Thursday 11 August 2011

Proms are not the only festival: A report from Verbier

Here's a reminder that the Proms are not the only big draw for soloists looking for some summertime fun.  The Verbier Festival runs for a couple of weeks from the end of July in the Swiss mountain resort of the same name and attracts a starry roster of famous musicians.  Friend of Devil's Trill Philippa has sent me this short report on the 2011 festival:

"I had a great time in Verbier and the Festival was as good as ever – something happening all the time from 9am until late – open rehearsals, master classes for voice, piano, violin, cello and chamber, free concerts every day given by members of the Verbier Festival Academy (mostly all with solo experience), interviews with some of the stars (Anne-Sophie Mutter was interviewed by James Naughtie), and of course the concerts in the main venues – the Eglise and the Salle de Combins.   Also every evening there was a free Jazz concert in the main square.

"Alfred Brendel was there for a few days – not performing but he took some of the master classes for voice and piano.   Violinist Joshua Bell was in good form in the three concerts he performed in.   It was good to hear him play works I’d not heard him play before.   On 25th he played Vieuxtemps's Violin Concerto No. 5 and also Ysaye's Poeme de L’Amitie for two violins with Renaud Capucon.   In the Gala concert on 26th he just played the first movement from Ysaye's Sonata for 2 violins with Leonidas Kavakos and, on 29th, he played in the Brahms Second String Quintet.  Martha Argerich played in the Gala concert on 26th – a brief appearance with Evgeny Kissin where they played Lutoslowski Variations de Paganini for 2 pianos.   This was a rather moving concert which had opened with Yuri Bashmet and Kissin playing Brahms Viola Sonata No. 2 – Bashmet then played an encore which he dedicated to his father who had died the previous evening.   He left the stage with tears glistening on his cheeks."  

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