JWR Articles: Live Event - Lucerne Festival Summer (Featured performer: Maurizio Pollini) - April 6, 2010
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Lucerne Festival Summer

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Written during the 1984 summer Lucerne Festival; rediscovered and published in 2010
Successfully reconstructing Beethoven’s genius

Maurizio Pollini’s recital had a somewhat unusual program, with Schubert featured in the first half before Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations commanded our attention after the break.

It was indeed a great pleasure to hear the piano played properly again—he could have played scales and still enraptured the crowd. The level of artistry was much more satisfying than the recent Mendelssohn concerto (cross-reference below).

Curiously, I was not drawn to the trio of Schubert pieces which served as the appetizer—it was just a pleasant experience to be in the room with them [Note: how times change, thanks to my subsequent appreciation of this repertoire almost singlehandedly due to Alfred Brendel’s magical skills: cross reference below.]

The Wanderer Fantasy was exquisite, soothing my tired cranium after the intensity of translating an interview with Rafael Kubelik that appeared in the local press.

However, after intermission Pollini delivered a totally engaging performance of the Variations that swept away whatever mental cobwebs remained. The music was performed with an overall concept that wove the disparate parts into a magnificent whole, fuelled by an incredible sense of structure and the all-too-rare understanding of the harmonic implications that lurk so intriguingly in virtually every bar.

The audience went wild and demanded an encore. It was obvious from his fatigued visage that the pianist would have happily foregone even one extra note, but festival “etiquette” forced him back to the keyboard for a short, melancholic adieu. My friends further speculated that he just made up the entire piece on the spot. Nonetheless, it was a night to savour. JWR

Between Performances

During the 1984 festival’s 24-day span, a wide variety of non-musical activities was available both in Lucerne and surrounding environs. Because of the excellent local and inter-city transportation system, there’s plenty to see and do within a day’s reach and still be back in time for the next performance—Cultural Tourism at its best! The article below is an update from the 2010 experience.

A great way to experience the Swiss countryside is by train. The ~3 hour journey to Lake Constance is a constant delight; a visit to St. Johannes Church der Täufer at the end of the line is highly recommended. All aboard the Pre-alpine Express!. JWR

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Featured performer - Maurizio Pollini
Repertoire:
3 Klavierstücke, D. 946 - Franz Schubert
Fantasia in C Major, D. 760, "Wanderer Fantasy" - Franz Schubert
33 Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op. 120 - Ludwig van Beethoven
Further information, future screening/performance/exhibition dates,
purchase information, production sponsors:
Lucerne Festival
 
Cross-reference(s): Please click on the image link(s) below
for related work:

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