Perhaps it is the season – unpacking all the various Christmas decorations always brings back memories; perhaps the weather – the non-stop winds moaning around the house can be unsettling; or perhaps it is just age – rusty memory drawers suddenly springing open at a sound, smell or sight. For some reason nostalgia has been my pervading mood this past week. After watching today’s Mercoledi Musicale nostalgia got the better of me and I freely admit I wept.
Serendipitously someone brought this performance from the September 1st, 2015 celebration of Seiji Ozawa‘s 80th birthday in Matsumoto to my attention. Conducting the Saito Kinen Orchestra he was joined by Ludia Teusher, Rie Miyake, Nathalie Stutzmann, Kei Fukui, Jean-Paul Fouchécourt, Matthias Goerne, the OMF Chorus and Martha Argerich in a truly remarkable performance of Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy.
Watching these two old friends and colleagues semi-shuffle out on to the stage brought back memories of concerts past when a young Ozawa was conductor in Toronto so long ago. A less pleasant memory was the reaction of the audience at a performance of Così fan tutte in Salzburg in 1969 – Ozawa’s less than successful debut conducting opera. The booing verged on the hysterical and one old lady threw her purse at the stage. In all my 23 years I had never experienced anything like it. It was only later that I realized the reaction wasn’t all based on his conducting abilities.
I heard many of Martha Argerich’s recordings but only saw her live for the first time at the Academia in a 2009 performance of the Beethoven #1. I remember at the time saying: a slightly dowdy looking Martha Argerich sitting down at the piano and suddenly becoming the most beautiful woman on earth … It is no less true six years later in Matsumoto.
The clip is a lengthy one (24 minutes long) but to my mind worth every minute of it – mind you almost a full five minutes is part of the 10 minute standing ovation the performance received.
Several viewings made me aware that it is not only the joy in this performance that brought tears to my eyes – an easy thing for a piece of music to do I might add – but watching these two musicians. Watching Osawa’s face as he listens to her play the solo passages, his singing with the chorus, the subtle signals between the two and the obvious love and affection as they take their bows. There is no age to them as they make this music just shared experience and a common love for what they are doing. And that is what brought tears to my eyes.
December 18th is Roast Suckling Pig Day – very Boar’s Heady if I may say so.