What a privilege to go on a Sunday night to Musée Jacquemart André and listen to one of the greatest French pianists, Philippe Entremont, who played Mozart and Schubert. The private museum, one of the most visited in Paris thanks to Culturespace which manages it, is the former Hôtel particulier of sculptor Nélie Jacquemart and her rich husband Edouard André. It is magnificently furnished and decorated in 18 th century style and the paintings on the wall are world class. So it made me smile when I heard an elegant old lady say « on se sent chez soi ici » (one feels at home here) a little snobbish right ?…
The occasion was a one hour concert, in the lavish music room, with perfect acoustics. And one was moved by Entremont’s maestria and forcefulness at 80.
The son of an opera conductor and concert pianist, Philippe Entremont has just published a short Memoir of his musical career. His editor Philippine Cruse was there talking about « Piano ma non troppo » (Ed. de Fallois), where the maestro tells about his first concerts and lifelong successes. Discovered by Eugen Ormandy, he played with the Philadelphia orchestra in 1956 at 22 ! and made a name for himself while playing Tchaikovsky’s concerto n°1 and Rachmaninoff’s second concerto with a new interpretation. Director of the New Orleans symphony and of the Vienna Chamber orchestra, Entremont has always been more famous abroad than in France.
His charm and youthfulness are intact and I could remember vividly the first time I met him at Francine de l’Espée’s house, near Biarritz. They were playing a concerto for two pianos together, just for the fun of it. So the public was fascinated to hear him tonight, brilliant and whimsical, and enjoying the music so much that no one could have thought he had just landed from his three week tour in the US, having braved the snow storms.
I was then lucky to meet the long time guard (33 years), François Duhamel, who chatted me up in front of a portrait of Catherine Skavronskaia, painted in Naples (1790), by Elizabeth Vigée Lebrun, the court portraitist of Marie Antoinette. It soon will be at the Grand Palais in Paris and at the Metropolitan Museum next February for the major retrospective of this amazing lady painter who left us 660 paintings !
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