Tuesday 30 December 2014

Bartók solo

Starting the year with violinist
 Tiziana Pintus in a fragment of Bartók

On January 3rd. in the Amsterdam Muziekgebouw I share an audio-visual taster of a developing project with the violinist Tiziana Pintus, inspired artistic leader of the Carmenae Collective and many other projects. We shall play/paint just four minutes of the Melodia from the Bartók Sonata for Solo Violin, as part of the Splendor Amsterdam Parade an afternoon of samplers of the many talents programmed year-round in the jewel of a creative music centre Splendor, just across from the Rembrandt-huis in Amsterdam. (You can become a member for very small annual contribution!)

Menuhin plays Bartók in the Marc Chagall Museum, Nice. watercolour (detail),1976.

In the summer of 1976 I made the acquaintance of this work (commissioned by Yehudi Menuhin not long before Bartók's death), when I attended a splendid recital of Bach and Bartók by Yehudi in the Marc Chagall Museum in Nice. The above watercolour was the result. An "early" work, perhaps rather too anecdotal, but it did become part of the Menuhin collection. As Yehudi played, standing in front of Chagall's monumental stained-glass windows full of iconic Old Testament stories, I was just flabbergasted as I contemplated the combined riches of musical-visual talent displayed on that night. Feeling totally overshadowed, I surreptitiously made the humble sketches that preceded this painting. Chagall's "Jacob wrestling with the angel" (Genesis 32:22), visible behind Yehudi's back, reminds me of how I wrestled to do justice to these godlike musicians/artists on that momentous occasion.

Bartók was dying with leukemia as he wrote this solo work. The Melodia starts with the warm colour of B-flat, then gradually becomes more and more ethereal. Is his angel already shimmering in those harmonics? Above are two snapshots from my practice sessions. But wait - you haven't seen Tiziana yet, standing in these projected colours as she plays...... See you Saturday?

Chagall was a grand master with light and colour. The vivid pure coloured light of his stained-glass windows moves us in ways far superior to any digital synthetic image today. I'm proud to tag along in his shadow, as I too paint on glass with the transparent colours glowing from my analogue overhead projectors - to hopefully offer illumination for our souls.


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