturity, without his virtuosity outweighing the expressive depth. The “Sarabande” of the 5th English Suite Bach’s encore is delightfully simple compared to Rachmaninoff’s exacerbated romanticism, like a fresh dessert after a real main course. He is therefore undoubtedly a young talent to follow.
Riom, Riom Festival, June 1 and 2, 200
Photographic credits: © Piano à Riom
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First concerts of the 36th Piano Festival in Riom
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