TCHAIKOVSKY 175 YEARS OLD AND MfB ONLY 11!
MfB, only 11 years old this year, is happy to acknowledge the master's anniversary in our 2015 season which we are delighted to report went ahead although not entirely as planned. Our Russian sponsors excelled themselves this year, sponsoring a full quintet of young performers from the Tchaikovsky Conservatoire some of whom are already international performers and prizewinners - two violinists, a violist, a cellist and a pianist. However, visas were not obtained by three of the five in time to travel and at very short notice Katya Romanovna had to replace these with performers who already had the appropriate travel documentation and who could travel immediately. We are indeed grateful not only for Katya's confidence in MfB but also her genius in finding such suitable replacements with so little time to spare. Those who finally arrived were: Dmitry Borodin and Aleksei Stychkin (violins), Denis Tarasevich (viola), Polina Streltsova (violoncello) and Roman Kosyakov (pianoforte) - and we were delighted to find them ready and willing to perform.
The second half of the equation was, of course, could we get sufficient help and support from our local government cultural sponsors here in our region, given that without publicity and piano hire audiences do not know what we are doing? The funding situation in Italy is dire and, of course culture as elsewhere, is not at the top of everyone's spending list. However, the old faithfuls, Citerna and San Giustino rallied to the cause and Sansepolcro's Amici della Musica have invited us to perform again. Monterchi, after a welcome change in elected officialdom agreed to host a concert in the old piazza in front of the communal palazzo and, finally, we are very pleased to have been invited to give a private concert in the Palazzo Tornabuoni in Florence.
Our 11th season began with the opening concert in the courtyard of the Castello Bufalini in San Giustino on Saturday 4th of July at 6 pm in the evening. It should be understood that because of the very late replacement of three of the artists we had to adapt some of our programmes to fit with repertoire and the time available in which to rehearse. Dmitry,together with Roman, opened with Vitali's Chaconne for violin, followed by Polina with the Prelude and Allemande from Bach' Suite for violoncello in E flat major. Roman continued with Scarlatti's Piano Sonatas in F minor and C minor together with the Etudes, No. 1 and 2 by Chopin. Aleksei then performed Paganini's Capriccio Nos. 13,14 and 15 for solo violin. After the interval Denis performed the Concert Piece for viola and pianoforte by Enescu, accompanied by Roman. Dmitry and Roman then closed a successful evening with Brahms' Sonata in C for violin and piano Op. 108.
The Sansepolcro concert was held again in the church of Santa Chiara on the 7th July. Denis and Roman opened with Glinka's Unfinished Sonata for viola and piano, followed by Polina and Roman performing Tchaikovsky's Nocturne and Valse Sentimentale and then Aleksei and Roman with Tchaikovsky's Russian Dance from the Ballet "Swan Lake". Roman closed the first part with Rachmaninov's Preludes for pianoforte Nos. 2,3 and 5. After the interval Dmitry came back to perform Bartok'sChaconne for solo violin and the quintet closed a memorable evening with a performance of Dvorak's Quintet for piano and strings. The evening was much appreciated.
On the 9th July we performed in the Palazzo Tornabuoni in Florence. We are proud to have been invited to play in front of their international clientele. This was an "invitation-only" concert and not open to the general public but the management generously allowed us to invite a number of our friends and supporters to attend. In passing we should add our sadness and regret that the A.GI.MUS Firenze group with whom we performed two excellent and well-attended concerts in previous years have been unable to run their Crescendo competition or to invite us again, for the same financial reasons and restrictions affecting the whole of Italy. In the splendid surroundings of this 15th C palazzo we gave a short but much appreciated concert including Vitali's Chaconne for violin and pianoforte by Dmitry and Roman, followed by Roman with Mendelssohn's Scherzo from the music to Midsummer Night's Dream. Polina and Roman continued with Martinu's Variations on a Theme by Rossini and then Denis with Roman playing Shostakovich' Folk Scene. Aleksei and Roman again played The Russian Dance from Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" and then Dmitry, Polina and Roman performed Rubinstein's Romance "Night" as arranged by the Bekova Sisters. The concert concluded with the four strings players performing Tchaikovsky's Valse from his Serenade for Strings and then the quintet with a performance of the Scerzo - Furiant molto vivace from Dvorak's Piano Quintet Op. 81.
On the 14th July we held our final and fifth concert in the wonderful ancient piazza in front of the Palazzo Communale in Monterchi. This was a strings only concert and Roman was able to rest having worked incredibly hard to support his colleagues in all the previous concerts. The first part was composed of solo pieces and the second of the quartet as a whole. Aleksei started us off with the Prelude, Loure and Gavotte en Rondeau from Bach's Partita in E major and then the Paganini Capricci that he played in San Giustino, followed by Denis who performed the Prelude and Corrente from Bach's Suite in D minor for solo viola and then Hindemith's movements 1 and 2 from the Sonata for viola solo. Polina then performed the Fantasia, Theme with variations and Toccata from Kramb's Sonata for violoncello solo and Dmitry ended the first part with the Partita for solo violin, Prelude, Scherzo, Grave, Toccata and Postludium by Baukauskas. After the interval the quartet performed the Elegy and Valse from Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings and then all three movements from Glazunov's Slav Quartet for Strings Op. 3. The audience also enjoyed their encore ,Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine".
I come last to our Cafe de Boheme evening (12th July) in the Chiostro of San Francesco church and the Palazzo Communale. This is always a favourite of ours in that we seek to mimic the cafe-style-setting of the Cafe Momus from the opera La Boheme. The audience is seated at tables and has access to "eats and drinks", while the artists provide music, poetry and sometimes history, usually from a European country tradition. The themes this year included the Moon, Midsummer, Night and Dreams, the music and poetry being drawn principally from European sources. The programme opened with the string quartet playing Tchaikovsky's Waltz from the Serenade for Strings, followed by Polina reciting Pushkin's poem "Night" after which Dmitry, Polina and Roman performed Rubinstein's "The Night" as arranged by the Bekova Sisters. Eva Testerini then recited von Collin's poem "Nachtfreier" after which her daughter Cosima (violin) with Roman played Schubert's "Nacht und Traume" and Aleksei performed Kreisler's "Liebesleid". Michael then indulged the English-speakers with Oberon's speech on Love-in-idleness and Titania from Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream while Roman continued with the Scherzo from Mendelssohn's "Midsummer Night's Dream" and Polina and Roman with Schumann's "Fantasiestuk for Cello and Piano". Michael came back with the poem "Midsummer Moon by E M G R which was followed by Dmitry and Roman's performance of Rebecca Clarke's piece of the same name for violin and piano. Finally, our string quartet came back to finish, punctuated by Michael with the lyrics, with Gershwin's "Summertime and Cole Porter's "Night and Day" - a nice American touch to finish the evening. We thanked our audience for their evident enjoyment of the programme, our talented performers, the excellent Francesca and Giusi from La Cisterna, providers of the eats and drinks and the cafe setting and, lastly, our good friend Giuliana Falaschi, sindaco of Citerna, who for year after year has helped to keep our season going.