Andrej Bielow, Anastasia Kobekina & Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula
Lysenko / Beethoven / Tchaikovsky

Alte Kirche, Boswil, 2022-03-26

0.5-star rating

2022-04-05 — Original posting



Table of Contents


Alte Kirche Boswil, 2022-03-26
Alte Kirche Boswil, 2022-03-26 (© Rolf Kyburz, all rights reserved)

Introduction

Venue, Date & TimeAlte Kirche Boswil, 2022-03-26 19:00h
Series / TitleBoswiler Meisterkonzert
Konzert für Menschlichkeit und Frieden
OrganizerKünstlerhaus Boswil — Haus der Musik
Reviews from related eventsConcerts with Anastasia Kobekina
Concerts at Alte Kirche Boswil

The Artists

Andrej Bielow, Violin

The Ukrainian violinist Andrej Bielow (*1981) started taking violin lessons at age 5. In 1993, he attended the special music boarding school in Kyiv (a.k.a. Kiev). His Web biography states that “Having recognized his talent, Prof. Michael Kusnetsov took the eleven-year-old boy into his family and guided his further musical education.” At age 15, Andrej Bielow moved to Germany, to study with Krzysztof Węgrzyn (*1953) at the University of Music and Drama in Hannover. From there, continued studies took him to artists such as Gerard Poulet (*1938) in Paris, Herman Krebbers (1923 – 2018), Ida Haendel (1928 – 2020), Ana Chumachenko (*1945), and more recently Alfred Brendel (*1931).

Apart from pursuing a successful international career as concert violinist, chamber musician and recording artist, Andrej Bielow is also teacher at the University of Arts in Graz. He is also regular visiting teacher at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Andrej Bielow is performing on a 1998 violin by Stefan-Peter Greiner, Bonn (now in London).

Anastasia Kobekina, Cello

I don’t need to introduce the Russian cellist Anastasia Kobekina (Анастасия Кобекина, born 1994 in Yekaterinburg, see also Wikipedia). I have written about her in reviews of several of her concerts / recitals, see the link above. Anastasia Kobekina performs on the 1698 cello “De Kermadec-Bläss by Antonio Stradivari (1644 – 1737), on loan from the Habisreutinger Stradivari Foundation.

Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula, Piano

The Swiss musician Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula (*1991) is not only pianist, but also a composer. See my review from Anastasia Kobekina’s recital in Zurich, on 2021-04-25. Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula has received his education from notable teachers at both the HÉMU in Lausanne, as well as at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. For details, teachers, etc., see the artist’s biography. He has received awards and high praise as a composer. In parallel to his activities as composer, he has launched a successful career as pianist. He is now concertizing all over Europe, as well as in North America.

Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula’s performed on a Steinway D-274 concert grand. The lid remained half-closed during the entire concert.

Anastasia Kobekina, Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula @ Alte Kirche Boswil, 2022-03-26
Anastasia Kobekina, Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula (turning pages: the organizer, Andreas Fleck)
Boswil, 2022-03-26 (© Rolf Kyburz, all rights reserved)

Concerts with Russian Artists During the War Against Ukraine

On 2022-02-24, the Kremlin had launched its gruesome, horrible and completely unjustified invasion into Ukraine. We all were shocked, if not devastated. And I was worried about my several musician friends from the area of the former USSR. As if the past years hadn’t been horrifying enough, with the suppression of free media and any opposition, the prosecution and attempted poisoning of Alexei Navalny, the assassination of Anna Politkovskaya, the poisoning of the Skripals, etc.

In March I noted that opera houses and concert organizers were banning artists who overtly support Putin and/or the war against Ukraine. There, I have no objections, of course. However, much to my worries, some institutions started banning Russian composers, such as Tchaikovsky. This I find utterly nonsensical. Tchaikovsky cannot possibly be linked to the invasion in Ukraine. And it doesn’t help a single Ukrainian if we ban his music. Last, but not least, the war criminals in the Kremlin couldn’t care less if we ignore Russian music.

