The Ruins of Athens brings together Bogdan Vacarescu (violin) and Julian Jacobson (piano) for a Festival of Chichester concert on Saturday, July 6 at 12 noon in Chichester’s Pallant House Gallery.
Part of the Amici Concerts series within the festival, the concert promises a stunning selection of beloved pieces and lost masterworks for violin and piano featuring music by Beethoven, Chopin and Castelnuovo-Tedesco.
The programme will also include Tartini’s Devil’s Trill Sonata, Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No 17 and Julian Jacobson’s composition Orang-u-Tango.
“Julian and I go back quite a few years now,” says Bogdan. “I had a concert and my pianist pulled out, but he recommended Julian, and it was an amazing recommendation! After that initial recommendation, my original pianist lost his gigs because I just wanted Julian.
“We just clicked together. His style of playing and my style of playing are very similar. Julian has the old-fashioned way of playing. That old-school way of playing is something that is being lost, something that I feel we should bring back, and it is that way of playing with freedom, that way of playing with time which is called rubato, that way where you don’t have to be constrained by the measure.
“And it is not something that many accompanists can do. It is an art. It is about confidence, but it is also about musicianship. It is the ability to hear your partner and even to pre-empt the move that your partner is going to make.
“The other great thing with Julian is the choice of music. I always like to have one big piece, perhaps a Sonata, and for this I am going to play Beethoven, but then I like to choose a lot of different pieces. They are virtuosity pieces, amazing masterworks that used to be played every day by the old masters, but at some point they started dying out and new things appeared, a new trend where you just play two or three huge sonatas and maybe just one little piece. I have never agreed with that.
“It is like when you invite people to a dinner party and all you serve are big heavy main courses. I try to offer a little bit of an aperitif or entrée or soup or lots of different desserts or fruits at the end.
“Many people try to dismiss these pieces as… well, as fireworks I have heard them called, but sometimes I think it is just sour grapes as some of these pieces require a huge amount of work.
“Sometimes for a five-minute piece you are having to work more than for a whole sonata, just to get them right. Some of the pieces are extremely hard and a great deal of effort to get them how they should be. I love that challenge and I love the music.”
Part also of the attraction is the violin and piano combination, one that works particularly well, Bogdan believes: “It is just a pleasant sound. The sound of violin and piano is just something that you won’t ever get tired of. There are other combinations that are just great, but after 15 to 20 minutes you might get a bit annoyed by the sound or find it too piercing, but you won’t ever think that with the violin and piano combination.
“The point of the violin when it was designed and worked was that it would imitate the human voice, and that is the challenge. The piano is much more percussive, and the two work really well together.”
Bogdan returns with Unicorn Frequency (Quintet) on Thursday, July 11 at 7.30pm at St Pancras Church.