Monday, February 4, 2013

Radu Lupu & Beethoven

Photo: Intermission @ Avery Fisher Hall NY Philharmonic

Radu Lupu did not make eye contact with the public until the end of his piano recital, when he almost transferred the ovations from himself  to the members of the orchestra, in an elegant gesture. In the piano breaks of the Concerto, he watched the conductor and his fellow instrumentalists with his hands crossed on his chest, legs slightly apart, leaning back in his seat (he prefers chairs to benches), waiting for his parts. He is not acting dramatically while performing, he doesn’t sweat, he doesn’t ask for moments of recollection, he doesn’t solemnly stretch his fingers or his back, he doesn’t sway his body. When playing, his left hand makes 360 degrees wide circles reaching higher than his shoulders, most graciously, before joining his right on the piano keys. Confident, but not stormy, he did not seem to be good at flirting with the public. But, he never makes attempts.


And he delivers. There is a story about another famous pianist: Sviatoslav Richter (Russia, 1915-1997). Apparently Richter gave a performance in a room where  the windows had been broken in by a fierce blizzard outside. The icy air circulated the room, making it as cold as the weather. People know that is close to impossible to play the piano with frozen hands, because the fingers just won’t move. Richter played calmly and finished in applause. It reminded me of Lupu. Lupu looks like he would probably have done the same.

This week marked the competition between the two most important concert halls in NYC: Carnegie Hall and Avery @ NYC Philharmonic. Carnegie staged all of Beethoven’s 9 symphonies over four days, at noon.  Carnegie was sold out days before the concerts - it brought together a group of Israeli, Palestinian, plus other Arab musicians known as West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.

The Philharmonic coupled Radu Lupu with Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1, and ended the three nights with the 5th. Usually, part of the public leaves the the hall as soon as the concert had ended in an attempt to avoid the exit lines. This time nobody rushed. First round of applause. Second. Third. Forth. Outside started snowing. Small flags, warm night, a thin white carpet.

Ta ta ta taaaaaa

Radu Lupu, 67, Romanian born pianist - New Yorker calls him A Genius, and he is more present in over the world magazines than Bat Man in Comic Books. He dislikes interviews. Connoisseurs say that he “makes magic”. Lupu means "The Wolf" in Romanian