With all these irritations, it came as a much-needed relief that my wife and I had the opportunity to attend a duo recital with Anastasia Kobekina and Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula. This was supposed to happen on 2022-03-20 at Kartause Ittingen, Warth TG, at the northern rim of Switzerland. We both had our tickets and were eagerly looking forward to the encounter with these two artists.

An Insulting Cancellation

Then, exactly one week prior to the event, I received a shocking cancellation message from the Kartause Ittingen (not the organizer), announcing that this concert was canceled. The venue’s justification: “(…) The reason is the Russian nationality of the artist, but not the young musician herself. Anastasia Kobekina vehemently condemns Russia’s war against Ukraine. (…)”.

I found that revolting. So, I wrote a furious letter to the Kartause, with copy to the organizer. I received a response that tried explaining that decision with better wording. I could see their reasoning, but certainly would not agree with it. And the message did not contain an apology of any kind.

I contacted Anastasia and helped her with the translation of the cancellation letter, which she then posted on the social media (I did the same in my Facebook channel). Of course, I wasn’t the only one vehemently complaining. The Kartause followed up with more elaborate explanations on their Website, but didn’t revise their decision, nor did they ever produce an apology, to this day. It turned out that for their decision, the Kartause hadn’t even consulted the organizer of the duo recital, Hochuli Konzert AG. The only solace: Mr. Hochuli stated that he would try organizing a “replacement concert” very soon.

Boswil to the Rescue!

The rescue came sooner than expected. It turns out that Anastasia has a strong support base in Switzerland. Within a few days after the cancellation, two organizers managed to arrange for “substitute events”. These took place during the week following the canceled duo recital. Both were set up as benefit concerts in favor of the people in Ukraine:


Program

Neither of the above two “substitute events” were replicas of the original duo recital, which featured compositions by Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula, Igor Stravinsky (1882 – 1971), and César Franck. In line with the dedication of the event as benefit concert for Ukraine (with the title “Konzert für Menschlichkeit und Frieden” / Concert for Humaneness and Peace), the Ukrainian violinist Andrej Bielow joined the artists for a new program, and the concert opened with a work by a Ukrainian composer:


Setting, etc.

The venue (close to 300 seats) was completely sold out (tickets at unit price, with invitation for donations, free seating). My wife and I arrived early, so we could grab the two seats in the center of the balcony. The organizers offered a live video stream of the event, see below.


Concert & Review

Before the artists entered the stage, Christine Egerszegy-Obrist (*1948, see also Wikipedia) well-known Swiss politician and former President of the Swiss National Council gave an introductory presentation. In well-set words, she reflected upon the events that led to this concert (as outlined above). She also expressed her gratitude to the organizers of the event, namely

Christine Egerszegy also mentioned that so far (at the time of her speech) the revenue from the concert (ticket sales, plus additional donations) amounted to over CHF 25,000. This amount goes into two different charities, to equal parts:

  • Direct medical on-site help in Ukraine, through the initiative Hands-on Help for Ukraine. Thiswas initiated by the Swiss pianist Andreas Haefliger (*1962).
  • A new support initiative by the Foundation Künstlerhaus Boswil, offering stipends to musicians from Ukraine and Russia, in the framework the foundation’s activities, such as master classes, academy, and other educative activities.

Mikola Lysenko
Mikola Lysenko

Lysenko: Élégie “La Tristesse”, op.39

Composer & Work

The Ukrainian composer, pianist, and conductor Mykola Lysenko (Микола Лисенко, 1842 – 1912) was also a ethnomusicologist. He not only was the most important Ukrainian musician and composer of his time, but people also regard him the founder of a Ukrainian national music tradition. The basis for his work was the study of Ukrainian folk music, and of Ukrainian culture in general. His oeuvre as composer ranges from piano and chamber music to songs and other vocal music, including opera. The works of the forefather of Ukrainian literature, Taras Shevchenko (1814 – 1861) were central to his vocal music. Lysenko had a strong influence on later Ukrainian composers.

