Part 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.]
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.