16 May 2015
Mr Kaan Esener, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey hosted Idil Biret, the world-renowned Turkish classical pianist, who performed in Cape Town and Pretoria.
Biret dazzled audiences in Pretoria on 16 May 2015 at the Brooklyn Theatre. Many in the audience felt privileged to be at the live performance and to listen to Biret's rendition of piano music of Frederic Chopin.
The first half of her concert started with Chopin’s beautiful Andante Spianato et Grande Polonaise Brillante, Op. 22 in E major and was followed by the composer’s monumental Piano Sonata in B Minor, Op. 58. The latter is widely considered to be one of the most technically demanding works in the piano repertoire.
After interval the audience was spellbound as Biret performed the entire set of Chopin’s 12 Etudes, Op. 25.
Idil Biret was born in Ankara. She started to play the piano at the age of three and later studied at the Paris Conservatoire under the guidance of Nadia Boulanger, graduating at the age of fifteen with three first prizes. She was a pupil of Alfred Cortot and a lifelong disciple of Wilhelm Kempff with whom she gave a concert at the Theatre Champs-Elysees in Paris in 1953 at the age of eleven, performing Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos.
She embarked on her career as a soloist at the age of seventeen appearing with major orchestras in the principal music centres of the world. Her first major concert was in Brussels in 1959 with Orchestre National de Belgique, which was attended by Queen Elisabeth of Belgium who had met her as a child in Paris at Nadia Boulanger’s home.
Her more than one hundred records since the 1960s include the first recordings of Liszt’s transcriptions of the nine symphonies of Beethoven for EMI which she recorded at the Church of Chamon Gistoux in Belgium in 1986, Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique for Atlantic/Finnadar and for Naxos the complete piano works of Brahms, Chopin, Rachmaninov, the three Sonatas of Boulez, the Etudes of Ligeti and the Firebird piano transcription by Stravinsky, with a Marco Polo disc of the piano compositions and transcriptions of her mentor Wilhelm Kempff. Her Boulez recording the Golden Diapason of the year award in France in 1995 and the complete Chopin recordings have received a Grand Prix du Disque Frédéric Chopin award in Poland the same year.
In 2007 the President Lech Kaczsnky decorated Biret with the highest order of Poland (Krzyzem Kawalerskim Ordera Zaslugi) for her contribution to Polish culture through her recordings and performances of Chopin’s music.
The Turkish Film Festival opens on Friday, 22 May 2015 at Ster-Kinekor Nouveau, Brooklyn.