Chamber music is a minor part in Mykola Lysenko’s compositorial oeuvre. Apart from the Élégie for piano and cello “La Tristesse“, op.39 from 1901, there is a string quartet, a trio for two violins and viola, and works for violin and piano. In the Élégie op.39, the cello presents a 6-bar theme (Sostenuto mesto, quasi recit.). The main parts (with piano) then bears the annotations Cantabile — Moderato: Alla Valse lento — Tempo I.

The Performance

Originally, “La Tristesse” was to be performed after the Beethoven sonata. However, artists and organizers must have felt that starting with Beethoven—as beautiful as that sonata is—would have been too harmless, even out of place in the current situation. A “statement” reflecting the situation in Ukraine was needed. And “La Tristesse” offered exactly that. Already the recitative-opening on the solo cello set the right tone, with its melancholy, its deep sadness, the mourning, the despair, the hopelessness. It did so even though Anastasia Kobekina avoided exaggerating the emotion, keeping the melody (and the pace) “talking”. Actually, the simplicity in her playing appeared to reflect upon the human void, the forlornness and devastation in Ukraine. Very touching.

The Cantabile seemed to evoke memories—melancholic, longing. Jean-Sèlim Abdelmoula’s accompaniment was compassionate, inconspicuous, but supportive. And where the piano took over the melody, it exactly matched the intense singing of the cello. The Moderato: Alla Valse lento isn’t much of a dance—merely a reminiscence from happier times. Only momentarily, the melody appears to get carried away, hope briefly emerges. However, even prior to the Tempo I, the sadness takes over again. The piece ends in ppp, on a dark E minor chord (estinto) on the piano, and an empty fifth (E-B, smorzando) on the cello.

Rating: ★★★★½

Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven, by Schimon, Ferdinand, 1797-1852

Beethoven: Cello Sonata No.3 in A major, op.69

Composer & Work

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827) wrote five cello sonatas. The central Cello Sonata No.3 in A major, op.69, is from 1808. I have produced a blog post with more detailed description and a comparison of various recordings. The sonata has four movements:

  1. Allegro ma non tanto
  2. Scherzo: Allegro molto
  3. Adagio cantabile
  4. Allegro vivace

For reviews of other concert performances of this sonata see here.

The Performance

I. Allegro ma non tanto

I liked Anastasia Kobekina’s calm opening gesture: far from a big “here I come!” attitude, but really p, dolce, as per the composer’s intent. Effortless, without pushing the sound. I was very happy with the acoustic balance. The half-closed piano lid helped, of course, but just as much Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula’s attentive, diligent and well-adapted playing. Certainly, Anastasia Kobekina’s Stradivari cello never had problems projecting through the accompaniment: unpretentious, with inconspicuous vibrato. The most outstanding aspect of the performance was in the sostenuto and sotto voce segments, with their admirable acoustic balance.

However, there were also moments that reminded me that the concert was arranged at very short notice. Certainly, it was more than the fact that both artists performed with sheet music. Particularly the piano accompaniment gave me the clear notion that this wasn’t a piece that the artists have been performing together for years. There were instances of excess sustain pedal. The most obvious one was in the cadenza in bar 12, in the first pass of the exposition. This might have been a mishap. However, several times I also felt that the agogics in semiquaver scales, and at the climax in fast passages hadn’t been fully worked out.

It wasn’t just the occasional, small superficialities / mishaps, but also the cooperation in the agogics / rubato which wasn’t always as harmonious as it could be. I may be nit-picking—after all, this wasn’t an ordinary concert, by any means. And the audience very much enjoyed it—people started applauding spontaneously!
★★★½

II. Scherzo: Allegro molto

The Scherzo is full of pairs of crotchets that are tied across a barline. On the piano, Beethoven explicitly writes these with “4-3” fingering. He wouldn’t have done that if these ties were to indicate a simple, syncopated half note. And he would have marked syncopes with an accent. So many (even notable) artists get this wrong, playing “ordinary syncopes”. Despite the fast pace, Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula not only did the prescribed “finger switching”, but the second crotchet was always present as audible “after-beat”. And Anastasia Kobekina mirrored this by giving the second crotchets in her part a subtle, little accent.

