I have to say, it was definitely one of his better ideas!
The pianists were two had reached the second round, but not the semi-final, stage of the big competition that was ongoing in Jaen. This is the 57th year of this international and very prestigious competition, though I'd never heard of it before. There were 19 pianists at this stage and I think it is an excellent idea that the 13 that didn't reach the finals spent the next few days doing recitals in local towns in the province. These included concerts in Ubeda, Linares, Baeza, Huelma and our own town, where they came to the beautiful old building that is home to the 'Pep Ventura' Music Conservatory, part of the local museum.
We went with Ruy and Romy, and as we waited in a rather small recital hall with children aged between about 8 and 15, plus a few parents and some of the teachers, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. As it turned out, we were in for a real surprise. The two young pianists - one Russian, one Japanese - played Prokofiev's 4th Sonata - quite a heavy work - and Ravel's 'Gaspar de la Nuit', a notoriously difficult piece, respectively and both pianists held us spellbound. I was really impressed with both of them and staggered at the level of their performances. These were two who hadn't reached the semi-finals....
I also had quite a cathartic moment when the Japanese pianist returned without too much encouragement to give us an encore. He played a Chopin Etude which I knew exceedingly well, it being a piece my ex used to play a lot. I honestly don't think I've listened to a live piano recital in the last 20 years since we split up and I couldn't quite contain the huge emotions it created in me. I cry very easily at music, always have, but this felt to come from very deep down. I hasten to add, I don't miss the ex at all but I do miss hearing him play - possibly more than I realised. It was a very powerful moment. Afterwards, I was able to speak to both musicians, though the Russian said his Spanish was better than his English, and to tell them how wonderful they were. I came home quite on a cloud.
And still on the cloud, I did a bit of research about the competition and found that the final was to be held the next day in Jaen. However, all the tickets had been sold...but a bit more digging uncovered the information that the winner of the competition would play a concert in Granada on the Saturday. It didn't take too much persuasion for FR to book us some of the very last tickets available. It is quite to our shame that thus far, we haven't taken our children to a 'proper' concert but this felt like the perfect time to put that right.
So we set off on Saturday evening, parked at the Alhambra, as you do and mooched down through the beautiful old streets next to this glorious Moorish palace to the Manuel de Falla Concert Hall.
It's not a bad setting to go and listen to music....
|View towards an incredible hotel (centre) where my friends Denise and Jim stayed |
when they were visiting last year.
|Walking towards the concert hall - gorgeous colours as the sun starts to set|
|View of Granada|
|Lovely courtyard and yes, that 'man' in denim top left is Mateo....|
(Our family is rather like a group of cats...they all wander off in different directions
as soon as they're given a second of freedom!)
As for the concert - well, the winner of the competition was a 16 year old girl from Canada, Anastasia Rizikov and she was going to play Chopin's 2nd Piano Concerto. Only 16 - and the winner not just of the competition but also the two additional prizes for the best interpretation of Spanish music and also for contemporary music. We had a feeling she must be good.
I was so unprepared for the confidence and absolute mastery she had of the instrument. She was a consummate performer, showing not the slightest amount of nerves but communicating an excitement at playing. I don't think there would be anything she couldn't play and she deserved the fantastic response that brought her back to perform two encores,
You can't see much on this photo as I just wildly pointed and clicked just before she left for the last time - she's the little figure at the front in a red dress!
Here she is at the ripe old age of 12 - and if you check her out on YouTube, you can see why she's been performing since she was 7. Truly incredible talent. I can't imagine the hours of work she's put in and how incredibly musically mature she is. Maybe some people are just born to play the piano...
The rest of the concert was also lovely and we heard a modern piece, which I quite enjoyed for its orchestration but which didn't appeal too much to the younger members of the family...but they were impressed when, at the end, the composer left his seat in the audience to take a bow. And then, to finish, we had the glorious and uplifting Schubert 5th Symphony. The orchestra was excellent and the conductor, Paul Mann, a real pleasure to watch. (We were behind the orchestra and so had a really good view.) As we left, Mateo thanked me for 'forcing' him to go....he absolutely loved it. (I didn't force him really, but I told him not to make any other arrangements for the evening and it just so happened his friend was in town that day...visiting from Granada, ironically.)
And what could be better? Well, Romy's come home with the desire to start playing our electric piano and she spent several hours yesterday willing to listen to and follow my instructions and by the end of the day, had mastered the scale of C, both hands and two easy duets that we played together. I am delighted.
Note to self....MORE MUSIC PLEASE!!!