Wednesday, Nov 16,2011:Love/Hate Relationship
That’s how you might describe Bledar Zajmi’s regard for the cello when he was still a little boy in Albania.
The accomplished musician, who has won awards and toured internationally thanks to the bulky wooden instrument, first started playing a more child-friendly version, the violin, at age five. But when he went to register for school, he tells Opus Osm, “the cello teacher saw me first. ‘Oh, your hands are very good for the cello,’” he recalls her saying, holding up his left hand and turning it to show us.
“So I gave the flowers I’d brought for the violin teacher to the cello teacher instead, and that’s how it all started,” he laughs. His father had to pick up both little Bledar and his big cello in the family car to give them a ride home after each lesson.
“One day my father was late, so I walked all the way home dragging the cello behind me,” he chuckles. “When I got home I announced, ‘I’m not going to play the cello anymore!’” he says, his eyes crinkling with laughter.Fortunately, graduating from the music academy in Tirana, Albania and the Academy of Arts (HAMU) in Prague, helped change his mind. You can see what a passionate relationship Mr Zajmi has with the cello today in these photos from the Czech Philharmonic’s Early Evening concert at 5:30 pm Nov 2 with pianist Daniel Wiesner. It was part of the Czech Chamber Music Society series.
As exuberant a player as Mr Zajmi is, he meets a cool, outwardly restrained partner in Daniel Wiesner. The pianist, who has recorded numerous CDs with chamber orchestras and as a solo performer, and for Czech Radio, confines his movements to an occasional curling towards the piano keys and a rare small jump from the piano bench; his passion is reserved for the expression he entices from the piano keys.
Mr Wiesner started studying piano at about the same age as Mr Zajmi began with the cello, he tells Opus Osm, and he too graduated from the Prague Academy.
We ask if he sees any difference in performing at the Early Evening concert’s 5:30 starting time. “When we’re playing, we don’t know if it’s 9:30 in the morning or 5:30 in the evening,” he smiles. “We concentrate on the concert and put everything else out of our minds.”Their program this evening included Beethoven, Martinů, and Dvořák. But both performers cited the concluding selection, Richard Strauss’ Sonata for Cello and Piano in F Major, Opus 6, as their pick of the evening. “Not many duos play this piece, because it is very difficult for both instruments,” Mr Wiesner admits.
“It shows the ‘space’ of the cello,” Mr Zajmi explains.
“I can play the cello from every position. I can express its musicality, every emotion.”
Simply, he adds, “I can find myself in this music.” – oo
– Mary Matz
Photo Credits: Miroslav Setnička