It was an interpretation at a really challenging pace! The artists performed as if they were sitting “on the chair’s edge” from beginning to end—the audience certainly did, it was so enthralling! It was fascinating from the first bar, when Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula set the pace with the theme: a true Scherzo! Only in the A major parts (substitutes for a Trio of sorts), the artists allowed for the pace to relax a tiny bit. This was hardly noticeable, as the suspense, the drive persisted. However, whenever the A minor theme returned, Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula instantly resumed the fast(er), initial Scherzo pace. An ambitious interpretation—and highly successful—congrats!
★★★★½

III. Adagio cantabile

Beautiful, harmonious, lyrical and intimate—effortless and intense at the same time! Very emphatic in the singing, even though the artists kept the volume within the p range. Even the short crescendo in bar 13 (leading into the final phrase) was very subtle. And that final cello cadenza in the last bar: ppp and so subtle in all aspects—I love it!
★★★★½

IV. Allegro vivace

Fast, challenging! My primary impression: the movement was governed by Anastasia Kobekina’s strong vision of the piece. She mastered the tempo effortlessly, with a light and agile left hand and bow. And her Stradivari cello easily retained its presence, projecting through an often busy piano part. The latter, though, is more challenging than it seems. Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula’s technical skills are excellent (as we will see from the second half of the concert). In fact, he did not have any technical issues with the part. However, the fast tempo left him little, if any chance to differentiate the fast semiquaver passages through agogics and articulation. This often left the impression of some superficiality, of occasional rushing, of being pushed to the edge. And it defeated some of the jubilant atmosphere in this movement.
★★★½

In my notes, I summarized the occasional shortcomings in the outer movements with “well, primarily, it is Anastasia’s concert!”. Then, I realized that the preparation time for the concert must have been very limited. And the sonata is not (yet) a repertoire piece for the duo. Furthermore, in the aftermath, I suspected that most of the rehearsal time must have gone into the Tchaikovsky trio. And in comparison to that, the Beethoven sonata may have appeared easy? Too easy, maybe, with the rehearsals focusing on the Scherzo?

Overall Rating: ★★★★

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Tchaikovsky: Piano Trio in A minor, op.50

Composer & Work

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840 – 1893) wrote exactly one piano trio. He felt that the sound of string instruments does not mix with that of the piano. He stated that explicitly in 1880, when he denied a request for such a composition by his benefactress Nadezhda von Meck (1831 – 1894).

However, in the following year (1881-03-23), Tchaikovsky’s close friend and mentor, the pianist, conductor and composer Nikolai Grigoryevich Rubinstein (1835 – 1881) died. And so, Tchaikovsky revised his decision, and between December 1881 and January 1882, while staying in Rome, he composed his Piano Trio in A minor, op.50, “À la mémoire d’un grand artiste (in memory of a great artist). After further revision, the work premiered in Moscow, on 1882-10-30. The trio consists of two main sections, whereby the second part is a theme with 12 variations and a coda. The latter leads into a short funeral march (Lugubre), which picks up a theme from the beginning of the first movement:

  1. Pezzo elegiaco (Moderato assai – Allegro giusto — L’istesso tempo — Tempo giusto — Adagio con duolo e ben sostenuto — Moderato assai — Allegro giusto)
  2. Tema con variazioni: Andante con moto — Variations:
    1. (Andante con moto)
    2. Più mosso
    3. Allegro moderato
    4. L’istesso tempo (Allegro moderato)
    5. L’istesso tempo
    6. Tempo di Valse
    7. Allegro moderato
    8. Fuga (Allegro moderato)
    9. Andante flebile, ma non tanto
    10. Tempo di mazurka
    11. Moderato
    12. Variazioni finale e coda: Allegro risoluto e con fuoco
    13. (Coda: ) Andante con moto – Lugubre (L’istesso tempo)

The Performance

With Tchaikovsky’s Trio, Andrej Bielow joined the team on the stage. Such a mid-concert entry is not easy, even after rehearsals. The artist quickly needs to adjust to the acoustics, and to the sonority of his fellow musicians. At the same time Andrej Bielow mentally needed to join the ongoing discourse between musicians and the audience. And these weren’t musicians that he is regularly performing with. All three musicians are of course professionals who must be able to cope with such challenges.

