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Speaking of Pianists » Blog Archive » Life of the Party

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    Life of the Party

    Pianist Marino Formenti’s upcoming recital program in Portland is without a doubt the most unusual I’ve ever seen. It reads like a history of music, but condensed to fit in one evening. The program features music of Guillaume de Machaut (died, 1377, way before the piano was around) and through to György Kurtág (still living). Yes, Bach, Haydn, Schubert and Chopin, among others, are present. Did I say there were 69 pieces?

    The pieces are short, of course, but that’s not the most fascinating aspect of Formenti’s thinking. The recital program is titled “Kurtag’s Ghosts”.

    “One of the problems of concerts in the modern age is that people often have to come from the office … and they have all their quotidian concerns with them,” he says. “They come, and they get a place — row number whatever, seat whatever — and they have to sit down. It’s a little like factory chickens. And we say, ‘Now it’s time for art, for the ultimate revelation.’ Length is also a problem, the idea that you have to have 90 minutes of music. It’s like going to the gym. It’s a stiff form — too stiff for me.” (Formenti’s words)

    The following sentences are excerpted from Joshua Kosman’s two complete reviews in SF Gate (home of the San Francisco Chronicle) on April 15th and 17th of last year following Formenti’s recitals. The reviews are titled Life of the Party and A whole new way to do a recital.

    “It’s not every day you encounter a musical event that can honestly be described as unlike any other. Sunday’s extraordinary recital by pianist Marino Formenti was one.”

    “He presents “piano parties,” events lasting up to six hours in which guests eat, drink and socialize between musical interludes.”

    (Formenti’s) “program, titled “Kurtág’s Ghosts,” is studded with his explicitly labeled homages to his colleagues and predecessors.”

    “The guiding spirit behind Sunday’s recital….was György Kurtág, the 81-year-old Hungarian composer who is finally being recognized as one of the great and distinctive musical voices of our time.”

    “What James Joyce did for the novel, Formenti seems intent on doing for the piano recital. The results were unforgettable.”

    “Technically, he is a wizard, with a wealth of tone colors at his disposal, a huge dynamic range and the ability to get around the keyboard with terrifying accuracy and stamina.”

    “He is a unique artist, whose presentations should not be missed.”

    The Portland International Piano Festival begins in 18 days. Don’t miss this one.

    portlandpiano.org

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