Monday, July 25, 2011

Jean-Yves Thibaudet made me cry

Yesterday beautiful music made me cry. I was so touched and moved by Jean-Yves Thibaudet's piano performance of the second movement of Ravel's piano concerto in G (Adagio assai), that my heart and soul were so full of emotion, that slowly the tears were just meandering over my sunny face.

We had spent the day at Tanglewood for the Boston Symphony Orchestra's All Ravel program under the direction of Emmanual Krivine. As always, our day started with a bit of stress to get ready - I have high expectations what a proper picnic looks like and therefore put a lot of effort into it - and a grumpy child had not realized it was an all day affair and had to say no to a spontaneous pool party invitation. Her bad mood lingered on for a few hours, but the special atmosphere on the lawn at Tanglewood slowly soothed her mind enough to be bearable. Two Shrewsbury friends hooked up with us on the lawn, which was wonderful and changed the dynamic of our group and made for nice conversation.

Tanglewood is rather special, the huge music hall called shed opens to the fantastic old park with beautiful trees and a wonderful lawn. Hundreds of groups of people scatter over the lawns with their chairs, blankets and gourmet picnics. We got a very nice place close to the Koussevitzky Music Shed and had a much better sound experience than prior visit (sunburn included). So imagine all these people hanging about on a lovely Sunday afternoon, surrounded by the gorgeous Berkshire mountains, having fun and conversation. A few times the old bell rings and all of a sudden the concert starts and amazingly, from one second to another, it is dead silent. You could hear the grass grow.

The program started with the Mother Goose Suite and I had forgotten how much I love The Fairy Garden and it transported me far away into my dream world. The suite was followed by the concerto and well deserved standing ovations and repeated appearances of Krivine and Thibaudet. The amazing concerto for the left hand (very interesting story!), which I could not even do with both of my hands and the Bolero finalized the concert.

The piano is a magnificent instrument, but it is not very often that a pianist just completely blows me away and touches something so deep inside me, I have no words to describe it. Maybe too often it is perfection and mechanics and not magic? I had known Tchaikovsky's piano concerto No. 1 for many years as a teenager and never cared for it that much. Then I heard it played by Ivo Pogorelić and I swear, it was an utterly different piece and I had to listen to it three times in a row and again and again for many days. It was a revelation and so was Thibaudet yesterday.

I think it is very interesting how the same piece of music / same score can be so different in outcome depending on the orchestra and director. I remember when CDs were still newer and I would listen to every recording of a piece to see which one spoke to me. Karajan for example never spoke to me, strange, I cannot even tell you exatly why. For years I could not find a recording of Schubert's 8th Symphony that I liked. I once heard a recording of Dvoraks New World Symphony that hit me so deep, I pulled to the side of the road and sat there, tears streaming down through the whole symphony and it was like nothing else existed at that moment.

When everything is right and the interpretation speaks to you in all your depth, something amazing happens inside you, connecting heart and soul and rationale and whatever else lingers inside us. I am extremely grateful that Thibaudet mad me cry tears of beauty, to remind me again why I love Ravel so very much and also fling back into my life the one thing that always helps me in more difficult times: the magic of music.

Nothing exists without music, for the universe itself is said to have been framed by a kind of harmony of sounds, and heaven itself revolves under the tones of that harmony.
Isodore of Seville (c.568-636 AD) archbishop and saint

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