From the (moderate) distance of the balcony, I could sense the adaptation process from Andrej Bielow’s initially rather prominent vibrato (stronger than Anastasia Kobekina’s). Initially, the violin also sounded a tad thin, maybe too poignant. However, these were clearly signs of the adaptation process. It took minutes at most for the sonorities on stage to merge. At the same time, the listener’s ear gradually adjusted to the trio sonority, and to the fact that there were now three voices to pay attention to.

I. Pezzo elegiaco: Moderato assai – Allegro giusto —

It’s the cello which introduces the elegiac, intensely singing theme, above a piano accompaniment that is murmuring in widely spanning figures. The violin joins in with the theme in a canon-like dialog. Then, however, the piano takes the lead, performing the theme with full-fingered chords in both hands. At the same time, the cello assumes a secondary role, with arpeggiando accompaniment. It soon turned out that, despite the intense singing in the string instruments, the piano was going to assume a very central role. That’s no surprise, of course, given the composer’s hesitations about combining string instruments and piano.

It’s also the piano which drives the accelerando into the Allegro giusto part. Here, Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula showed his true potential! Compared to Beethoven, the piano part is demanding, virtuosic, and it naturally dominates the scene. The violin had no problem projecting through the dense piano part. And it was for good reason that the piano lid remained half-closed: Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula did his best to keep his part transparent, and not to overwhelm his partners. Inevitably, the cello still was sometimes in danger of “drowning”, e.g., where it’s part is in parallel to the violin. Luckily, there are also segments where the two instruments alternate, and so, Anastasia did not completely “disappear from the scene”.

And the music! Grandiose, jubilant, intense beautiful (e.g., at the pesante, starting in bar 76). Wonderful melodic inventions—a masterpiece!

L’istesso tempo — Tempo giusto —

One can see the above section as a loving, even raving praise to the composer’s late pianist friend. That mood can’t possibly last, given the title of the trio. With the L’istesso tempo, melancholic traits return, the atmosphere gets more earnest, also vehement. And the Tempo giusto adds a feeling of pain which leads to an intense, deploring duet of the string instruments, later between violin and the descant on the piano, cello and piano. The section ends with a descending, violin solo. Throughout this series of duets, I was stunned by the sheer volume and warmth of the sound from the g and d’ strings on the violin. It’s not the first time that I witness the fullness of the depth on a Greiner violin. Here, it sounded at least like a viola, if not even a cello!

(Pezzo elegiaco: ) — Adagio con duolo e ben sostenuto — Moderato assai — Allegro giusto

The emotional low point of the movement is in the Adagio con duolo e ben sostenuto—a somber funeral march, almost devoid of movement: sheer pain and emotional devastation. The music recovers from this somber mood, livens up for more praise and waves of intense memories. At the climax, the music feels almost breathless, “flying high”. Inevitably, of course, the elegiac mood returns, the music loses energy—and hope, appears to die from exhaustion.

That first movement alone feels huge already, with its length of 478 bars! And if one substitutes “Ukraine” for “Nikolai Rubinstein”, this composition attains an unprecedented sense of actuality: just thinking of it now causes a feeling of anguish, if not pain!

II. Tema con variazioni: Theme, Variations 1 – 2

The piano presents theme in the second movement. Not just cantabile, but immensely touching, intimate, warm. To me, it feels like a mix between an orthodox chant and the infinite wistfulness of the theme from the last work by Robert Schumann (1810 – 1856), the Geistervariationen” (Ghost variations), WoO 24. In the first variation, the two string instruments pick up the melody in canon-like fashion, while the piano add a murmuring semiquaver accompaniment. Variation 2 has the theme in the wonderfully singing cello, while the violin comments with a playful semiquaver line.

