REVIEW: Martino Tirimo and Atsuko Kawakami, Chichester Music Society

Review by Chris Linford

Atsuko and Martino
Atsuko and Martino

Chichester Music Society [CMS] was able to continue holding concerts in this second lockdown thanks to Chichester University’s willingness to live stream the concert from the University’s Chapel on 11 November. Martino Tirimo was originally going to be part of the Rosamunde Trio for this concert, but unfortunately two of the Trio were unable to travel from the USA, due to the Covid crisis and were unable to attend. However, Martino offered to come with fellow pianist, Atsuko Kawakami, one of his former students, and this offer was gratefully accepted.

The concert had been originally planned by Chris Coote, Treasurer of CMS, who tragically died in September, and Martino opened the concert by saying that he wanted to dedicate this concert to Chris Coote’s memory, as he was one of his close musical friends. The programme was entitled “The Dance in Music.”

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The concert opened with a performance of The St. Anthony Variations, a piece written by Brahms in 1873, and although attributed to Haydn, this is probably not the case. The two pianists, each on their own piano, played seamlessly together as a duo, each taking turns, and each ending with an identical flourish. They produced a performance of variety, with passion and excitement, blending with some really sensitive interpretations of the more melancholy sections.

We were then introduced to three pieces from the Argentinian composer, Carlos Gustavino, whose music was mightily influenced by South American folk music. One of the pieces Los Ninos, [the children] was very appropriately titled, with playful and witty sections, mixed with expressive and sometimes vivacious, sometimes soulful, childlike behaviours. The music from all three pieces flowed and bounced along with an enthusiasm that was admirably captured by the pianists.

After a short interval, the concluding piece was Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. So well known, the duo exhibited great musicianship and versatility in their interpretation, from delicate phrasing and expressive lines, to many moments of brilliance and excitement. This was a concert played with the highest level of artistry.

As Chris Hough, Chairman of Chichester Music Society, said at the end of this performance of the Nutcracker, “if this concert had been held with a live audience there would have been huge appreciative applause. I am extremely grateful to Martino and Atsuko for giving us this wonderful concert and for their incredibly uplifting performances, two distinguished musicians, a perfect duo.” He asked the performers for an encore and received a glowing piece of Ravel, the Habanera from his Rapsodie Espagnole.

A link to the recording of this concert and further information may be obtained on the CMS website at www.chichestermusicsociety.org.uk

Review by Chris Linford