RACHMANINOV AND ELGAR CONCERTOS

Renaud Capuçon, violin, Khatia Buniatishvili, piano, Al Bustan Festival Orchestra, Gianluca Marcianὸ, conductor

Wednesday, 1 March at 20:30

It is Martha Argerich who played musical matchmaker and brought these two brilliant performers together. Their concerts at Lugano Festival in 2012 were a resounding success. Renaud has been praised for his “intensely lyrical” tone and “gloriously rich sound” (BBC Music Magazine). Khatia was described as the “fiery young star” and hailed by Argerich as “a young pianist of extraordinary talent.”

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Edward Elgar (1857 – 1934)
Violin Concerto in B minor, Op.61

Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873 – 1943)
Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op.30

Renaud Capuçon, violin
Born in Chambéry in 1976, Renaud Capuçon began his studies at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris at the age of fourteen, winning numerous awards during his five years there. Following this, Capuçon moved to Berlin to study with Thomas Brandis and Isaac Stern, and was awarded the Prize of the Berlin Academy of Arts. In 1997, Capuçon was invited by Claudio Abbado to become concertmaster of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester, which he led for three summers, working with conductors such as Pierre Boulez, Seiji Ozawa, Daniel Barenboim, Franz Welser-Moest and Abbado himself.

Since this time, Capuçon has established himself as a soloist at the very highest level. He has played concerti with orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic under Haitink and Robertson, the Boston Symphony under Dohnanyi, the Orchestre de Paris under Eschenbach and the Simon Bolivar orchestra under Dudamel. Capuçon also tours extensively as a solo recitalist and will perform complete cycles of the Beethoven violin sonatas with pianist Frank Braley around the world during the coming seasons.

Upcoming concerto engagements for Capucon include concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra with Harding, City of Birmingham Symphony with Morlot, Philadelphia Orchestra with Bychkov, Chicago Symphony with Nezet-Seguin and Chamber Orchestra of Europe with Haitink.

Capuçon has a great commitment to performing chamber music and has worked with Argerich, Barenboim, Bronfman, Grimaud, Kovacevich, Pires, Pletnev, Repin, Bashmet and Mørk, as well as with his brother and regular collaborator cellist Gautier Capuçon. These collaborations have taken him to the festivals of Edinburgh, London (Mostly Mozart), Berlin, Lucerne, Verbier, Aix-en-Provence, Roque d’Anthéron, San Sebastian, Stresa, Tanglewood and many others.

Capuçon records exclusively for Virgin Classics. His most recent recording was of Beethoven Sonatas for violin and piano with Frank Braley. He also recorded the Beethoven and Korngold concertos with the Rotterdam Philharmonic and Yannick Nezet-Seguin. Since 2007 Renaud Capucon has been an Ambassador for the Zegna & Music project, which was founded in 1997 as a philanthropic activity to promote music and its values.

Renaud Capuçon plays the Guarneri del Gesù “Panette” (1737) that belonged to Isaac Stern, bought for him by the Banca Svizzera Italiana (BSI).

• 2nd appearance at the Al Bustan Festival

Khatia Buniatishvili, piano
As Pablo Casals once did before, Khatia Buniatishvili places the human being at the centre of her art. The fundamental values handed down from the Enlightenment are not up for discussion. Were there a fire and a choice to be made between child and painting, she would not hesitate for a second. Yet, once she had pulled the child from the blaze, she would take it to the Museum of Fine Arts so that it might become a painter. No need to save “the fire” (as Cocteau replied) because it already burns her eyes, rages in her fingers and warms her heart.

Khatia, born in Batumi, Georgia, by the Black Sea, on the longest day of 1987, knows the price of freedom and independence, and understands the energy needed to stand tall in life. The example set by her parents did not go unheeded. During the chaotic period her country went through, Khatia’s parents had to display great resourcefulness to keep poverty at bay. Her mother, who introduced her to music, sewed together magnificent dresses for both her daughters from bits of cloth that she scavenged here and there. The sisters saw before their very eyes a model of creativity for smiling in the face of adversity.

The piano, however, has never posed a problem for Khatia. She has been blessed with impressive ability, giving her first concert at the age of six. For fun, her mother would leave a new musical score each day on her piano and, hungry, Khatia’s long, octopus-like arms would devour them. As she has never had to struggle with her instrument, she has always considered pianos from the whole world as friends from whom she must draw the best, respecting the oddities of their characters and sampling the charms of their personalities; while at the same time never looking to change them or make them her martyrs. Her sister Gvastsa is an excellent pianist too. Together they make a quite complementary duo as one has her feet on the ground and the other is supersonic.