Variations 3 – 6

With its alternating galloping motifs and demisemiquaver cascades, variation 3 reveals the virtuosic side of the piano part. In variation 4, Tchaikovsky inserts a lyrical intermezzo with an intertwined dialog between violin and cello, and the next one (5) is a lovely segment of chimes in the highest descant on the piano. The Tempo di Valse is a longer, rather moody dance that builds up in waves.

Variation 7, Variation 8

The Variation #7 is a grandiose, uplifting hymn in full-fingered chords on the piano, commented by ascending motifs in the strings. The subsequent variation 8 starts like a veritable, baroque, 3-part fugue, whereby the piano doubles its part in octaves. It’s of course more than baroque: starting in bar 14, Tchaikovsky wanted marcato—and the string instruments assumed a (deliberately) rough, “earthy” quality, while at the same time the tension increased, and the texture grew denser and more intense. The mutual accord between the musicians was excellent, to say the least!

Variations 9 & 10

A long fermata marks the sudden realization of the loss, the sadness, depression: mysterious, atmospheric arpeggio waves on the piano, intense, wistful singing in the muted strings. An impressive, descending crescendo on the cello led into variation 10, a fast Mazurka, in the first for the piano alone, with intermittent virtuosic, glittering cadenzas: I loved the distinct, characteristic Mazurka swaying!

Variation 11

The Variation 11 concludes “part A” of the movement. It is challenging in the acoustic balance, with the cello performing waves of broken pizzicato chords between the intensely singing violin and quaver tremolos on the piano. Anastasia Kobekina’s Stradivari had no problem with this: it projected well enough, complementing the piano accompaniment. The violin showed both luminous heights, as well as full, viola-like passages on the g and d’ strings. And this ending: suddenly, in harmonies and melodic motifs, the music sounded like a direct quote from late works by Antonín Dvořák (1841 – 1904)!

Final Variation and Coda

Within the second movement, Tchaikovsky marks this last section as part “B”, like a movement on its own. For good reason: it’s longer than any of the other variations. And it brings a new melodic theme, Allegro risoluto e con fuoco: forward-looking, uplifting—and highly virtuosic in the piano part. The preceding parts of op.50 had been challenging already—but here, one definitely felt how Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula unleashed his virtuosic, pianistic potential: brilliant! And the string instruments further heated up the atmosphere by imitating the piano’s virtuosic runs.

A brief, chorale-like interjection could not stop the never-ending build-up—breathless, exhausting, jubilant, ecstatic, up to a ff climax with the strings in unison. And even the Andante con moto continues to grow in intensity, the strings now always in unison, fff, with intense waves of broken chords on the piano, up to the point where the tension appears to burst beyond the imaginable.

In the last part, though, the movement gradually slows down, leads into a dramatic ritardando. And in an instant, as if somebody suddenly switched off the light, we found ourselves back in A minor. The pitch-black darkness of a (short) funeral march fading away into the (ppp) distance: there is no hope, only death, void…

Rating: ★★★★½

The music of this masterwork is incredibly intense and moving already in the composer’s intent. The circumstances with the ongoing, devastating war with all its atrocities in the Ukraine dramatically amplified the urgency of this music, and the intensity of the performance. It was no surprise that after the last ppp chord in the bass, the audience remained touched and silent for many, long seconds: one would have heard a needle dropping!

After the concert, I congratulated Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula for his most impressive performance in the Tchaikovsky Trio. He stated that luckily, he had already performed that work before. The artist mentioned that it would have been impossible for him to master this work within one single week of preparation.


Myroslav Skoryk
Myroslav Skoryk

Encore — Skoryk: Melody in A minor (1982)

In response to the endless, standing ovation, Andrej Bielow announced an encore. He stated that choosing an encore after Tchaikovsky’s op.50 is close to impossible. Nevertheless, the artists decided to perform a work by the Ukrainian composer, pianist and conductor Myroslav Skoryk (1938 – 2020).

