18 noiembrie 2013

Valentina Lisitsa. Solitude and Communication.

An artist takes risks”, this is how one could sum up what the pianist Valentina Lisitsa shared with the Bucharest press and audience on 5th November 2013, at the Romanian Athenaeum. The risk of honesty, of acknowledging the self, and, in Valentina’s particular case, the courage of using the mechanisms of solitude to communicate. To bring people to a concert hall, first by captivating their attention in the solitude of the YouTube research, taking them away from the glow of the screens, to listen to live, unmediated music, and, most of all, to listen to it together. 
There aren’t many artists out there who would allow you to come as close with such warmth and honesty. In the day of the concert in Bucharest, Valentina Lisitsa gave interviews where she revealed herself naturally and generously, allowing those curious to participate in the rehearsals as well. And we are not talking about a few notes to accommodate with the instrument and the concert hall, but about a genuine session of intense and inexhaustible practice, without any emotional breaks, with punctual assertiveness, with spontaneous crossovers from one musical piece to the next, without producing any scores from her purse, regardless of the extended programme.  It was a rehearsal in which she displayed complete and utter control, where there was no room for arbitrariness, where those present tided more and more, whilst the pianist became more and more cerebral and present, and the return to selfhood occurred gradually: a reverie in Chopin, a lesson in ideology in Beethoven, a search for sound in Rachamaninov and the overcoming of technical difficulties in Prokofiev and Liszt.  

The paradox of the solo recital is exactly this recursion towards the self, mandatory of the goal is to maintain a full auditorium captivated. Valentina Lisitsa coagulates around herself millions of views, thousands of tickets sold and keeps the relationship with the public alive through dialogues abounding in musical explanations, life stories and charming expressions.  She shares her energies with everyone, she gathers the audience in concert halls, imposes the simultaneous emotional stance only to resume herself on stage in perfect isolation and focus. The distances between loneliness and communion with the audience suffer from subtle alterations to fit every piece approached, and the concert on November 5th was no exception.
The recital started with 6 preludes by Sergey Rachmaninov. The prelude is the most liberal musical form, reason why it was so beloved to the romantic and post-romantic composers. The prelude places in foreground the musical expression of a well-defined feeling. The role of the interpreter is that of identifying and filtering that feeling through their own experiences. Valentina Lisitsa judiciously calibrated her emotional expression, starting from the clarity of the reverie in Opus 32 no. 5 in G Major, getting the audience in the ‘listening mode’, regressing, more and more, towards her inner turmoil, and towards a sound far away from any aesthetics void of content for the rest of the preludes. 
Next we listened to the 7th Sonata in B major by Sergey Prokofiev, a musical piece whose free spirit fully resonated with the complexity of the score. Lisitsa creates and admirable musical construct, idea upon idea, treating them as moves of an imaginary game of chess that she finds so dear. In the first part, I bring forth only one of the many simple examples of coherence: the change in sonority at the return of the overwhelming notes from the second theme, with a darker and more resigned timbre than the one used in the intro. This sound prepared the audience for the dramatism of the transcendent polyphonies in the second part of the sonata, a moment of extraordinary intensity where the music rendered absorbed each breath of the auditorium, only to release them as a flow of fantastic energy in the third part.
If in Rachmaninov we have accepted with interest the sometimes rough and direct attack, in the Beethoven Sonata  op 57 ‘Appassionata’ the impulsive approach of the grand nuances minimised  the immense edifice that Valentina Lisitsa handles perfectly from a compositional point of view, each phrase and motif and, at the same time, a clash of ideas being almost explained to the audience. 

The second part of the concert was a demonstration of solitude and communication at the same time. In the eight nocturnes written by Fr. Chopin, the style faded in favour of personal feeling, transcending beyond stage and applauses, and, in Liszt’s Totentanz, the choice of additional pedal stomping placed the variations on the emblematic Dies Irae in the sombre, yet explosive area of Liszt’s creation, which the Ukrainian pianist took on fully and without hesitation, under the acclamations of the entire audience.  
With obvious pleasure, the energy transferred from the audience, turned into four encores, all of them romantic:  Ave Maria by Schubert, King of the Elves by Schubert in Liszt’s transcription, the Paganini-Liszt etude La campanella and the 12th Rhapsody by Franz Liszt. Of those special moments, one stood out, and that was related to the artist’s option of pedalling before the reprise of the Liszt etude, more pronounced than in other interpretations, the element of risk, the note of eeriness of the ending, perfectly justified by the current musical perception of classical music which Valentina Lisitsa shares with her audience, through all media, but mostly unmediated, directly, claiming, at the end, the solitary meditation of the return to the inner self.
Sabina Ulubeanu, composer
Translator: Ionela Chirilă

PS. The concert was organized by Rama Events and communicated by OMAVISION.
I was pictured here on the 5th of November by  Cornel Brad,  who was just establishing my writing passion  :)

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