Honens Laureate concert 2018

Hi everyone, I have been so busy that I was not able to finish this blog on the Honens Laureate concert that I attended on Wednesday, September 5th. I have just completed it albeit 3 months late.

I was at a symphony concert on Wednesday night featuring Honens laureate Luca Buratto and Szymon Nehring as part of the Honens festival. These two A-list pianists couldn’t be more different. Buratto played first and his performance was captivating but not in the usual sense. He goes counter to what you would think a concert pianist would be like. He didn’t use a piano bench but a regular soft padded chair with a back and he totally reclines and relaxes in it when he isn’t playing - he slouches and kicks back as if he’s at home relaxing. When he is resting and not playing, he lets his arms hang by his sides. Edel, who went with me, pointed out to me that during those breaks, he was really into the music and with his body and hands is following along with the music of the orchestra. He also had music on an ipad which he was using to follow the orchestral music as he wasn’t really using it to play his piece. He was really interesting to watch as he was just a bundle of frenetic energy when playing and then really lounging when not. On stage, it seemed like he was oscillating between these two kinds of opposing psychological states and for me, this was what made his performance riveting. His performance made me think of the phrase “ there is a method to his madness” because obviously he has worked out how he can bring his “A game” to a performance by performing this way. His piece was Burleske in D minor by Richard Strauss and there was a part of his piece near the end where he played ‘cacophonously’. To me, it sounded pretty ugly and I don’t think I was alone in thinking that as the woman in front of us started shaking her head. Then she and her friend and the two women next to us just left the concert hall. There were about another 4-6 people that left as well. I thought it really strange as I have never seen that before. But then I realized that the reason for the exodus of people was that Luca Buratto was not playing the piece the way that previous concert pianists have played this piece.

I remember talking to a pianist who loves Rachmaninoff who went to hear Luca Buratto play in February of this year. She told me afterwards that she was very disappointed with the concert because he did not play the pieces in the way she was used to hearing them. I guess what makes Buratto interesting to me, a novice and newly minted classical music lover, would make him disliked by many that know the classical repertoire well. I admit that I have never heard this piece before and maybe that is why I found his performance compelling. I had no entrenched ideas of what the music should sound like. I was just open to what he wanted to show me in the music. Luca Buratto has his own vision of the music which is contrary to long held views and probably that is why you either love him or hate him. I don’t think you can be indifferent to him. Isn’t that the mark of a true artist? One who is not afraid of breaking with tradition and convention and who takes risks. All I know is that I was really lucky to have heard him at this concert and I would go to hear him again.

When Szymon Nehring came on stage, he was physically such a big contrast to Luca Buratto as he is such a tall man compared to Buratto, who is quite slight in stature, that it was kind of shocking. His method of playing also was very different as he played more in the classical style. He stayed quite still and only his hands and arms moved and his hands were massive in comparison to Buratto's. I think his performance seemed lacking to me only because I had seen Buratto's oscillating energetic/lounging performance just prior. There was a bonus in having two pianists at this concert though as we were treated to a performance by both of them at the same time which is a rare treat ! I really enjoyed listening to them both play with each other and for us. All in all, it was a concert that I was happy that I attended as I was able to experience two things I had not experienced before - Luca Buratto's interesting performance and two concert pianists playing a piano duo together.

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