In view of Putin’s brutal invasion into his home country, selecting a composition by a Ukrainian composer was more than just appropriate:

Composer & Work

Myroslav Mihaylovich Skoryk produced works for piano, chamber music, choral and orchestral works, as well as film music. In its original form, the Melody in A minor (1982) is a composition for piano solo. It also exists in versions for violin and orchestra, as well as for solo instrument and piano.

It’s interesting (but not surprising) that just three weeks earlier, artists announced the very same encore (then for violin and piano) in a duo recital in Zurich (2022-03-04). This was of course also in view of the horrible tragedy in Ukraine, which took place already then. Here, the artists performed the “Melody in A minor” in an arrangement for violin, cello, and piano.

The Performance

Naturally, the singing, the intensity resides almost solely in the violin part. Beautiful, urging, building up to a climax of dramatic emotional density. The circumstances and the authoritative performance by a Ukrainian artist made this a particularly intense experience on its own. Yet, the encore was short enough, such that it did not obscure the deep impression that Tchaikovsky’s op.50 left in the listener’s mind.


Conclusions

A most memorable concert, indeed—in the “Ukrainian framing”, as well as (in particular) with Tchaikovsky’s op.50, of course, and in its link to the Ukraine. An emotional, touching reminder of the ongoing tragedy in that country!

One final thought: in the aftermath, the Beethoven sonata—as beautiful a piece as it is—felt like somewhat of a foreign body. Even ignoring the occasional shortcomings in the performance. That’s not just a matter of music style, but due to the context, the dramatic circumstances for Ukrainians, for Russians, even for everybody in Europe. A suboptimal program decision?


Live Video Stream

The concert was recorded and transmitted by live stream. The video stream is currently still available at


Acknowledgements

The creator of the live stream, Oren Kirschenbaum, kindly supplied me with a set of video stills for the illustration of this posting. Thanks a lot! Not only these stills are of amazing quality, but I also found that Oren’s Website gives examples of the company’s excellent video productions! In this posting, all close-up concert shots, as well as most other pictures in the galleries are all by Oren Kirschenbaum.

Additional iPhone photos (the two individual concert pictures near the top, and the galleries around the encore) were added by the author (apologies for the limited quality in some of the pictures!). Please see the copyright note with each caption. For the galleries, the captions are visible in slideshow mode only (select any image to enter slideshow mode).


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2 thoughts on “Andrej Bielow, Anastasia Kobekina & Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula — Boswil, 2022-03-26”

  1. Thank you for this beautiful article. I fully share your point of view: banning Russian music, Russian art, Russian artists because of Putin is a terrible absurdity. To Putin’s Russia, we must oppose Pushkin’s Russia (so, for example, Eugene Onegin by Tchaikovsky!)!

    Reply
    • A lot more could be said about this, of course. It’s easy to end up on a slippery slope. I trust that the foundation responsible for Anastasia’s cancellation did carefully think about their course of action: I can see that it wasn’t just a careless decision. However, their conclusion was simply wrong (they should have consulted with others), and the communication (the initial one, to ticket holders) was so horrible and unreflected that they fully deserved the resulting sh*tstorm.

      Other instances are not so clear-cut. In Switzerland, the opera “Mazeppa” was canceled (Biel-Solothurn): because of the Russian composer? The Russian artists? Their inability to travel? Or wan’t it just a “historic coincidence” that made it look like a bad idea to perform an opera featuring bloodshed in Ukraine?

      Ah — it’s all so bad! Human history seems like nothing but an endless circle of violence causing violence in response, causing more violence in turn, etc. — people seem unable to forgive and forget, and all major actions of violence (massacres and genocides, oppression / dictatorship, colonialism, slavery and exploitation, etc.) are poisoning the future for generations to come. The past (the “good old times”) was very often bad, the present is horrible, the future looks very grim…

      It’s tempting to think that music offers a way out of all this—however, the present examples show that it is affected, too. And turning towards music (maybe arts in general) as a “way out” can easily be seen as escapism…

      Reply

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