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News 2010 


Our previous update to the 2010 News page promised much for our Masterclass of Music Citerna this year and, indeed, much was delivered to the appreciative audiences that attended the events. We say ‘events’ because this year not all the artistic activity was musical. A total of seven concerts were performed, five by the maestri, of which two were in collaboration with the voices of Fiori Musicali, an English baroque choir, and two including those attending the course. One of the two concerts involving Fiori Musicali, together with Elvira and Alfia as soloists, helped to provide the finale for a fascinating artistic event associated with this year’s festival. This was a circular painting devised by Ivanov and Chan, artists who live in the Orkney islands off the northeast corner of Scotland and was one of a series that they have already created but for the first time performed in Italy. Thus music and painting co-existed for this year’s season but more of this later.

The inaugural concert, as usual well attended, provided an interesting mix of two histories and two eras. Namely, those of Johann Sebastian Bach and the Englishman William Byrd, Bach was brought up in Germany as a strict protestant in a protestant society while Byrd was a secret Roman Catholic in England at a time when it was dangerous to declare a belief in Catholicism which was being repressed by the state and by the majority of the people. The conjunction of their music, however, provided for a fascinating entrée to the 2010 Masterclass Festival. Elvira opened with a glorious solo Bach Partita no. 3 in E minor and was followed by Fiori Musicali with the first of two Masses (in 5 parts) by Byrd. After the interval Alfia, already renowned for her performances of all six Bach Cello Suites both in concert and now recorded on CD manufactured by MPO in France, numbers WCM/1 and 2, treated us to the No. 2 Suite in D minor. She was followed by Fiori Musicali with Byrd’s Mass in 4 parts. Fiori Musicali is a well-known British baroque choir and is directed by Penelope Rapson, baroque musician herself. The audience much appreciated their contribution to the Masterclass series.

Those attending previous Masterclass Festivals have known and enjoyed Povilas Stravinsky’s wonderful concert piano performances. After three seasons with MfB, coming faithfully all the way from Seattle, USA for the best part of a month each year we all felt that we should rest him from the major demands that we have put upon him. We thank him for all he has done over these three years and wish him well. This year we were joined by Sergey Bezrodny, son of Elvira’s teacher at the Conservatoire, also trained in the Russian tradition at the Moscow Conservatoire and greatly experienced in chamber music performance. Sergey has been a long-time performer with the Virtuosi di Moscow directed by Spivakov and as part of a project between Moscow and Spain has been performing in Spain for some years. We are delighted that he was pleased to be asked to work with us and that his imminent return to Moscow may permit talented music students from Russia to come to the Masterclass for tuition. He drove from his home in Spain by way of Paris to stay with us at Felcino Bianco and then spent three weeks of hard work practising and playing with Elvira and Alfia for the various concerts as well as with those attending the course. Sergey accompanied Alfia at the first Masterclass recital when she performed Franck’s Violin Sonata arranged for Violoncello and Britten’s Sonata for violoncello and pianoforte Op. 65, an outstanding opening to the second concert of this year’s series. After the interval the audience was thrilled by a masterly performance of Shostakovich’ Piano Trio No. 2. This is one of the most outstanding piano trios of the 20th century, written in 1944 following the death of his close friend Sollertinsky. The result was an elegiac trio of exceptional beauty in memory of his friend, which is thought at the same time to capture the sorrows of Russia’s sacrifices in “The Great Patriotic War” i.e WWII.

