The pianist Maria João Pires devised a ‘Summer Festival’ with eight concerts, to be held from June to September, in Belgais, inspired by Berlioz’s ‘Nights de Verão’, at a time when she will also perform in Spain.
Maria João Pires will “play on all dates” of the festival, told responsible for the Belgian Arts Center, referring to the new concert cycle, which runs from June 14 to September 15, “The Danube Wire”, started in January.
The performance of the concerts in Belgais takes place along with performances by Maria João Pires outside the country, namely in the 68th edition of the International Festival of Santander, on August 26, as announced this week the organization of the Spanish festival, and in the scope of the ‘Prendre soin de la vie’ (‘Prendre soin de la vie’), which will take place at the Montréal Symphony in Canada on the 13th, for which the pianist has designed a ‘concert-meditation’ with the Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard.
During the summer, Belgais “will host outdoor concerts, evoking not only a nocturnal and dreamlike universe but also the deep feeling of nature, without which there is no spiritual elevation,” reads the program presentation.
The initial version of ‘Nuits d’Eté’ / ‘Summer Nights’, which French composer Hector Berlioz concluded in 1841, in an allusion to Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, served as inspiration for the program of the different concerts.
The first, ‘Moonlight Sonata’, corresponds to the concerts of the 14th and 15th of June, and ‘is dedicated to the mysteries of the night and to the thirst for knowledge raised by the contemplation of the stars’.
It includes “nocturnal pieces” by John Field, Chopin, Liszt or Fauré, “but also works that evoke the cycle of the zodiac, such as Stockhausen’s Tierkreis,” which will make up the picture of a kind of cosmic dream. ”
The second program, ‘The Spirit of Time’, for concerts on July 19 and 20, aims to ‘reflect the conversion of bodily sensations into inner and spiritual mediation’, with works by Arvo Pärt, Komitas or Johann Sebastian Bach.
The third, on August 16 and 17, exactly ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, follows in the footsteps of Felix Mendelssohn, with his 1827 scene music, inspired by the play of the same name by Shakespeare. The program involves “pieces for piano and transcriptions” to celebrate “the work of this composer emblematic of the romantic sensibility“.
The last stage of the Summer Festival, on September 14 and 15, is entitled ‘Canto da Terra’, and ‘is a celebration of the voice’, with a repertoire of vocal pieces by Grieg, Mendelssohn and Mahler. interpreted by a chorus of equal male voices to “demonstrate that any sensible and spiritual perception rests on the harmony of the human body with mother nature,” describes the Arts Center.
The ‘Danube Wire’ program, started in Belgais in January, has two more ‘scales’ with Maria João Pires, in the recitals from the 27th and 28th of this month, ‘Towards Hungary’, and on the 18th and May 19, ‘From Budapest to the Delta’. All concerts are sold out.
‘The Danube Wire’ was announced at the end of last year, after the Christmas and New Year concerts, which marked the return of Maria João Pires to Belgais.
The choice of Belgais is a deliberate choice of the pianist for the isolation, according to the presentation of the centre, on the Internet. ‘A challenging and difficult choice that seemed necessary for the full implementation of musical and humanistic conceptions’ by Maria João Pires.
Belgais, in the district of Castelo Branco, “is a story: dozens of workshops since the beginning of 2000, but also conferences, concerts, performances and even an opera, Dido and Aeneas, produced in complete autonomy“, recalls the centre.
It is also “a laboratory” and “a future” because it is “a stage in constant movement, in permanent reinvention, ready to receive musicians and visitors, to offer moments of exceptional human and artistic density.”
Maria João Pires, 74, born in Lisbon, is the most international Portuguese pianist of the day. In 1970, she won the Beethoven International Bicentennial Competition in Brussels, consolidating the beginning of his international career.
In 1989 he received the Pessoa Award. In 1983, the Portuguese Government decorated her with the rank of the lady of the Military Order of Sant’Iago da Espada, in 1989 as Commander of the Order of the Infante D. Henrique, and in 1998 received the Grand Cross of the Military Order of Sant ‘Iago of the Sword.