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Reading the Score



On the 13th day of the Malta International Music Festival Alan Chircop, artistic Director of the Festival and of the Foundation for the Support of Culture that is organising the Festival, welcomed violinist Salvatore Accardo, who is not only a great violinist, but also an authority in the world of violin playing, especially of the romantic repertoire. The next day Mro Accardo will be performing Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto with the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra under Sergey Smbatyan. Asked about his expectations from the Festival Mro Accardo said that when he first met the orchestra he was surprised by the number of young people forming the ensemble but he loved working with young people. However a work that has been played so often like the present one presents greater difficulties since people, both performers and audience, bring their baggage and the performance must remain alive. Mro Accardo said that whether giving a recital with a pianist or performing with an orchestra he feels that he has to share the music with the other persons. The pianist is very rarely a mere accompanist. In both instances the violinist is part of the score. Emotionally, however, the two experiences are different but equally thrilling. Asked whether he likes playing with young pianists or whether he prefers those of his generation Mro Accardo said that nowadays it is very difficult to find someone who is not well prepared. They all have a marvellous technique. On the other hand he finds that today many performers care more about projecting themselves than about the music. The performer must serve the music at all times and not be served by it. The pianist and the violinist have to share the music with the audience, not to tell them how good they are, but how beautiful the music is and how lucky they are as performers to be playing it. He has worked with practically all the great musicians of his generation and he has learnt a lot from them about life and about music. Asked about his favourite he singled out Giulini with whom he performed the Violin Concerto by Beethoven. He could still recall the feeling he got from the first rehearsal with him. It was, he said, magically beautiful and at the same time so simple. The conductor had full control of the members of the orchestra and gave a great feeling of calm to the rehearsal. Accardo felt that it was as if Beethoven himself who was conducting. Throughout the press conference Accardo insisted on the importance of really reading the score and understanding what lies behind the notes and the dynamics. This is a lesson he learnt from Celibidache and something that he is always telling his students. The instrument is only there to make music: the music is there and they have to learn how to read it. Asked about what he thought of conductor Celibidache Accardo said that he had a special relationship with him as he was his conducting student. He was asked about his experience of the music life in Russia. He said that he had spent a whole month in Moscow on the occasion of the Tchaikovsky competition when he had performed the composer’s Violin Concerto. This had been a great experience since it had also been an opportunity to be together with so many great violinists. He also said that he likes working with Mro Symbatyan he not a follower but a leader and can anticipate what the soloist is going to do at least one bar ahead. On his part Mro Smbatyan agreed that performing the music of Mendelssohn was different from performing the music of Russian composers or composers who fell under their influence. However both he and the orchestra were approaching the work with the same enthusiasm and looking forward to the performance especially with a performer like Accardo who brought a completely new vision to the work. Accardo will also be performing a work for violin and orchestra by Alexey Shor, Flight of a Falcon. He said that his first reaction to the piece was surprise since it started with an orchestral entry announcing a well-known signature tune. He is not familiar with the music of Shor and this is his first experience of it. He likes the fact that the music does not try to be too eclectic. When asked about performing the music of Paganini, Accardo said that this needs to be approached like opera: it has all the elements of opera and the violinist needs to play like a singer. Paganini himself was a great opera lover and he did so many things for the violin that at the time nobody considered to be possible. Accardo plays two different violins. He has a Hart Stradivarius which belonged to the great collector Hart and is in perfect condition. But closer to his heart is his Francescati’s violin, Guarneri del Gesu, which he has been playing for 45 years and has become part of him. Alan Chircop closed the proceedings by saying how much the Maltese public is looking forward to the next day’s concert and reminded the audience of today’s concert, a piano recital by Grigory Sokolov.

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