Awaking at an unearthly hour of the morning to catch my 7am flight from Heathrow to Milan was the start of a long but very rewarding day.
As the flight was late departing I went straight to the beautiful Villa Necchi in the centre of Milan where the presentation to the Quartetto di Cremona was made by Ilaria Borletti-Buitoni.
It was an intimate and heart-warming occasion where the quartet was joined by fellow BBT artist pianist Gloria Campaner – who happened to be in town – plus Benedetta and Giovanni Buitoni, Franco’s niece and nephew, who donated the glass sculpture Suono by Ritsue Mishima, as well as other friends and colleagues.
It was good to see Suono in the ‘flesh’ because it is extremely beautiful and heavy! Each member of the quartet also received a framed personalised certificate to put on their walls.
Once the official presentation was completed we all went into the beautifully appointed dining room for the most delicious lunch and much merry conversation. My limited Italian was stretched to the limits but I managed to get the gist some of the time (I am always too embarrassed to attempt to say anything in Italian myself). Every now and then there was a burst of English conversation for my benefit. Simone Gramaglia kept us all amused with his viola stories…
Reluctantly we departed on our separate ways as the quartet had to rest before rehearsing for that evening’s concert for the Società del Quartetto di Milano at the Sala Verdi del Conservatorio which was dedicated to the memory of Franco. I was sorely in need of a nap too.
The concert (Beethoven Op.18/2, Bartok No.5 and Beethoven Op.95 Serioso) was absolutely wonderful and much appreciated by a big audience. At the end Simone gave a speech of thanks for all that Franco had done over many years to champion chamber music in Italy and to thank the Borletti-Buitoni Trust for its support of young musicians since 2003 (the Quartetto di Cremona were one of our earliest winners in 2005), which was warmly applauded by the audience and much appreciated my Ilaria and myself.
As it was a warm, almost balmy evening, Ilaria and I had the pleasure of walking past the Duomo and Galleria before heading to our beds.