Contemplating the Muse
No 20 – Linda Ibbotson
Plato – “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination
and life to everything.”
Here, in New York City, listening to wonderful pianist Ivan Ilić in an authentic former coffee barge moored in Brooklyn. Give flight to your imagination – the slapping of waves against the bow, the sporadic hoot of the river traffic, feel the swaying of the barge. From the Steinway, notes shaped like leaves gently rise and fall into the East River as the Manhattan skyline pulls down the night.
Ivan Ilić plays with clarity and sensitivity, powerful and yet gentle at the same time which I find rare and expresses an enthusiasm for research that is contagious! His programme of concerts ran over three days and was tailored to suit all tastes, from the contemporary such as Hans Otte, Scott Wollschleger, Keeril Makan, Melaine Dalibert, Satie, and Debussy to the more traditional Haydn, Beethoven and Reicha.
BARGEMUSIC is a magnificent legendary classical music venue established in 1977 with approx 200 concerts every year and is moored at Fulton Ferry Landing close to The River Cafe restaurant. The words of Walt Whitman’s poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry inscribed in the surrounding railings. It was the vision and passion of concert violinist Olga Bloom who played in orchestras such as the American Symphony Orchestra and numerous Broadway musicals. It is, from 2005 in the caring hands of her dear friend Russian violinist Mark Peskanov, President and Artistic Director. From BARGEMUSIC Website – “Mark emigrated from Odessa to the USA aged 15. His phenomenal musicianship won him both the Aspen and Juilliard concerto competitions, bringing him to the notice of Isaac Stern and Mstislav Rostropovich and rocketing him into the top echelons of the music world.”
BARGEMUSIC WEBSITE – https://www.bargemusic.org/
This was Olga’s third barge as the other two were not suitable for various reasons. It took 10 years to find a suitable mooring and the interior cherry wood paneling alone, took a year to fetch piece by piece from a Staten Island Ferry in her Volkswagon. She sadly passed away in 2011.
New York Times – A Music Hall Sways To Its Own Beat – Mark Peskanov…. “has added a new-music series (Here and Now), an early-music series (There and Then) and jazz concerts to the diet of standard repertory solo and chamber works that has been Bargemusic’s main fare” –
New York Times – Reflection of a Dream- Olga Bloom – “There are many wonderful musicians who work so hard and never get a chance to be heard. I wanted to create a place for them to perform in an environment that would nurture, rather than destroy, their creativity.”
What an accomplishment! See full interview with Olga. All links at the end of this article.
Thrilled to see my photographs published in LIMELIGHT! – A ★★★★★ review of Ivan Ilić’s concert at BARGEMUSIC, NYC. This beautifully written poetic review by Clive Paget expresses and encompasses every musical moment!
“Ilić remains trance-like, his touch light as a falling leaf.” LIMELIGHT – AUSTRALIA’S CLASSICAL MUSIC AND ARTS MAGAZINE.
From Ivan’s website – Serbian American pianist Ivan Ilić enjoys a unique place in today’s musical landscape thanks to his unconventional repertoire and multifaceted approach. By combining performing with writing, producing radio and video, and drawing upon key interdisciplinary experiences with visual art, acting, and the neuroscience of learning, he develops new audiences for unfamiliar music.
His eclecticism is reflected in his musical projects, which range from the notoriously difficult Chopin/Godowsky studies, to the delicate abstraction of Morton Feldman, to his most recent enterprise: the rediscovery of music by Beethoven’s Czech friend and contemporary, Antoine Reicha (1770-1836).
Ivan’s Website – http://www.ivancdg.com/
Incredible technical skills and dexterity illuminated here in this moment captured during the beautiful and contemplative Hans Otte – Book of Sounds.
Ilić earned degrees in mathematics and music at the University of California Berkeley before moving to Paris with a Hertz Fellowship. He then studied at the Conservatoire Supérieur de Paris, where he received a Premier Prix, and the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris for postgraduate work. The City of Paris sponsored his first recording.
He has written about music for the websites of Gramophone, BBC Music Magazine, Music & Literature and Limelight and has also co-produced several 5-hour radio series for Swiss Radio RTS Espace 2. For 2019-2021 he is Ulster University’s International Musician in Residence.
Brooklyn Bridge, a perfect backdrop!
