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News 2011 

MfB is delighted to report that our seventh season of Masterclass of Music Citerna exceeded even our own expectations for musical interest and performance. With the exception of the inaugural concert which was performed in the church of San Michele Arcangelo we had expected to perform as usual in the open-air courtyard or "chiostro" of the Palazzo Comunale where the acoustics are very good but the wind can sometimes be a problem for sheet music. However, we found that repairs to the neighbouring church of San Francesco because of damage dating back to the earthquake of 1917, would not be completed before next year. This meant at a late stage a change of venue and hurriedly we assessed the acoustics of the newly restored Palazzo Ammassi, the mediaeval building underneath the Palazzo Comunale. We had planned to stage the Cafe de Boheme evening there but on consultation it was clear that the floor paving had not yet been treated and food and drink could not be permitted. The Comune agreed that we could stage all the concerts in the mediaeval Palazzo and suggested that we hold the gastronomic part of the Cafe outside in the mediaeval walkway. This was an excellent compromise especially as the acoustics inside the Palazzo Ammassi were excellent.

Sergey Bezrodny, an outstanding harpsichordist as well as pianist, opened the inaugural concert entitled Il Barocco Italiano with Bach's Concerto Italiano. We had obtained the use of an excellent American contemporary copy of an 18th century Flemish instrument which had been brought down by its owner from its home in Mantua for the occasion. Alfia continued with sonatas for violoncello by Boccherini (arr. Piatti-Crepax) and Valentini (arr. Piatti), accompanied by Sergey. Elvira then performed Ysaye's arrangement of Locatelli's sonata for violin and harpsichord Le Tombeau. The three maestri concluded with Corelli's Trio Sonata Op. 5 No. 6 for harpsichord, violin and violoncello. This was an outstanding start to the season and was extremely well received by the enthusiastic audience. We hope to offer baroque music with harpsichord again in the future.

The Masterclass for course attendees began the next morning with those who had already arrived and though the week others would join. Our guests from Moscow, of which more later, would arrive for the second week. Meanwhile the maestri would perform two Masterclass concerts, the first (13th July) opened with Elvira and Alfia's performance of Mozart's Dou for violin and violoncello, K423. This was followed by the trio (Sergey now on pianoforte) performing Beethoven's Variations for Piano Trio known as "Kakadu". After the interval Alfia gave Ysaye' Cello Sonata Op. 40 and, with Sergey, Strauss' Sonata for Violoncello and Pianoforte. This concert, the first to be held in the newly retored mediaeval palazzo was most warmly received by the audience. Similarly, the second Masterclass concert (17th July) was much appreciated including Brahm's Sonata for Violin and Piano Op. 100 (Elvira and Sergey) and Kodaly's Duo Op.7 for violin and violoncello (Elvira and Alfia). Dvorak's delightful "Dumky" Trio Op. 90 completed another magical evening.

And so to the arrival of our Russian guests. Monday 18th represented the 'end of the beginning'.It had been hard work getting all the necessary clearances for what turned out to be a group of four incredibly talented young people with their accompanying "mother" - the indefatiguable Gulnara. The saga had begun following an initiative from Sergey. He believed that the Vladimir Spivakov International Charity Foundation would be willing to sponsor young musicians from the Central School of Music in Moscow to attend and participate in our Masterclass of Music Citerna.Our invitation to host such a group was received favourably at first. Then as time passed there seemed to be a series of obstacles, mostly bureaucratic, getting in the way of final agreement. Notably, the Italian embassy had its own particular requirements.Eventually we filled in all the Embassy requirements, reissued our letters of invitation and included a formal letter of invitation signed by Mayor Giuliana Falaschi. Finally and very late in the day the way was smooth and four young people would travel with the resourceful Gulnara. The young people, a pianist, a violinist, a violist and a violoncellist were all aged 16 except the cellist who was 15. Their journey to Florence from Moscow was to include an unscheduled landing in Pisa due to high winds, this markedly delaying their arrival at Felcino Bianco. No matter, after a decent meal together, their resilience was evident and the musical genius of Semen, Yury, Kamila and Iskander became all too evident. They would delight us with their ability and the audiences with their talent. Yury, the violinist was also an excellent pianist and would entertain us with his own compositions.

We had our first and warming-up concert here at FB with all the course attendees present including Joseph, our faithful clarinetist. He was somewhat grumpy about only being able to attend our second week - but what a week it was to be! The Felcino Bianco concert includid pieces by Paganini, Prokofiev, Maskovsky, Chopin, Boris Tchaikovsky, Grieg, Shostakovich and Beethoven together with a marvellour performance of Gal's Trio for violin clarinet and cello played by Elvira, Joseph and an admirable new performer Norman. The remainder of the week was spent on preparing for the two 'finales', the Cafe de Boheme and the final concert "uno regalo per Citerna". This year's Cafe, with a Russian theme, was an evening of music and poetry from the Silver Epoch, the Dhiagilev era of the Ballets Russes with food and drink in the Russian style. The Palazzo Ammassi was layed out for the performances and the audience also had reserved tables in the Camino Medioevale where the food could be served. It was a sensational evening, Luisa and her colleagues from the restaurant La Civette aided by our own Viktoria privided a superb feast split up before the concert, during the interval and afterwards with the msic and the poetry being performed in two halves. Our friend Ina, also Russian, recited the poetry and the whole programme can be seen im the link attached.

As I wandered round the tables in the interval with supplies of Russian vodka which I have to say was consumed with alacrity by the audience I gave them my version (in Russian, Italian and English) of a revolutionary poem written in 1917 in dismissal of the bourgeoisie. Then, after it was all over we sat in the restaurant while Luisa provided us with our Russian meal. We could all reflect that this was one of the best things that we had done in all our seven years performed by the maestri with our Russian visitors. It was humourous and light-hearted, beautiful and reflective theatrical and dramatic all at the same time and performed to the highest standards.

Our final concert was our traditional thankyou to the people, Mayor and Comune of Citerna and all those attending the MMC course performed their part There were solos, duos and trios from the attendees and our guests, including Rachmaninov's trio Elegiacque. Yury put down his violin to play his "2 Preludes" for pianoforte and the maestri contributed to Mozart's Clarinet Quintet and the entertaining "Argentinian Tangos for 4 Violoncelli". The audience, who had become very vocal, loved it. There were the final speeches, distribution of certificates and this most marvellous of fortnights came to a close with a reception in Citerna's main square.

2011 has certainly been a year of hard work, but again highly innovative. During the Cafe we even mounted an exhibition of English and Scottish watercolour paintings from the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Rumour has it that 2012 may include significant French themes - watch for the 2012 early News page, we can say already that we expect the dates to be from 15th - 28th July 2012.

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