And so to our @new@ artistic event for 2010. This was a combination performance involving a painting created by the artists Ivanov and Chan together with the voices of Fiori Musicali and Alfia and Elvira Bekova as instrumentalists. The event began with the construction of a circular canvas which was then suspended from the three standing walls of the old fortress built around the first millennium in Citerna as a watchtower. The fortress had survived the mediaeval wars for territory but was badly damaged in an earthquake in 1917 and then again during the retreat of the German army during 1944. The remains had been restored by the Comune of Citerna and it was thus a wonderful location in which to stage such an event. Our grateful thanks go to the Mayor of Citerna and her professional staff at the Comune without whom we could never have staged the event. Ivanov and Chan, having been held up in Berlin on the way here by airline failures, constructed The Circle – Citerna and completed the painting in only three days instead of the planned five – an heroic effort involving hard physical effort, little or no sleep and battling with unexpected winds around La Rocca which tended to lift the canvas like a kite or sail. Among the richly deserved applause was that of the children of Citerna who had never seen such a thing in their Borgo as well as that of Ivanov and Chan’s new baby daughter, only five months old, who spent most of her time singing happily in a hammock suspended in the artistic site. The concert followed the unveiling of the painting to the public who were able to walk around the area and view it from below and then the music followed with the performers standing below the canvas as though crowned by the painting. The spectacle was striking and will be the subject of a DVD available in due course. Appropriately, given the history of La Rocca, Fiori Musicali opened with ‘Battaglia’, a choral call to arms by the Italian composer Gabrieli. This was followed by Taverner’s ‘Svyati’ , a piece for voices and solo violoncello. The piece is hugely reminiscent of classical Russian Orthodox choral music. Alfia’s haunting solo was superb. The finale came with the world premiere of James Hesford’s new piece commissioned for this occasion and entitled ‘Papay Holm Circle’. The piece celebrates a previous Circle event performed on the uninhabited island off Papa Westray in the Orkney islands and relates to the visual and auditory effects of the wind (well known in Orkney) on the sea. These effects are measured by the Beaufort scale and the music wonderfully represented the rise and fall of the wind and the sea. The choral part is written to be sung in ‘Nynorn’, a reconstruction of the ancient Orkney language that has not been spoken for some two hundred years – certainly a challenge for our Baroque choir of 12 voices. The violin part, magnificently performed by Elvira standing surrounded by the circle of voices and directly under the Circle painting, represents the observer measuring and charting the effects of wind on sea. The whole was a truly remarkable and rewarding spectacle.

Elvira and Sergey opened the second Masterclass concert brilliantly with Grieg’s sonata for violin and pianoforte, Op. 13. This was followed by the compelling and dramatic virtuoso pieces by Szymanowski ‘Nocturne’ and ‘Tarantella’. The latter is the name of a wild Sicilian dance – and so it was. 2010 is the 80th anniversary of the birth of Igor Bezrodny, one of the most distinguished violin teachers and performers of the second half of the 20th century in Moscow, also Elvira’s professor and Sergey’s father. Thus, it was doubly moving to have this concert commemorated during our Masterclass and especially when Elvira, Alfia and Sergey went on to perform, quite outstandingly. Tchaikowsky’s Piano Trio Op. 50 written as it was after the death of his great friend and supporter Nicolai Rubinstein – “In memory of a great artist”. This poignant and monumental Trio was performed before a portrait of Igor Bezrodny garlanded with roses on an antique italian violin music stand.. The emotion was palpable.

There were two concerts performed by those attending the course together with the maestri. The first, by kind permission of Mr. and Mrs. Bricchieri-Colombi at their home, Il Conventino and the second at our own home, Felcino Bianco. We were delighted that so many made the trip to our respective “mountain retreats” Sergey provided generous piano support to these inexperienced string players and they truly rose to the occasions. Joseph Rosen who joins us regularly from New York and who is an experienced clarinet player put in some sterling performances with the maestri in a number of interesting pieces, including Fruhling’s Clarinet trio, the quartet for clarinet, violin, cello and piano written by Sowash and an unusual and highly sophisticated trio for clarinet, violin and violoncello by Gal. The refreshments provided after both these concerts complimented the musical efforts of all the performers.

For our finale this year we decided to repeat the format that had so entertained our audience last year, that of a Bohemian café with food and drink provided for the audience seated at tables. For our Café de Boheme Elvira had chosen music from the early 20th century and this was interspersed with readings of Italian poetry chosen for us by Vito Taverna, our good friend and neighbour. These included Vincenzo Cardarelli, Federico Garcia Lorca and Dino Campagna. Elvira, Alfia, Sergey and Joseph (plus and minus a new head of hair) entertained us all delightfully despite being squeezed by the weather inside the communal palazzo instead of outside in the Chiostro. Pieces performed were by Suk (Song of Love) Kreisler, Moszkowski and Chaplin (Oh, that Cello), Busch (German Dances), Kreisler and Castelnuovo-Tedesco. Joseph excelled, especially closing with the delightful Ballade by Gershwin. The audience loved it all!

Once again, we thank our dear friends at the Comune whose generous support, sponsorship and loyal hard work resulted in quite the most ambitious Masterclass that MfB has undertaken in Citerna, truly “Uno dei Borghi piu belli d’Italia”. MfB is also truly grateful for the tremendous love and effort put in by the maestri, the artists and those attending the Masterclass of Music Citerna 2010 in providing the highest standards of chamber music on what has become a regular festival basis. Our thanks too, to the audiences who continue to support us so loyally. Next year we expect to run the Masterclass from 10 – 22 July. Watch this space.

Truly in July 2010, the Angels sang in Citerna!!!

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