Petrushka

Wimbledon Music Festival Petrushka

Wimbledon Music Festival Petrushka

I met Anthony Wilkinson Festival Director during the summer. He invited me along to the Wimbledon Music Festival. Russian ballet with puppets sounded interesting, it would either be awful or brilliant.

Wimbledon during the afternoon, have a wander around, grab something to eat, then along to St John’s Church in the evening where the performance was due to take place.

No sign of puppets. I knew there would be projection, but I thought to give a backdrop. Surely I was not here to watch a film of puppets, I could watch a film of puppets on my laptop.

The concert started late, but where were the puppets?

The first half was Mikhail Rudy, an acclaimed Russian-French pianist, on piano. I had come for the puppets, ballet, not a piano recital. Where were the puppets? Had I come to the wrong event?

Shostakovitch left me falling asleep. I would like to say those around me were captivated, spellbound, but I think they too were falling asleep.

The pianist was good, and a beautiful sound from the piano, it was only a pity he did not have something worthwhile to play. Random notes would not have sounded much different.

With some music, you have to have the dance, it is not good enough to stand alone.

Riverdance is a good example of this. The dance on its own is boring, the music on its own bland, put the two together and it is magical. On the other hand Tchaikovsky Swan Lake can stand on its own as a piece of music in its own right.

Prokofiev was far better.

What was I doing here, I had come for puppets?

A long interval, for me too long, but probably not for others as most of the people there knew each other.

Second half was the world premier of Petrushka, transcribed by Mikhail Rudy and performed by Little Angel Theatre.

It started with Mikhail Rudy wearing a cloak playing the piano. On the screen, swirling snow, Moscow, then a medieval scene of peasants at a market dancing. More dance than ballet. Then along comes a magician (wearing the same cloak as Mikhail Rudy), a Punch and Judy show with puppets, but without either Punch or Judy.

It was magical. It held everyone spellbound. At times the puppets appeared to be humans playing puppets, their movements were so fluid. Mikhail Rudy appeared on screen, amazing shots of him looking through the piano. Was this him live, or if recorded, amazing synchronisation?

In some ways it was like an old silent film, only in colour, with the man playing a piano rather than the organ. But that does not do the performance justice. Indeed it is difficult to find words to do it justice.

For the first half I wondered why was I there. For the second half I was more than pleased I was.

It is rather a pity it was not on DVD. An announcement at the end we have this available at the door on your way out. It would have sold as hot cakes. But copyright issues to be resolved.

I have suggested they upload as soon as possible to youtube and vimeo in order that it can be shared. Maybe a link to buy on DVD and blu-ray, but even not, good publicity for the Wimbledon Music Festival.

It would also be a good idea to put the sound track on bandcamp, pay-what-you-like, split 50:50 between performers and music festival, with a link to buy DVD and blu-ray.

I talked afterwards to Russian Valeria Meng of EyesOnTheWall who filmed and edited and congratulated her on what a marvellous job she had done.

I asked what did she think of doing another production based on one of the books by Paulo Coelho. She jumped at the chance. We will have to think what book, who for the music. Maybe world premier at Wimbledon Music Festival 2013.

Mikhail Rudy (Russian: Михаил Рудый) (1953- ) is a Russian-born French pianist, who has won several awards for his recordings including the Grand prix du disque.

Wimbledon Music Festival runs 10-25 November 2012.

Petrushka was performed in St John’s Church in Wimbledon.

Petrushka is not the first multimedia collaboration for Mikhail Rudy. Inspired by Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky and watercolours by Kandinsky, which in turn were the beginning of a conceptual idea for light and sound, led to a concert at the Guggenheim Museum which holds one of the world’s largest Kandinsky collections.

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