This year, the Pianoscope Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary. Ten years in the old Picardy city of Beauvais, ten years under artistic direction of the pianist Boris Berezovsky and ten years with the participation of renowned musicians who meet each other in remarkable piano and chamber music formations, specially for this occasion.

Boris Berezovsky © David Crookes | Warner Classics
Boris Berezovsky
© David Crookes | Warner Classics

The programme of the opening concert of this jubilee edition was already promising enough but the changes announced duiring the concert made it even more noteworthy. In his welcome speech Berezovsky dedicated it to friendship and new discoveries. The atmospere on stage was plainly amicable and joyous, and the public, placed closely around the grand piano, had every reason to feel involved. 

As a hospitable host, Boris Berezovsky opened the concert, inviting us to rediscover the serenity and sincerity of Edvard Grieg’s Lyric Pieces. His selection of eight contrasting miniatures, played in a quiasi-improvising manner as if they were being composed right here and right now, revealed the various shades and gradations of moods, sentiments and tempers. Light and shade alternated with each other, formed patterns of succeeding impressions: the litheness of the Butterfly and the explosivity of the March of the Trolls, the fluidity of Berceuse and the energy of Dance, the melancholy of Vision, the calm of Solitary traveller, the hopeful exuberance of Homeward and the cheerful spirit of the Wedding day at Troldhaugen. All these short stories and images were bright, lucid and brisk and created a vivid sense of attachment between the pianist, the music he interpeted and his listeners. 

The Norwegian musical feast was unexpectedly continued, as the announced suite Ma Mère l’Oye was replaced by two Norwegian Dances. Berezovsky played them with the main discovery of this evening, the young French pianist Lucas Debargue. The public’s favourite at the recent Tchaikovsky Piano Competition, he got the opportunity to present himself in two duets with Boris Berezovsky and the violist Michael Guttman and, after a break, as soloist. The two pianists enjoyed clearly the Dances and their contributions to the coloristic and rhythmic variety of Grieg’s compositions. They encouraged and challenged each other and played with a relaxed sense of fun. The calmness of Berezovsky provided a good balance to the yourthful enthousiasm of Debargue.

The next Debargue-Guttman duet was evenly matched. The fragile, breakable violin timbre and a soft piano accompaniment created a sense of intimacy and personal feeling in an unannounced but welcome Berceuse by Gabriel Fauré. A second later the duo ‘exploded’ in passionate sounds of the (also unlisted) Bordello 1900 and Nightclub 1960 from Astor Piazzolla’s History of Tango. While Guttman ensured the multitude of sounds effects and tone colours, Lucas Debargue surrounded the snobbing and singing violin with brilliant, sharp and brittle conglomerations of igniting passages and percussion rythms. 

The new burst of energy was provided immediately after a break, with the excellently played Shrovetide Fair’s parts from Petrushka by Igor Stravinsky. Hélène Mercier and Boris Berezovsky formed an impressive duet, close to perfection in its musical coherency. Every pianist had his own distinctive voice, but together they could reach the expressive, almost orchestral power.

The closing part of the concert was in hands of Lucas Debargue. The poetical beauty of the Frédéric Chopin’s fourth Ballade and the breathtaking lightness and virtuosity of Maurice Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit showed him as an intellegent interpteter, who was aware of every detail and could let music breath with his delicate and sensitive touchér. While playing Debargue was totally involved in the music and completely absorbed by it. The audience could impossible stay indifferent and had to listen extremely intently and consciously.

With its partly changed programme the opening evening of the 10th Pianoscope Festival became a discovery-concert as Berezovsky already hoped. From the first till the last music note it presented a numbereless variety of subtle schadings and differences. The public in the sold out concert hall of Maladrerie Saint-Lazare accumulated different kinds of musical experience, varying greatly in range and scope of all musical expressions: from serenity, sorrow and passion to exuberance, delight and triumph. The pianoscope as it really meant to be.

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