The Philharmonie is as sold out as it can get. Additional benches have even been set up at the podium places, at the back of the stage, where the choir normally sits. Two legends perform on Thursday, Martha Argerich, active as a pianist since 1949, and Mischa Maisky, who made his debut in 1965. Sonatas by Beethoven, Chopin and Debussy are on the programme, but they could have played Czerny etudes that evening or a potpourri of European national anthems and people would have flocked.
The highest level of concentration is required here
The way the two immediately immerse themselves in chamber music concentration is a challenge for the auditorium, you can feel it. At some point, the listeners followed suit, listening as quiet as a mouse – between the movements, however, the tension erupted all the more violently in a hurricane of clearing and coughing.
Beethoven’s Opus 5, No. 2 doesn’t sound so much like characteristic Beethoven, Debussy’s sonata is similar. The interpretations seem like old masters, highly spiritualized. The melody in the slow Chopin movement, sung beguilingly beautifully and simply by the cellist, becomes the climax.
Cheers surround Martha Argerich and Mischa Maisky after each work, gratitude flows from the vineyards of the Scharoun Philharmonic down onto the playing surface. The way in which the pianist and the cellist communicate with each other, one might call magical: They play absolutely privately, in relaxed intimacy, as if 2500 pairs of eyes were not looking at them. Their intimacy is so great that they sit with their backs to each other: if you can feel each other, you don’t need direct eye contact.
Argerich and Maisky remember Ovid’s couple Philemon and Baucis: They receive the listeners hospitably and feed them with what they have. May the gods grant them a long, happy life as an artist.
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