Music in Tuscany: music conquers all on a summer’s eve

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At 10pm last night, a pall of suffocating heat hung in the nearly airless Carradini lecture hall at the Istituto Superiore d’Istruzione. A fair part of the audience was made up of fidgety pre-adolescents, on holiday in Barga with their families. The omens were not good – and they didn’t even take into account a sudden and unexplained volley of deafening fireworks just outside the hall.

Yet none of these possible impediments could match the wonder of unforgettable music on a summer’s eve, or the sheer talent of its performers. Led and accompanied by five renowned professionals, including our own William Moriconi and Massimo Salotti, nine young musicians held listeners of all ages spellbound for 90 minutes. From the first movement of Mozart’s celebrated Quintet for Piano and Winds in E flat, all concerns over fidgeting and heat were forgotten. The Quintet “was the best thing I have written in my life,” the 28-year-old Mozart told his father in 1784. His judgement was brilliantly confirmed in the hands of oboist Moriconi, Salotti on the pianoforte, and their accomplished colleagues, Lawrence Gill (clarinet), Grant McKay (Bassoon) and Timothy Brown (French Horn).

Among them, these five men have accumulated enough honors to pack leading concert venues in Europe and abroad, where they have played under some of the world’s most demanding conductors. But their commitment extends to the future of their art, as well as to their own careers, in the form of master classes offered to promising young people. For the past several years, the Province of Lucca has been the fortunate beneficiary, with final classes conducted locally (in Barga and Borgo a Mozzano) and ending in a series of concerts under the banner “Music in Tuscany.”

Among this year’s master students, who hail mainly from the British Isles, were three Italians and two Poles. The collaboration “began as a training program, but has evolved into creative exchange between Scotland and Italy,” says Moriconi, former principal oboe of the Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma, who now lives in Glasgow. In addition to performing, he acts as musical consultant to the Istituto Italiano di Cultura there.

The remarkable concentration of the progam’s young musicians was put to a bizarre test during a subtle Mozart Trio, when a series of ear-shattering explosions erupted in the nearby Via del Acquedotto – fireworks, no doubt, although it sounded as though the old World War Two Gothic Line was under renewed assault by an artillery regiment. Flautists Ola Henszel, Ola Michalko and Alasdair Garret missed neither a note nor a beat. The music was all that mattered. Bravissimi indeed.

The magic held through a rarely presented Giuseppe Tartini concertina, beautifully executed by clarinettist Harriet Flather, and works by the late romantic composer Antonin Dvorak and the French modernist Darius Milhaud that showcased the skills of master’s class pianist Andrea Anfuso, and wind instrumentalists Siobhan Parker, Andrew Mclean, Christopher McShane and Ewan Zuckert.

“Their constant improvement, their professionalism, has been a matter of tremendous satisfaction to us,” says Moriconi.

The concert ended with one of the few compositions that could accommodate all of the night’s talent, the unusual Sinfonietta for Ten Wind Instruments by 19th century Swiss composer Joachim Raff. Among the delighted audience members were violinists Maggie and Anna Houston, natives of Edinburgh, Scotland. “It was wonderful to see how well they worked together,” said Maggie, whose own skills were recently cited “with distinction” by the Royal Society of Music.  Anna was much taken with Massimo Salotti, “not just because he is such a good pianist, but also a good conductor.”

Maggie and Anna are respectively aged 11 and 9, and will be eligible in less than a decade for Music in Tuscany master classes.

Con il concerto finale degli allievi ed anche degli insegnanti, si è concluso ieri sera a Barga il II festival “Music in Tuscany”, master class, tenute da validissimi musicisti italiani e scozzesi, e concerti, realizzati insieme ai loro allievi.

Music in Tuscany quest’anno si è svolto principalmente a Borgo a Mozzano che si è distinta per l’ospitalità fornita agli insegnanti ed agli oltre 15 allievi che hanno preso parte alla Master Class. I concerti si sono invece tenuti a Borgo a Mozzano, Bagni di Lucca ed infine, ieri sera, a Barga, dove, nonostante il caldo davvero soffocante, l’Aula Magna ha registrato un discreto pubblico che ha seguito sino alla fine con attenzione il programma della serata.

Un programma di tutto rispetto e peraltro davvero interessante quello proposto a Barga, iniziato con l’esibizione corale degli insegnanti di Music in Tuscany: William Moriconi (oboe), Lawrence Gill (clarinetto), Grant McKay (fagotto), Timoty Brown (corno) ed il fornacino Massimo salotti al piano che hanno proposto il Quintetto in Mi b K.452 di Mozart.

Di seguito Humoresque per 2 flauti e piano di Dvorak, il concertino di Tartini/Jacobs; il trio per oboe, clarinetto e fagotto di Mozart; il quintetto di fiati di Milhaud e l’originale e raro decimino di Fiati di Raff dove insieme si sono esibiti insegnanti ed allievi.

Su Music in Tuscany, sul successo di questa seconda iniziative e sul suo futuro ne abbiamo parlato con il direttore artistico William Moriconi, musicista barghigiano oramai in pianta stabile in Scozia e principale artefice di questa iniziativa:

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