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Posts Tagged ‘where to hear a piano recital in Paris’

Paris: Piano Recital in Eglise Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre (Church of St. Julian-the-Poor)

Entrance to St-Julien le Pauvre

Pointing to the ad for our concert that day

First, visualize the location. The oldest church in Paris, a small Romanesque building from the 12th century, tucked away next to the small pretty Square Viviano. The square that has the amazing robinet tree (Robinia pseudoacacia), the oldest in Paris, planted in 1601 by the gardener of Henri 1V. The square that overlooks Notre Dame on the other side of the River Seine. On this sunny, summery spring Sunday afternoon the crowds at Notre Dame are overwhelming and almost unmanageable, and just hundreds of meters away, here we are in a cool, quiet place.

Next, imagine the setting in the small dimly-lit church. Rows of wooden chairs on stone floors face the wooden altar screen, adorned only with a series of Byzantine-style paintings, candles and vases of gorgeous white arum lilies and roses. In the front is a Steinway piano, open, ready.

It’s a Sunday afternoon, so the audience is small but all eager and attentive.

Inside the church, with piano ready

Our soloist walks in, down the aisle, an attractive Japanese woman, with long hair, wearing a long, floating green floral dress. Her name is Miho Nitta.

Now, try to imagine and hear the sounds she extracted from that piano, as she played Chopin and Liszt. Soft, tender, romantic sounds, and loud, wild, tumultuous sounds as her hands literally flew over the keyboard, for piece after piece. The acoustics in the church are very good (one reason they have these concerts here) but she is amazingly talented too, with very strong and supple wrists and fingers that seem able to produce more sound from a piano than I think we’ve ever heard before. We could imagine that it was Liszt playing Liszt, as the story goes that in Liszt’s time only Liszt could play Liszt because his music was so difficult. Here, in this setting, it’s easy to see and hear why, and we realize that Miho Nitta must practise endless hours daily to achieve this level.

Her fingers fly over the keyboard

It was the sort of perfect performance in the sort of perfect setting that gets one thinking of beauty in life, and how some things do live on, even if the executor is different. Bravo!

All the comments we heard from the patrons afterwards were the same: excellent, feeling refreshed, refreshing, stimulating, inspiring.

I was lucky enough to chat to her afterwards when I bought a CD—an added bonus. She is originally from Hiroshima in Japan, but has lived in Paris for about 20 years. She said I could use the photos of her here too.

These concerts are offered a couple of times a week and usually feature mainly piano music of Chopin, Liszt, Beethoven, Bach. However, you can also catch solo singers and sometimes a chorus group.

Address: 1 rue St-Julien-le-Pauvre (off Quai de Montebello)

Metro and RER: closest is St Michel

Ticket information: Concerts are advertised on billboards outside the church and around the city. You can also check online at www.concertinparis.com

The audience loved the concert!

Buy tickets online or at the church an hour before the performance, or at various stores (FNAC, Virgin, Galeries Lafayette, Bon Marche).

Prices: Adults 18 or 23 euros, students 13 euros

Here’s a YouTube video I found, from an October 2009 recital, made by Jean-Pierre Marie. It gives a really good idea of the beautiful playing of this talented musician.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-FS4J4EN54

A few days later: I’ve added another YouTube video, that shows her playing a different composer (Verdi):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkhfVcWKMDI

Perfect setting

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