(scroll down for English extracts)
Sep 5, 2022 8pm Philharmonie, Berlin
Antonio Pappano / Santa Cecilia Orchestra and Chorus Rome
Schoenberg: Transfigured Night
Busoni: Piano Concerto (Igor Levit, piano)
A live performance of Busoni’s five-movement Piano Concerto is surely hard to come by, but I’m afraid I’d spoiled this experience as I was quite exhausted. Igor Levit was joined by Pappano and the Santa Cecilia Orchestra and Chorus for this Berlin performance. The previous day they played the same programme in Hamburg. Watching Levit in action I think I found the reason that this mammoth piece was hardly taken up by pianists. Arbitrarily speaking, playing this Busoni concerto takes ten time the effort of a Rachmaninov concerto, but despite the effort, the pianist has to struggle with the merciless onslaught of the orchestra.
Busoni wrote so many, many notes that it’ll take real fingers of steel to make them all sound loud enough. So I could hear the gigantic sound of the orchestra but not so much from the piano. Levit took only 70 minutes, basically the faster end of available recordings. I have the impression if he played slightly slower the notes would be better heard but he wouldn’t survive the ordeal. I’d also take in the factor that he just played it the previous day. Perhaps this Busoni concerto should be like heavy Wagner operas like Tristan or Siegfried: the lead player shouldn’t do it two days in a row.
Sep 6, 2022 7:30pm KKL, Lucerne
Esa-Pekka Salonen / Vienna Philharmonic
Bertrand Chamayou (piano), Cécile Lartigau (ondes martenot)
Messiaen: Turangalila Symphony
於琉森KKL音樂廳聽此曲也可加分，不過這次我發覺此廳的低音頗重，某程度上增添了一種靚聲的錯覺，雖然此廳也是頂尖級數，只是我覺得這種低音有點不自然。沙朗倫將樂隊調得幾無噪音，但又沒有那種quel bordel(吵死人）的刺激。有兩點最為不足，第一是電子鍵盤ondes martenot的音量調得太細聲，好像可有可無。第二是去到全曲最後十秒，才知樂隊及這個音樂廳可以這麼大聲，就是被指揮壓住了。
I’m so sorry that Yuja Wang pulled out of this Lucerne performance just the day before. She has been touring with Salonen and Vienna Philharmonic playing this piece but she couldn’t make this last stop. Chamayou, who is to play the Turangalila with Salonen in Paris the coming week, jumped in. I think it’s rather hard to tell the difference of one pianist from another in this work but still, I was delighted Chamayou was able to conjure many colours even from the top registers, and the part became less percussive as it usually is.
The KKL Lucerne is an ideal venue for this cacophonous piece but this time I found this venue was too bassy. Some, or perhaps most listeners would enjoy it but to me this sound is a bit artificial. Salonen handled the orchestral balance masterfully but I missed the noise. And, I’m not sure if that’s the conductor’s decision, the ondes martenot (which was placed in front as per Messiaen’s instructions) simply wasn’t loud enough. It’s an electronic instrument so the volume is adjustable. And the final chord of this piece brought home to me the painful truth that Salonen has been holding back the orchestra for the past 75 minutes and only letting rip at this final moment.