The Bartolomeo Cristofori Festival in Padua today with Leslie Howard and Mattia Ometto the Liszt Symphonic Poems for in Liszt’s original arrangement for two pianos in the Auditorium Pollini
and just two hours before a recital by the eighteen year old Nicolas Ventura in the historic Gabinetto di Lettura
12 of the 13 Symphonic Poems by Liszt recorded just a month ago in Padua and now presented to the public in this new Pianistic Festival devised by the remarkable eclectic pianist Carlo Grante.
A perfect ensemble where one was not aware that there were two pianists on two pianos such was the total fusion of sound always kept under control and only unleashed in the inevitable heroic climax of these romantic masterpieces.
The Orpheus Poem of such poetry and subtle colouring was shaped with such delicacy by these two great artists I would say that this was the real highlight of this marathon performance .
The final Mazeppa,of course, had all the fireworks that one would expect but always kept under a such keen control that it was never allowed to overpower the listener as can so often happen with two concert grands one pitted against another.
Here with this duo there was no battle but a total cohesion of sound and sense of line that one was allow to savour the form and shape of these much neglected masterpieces.
Leslie afterwards tells me that it was Sir Thomas Beecham back in the 1950’s who made the only recording of Orpheus and several other major works of Liszt now shamefully neglected .What a pioneer Sir Thomas was,apart from being one of the great Mozartian’s of his time .I well remember the recording of Beechams Lollipops – what a treasure trove of rarely heard gems all made to sparkle by that veteran wit and master musician.
Much looking forward to the recording made in collaboration with the Cristofori Festival of Leslie Howard and Mattia Ometto.
This is a Festival immediately noted for its serious intent to present the piano in all its forms in a very scholarly way.
Hence the presence last month of that veteran Paul Badura Skoda and lectures on the invention by Cristofori of the first piano and also on the sound world of Scarlatti given by Carlo Grante -who has just finished recording all 500 Scarlatti Sonatas.
That very fine young pianist from Padua Leonora Armellini in a recital the first in a series of the complete works of Chopin .
Carlo Grante too presenting the three sonatas of Schumann .An interesting combination that apart from the well known op 11 and 22 includes the lesser know Sonata without Orchestra op 14.
So much to admire .savour and learn from in this festival that has also not forgotten to give ample space to the remarkable young talent that is being nurtured here in Italy .
And so it was today ,almost as an aperitivo,that the stage was given to an eighteen year old pianist from the Padua Conservatory Nicolas Ventura in a very difficult programme of Beethoven op 90,Chopin Second Ballade,Nocturne op 15 n.1, and the Polonaise in F sharp minor followed after a short break by the fiendishly difficult Brahms Paganini Variations book 2 and ending with Scriabin’s most beautiful fourth sonata.
It was in fact in the virtuosity required in Brahms and in a Scriabin Study offered as an encore that Nicolas gave the best of himself. Seeming to be more relaxed in the virtuoso intricacies of this music he allowed the piano to sing more naturally and less harshly on this rather bright Yamaha piano.In the most mellifluous of all Beethoven’s Sonatas he had not found the singing legato and poetic phrasing that he was to find later in the more technically difficult works in the programme.However a real talent and one to look out for in a year or two when he has had time to mature and gain experience .
All this is just the Primo Trimestre of the First Festival.Much looking forward to knowing what the future has in store for the lucky people of Padua.