View From The Wing
PRIZEWINNING FRENCH-ROMANIAN DUO DEBUTS IN MANILA SEPTEMBER 9
by Pablo A. Tariman
French pianist Thierry Huillet and Romanian violinist Clara Cernat are all set for a Philippine debut with a unique program called “Le Petit Prince and Rhapsody in Blue, a Musical Adaptation” at the Ayala Museum on September 9, 7:30 p.m.
A holder of several titles including the first Grand Prix of the prestigious International Piano Competition in Cleveland Robert Casadesus, and winner of other major international piano competitions namely the Busoni in Italy, International Music Competition of Japan, Huillet happens to be married to violinist Clara Cernat who is also first prize winner of both the J.S. Bach and Città di Andria Competitions and a second prize winner of the Mozart Special Prize in the Kloster Schöntal International Competition.
Pianist Cernat told Arts News Service that her collaboration with her pianist-husband is a form of love. “We met in Moscow in 1994. I suppose it was so natural to add music to our beautiful love story. On the other hand, it is not very easy to be together 24 hours a day, sharing work and private life. But music is continuously part of our daily life. We often discuss about new works, new ways that we could perform and the changes we intent to make in several interpretations.”
Pianist Huillet, on the other hand, said that as a composer, he is often inspired by literature. “I have around 100 works and some 20 per cent of them are inspired by important literary works like The Jean de La Fontaine tales, Don Quixote, The Little Prince and many others. The Little Prince is like a dream, the music is pure, very much related to the wonderful and simple text of this magic book. At the ‘Planets’chapter, when Saint Exupery is criticising the adult world, I used jazz influences in my music and also tango. This musical work is like a magic trip. Very colorful music. The poetry of the text is very much in harmony with the music. Claude Debussy said that music begins there where literature stops. I think he is right! Music is a universal language which doesn’t need any translation. The force of this art is that first of all, it addresses itself to the heart and not to the brain. I think that every person in the world is ready to receive a song. Not every person in the world can be ready any time to read a sophisticated novel for example.”
The September 9 concert is described as a show in three dimensions – a generous and poetic music by Huillet, violinist Cernat and the voice of Mael (the duo’s son) with images of space from NASA as the concert’s backdrop.
The concert’s literary component was inspired by The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and will showcase pianist Huillet as a composer.
Huillet said his foray into music was a result of serendipity.
He told a French music publication. “An old communist aunt who regarded me as her fourth child, very loving art and culture, chose to practice my music as extracurricular activity, instead of football or rugby! His three children had enjoyed a steady upward social mobility. For her, her nephew could only engage in music. She then made me enroll at the Conservatory of Toulouse for a brief passage in piano class. At the age of fifteen, when, end of year I got my price, it was no question for me or an end nor a beginning. I really was considering any professional purpose.Simone then asked me to enter the Paris Conservatory. Nice boy again, I agreed without conviction. And there, as I entered the Conservatory, a click occurred. The music was going to be my life, my work!”
Pianist Cernat talks of her pianist husband as composer thus: “For me, playing his music, many times next to him, represents a great joy. Indeed, his music is very accessible to the audience, without being ‘cheap’. His music is built around certain motifs, it has its roots in musical traditions before him; it’s very well-constructed and very well received and understood by the audience. I am glad when this happens, because a contemporary composer is a mini-universe. Each creator has his own universe and many of the great creators in the history of music were not understood by the audience of their period. So, I’m never happier than when I play Thierry Huillet’s music everywhere and I see that the audience accepts it and, more than that, they like it and become fans.”
The pianist admitted the composer in him started late in his career: “Until the age of thirty-three years, the composition was as foreign to me as painting or other art form. It was an activity that I appreciated. I was very good analysis, good enough harmony and counterpoint. But the idea of building from scratch was definitely not my approach. Three factors have contributed to the birth of my opus 1. First of all, I felt like an empty feeling that I was only able to play existing works. I then wanted to compose a work for my violinist wife There I really got into a compositional process. In addition to the desire I had, this experience has given me the necessary push.”
For tickets to the September 9 concert at Ayala Museum, call TicketWorld at 891-9999 or 895-7585.