Together alone

‘I think that playing chamber music is about this wonderful tension between being together and, at the same time, being free. About being a soloist, yet listening to what your musical partner is doing and going into that direction together.

When it happens, it is absolutely marvelous, but you always have this strain between your phrase, of how it resonates and helps the phrasing of the other,” said pianist Paolo Giacometti in a phone interview on the eve of his Israeli debut at the Sixth Eilat Chamber Music Festival.

“I call this energy going back and forth. You can compare it to dance partners – it can be awesome only if the qualities of each individual help to enforce each other.”

And he has nothing but praise for his longtime musical partner, Dutch cellist Peter Wispelway, with whom he arrives in Israel. “He is a very close friend of mine, and it is wonderful when you go on tour together.

Sometimes, when you go alone and play solo, it can feel quite lonely.”

Born in Milan in 1970 and living in The Netherlands from his early childhood, Giacometti has won many prizes in national and international competitions and has played with renowned orchestras under distinguished conductors, in addition to his activities as a chamber musician. The latter has resulted in a successful cooperation with leading musicians such as Wispelwey and Janine Jansen among others. Giacometti has performed in concert halls all over the world, such as the Concertgebouw, Teatro Colon and Wigmore Hall, and is much a sought-after musician at chamber music festivals in Europe, Canada and the US. His impressive discography has been widely acclaimed by the international press.

As a musician, Giacometti does not affiliate himself with any particular school of piano playing.

“In Holland, we have a wonderful combination of schools – the German and the French. My teachers were Jan Wijn, who is Dutch, and Gyorgy Sebök, a pianist of Hungarian origin.”

Giacometti says he is not taking sides in the endless dispute between advocates of playing modern and historical instruments and that nowadays, the both are equally justified.

“In the times of Liszt and Chopin, they played on many different instruments because in the 19th century the change of instruments went very quickly. Musicians were used to all these different types of color and mechanics. Now in Holland we have wonderful collections of old instruments to choose from, and I think this is marvelously refreshing both for the audience and the performer because each time you switch to another instrument, you have to completely rethink the entire concept of the piece.”

Speaking of musical life in general, Giacometti says that “Holland has always been good for the arts. But nowadays, people become more closed and more susceptible to pragmatic things, which are more obtainable or materialistic, like easy money. Yet on the other hand, at the Robert Schuman Hochschule in Dusseldorf, Germany, where I serve as a piano professor, I see so many wonderful young people, many of them from Asia. For those coming from China, classical music is still new, and after hearing it, tens of thousands decide that it will be their life because it is the most wonderful thing they’ve ever encountered. This makes me very happy.”

Paolo Giacometti performs in two separate programs at the Eilat Chamber Music Festival on March 18 and 19, playing solo and in various chamber ensembles.

For more details, visit http://www.eilatfestival.co.il

The Jerusalem Post 18/03/2011

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