domingo, mayo 17, 2015

La calle de los pianistas, the Karin-Natasha relationship

            You may remember that more than a year ago I wrote an article about "Bloody daughter", the candid film about Martha Argerich and her three daughters made by one of them. It was very revealing about the real character of the famous pianist. Now, closing officially the BAFICI (although in fact it went on for another day), an enthusiastic crowd witnessed the local première of "La calle de los pianistas", a similar exercise essentially about the very special relationship of Karin Lechner and her daughter Natasha Binder. And to boot, after the viewing we were further rewarded by a compact recital by both artists. The packed Colón gave them an ovation.

            Let me enter a personal note. Karin Lechner was raised as a kid in the same building where I now live (at the time my mother was the owner)  and she was often at this flat, for she started a life-long friendship with my niece Marifé. Moreover, well before that I was a friend of Karin´s mother Lyl De Raco and of her husband Jorge Lechner. Lyl remarried with Martín Tiempo and Sergio Tiempo is their son, born in Venezuela, for that was the post of Martín, diplomat.

            Let me complete the dynasty by telling you that Lyl is the daughter of two pianists, Antonio De Raco (who died nonagenarian some years ago) and Elizabeth Westerkamp, who is still alive, centenary, and was present at the Colón!

            Why the Street of the Pianists? Well, the Rue Bosquet Nº 22 at Brussels is where the Tiempo-De Raco-Lechner have lived for decades: Lyl, her husband, Karin (now separated from Binder) and her daughter Natasha. And Sergio with his wife and small daughter, who is already at four being trained by her grandmother Lyl. AND in Nº 24 lives Argerich in a huge house with several pianos, where she nurses the careers of young pianists; though she goes playing around the world she comes back from time to time. 

            Insonorisation doesn´t seem to be very effective, for Argerich hears Natasha play at one point in the picture, and it´s one of the high spots of it: the 14-year-old is giving her personal interprtetation of the last number, "The Poet speaks", of Schumann´s "Scenes from Childhood", and Martha´s face is eloquent in her appreciation of the girl´s talent.

            Lyl, who plays occasionally, could have had a big career as a concert pianist, but she developed a strong teaching vocation and was the mentor of her children from very early ages as well as many other pianists. In fact, her own parents taught legions of young charges through the decades. Lyl in her youth was already a redoubtable pianist; she played marvelously a Chopin Scherzo in my Pleyel at my earlier abode, five blocks from where I live now.

            As the decades went by, I often heard Antonio de Raco, who could be splendid though variable. And then I started following Karin´s career, who recorded a lovely record when she was thirteen and came often. And then, the revelation of the uncanny facility of her half-brother Sergio Tiempo. Still later, the combination of the two, and also with Lyl in Mozart and Bach. Finally, the astonishing precocity of Natasha, who played as a pro at nine-years-old with the B.A. Philharmonic, and came back two years later. So I wasn´t surprised that now  she plays in an equal high rank with her mother Karin in four-hand and two-piano music.

            But let´s get back to the pìcture. It is a labor of love by Mariano Nante, born in B.A., 1988. He was the director and the co-writer of the script with Sandra de la Fuente, and had as main collaborator the cameraman Juan Aguirre. But "script" in this case should rather be substituted by "planning" and "coordination", as well as "editing", for basically the film shows an extensive range of dialogues between mother and daughter. They are both in love with the piano, as is the whole dynasty and their illustrious friend next door. But, although it ´s plain that Natasha has a strong character and they quarrel a good deal, it very easily transpires to the viewer that they care for each other very much.

            This is a phenomenally gifted family, and Sergio´s daughter is already beginning to play, led by "Babasha" (Lyl); and she wants to do it by herself; her grandmother tries to help and the girl testily tells her not to intrude...

            The film also shows family meetings in which  the jovial nature of Sergio engenders  funny repartees; it´s a good thing that brother and sister have such rapport, not only musically (they are wonderful playing together). There´s a good deal of music in these 87 minutes, and "The Poet speaks" keeps coming back to show different interpretive approaches; they weigh every chord, every silence, and articulate in words why they do it so. It´s not about technique but expression. They scarcely comment about tricky technical moments, it´s all so easy for them...

            With no interval after the movie, two pianos rose from the pit and Karin  and Natasha, in identical red gowns as those they wore in a Brussels concert seen on the film, attacked with marvelous dexterity and perfect style pieces by Milhaud, Fauré, Ravel, Bach-Hess, Bizet, Piazzollla and Brahms. A wonderful half-hour of fine music. And a  special overall experience.

For Buenos Aires Herald

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