After a long silence, the Gstaad New Year Music Festival celebrated its 15th anniversary on Pentecost Sunday in the church of Lauenen with an upbeat homage to Benny Goodman.
Finally, one was inclined to think, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Like many other players in the cultural sector, Caroline Murat, artistic director of the Gstaad New Year Music Festival, had to cancel, postpone and postpone again and cancel the 15th edition of her small and fine boutique festival.
What had first been planned for the New Year's holidays, then at Easter, now took place in a much smaller form at Whitsun. The jazz homage, originally scheduled as the opening concert, was now also the closing concert. The other seven concerts fell victim to the virus but will be made up for in the 16th edition from 27 December 2021 to 9 January 2022, some of them in a slightly modified form.
Rhapsody in Blue, Sing, Sing, Sing ...
The two artists Pierre Génisson, clarinet, and Bruno Fontaine, piano, needed no warm-up and thrilled the audience right at the beginning with a lively, very nuanced sonata by Leonard Bernstein. Although the two had not been allowed to perform together for months, one immediately noticed that they were a well-rehearsed duo. With every note, the listener was permeated with the feeling of joy and excitement at the regained freedom to play in front of an audience of flesh and blood. It was as if a pent-up need to perform, essential for every artist, was released.
The joy of playing was continued with Lady be Good by George Gershwin and his famous Rhapsody in Blue in a version for clarinet and piano specially transcribed by the composer. Pierre Génisson shone with his extremely cultivated, well-dosed, yet spirited playing. The clarinettist, born in Marseille, is rightly considered one of the best in his field.
The variety of sounds he could elicit from his instrument was impressive. He mastered the finest pianissimi and shrill forti as well as warm melodies and virtuoso, precise passages with a relaxed naturalness. His partner on the piano, Bruno Fontaine, kept up and shone with stupendous skill and sensitive musicality.
With the Benny Goodman hits Stompin' at the Savoy (Edgar Sampson) and Sing, Sing, Sing (Luis Prima), the two musicians led into a "sweet" conclusion with Sweet Lorraine (Cliff Burwell) and Sweet Georgia Brown (Ben Bernie and Maceo Pinkard). The 50 listeners thanked them with enthusiastic applause.
Here's to many more real encounters between artists and audience! Because nothing can really replace them, and we all missed them so much, didn't we?
Based on AvS/Çetin Köksal