It is by complete coincidence that I arrived in Eindhoven for the Rothstein wedding celebrations to find the Storioni Chamber Festival in full flight in the Musikgebouw. These two magnificent halls that make up this concert complex in the middle of a thriving commercial centre in the heart of this vibrant city – the home of Philips and much more besides.
The Storioni Trio playing the Triple concerto written especially for them by Kalevi Aho. It received a very fine performance with the Gurzenich Kammer Orchester Koln under Daniel Raiskin with Wouter Vossen, violin, Marc Vossen, cello, Bart van der Roer, piano.
This concert in three parts under the title of Storioni Night began at 8.15 and after two intervals finished around midnight with an encore of Bizet from the Chamber Orchestra of Cologne after a magnificent performance of Souvenir de Florence.
A nice tradition here is that complimentary drinks are served in the interval and ensures an almost party atmosphere especially welcome on these balmy nights of superb hausmusik. The concert had begun with Finghin Collins playing Debussy L`isle joyeuse. Finghin who I met last summer in the Szigeti/Menuhin Festival in Sermoneta near my home in Latina, Italy.
Last year he was playing in duo with that superb violinist Fabrizio von Arx but it was also in the passionate musicality of solo works by Brahms that I discovered the first prize winner of the Clara Haskil Competition.
Tonight too in L`isle joyeuse there was the same passion, intelligence and masterly playing that has always remained in my memory from Annie Fischer playing it as an encore in the Ghione Theatre in Rome many years ago.
It is fitting that he should have been recognised at the competition that bears the name of that other legendary woman musician pianist Clara Haskil. Finghin playing in duo too with Lilli Maijala, viola, in two of the Marchenbilder by Schumann. Some exquisite playing from both the piano integrating so well with the sumptuous sounds of the viola. The piano lid fully open allowed the warm acoustic of the 1200 seat hall to create an intimacy that was hard to find in the smaller 400 seat hall next door. I always remember Fou Ts`ong confiding to me that it is much easier to find that intimacy of close comunication in a hall of thousands than it is in one of only hundreds!
The solo viola answered by a pure simple piano sound that Pressler has shown us is possible in a lifetime`s dedication to musical values. A Larghetto for horn and piano by Chabrier with Herve Joulain and Bart van de Roer on loan from the Storioni Trio. A piece of great effect that owes much to Saint Saens in its great sweep and delicacy especially in the scintillating writing for the piano. The Storioni Trio were then joined by that master viola player Amihai Grosz, lead viola player from the Berlin Philharmonic. A performance of Mahler`s Piano Quartet of 1876. An early work full of scintillating colours and play between the intruments. Amihai Grosz igniting the proceedings with his animal like participation. A beautifully simple account of Mozart Piano Concerto K. 414 was given such a lovingly intelligent performance by Ronald Brautigam. A Liszt type figure with his great white locks that deceptively hid a soul of pure gold.
An intelligence and measure that only confirms the great musicianship for which he is rightly famed. Aided and abetted by the conductor Daniel Raiskin in an exemplarily crystal clear account of this early concerto, one of the three K 413/4/5 for string orchestra.
A beautiful performance of Tchaikowsky`s Souvenir de Florence with the Cologne Chamber Orchestr, this time without the policeman. Listening so attentively to each other and yielding with such flexibility when in turn the violin, viola and cello were at the helm. The encore of a slow piece from the suite by Bizet drew us in even closer to the intimacy that had been shared with us all tonight.