Day 3: Martha Argerich Project Blog–Wardrobe, Bach, Maisky, and More

In this entry: Maisky at the Cinema, A triple wardrobe change, Lugano nightlife and restaurants, ballroom dancers in the streets, and other tales. Includes many photos~

[As part of an International Festival Society grant for my summer musical plans (including the Martha Argerich Project in Lugano) I am keeping a little daily log of the goings-on, because many of them have been extraordinary, weird, or surprising. This is a public blog post, so I tried my utmost to protect the privacy of all involved while recounting these stories.]

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A Summer Day in the City

Weekends here in Europe prove challenging for those attempting to keep gluten-free or low-carb diets, since the bakeries and cafés display their full repertoire to hapless passing visitors. Fortunately, the sheer amount of walking required here offsets the requisite guilt.

Old-world cafés with a view to the Lake are perfect for croissants and espresso

Old-world cafés with a view to the Lake are perfect for croissants and espresso, and perhaps the morning paper

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If one must be indoors here, there are inviting and trendy choices

Piazza Riforma in the afternoon

Piazza Riforma in the afternoon–one of many plazas joined by interior streets

Today the streets felt as though the whole purpose of the town was to promenade in the golden sun. If I lived in a setting like this, work indoors would prove exceedingly difficult. But in fact, there are restaurants with very inviting interiors.

The lingering excitement from the incredible solo piano recital last night from Sergei Babayan once again inhibited a good night of sleep. It is difficult to describe the presence of a great artist before your very ears and eyes. After the concert and dinner, both Argerich and Babayan returned immediately to the Radio hall at the top of the mountain to practice and rehearse the July 1st program, incredibly finishing well after dawn.

My presence as a page turner was not required at today’s rehearsals, which were undoubtedly even more intense and extended. This pace was a distinct contrast to my hopping between café-lined squares of well-dressed locals and browsing the window displays of the boutiques–here they are mostly high-end fashion retail.

Needing some time to ponder all the experiences of the past few days, I retired back to the solitude of my hotel room to rest. Meanwhile, a group of my friends visiting the festival along with me took a tour of Lake Lugano in a rented motorboat.

Lake Lugano by boat

Lake Lugano by boat–a different perspective on the beauty of the surroundings

I can't believe I'm posting a food picture. There is little one can do with such pictures as a spectator, except realize what one is not eating

I can’t believe I’m posting a food picture–there is little one can do with such pictures as a reader, except realize what one is not eating


Free Evening Concert: Maisky at the Movie Theater

Undoubtedly the surprise of the day was the discovery of a not well-publicized free evening concert by the great Russian cellist Misha Maisky, who in fact sat next to me at the concert two nights ago. I have collected many of Maisky’s recordings and have several favorites, but this would be the first time hearing him in concert–here in J.S. Bach’s Solo Suites 1,4, and 5; the concert took place in the Citadella. To my surprise, this venue turned out to be a movie theater. After an Italian dinner in yet a smaller plaza, my friends and I rushed to find seats at Maisky’s concert. Second row left was a unique vantage point to an intensely personal reading of the Suites. Full of expression and varied phrases, Maisky’s Bach was dynamic and breathing. One thing I had never seen before: the hall was dimmed to the following sight for several minutes before each piece and Maisky’s entrance to the stage, thereby creating the silence and anticipation as the backdrop on which the music would soon be painted.

A single bench and spotlight on stage illuminated a darkened hall for a full five minutes before each piece, inviting silence and anticipation

A single bench and spotlight on stage illuminated a darkened hall for a full five minutes before each piece, inviting silence and anticipation

To emphasize the different characters of each suite, Maisky wore three different outfits–in order, silvery-white, blue, then black. Could this have accounted for the long amount of time between numbers?

Bowing before the Fifth Suite, in black

Bowing before the Fifth Suite, in black

 

After completing the Fourth Suite, in blue

After completing the Fourth Suite, in blue

 

Radiant in the Bach encore--for me the highlight of the evening

Radiant in the Bach encore–for me the highlight of the evening

The city is full of elegant restaurants and wine bars with local specialties

The city is full of elegant restaurants and wine bars with local specialties

Backstage and downstairs I found a crowd of many familiar faces and friends waiting to congratulate Mr. Maisky. The wooden changing booths, I couldn’t help but notice, looked like confessional stalls complete with black curtains. Maisky’s children, approximately my age, were there and extremely friendly and helpful in navigating the labyrinth of the backstage, literally and figuratively.

Dancing in the Streets at Midnight

Ahead of the departure of my two close friends from Cleveland, a group of us strolled to a wine bar outside of which was happening an outsized night-time dance celebration in the closed-off streets.

Even approaching midnight, thousands of people filled the streets to dance, drink, and be merry. It was a carnival atmosphere, and a festive immersion in the city’s culture.

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In the arcades and in the streets, large numbers of locals of all ages were dancing around midnight

In the arcades and in the streets, large numbers of locals of all ages were dancing around midnight

Provide your own caption

Provide your own caption; notice the bemused smile on the gentleman standing to the extreme right

 

Some of the more incredible dancers looked suspiciously Latin

Some of the more incredible dancers looked suspiciously Latin

 

Meanwhile, just behind the rows of giant blue snails, crowds of young people gathered on the docks that had been floating biergartens

Meanwhile, just behind the rows of giant blue snails, crowds of young people gathered on the docks that had been floating biergartens

Always a good time--anytime, any place, even before the giant blue snails

Always a good time to dance–anytime, any place, even before the giant blue snails

 

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