There were a pile-up of competing events to fill a blog feature, but only one stole the show:
Amidst a sweltering East Coast heat wave, harpsichordist friend, Elaine Comparone, messaged a BBC link to an astounding display of age-defying virtuosity.
At her home in Paris, 103-year old, French pianist, “Colette,” played mellifluous Debussy, “moving” gracefully across the keyboard with supple wrists through the composer’s Reflets Dans L’eau. It was a bountiful sharing of immaculate artistry wedded to the pianist’s philosophy-framed musings about the piano, and its inalterable “faithfulness.” With her keen mind and whimsical personality, she juxtaposed men as unreliable while affirming a life of soaring soul and spirit emanating from the keyboard.
Recently Colette released her fourth album dedicated to Claude Debussy on the occasion of the centenary of his death, while also offering performances by Federico Mompou, Astor Piazzolla and Alberto Ginastera.
“Colette Maze was born June 16, 1914 in Paris, to a family of the upper middle class; she played piano from 5 years old. At the age of 15, she entered the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris, where she studied with Alfred Cortot and Nadia Boulanger.
“She became a piano teacher, a profession she practiced all her life.
“At 103, she still plays the piano, to maintain her memory she says.”
More astounding samples of Colette’s pianism.
There are no English subtitles for Maze’s narrative in the first video below, but her playing speaks for itself– characterized by an effusion of floating arms and relaxed “movement.” In Colette’s own words, “Stay loose and keep moving.”
A “dance-like” relationship to the piano with imbued tonal nuance draw out beautifully choreographed lines.
Flexibility is at the core of Colette’s technique with a natural unfolding of phrases. She lets the music and its direction guide the ears, hands, supple wrists, and arms in seamless unity.