The Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili must have had a wonderful evening, with mental surplus to use the music to flirt with…the conductor, perhaps, the orchestra, or just everybody, and to have a lot of visual as well as musical awareness during the performance.
She and the conductor Tugan Sokhiev does a lot more than that.
The interpretation of the first movement is in some ways a match to this idea, a picture of Grieg also with humour, and with definitely some new ways of thinking about the concerto, for me, anyway. One comes to the conclusion – at last – that coming from the West coast of Norway is not a l l about earnestness and religion, and the music of Grieg not only about beautiful mountains, the possibility of the concerto being also funny and flirtatious comes as a great relief, and there are stories in the music, new ones.
You can’t take away the feeling of nature in this music, but you can see it in new ways.
This is also earnest, only different earnest.
The humour also puts the pensive passages in another mood than I am used to.
The idea that classical music doesn’t have humour or real entertainment exists, perhaps in many heads. This is contradicted in many scores, not only in the lives, of some composers. Passages or movements in some works may have a real need for combining the approaches of entertainment and seriousness.
Entertainment in general should be seen as serious business as much as…things you normally don’t laugh at.
The first time I listened I thought that maybe the orchestra didn’t quite agree with the theatrical play going on in the piano part, but they do the music as freshly as the pianist, and of course, you could say or think that the conductor and the orchestra make the panoramas and the pianist acts or stages stories in it.
I am imagining things, of course.
But if you move, culturally, from here to someplace different, you may risk a feeling of seeing Fata Morganas sometimes, people seem to move in your shadows, until you have thoroughly met the other culture and know what’s going on.
In the end, when listening to this, one thinks that to hear a piece of music that has been nailed into our own, personal, national, Norwegian canvases or tablets, really too much, for too long…actually it is fantastic to have it moved halfway out of Norway and into the Caucasus, so you can imagine not Norwegian goats jumping around, like we used to be and do when we were kids, but kids of the mountains of Caucasus, where both Buniatishvili and Sokhiev come from. Different parts, and for all I know city dwellers, but still.
I was going to say things about the third movement, too, something like an overall idea that didn’t work, but only because I myself was still stuck in a traditional conception of it. This was yesterday – today, listening to the whole concerto brings me back to myself from a state of cynicism because of personal worries, and tonight for me maybe especially the third movement.
Khatia Buniatishvili also makes more drama out of the second movement than I am used to, which is also a welcome piece of news. I’ve many times poured tears over the beauty of this part of the score, which of course gives you relief, but to get a feeling that doing something with frustrations is also possible, instead of just staying in them, seems not as a worse alternative.
To have problems, in contrast to being your problems, completely identifying yourself with them, is a well known issue for therapists, and probably not irrelevant in a discussion about art too, sometimes.
Edited after publishing.