Friday, 31 August 2012

Me? Satanic orgies? Nah, just demonic patterns and poisonous greens!

Me? Satanic orgies? Nah, just demonic patterns and poisonous greens!

Just got back from a delightful visit to Helsinki, after a Festival performance of Piano Colours with Pierre-Laurent Aimard. We both found it most enjoyable. In a fully packed Sibelius Academy hall, the audience just wouldn’t stop applauding!  Alongside an interview of Pierre-Laurent, here are some comments by Hannu-Ilari Lampila for the Helsingin Sanomat (29.8.2012).

Piano Colours at the Helsinki Festival.
Watercolours gliding with the music.

“The Englishman Norman Perryman has been visualizing music in concerts for forty years. As pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard played, Perryman was inspired to paint kinetic colours and shapes on glass plates resting on five overhead-projectors.

One might have expected Perryman to use his brushes to paint satanic orgies, during Scriabin’s Black Mass Sonata. Instead, what appeared on the large screen were mysterious, golden, demonically spiralling patterns, changing into poisonous greens.

Perryman fortunately avoided an illustrative approach. His paintbrushes followed the music freely and their movements corresponded with the rhythms and movement of the piece. The dissolving, flowing colours created an abstract, sensually glowing, shimmering colour-language - a visual language that left room for the imagination.

In addition to the Scriabin, Perryman visualized works by Liszt, Tristan Murail and George Benjamin. 

In the last work it was a fantastic idea to break through the boundaries of the screen and let the projections of the brushstrokes spread on to the ceiling and the walls of the hall.”

From Scriabin’s piano Sonata No. 9, mixing from warm to cool – and back.
Well, well. I’ve never really been into demonizing, myself, and actually I thought my “poisonous greens” were rather beautiful, changing from warm to cool variations. A chacun son goût.
Behind Pierre-Laurent you get a glimpse of my image, chopped in half by another ruthless editor.

One couldn’t help sensing the history of the prestigious Sibelius Academy hall, where so many of Finland’s now famous musicians have studied or taught. I was very touched to meet the wife of the composer Rautavaara, who came to our concert when she heard that I’m also performing one of her husband’s works in October, with the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra.

This was my first visit to the city of Helsinki and I stayed at a hotel from the Art Deco period, overlooking the centre of town. Getting some sleep was a major challenge, as it seemed like the whole city was celebrating the end of summer until deep into the night! The rest of the hotel was filled with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, in town to play two concerts with Riccardo Chailly in the impressive new Helsinki Music Centre.

After our concert I had some time to sit at the Contemporary Art Museum with a coffee and do some people-watching. (The coffee was definitely better than the exhibition). As a portraitist, I can’t help studying faces. Most Finns seem to have a rather straight, sharp nose, strongly formed at the point, that also suggests that they know where they’re going. Well, they do in music, that’s for sure! People tend to dress casually, with some adventurous alternatives – perhaps symptomatic of their culture. Finnish is completely incomprehensible to me. It sounds direct, spoken efficiently, with a sense of purpose, but by no means unfriendly. Serious, but often with a sense of humour. The hospitality of the excellent Festival organization was heart-warming. They had 200,000 visitors. I can’t wait to go back! 

By now, the gear will have arrived in Norway, for my concert with the Bergen Philharmonic next week. Another first for me. But more about that next time!


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