Discovering Sound at Belgais

Claudio Abbado, our forever conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker, referred to the importance of listening and of silence in music. Daniel Barenboim, one of the finest pianists and conductors of our time, also celebrates silence in music:

There are many types of silence. There is a silence before the note, there is a silence at the end and there is a silence in the middle.
— Daniel Barenboim

The celebrated tireless Portuguese pianist, Maria João Pires, once more shares thoughts and feelings about sound and silence. And goes beyond: teaches and shares her personal discoveries of a lifetime, after having dedicated her entire life to the piano. We have already published about her personal thoughts on technique (The Universe of Maria João Pires), and are delighted to now share her Discovering Sound documentary.

A small token of our worship for this incredible artist and human being, a couple of days in advance of her appearance in London (at Cardogan Hall), to bring us a delightful gift: Beethoven’s ultimate Piano Sonata, Op. 111, in C minor. Bravo!

Eudoxia de Barros interpreta Kabalevsky

No fim de semana tive o prazer de assistir a um dos muitos concertos da pianista paulista Sra. Eudóxia de Barros, em um dos meus cantos preferidos para ouvir piano na cidade: a sala de recitais do Museu Brasileiro da Escultura, o MuBE. No programa, um extenso colorido de tintas de compositores nacionais, aos quais a pianista dedica sua vida como intérprete, diligentemente na missão de divulgar a brasilidade de suas notas.

Das 11 peças escolhidas para compor o programa do recital, 4 delas lhes foram especialmente dedicadas pelos compositores Ernst Mahle (Tocatina), Sousa Lima (Preludio Nr. 10), Camargo Guarnieri (Estudo Nr. 10) e Antonio Ribeiro (Estudo Nr. 02).

Sua interpretação estivera brilhante e vigorosa, como em minha lembrança de outros recitais dela. Nesta ocasião, fiquei particularmente impressionada com a Sonata Opus 46, Nr. 03, composta em 1946, pelo russo Dimitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987): precisa, colorida, e vigorosa na medida em que a peça o exige. Linda interpretação! Arrancou uma acalorada salva de palmas da plateia atenta, e diga-se de passagem, bastante mais numerosa que minha experiência habitual na série de recitais de piano do MuBE.

Outra surpresa veio no bis: a Grande Fantasia Triunfal sobre o Hino Nacional Brasileiro, de Gottschalk. Bastante apropriado para a ocasião, um domingo de eleição presidencial no Brasil.

Infelizmente não encontrei no Youtube nenhuma gravação desta grande pianista executando a peça do compositor russo, então para fechar, deixo aqui com vocês uma gravação de 2001, realizada na Universidade do Arizona, com o pianista Joshua Hillmann. Boa audição!

The Universe of Maria João Pires

pires_maria_joaoShe is the most acclaimed pianist of her country – Portugal. She is actually internationally celebrated! Even though she has recently renounced to her portuguese nationality due to a huge disagreement with the Portuguese government, she will always be the one child with gold fingers at the piano in her homeland – no doubt about this.

Politics and art, such a theme for long hours of unconclusive considerations… and it invariably brings me Fausto! It may be good news then that our Maria João has never given a chance to Mephisto!

But getting back to our post here. Surfing around in search of music pieces played by Maria João Pires in order to help a friend of mine to get started with her musical universe, I just found a very interesting and stimulating documentary named Technique doesn’t exist. Such a challenging title – no doubt I stopped the search to focus on it.

This documentary brings different perspectives on Maria João from different point of views – herself, an student’s (Julien Liebeer), a former producer from BBC Television’s Music and Arts Department (Donald Sturrock). Very knowledgeable and smart people – such a lovely character perception and definitively a must-watch for each and every piano lover.

And to close this post, I will let you reflect on an extract from the documentary – in the words of Maria João herself:

Technique doesn’t exist. The technique is how to use your body in order to produce something you want to do. And this is every moment changing. So, because it is always changing, you can’t consider it a technique. It is an art of using the body. Of course you can see, dancers have a technique, musicians have a technique, but it is our words to explain it because in the end it is not a technique. If you can, the technique is not good anymore. So I think we approach music and we see how can we be the instruments of that.

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you Technique doesn’t exist. Enjoy!