Solo by a celebrity

Peter Donahue, a world fortepiano celebrity from Great Britain, stayed in Minsk for a little less than a week
It took days for him to bring confusion in the souls of music lovers and musicians by demonstrating an unorthodox approach to classical music. Invited to partake in the “Live Classics” project, with purely English politeness (“if Minsk is interested in it”) he suggested playing a solo of his own and hold a master class. Minsk turned out to be more than interested.


In the cloakroom of the Music Academy I lingered for a while, thinking about where to put my jacket: the cloakroom attendant said she had no spare clothes hooks even for exceptional visitors. The prospect of listening to masterpieces by great musicians with my jacket in my hands brought quite a discomfort in my soul, but I had no choice. In a group of fellow “outcasts” with various overclothes in hands, I silently made my way to the gallery of the concert hall… What was happening at the stage? Dethronement of the authorities, that’s what! Initially Peter Donahue was earnestly amazed by the technique level of training of our young pianists (that’s true, there are few more hard-working musicians, who “get their teeth” into classics as deep as Belarusians, maybe Russians…), then he got down to “smashing” the ideals.

Bach was the first to take the hit. With emotion the Englishman told the audience how Bach loved wine (much wine), how he made up jokes and played tricks on friends… “By and large, this Bach was a good guy”, mister Donahue concluded his mini-lecture. Therefore, music by “a good guy” should sound differently from opuses by the greatest genius of all times and nations. “Come on, argue with me!” Peter Donahue urged the audience. Nobody attempted to. All in all, mister Donahue had in store a victory in the most prestigious contest named after Chaikovsky, reputation of a world level star and successful tours in many countries…


Still there is something in playing music keeping in mind a critical approach to the music creator’s life. During the solo concert by maestro Donahue I suddenly recalled several randomly obtained facts. For example, Prokofiev was an ardent chess lover and left several witty diaries, which were written in vowels only. Nowadays the public would call Bartok a perfectionist… True, the masterly performance of the English guest has no “elite feel” at all, nevertheless it is art, not just because he prefers playing the most complicated and widely unpopular masterpieces of the vast piano music legacy. These concerts would not be boring even for people without special music education.

However, the solo by Peter Donahue was not a full house. Minsk public did not know much about him up till now. A concert from a well-promoted and very popular cycle “Live Classics” would have been quite a different matter.

Actually, head conductor of the state academic symphonic orchestra Alexander Anisimov invited his old friend from the foggy Albion to Minsk for the sake of playing Chaikovsky in the first part of the concert. Old music lovers, who are accustomed to being able to buy tickets at any time, did not get enough seats. Tickets for the fourth concert of the “Live Classics” were sold out several weeks before the event. Evidently, classical music concerts in Minsk are becoming trendy, new fans appear here, and world stars are more and more inclined to come to Minsk without asking for a fortune.

by Irina Svetlova
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