Swiss festivals pack a satisfying musical punch, so don't miss today's live concert by Charles Dutoit and Yuja Wang
Today marks the start of the professional concerts at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland, which runs to Aug. 1. That means a rich selection of performances being streamed in high definition on medici.tv. The festival attracts the best of the best.
Tonight's opening concert features pianist Yuja Wang and conductor Charles Dutoit in prorgamme of Enesco, Prokofiev (the Second Piano Concerto) and Mahler (First Symphony). The truly phenomenal Wang is in residence, so there are, I think, three performances of hers that will be available on the Web, including a solo recital.
That concert will stream live today at 1 p.m. EDST
Also coming up is a solo recital by tenor Rolando Villazón, with Hélène Grimaud as accompanist, on July 31.
The festival has a new indoor venue, the Salle des Combins, which is no aesthetic gift to the breathtakingly-set Alpine ski village, but should make for a great concert experience. The festival uses a number of old churches in the area, and a local movie theatre for late-night concerts.
This year, the great Elisabeth Leonskaja (who turns 65 this fall) is presenting the full cycle of Schubert piano sonatas at the venue, starting tomorrow night.
You won't catch Leonskaya on medici.tv's schedule, so, to get a taste of her lovely Schubert, here she is giving the E-flat Op. 90 Impromptu her silken touch in Gstaad a few weeks ago:
PROJECT MARTHA ARGERICH NETS FINE CD BOX
Pianist Martha Argerich is a regular guest at Verbier, fresh from her own festival, the chamber-music-focused Martha Argerich Project, in Lugano.
The big revelation for me was Ernest Bloch's Piano Quintet No. 1, which crashes and bangs about in a crazy way in the first movement, has a haunting "Andante mistico" second movement, then begins a frenzy in the third movement which ends with a magical suspended ending that I've had to listen to over and over again.
The list of performers on the CD set is as long as the festival's programme. The Bloch is performed by pianist Lilya Zilberstein, violinists Alissa Margoulis Lucia Hall, Nora Romanoff-Schwartzberg, viola, and Mark Drobinsky on cello.
There are 19th century chestnuts here, too, including a whole disc devoted to Mendelssohn, Schumann and Chopin, as well as a disc of Russian treats. The overriding impression from listening to the set is one of boundless energy and verve in the musicmaking. (For all the details, click on the CD image.)