OCT 11th –
- Hans Otte (1926-2007) The Book of Sounds (1979-1982)
Oct 12th –
- Keeril Makan (b. 1972) Capture Sweetness (2018)
Scott Wollschleger (b. 1980) Music without Metaphor (2013); Gas Station Canon Song (2017/18);New Work (2019)
Melaine Dalibert (b. 1979) Litanie (2019, *World Premiere); Danse (2019, *World Premiere); Percolations (2019, *US premiere); Etude II (2019, *US premiere)
Oct 13th –
- Haydn Symphony No. 44 in E minor (transcribed for solo piano by C.D. Stegmann)
- Antoine Reicha Four Fugues from Etudes, Op. 97
- Haydn Capriccio in G major, on “Acht Sauschneider müssen sein”
- Beethoven Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13 (“Pathétique”)
New York Classical Review –
In 2016 he began focusing on Reicha’s neglected piano music, which he is recording in a 5-album series for Chandos Records. Volume 1 of the Reicha Rediscovered series, co-sponsored by Swiss Radio RTS and the Palazzetto Bru Zane in Venice, led to a surge of interest in Reicha’s music. Editorial and reviews in the British, German, French, and Italian classical media raised the same question: how is it possible that such remarkable music by a friend of Beethoven, a student of Haydn, and the counterpoint teacher of Liszt, Berlioz, Franck has never been recorded before? After the score languished in the French National Library for over 200 years, a piece from Volume 1 was listened to over 1,000,000 times on Apple Music. This led to a short documentary series about Reicha written and presented by Ilić, which in turn led to a widely-shared feature story in The New York Times. Volume 2 of the series was released in September 2018, with prominent media coverage in Germany, France, Luxembourg, the UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Korea and Australia. In a five-star review, BBC Music Magazine wrote “In this pianist, Reicha’s music has the best possible advocate”.
A wonderful rapport with the audience and explanation of his concert programme
Ivan Ilić’s most recent recording – three Haydn Symphonies transcribed for solo piano by Carl David Stegmann – was CD of the week of Classic FM in the UK, Radio Classique in France and Rondo Magazin in Germany. The Sunday Times called the performances “cleanly articulated and beautifully coloured”; International Piano called it “a fascinating disc with terrific sound”.
A fantastic review by LIMELIGHT – https://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/reviews/haydn-stegmann-symphonies-ivan-ilic/
There is a wonderful intriguing story regarding the discovery of these transcriptions in a Cologne trunk…
Awash in the semi darkness a very attentive and appreciative audience, the lighting reminiscent of a Caravaggio masterpiece.
The Steinway & Sons securely bolted to the floor!
Ivan’s CD in 2012 featured the complete Chopin Studies for the left hand by Leopold Godowsky, a tour-de-force of musicianship and virtuosity. The recording was described as “a major achievement” and “breathtaking” by BBC Radio 3. It featured prominently in The Daily Telegraph [CD of the Week], German MDR Figaro [Top 5 CD], and Czech Radio [5 stars]. The album was broadcast widely across 6 continents. Videos of Ivan Ilić performing Godowsky on YouTube attracted over 500,000 views. Shortly afterwards, he made his acting début in two French short films: Luc Plissonneau’s Les Mains and Benoît Maire’s Le Berger.
It was wonderful that both Scott Wollschleger – photographed here- and Keeril Makan were present to hear their compositions!
Ivan also played compositions by French composer Melaine Dalibert.
Lower Manhattan, a theatrical backdrop and a contrast between the commercial district and Bargemusic. Seen below through the picture windows Olga fitted!
Les secrets de l’Adagio de la “Sonate Pathétique” de Ludwig van Beethoven – Ivan Ilic RTS – Radio Télévision Suisse
I relish a sense of adventure and spent time between concerts discovering Brooklyn, breakfasted with hearty appetite; delicious cinnamon porridge and berries at the infamous The River Cafe, felt the wonder in a child’s eyes at Jane’s Carousel and I too felt childlike as I explored the juicy streets of Pineapple, Orange and Cranberry, seasonally adorned with a plethora of pumpkins on Brownstone steps. Among these I was excited to discover the former homes of writers, – Henry Miller, W H Auden and Trueman Capote where ‘Breakfast in Tiffany’s was completed and my creative appetite felt both wholly satisfied, yet ravenous for more!
Thank you for following my adventures and a slice of the Big Apple!
Episode 1 of a 5 video series – Introducing the Shigeru Kawai SK-EX concert grand piano
Links – Composers
Keeril Makan– http://keerilmakan.com/
Scott Wollschleger – https://scottwollschleger.com/
Melaine Dalibert – http://www.anothertimbre.com/melainedalibert.html
Photographs – © Linda Ibbotson