Khatia’s great career has come quite naturally, without a struggle. The sun has no need to move mountains to exist for it rises and shines for all.  And these are the words that spring to mind when one sees her bursting onto the stage or in life: her hair flowing, her fine figure quite the Parisian, her lips smiling, her light sylph-like steps and her feline body.  But the rose will show its thorns if it feels what it holds dear to be threatened. She won’t be made to give up a humanitarian project. She won’t be prevented from helping the country in which she was born and raised. She won’t be forced to play in a land that pours scorn on her values. She won’t have playing partners forced upon her who do not inspire human respect and great artistic admiration in equal measure. For that matter, nothing can be imposed on this young lady of the air whose wing-beats pollinate works and who sprinkles a musical cloud of golden powder to the four winds.

Franz Liszt is one of her heroes. He was the one with whom she wanted to venture first into the world of discography. Liszt is constantly pushing back the boundaries of what is possible. He innovates and is generous, bringing together popular and academic styles, the profane and sacred, nature and poetry – he transcends whatever he touches.

Khatia Buniatishvili avoids representation and self-intellectualisation. She could very well make her own the motto of her friend Martha Agerich, “Live and let live” – she too is a Gemini. She likes the complexity of things, not complication; paradoxes, not rigid oppositions that often prove to be sterile. She is at ease creating and less interested in reaction.   Stimulated by the dialogue between the arts, she breathes the oxygen of imagination and finds balance in musing.

When it comes down to it, she remains this child fascinated with life and with beings who was already reading Dostoevsky and Chekhov at the age of nine, and for whom it was already quite clear that beauty would save the world. With no distinctions made: whatever is just will sound just and will make its own mark.

It is in just such a way that she approaches all styles from Baroque to modern in her CD “Motherland”, to demonstrate that true music has no need of barriers and that all styles fade into the one true all-linking, all-revealing style that can be summed up in Mozart’s words: “Love, love, love, therein lies the soul of genius.”

Khatia Buniatishvili, shining pianist at the height of her abilities, came into this world in a shower of light during the summer solstice. On a human level, she is attracted more to equinoxes, being smitten by justice and seeking day and night in equal share.  By lifting one’s eyes skywards one might notice her playing hide-and-seek with either Venus or Mercury. The cosmos is her garden and it is in its movement that she feels alive, astride a comet.

  • 2nd appearance at the Al Bustan Festival

The Al Bustan Festival Orchestra
For the biography of The Al Bustan Festival Orchestra, please refer to the concert of Wednesday, February 15

Gianluca Marcianò, conductor
For the biography of Gianluca Marcianò, please refer to the concert of Wednesday, February 15

Edward Elgar (1857 – 1934)

Violin Concerto in B minor, Op.61
The violin was Elgar’s own instrument and his Violin Concerto is almost like a personal confession: it was ‘too emotional’, Elgar admitted, adding that he loved it nonetheless. The Spanish inscription he wrote opposite the title-page – Aquí está encerrada el alma de … (‘Here is enshrined the soul of …’) – offers an Elgarian enigma, to which the most popular
solution is that the soul belonged to Alice (five letters, corresponding to the five dots) Stuart-Wortley, a friend for whom Elgar invented the name ‘Windflower’ (a wood anemone, one of the first signs of spring), which he also attached to two of the gentler themes in the opening movement.
Elgar sketched a number of ideas in 1905 after reading a newspaper interview with Fritz Kreisler, in which the 30-year-old violinist said highly flattering things about Elgar’s music, and wished he would write something for violin. Elgar eventually got down to composing the concerto in earnest in 1909, and Kreisler gave the first performance at the Queen’s Hall in London on 10 November 1910, with Elgar himself conducting. Later on, Kreisler seems to have lost his initial enthusiasm for the work, made cuts, and resisted all attempts to persuade him to record it.

Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873 – 1943)
Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op.30
The decade before Rachmaninoff’s emigration from Russia was, without a doubt, the apex of his career as a composer. Between 1907 and 1917 he wrote many of his greatest works: in addition to the Third Piano
Concerto, the Second Symphony, the symphonic poem The Isle of the Dead, the choral symphony The Bells, the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and a large number of songs and piano pieces all date from those years.
The Third Piano Concerto was written for Rachmaninoff’s first American tour in 1909. The composer never dreamt at the time that he would be visiting the country where he would eventually make his home and where he would eventually die. He accepted the offer only after some hesitation, and then only because he hoped that the fees he was promised would allow him to realize his dream of buying an automobile.
In this work, Rachmaninoff aspired to be worthy of the 19th-century virtuoso tradition in every respect. The last of the great Romantic pianist-composers in the lineage of Chopin, Liszt, and Rubinstein,
Rachmaninoff also wanted, it seems, to emulate the synthesis between concerto and symphony achieved in the two piano concertos of Brahms.
This is shown by the many orchestral solos that join, and sometimes compete with, the piano soloist, as well as by the numerous thematic links between movements, carefully planned and masterfully executed.
Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto certainly doesn’t lack pianistic brilliance (to say the least). But the first two dozen measures of the piano part could actually be played by a child. This is the famous “Russian hymn” theme that some commentators have tried to trace to an old religious chant from Kiev, although Rachmaninoff insisted that there was no such connection. When asked how his theme had been conceived, the composer said only: “It simply wrote itself!…”