Títiro, à sombra de copada faia / tentas ária silvestre em frauta amena, / nós a pátria deixamos, os mimosos / campos da pátria, e tu, bem descansado, / o nome ao bosque ensinas de Amarílis.

Great pianists often gravitate to chamber music in their maturity, as though the satisfactions of communal music-making finally outweigh the thrills of solo achievement.

This is how Wilhelm Backhaus and Claudio Arrau rounded off their careers, and how Martha Argerich is gracefully doing today. Maria Joao Pires is still going full blast as a soloist – she’s one of the few pianists capable of packing out the Royal Albert Hall – but she too is increasingly turning to chamber music, in addition to the unique form of tuition she has developed at her arts centre in the wilds of rural Portugal.

Pires was undoubtedly the reason why the Wigmore was sold out for her concert with cellist Antonio Meneses, but this was always going to be a landmark event, since Deutsche Grammophon were making a live recording: typical that she should choose this intimate venue rather than a big hall or an antiseptic studio, and typical, too, that she should replace the Wigmore’s dark-toned Steinway with a brighter-sounding Yamaha.

The Independent, 4 January 2012.

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