They almost cancelled the Pharos chamber music festival when the European Union bailiffs trashed the local banks. Sponsors vanished overnight and the editors struggled to fill the programme’s acknowledgements page .
But the artists refused to give up. Asked to reduce their fees, they waived them altogether. Asked to rejig their programmes, they tore them up and started again.
Michala Petri, the recorder virtuoso, had been planning a solo recital. So had Mahan Esfahani, the brilliant young harpsichordist. In a flash of intuition, Garo Keheyan, the festival’s president, wondered if they might not like to work together. Mahan told Michala he had grown up with her recordings. Michala told Mahan that his rigour reminded her of her younger self.
At last night’s recital, they ignored the printed programme and played music that brought the best out of each other in rehearsal – Bach, Handel, Telemann, Vivaldi. The symbiosis was remarkable. When they spoke to the audience between pieces, they finished each other’s sentences. When they played, each anticipated the other’s breath. There was not a stale note all night.
The best matches are made in heaven. This one was born of adversity. By the night’s end, plans were taking shape. A legend made in Cyprus will be heard around the world. Banks may crash. The music plays on.