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Beautiful voice in this song recital in the splendid Granary in Fossanova.I think it must be the first song recital there and certainly deserved a larger audience.


Hampered by the ever present score on a music stand the voice was never allowed the freedom to comunicate as it was with a Schwarzkopf or Berganza.Surely the whole point of a song recital is to tease,entice and play with the audience …to bring them into an intimate relationship that was not always possible with the stand between us .However a wonderful rich voice and some beautiful playing from Luisa Prayer,who also introduced the programme.Luisa from the school of Cafaro like Roberto Prosedda …real musicians that would never fail to comunicate the real essence of the music .Often reminded of Sergio Cafaro a really great musician ,who often played in my theatre in Rome.He also collected insects and gave me some of his remarkable pastel paintings.A real romantic man from another age and nice to be reminded of him via his inheritance to his pupils.An important audience for a recording that was being made.Gisella Belgeri – she too and ex studentl of Guido Agosti – now an important figure on the official government musical scene and overseeing the recording.It was she ,a dear friend, who hunted me out last november to tell me of the death of Lydia Stix Agosti ,at the age of 95.One of the most remarkable people that we have ever met and the principal reason that I came to live in Italy.All in all a very moving evening




Very interesting recital by Jacob Katsnelson for the Pontine Festival in the beautifully


restored granary of the Cistercian complex around the Abbey of Fossanova.Restored by Architect Cerocchi , recently retired president of theCampus Internazionale di Musica,and present with his wife to hear what should have been Elisso Virsaladzes annual recital .


Our adored Elisso ,at home on doctors orders ,had sent her prize assistant to take her place at the last minute .


And here was all the rigour,intellectual and musical that we have come to expect from Elisso’s much revered school of piano playing .


An interesting mixture of Bach transcriptions in the first half ….played without a break with an evident sense of form foremost in Katsnelsons mind .The usual floating romantic melody in ” sheep may safely graze” was not for this pianist and the virtuoso trascriptions by Busoni – the Organ prelude in E flat major acting as opening and ending for music restored to its rightful place – the fact that it was transcribed for piano was irrelevant in front of the form,shape and content of these masterpieces. We were,infact guided through this path in a really masterful fashion . .


Great sense of colour but not in the romantic piano sense but more the strands of colour reminiscent of the sounds of organ stops – quite a remarkable technical feat.


The second half dedicated to Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet op 75 ……and if it did not exactly have you dancing in the aisles ,the colours and overall form restored this piece to the major piano repertoire.


All Elisso’s students out in style to appreciate the great lesson that we could learn and grateful once again that Elisso even from afar had her students intellectual and musical welfare uppermost in her mind.


Masterclasses continue again today in the castle until wednesday when it will be the turn of the star students to show us how much they have been able to grasp in this real exchange of views between master and pupil .


FINAL DAY SERMONETA -final concert



And so the final day arrived ……………the Final Concert .The much awaited concert at the end of the masterclasses …….How would it be without Elisso Virsaladze?We need not have worried for all the rigour and seriousness were present in Elisso assistant Jacob Katsnelson.A bit like a train journey the Regionale/Intercity or Freccia Rossa all with the same destination in view but different times and methods for arriving.


And so it was at the beginning for Ivan Valentino,Alessandro Romagnoli and Davide Di Rienzo ,all talents in formation ,Davide Di Rienzo,in particular ,a seventeen year old local boy in Chopin’s Second Scherzo already on the way to giving an accomplished performance .Evgeny Genchev had flown in especially to meet Elisso Virsaladze but was as happy to play to Jacob Katsnelson as he was to hear him. Evgeny from the Keyboard Charitable Trust that has forged a link with the Campus Internazionale Di Musica ,as has Elisso Virsaladze over the years .A link forged on a mutual intent to help young talent reach their goal with dedication and seriousness .A transcendental performance from Evgeny Genchev of Skryabin Fantasie – every bit as powerful as Emanuel Rimoldis had been a few days earlier in the Palazzo Baronale in Fondi( this too, as is so much in this area ,part of the Caetani heritage)Sofia Vasheruk followed with a beautiful performance of the rarely heard Debussy Reverie ……beautiful to listen to and behold and led on to an equally ravishing Ravel Sonatine and the Rachmaninoff Prelude in D major .Finishing with an Etude Tableaux that showed off all her early Russian training .Liebestod by Wagner/Liszt ended the concert with Evgeny Genchev showing us all his sense of balance , colour and line that had the audience in hushed silence for minutes at the end where such an atmosphere had been created no one dared move .Evgeny had just an hour before regaled an astonished Jacob with accomplished performances of Liszt Dante Sonata and Skryabin third Sonata who did not want to tire Evgeny before the concert …. I think it was indeed Jacob that was more exhausted as we indeed saw an hour later in the concert.Some remarkable piano playing this week and let us not forget the remarkable performance that Emanuel Rimoldi gave too in Fondi of that much neglected masterpiece of Schumann – his Humoresque.Both Evgeny and Emanuel helped by the Keyboard Charitable Trust and leads to great expectation for Vitaly Pisarenko ,the last of this years trio of pianists fromThe Keyboard Charitable Trust on the 27th July for the Campus Internazionale di Musica – this time in Sabaudia


Emanuel playing last night for the Pontine Festival in collaboration with the Keyboard Charitable Trust of London gave a remarkable recital in Fondi last night.On a good but unremarkable Kwai piano in a beautiful hall – again a Palazzo belonging to the Caetani family ,as is Sermoneta , and looked after by the ever caring Caetani Foundation.


