Steven Isserlis and Robert Levin
AMICI DELLA MUSICA FIRENZE
Teatro della Pergola Saloncino, 24 and 25 November 2018
On two successive days, in the beautiful city of Florence in late November, the great Steven Isserlis and Robert Levin gave us wonderful performances of the whole of Beethoven’s sonatas for cello and piano (and a few other Ludwig tunes besides). Pretty good, huh?
It was about 4pm, on the afternoon of the 24th (a fairly grey, rainy afternoon as I recall), that we got:
- Twelve variations in G major on the theme “See the Conqu’ring Hero Comes” of the “Giuda Maccabeo” oratory of G.F. Handel
- Sonata No 1 in F major
- Twelve variations in F major on “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from “Die Zauberflöte” by W.A. Mozart
- Sonata in F major for horn (transcription for cello by Beethoven)
- Sonata No 3 in A major
Then on the evening of the 25th, a 9pm start this time and so rather later than is usual in Britain, we received a second gift:
- Seven variations in E flat major on “Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen” from “Die Zauberflöte” by W.A. Mozart
- Sonata No 2 in G minor
- Sonata No 4 in C major
- Sonata No 5 in D major
So six sonatas altogether and myriad variations of some sort or another, all penned by the greatest composer who ever lived. Aesthetic overload, if ever there was. Steven Isserlis and Robert Levin played like angels (and – I hope that he will forgive me for saying so – Isserlis looks like an angel, as I imagine one anyway). Beethoven heaven.
Was this all, did it end there? Somewhat reluctantly – for I fear the animosity that envy may inspire – I must say No. I must reveal that we also attended another concert on the following evening.
It was on 26 November at 9pm, in the Teatro della Pergola’s Saloncino (same time, same elegant venue), that we saw the Quartetto di Cremona (Cristiano Gualco and Paolo Andreoli on violin, Simone Gramaglia on viola and Giovanni Scaglione on cello), accompanied by Anna Geniushene on piano, play the following:
- Webern: Langsamersatz
- Shostakovich: Quintet with piano in G minor
- Franck: Quintet with piano in F minor
And, crazily enough, that concert was quite sublime as well.
What to say about AMICI DELLA MUSICA FIRENZE? Well, they put on some wonderful concerts, for a start. The organisation was started by a group of chamber music enthusiasts – friends of music – after the First World War and, as well as concerts, they also run masterclasses, festivals and educational projects. Actually, their concerts remind me of those run by the Manchester Chamber Concerts Society: world class musicians at the top of their game.
As for the concert venue, the Teatro della Pergola, it is right in the centre of Florence, a few streets away from the Duomo. The via della Pergola is a narrow street, parallel with the Borgo Pinti, and from the outside you somehow don’t suspect how spacious and salubrious the theatre is once you open up the doors and go inside. (This is true of many buildings in Florence.)
If you are planning a trip to Florence and enjoy listening to chamber music in an elegant, intimate setting, you should definitely check out what AMICI DELLA MUSICA FIRENZE have to offer.
Steven Isserlis’s website is here.
Robert Levin’s website is here.
Quartetto di Cremona’s website is here.
Anna Geniushene’s website is here.
The Teatro della Pergola website is here.
Details of forthcoming AMICI DELLA MUSICA FIRENZE concerts can be found here.