Those who knew Jean de Saint-Guilhem had not hesitated for one second to miss the first performance of Don Giovanni at the Paris opera to attend his concert, which got off to a spendid start with Liszt’s Funérailles. Jean may not be Jorge Bolet, but his rendering of this peice, taken from Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, vividly brought forth the composer’s deep sorrow at the time he wrote it, just after the failed Hungarian rising in 1849. Jean brilliantly plays the most difficult pieces and was quite rightly given a standing ovation by those who had withstood the beastly Parisian cold to listen to him. The next items on the programme were two movements from Janacek’s I. X. 1905 sonata, Schumann’s Fantaisie N° 17, and Debussy’s Second livre de préludes. Chopin’s Grande polonaise brillante concluded the proceedings.
The spectacle was clearly on stage… but also, I am bound in honesty to say, in the audience, with its “plus seizième tu meurs” atmosphere. Just as well, as guess, for VSArt (Volontariat et soutien par l’art) an organisation that helps vulnerable people to have access to culture and to the arts. I hope the evening will have been profitable for them.
Jean, a remarkably intelligent and highly-thought of French Mandarin, has always found time to indulge his musical talent. I much admire him for this and look forward to attending many more of his concerts.