Such physical involvement,reminiscent of Sviatoslav Richter, was totally convincing when combined with playing of such simplicity and refined musicianship.What better example could there be of the Russian paradox of piano playing – Sturm and Drang indeed, and hardly surprising as he is a supreme representative of the School of Elisso Virsaladze . Dearly missed Elisso this year – she has been advised to rest this summer after her total dedication to her students has left her with doctors orders to stay at home.Ever concerned for her students Elisso has sent her assistant Jacob Ketsnelson to keep her students on the straight and narrow and I hear that he is constantly in contact with her about their progress .Her students are enthusiastic about his dedication and help that he is able to give .He is also a wonderful companion di viaggio for Elisso’s remarkable class.Just like the great professional she is , Elisso never to abandon her wonderfully gifted students- she has sent the best and everyone is very grateful .


Mozart A minor Sonata played with a rhythmic energy and totally convincing musicianship very reminiscent of that other great teacher Guido Agosti .No sentimentality but real sentiment within the confines of Mozarts perfect form.Not an easy lesson to learn but here played to perfection.The second movement played with a involved simplicty and beautiful cantabile and contrasts that showed all Emanuel’s mastery in a hall where there was no help from a very resonant acoustic and noisy happy people glad to express their” joie de vivre” in the square outside.


Virtuosity in abundance in the Scriabin Fantasy op 28 and Schumann Humoreske op 20 ,but allied to such beautiful cantabile and flights of fancy in the Schumann …. again reminiscent of that other supreme Russian master Sviatoslav Richter .


Two encores of Chasse Neige by Liszt and an Etude Tableau by Rachmaninov showed off his real virtuoso technique that had been subtly hidden but very much evidence for all those aware of the tour de force that we had been privileged to hear in a hall that was obviously more used to banquets and Musica Antiqua .


The whole class from Sermoneta had made the 80 km journey ably organised by Tiziana Cherubini and Elisa Cerocchi ( sandwiches also provided) determined to allow all the students to see what their goal might be.For Emanuel has been present in Sermoneta for many years and one could say a real product of the serious nature and heritage( that goes back to Menuhin and Szigeti)of the Pontine Festival .


Jacob Katsnelson was of course the first to congratulate Emanuel and we are all looking forward to his recital at Fossanova on Sunday in place of Elisso .I am sure he is on the phone to Elisso even from Moscow determined to keep an eye on her prize students even from afar.What a feast of Music there is in this area thanks to the Pontine Festival now remarkably in their 51st year .


Sad news this morning of the passing away of that great critic Bill Newman in London ,our great link to the golden era of Walter Legge….they don’t make ‘em like that anymore – it was a privilege to have known him


Amazing Angela today in Bevagna


Astonishing tour de force by Angela Hewitt this week at her annual Trasimeno Music Festival .


Two concerts a day in some of the most beautiful theatres that one can find in every unexpected corner of Umbria and Le Marche.


The first concert of the day today in the beautiful theatre in Bevagna – beautifully restored and thankfully air conditioned for the concert at 16h repeated at 21.15 in Angela’s hometown of Magione on Lake Trasimeno in the open air of the Castle of the Knights of Malta …….with a fresh breeze blowing from the shore of Lake Trasimeno.


A spanish programme that was heard this winter at the Wigmore Hall in London.


If we came out into the tropical heat of the delightful main square ( 40 degrees in the shade) clicking our heels and stamping our feet it was due to the stamina and rhythmic impulse that Angela gave to the music .Even transporting her own magnificent Fazioli from her nearby home to give us the maximum possible of refined sounds..


This,of course is what we have come to expect and admire in Angela’s Bach playing.The subtle colours of the song allied to the strong unfailing rhythms of the dance .


Even more evident here was also the supreme virtuosity of the Fantasia Baetica by De Falla contrasting with the sumptuous seductive sounds of The Maiden and The Nightingail by Granados.


Strong playing of the Scarlatti sonatas, too, so often played as miniatures.Each one here given its own voice and character .


What a wonderful way to spend the afternoon – far away from the crowded beaches with this lovely audience listening to this magnificent music in rapt attention.


Now we know where all the Wiggies spend their holidays .As always the most refined discerning of listeners .Their secret is out….who knows perhaps Angela next year will have to give three concerts a day to satisfy the demand .You have been warned Dear Angela