Sandro De Palma at Viterbo
A very interesting programme by the distinguished Italian pianist Sandro De Palma for the Tuscia University Series of Prof Ricci in Viterbo in the Auditorium S.Maria in Gradi .
Winner some years ago of the Alfredo Casella International Competition in Naples at the age of only 19.
It was hardly surprising that with the name of Casella to the fore the musical element was foremost in his searching mind for this pianist formed by the renowned school of Vincenzo Vitale
A programme that will reach Carnegie Hall in New York on the 3rd December was presented here after an intensive week of recording for the Naxos label.
A week spent recording four of Clementi’s output of almost 113 Sonatas.
Rarely performed ,even Mozart suggested to his sister that she should avoid them because of their difficulty.
We all remember the Gradus ad Parnassum that was part of Clementi’s quite considerable output.
As a fourteen year old boy he was brought to England from Rome by Sir Peter Beckford to advance his studies and provide entertainment for his mentor.
In his thirties he became a renowned publisher ,piano dealer and founder of the Royal Philharmonic Society .
Amongst his pupils were Moscheles and John Field who carried his body to rest in Westminster Abbey at the age of eighty.
Having married three times and with five children he retired to Evesham where he died in 1832.
Sandro De Palma in his researching of unknown piano repertoire had spent a week recording in this hall prior to the recital.
An almost perfect acoustic bringing with him that magician of the piano Mauro Bucitti together with Michael Seberich one of the finest sound engineers with his team from Bolzano.
Mauro Bucitti had infact turned a fine but well used Steinway into an instrument ready for recording .
Turning a bauble into a real gem indeed for the “Didone abbandonata” Sonata op 50 n,3 together with 3 other equally rarely heard sonatas.
A programme under the title of” Myths of the Past and Present.Love and death between history and legend”.
Substituting on this occasion Orfeo by the renowned composer and sister in law of the pianist , Silvia Colasanti which requires a reciter ,with Beethoven’s “Tempest” Sonata for solo piano.
A programme that spanned from Orfeo ed Euridice :”The Dance of the Blessed Spirits” through the” Didone Abbandonata” by Clementi and Beethoven’s “Tempest” finishing with Liszt’s great second Ballade based on the story from Ovid of Ero and Leandro.
The story of Leandro swimming across to his lover Ero and due to a storm she not putting out the guiding light , she finds him drowned on the beach in the morning and in desperation throws herself to her death from her tower.
Our own eclectic pianist not only happy with grouping some rarely heard works together he also has all the scores on his I pad which includes all the various editions of the Liszt which he explained has three different endings.
Bagatelles and sketches of Beethoven together with his only Prelude are being collected and studied with an eye to another project to lead on from his present one in progress of Debussy and his times.
An unknown piece by Massenet was one of the encores on this occasion and he tells me he would like now to bring out a recording of all Massenet’s piano works.
Only from the remarkable Leslie Howard and Mark Viner have I heard a pianist with such an intelligently inquisitive mind.
Not convinced with the Dance of the Spirits in the usual Sgambati arrangement for piano he made his own arrangement of the central part and had an ending more atune to the original that lead so well into the Clementi Sonata.
Some remarkable playing from a pianist renowned for his performances of the Complete Chopin Studies in 1983 at the Michelangeli Festival in Brescia/ Bergamo or the complete Chopin Preludes at his debut recital at the Wigmore Hall in London in 1998.
A career that has taken in the world premiere of Michele Dall’0ngaro’s Piano Concerto at the Bellini Theatre in Catania to many major Festivals including the Folle journee’ di Nantes and the Festival at La Roque d’Antheron.
A mind much too inquisitive to tour the world only as a virtuoso, Sandro has dedicated himself to discovering a vast amount of music still lying dormant.
Some really exquisite sounds in the opening Gluck in which like a real magician he was able to bring our all the subtle strands and colours that this reborn instrument was now capable of transmitting.
Like Cherkassky and the real pianists of the past that have discovered the secret balance that the piano is capable of in the hands of pianists not only with enormous technical equipment but with super sensitive ears that can hear things that would go unnoticed in lesser hands.
”Je sens,j’ecoute, je trasmet” indeed.
The great “Didone abbandonata” given a Beethovenian performance in which the contrasts were paramount and combined to a forward movement and sense of line that made one wonder why it is not more often heard.
Well the answer was immediately apparent when the master Beethoven spoke.
Here this masterpiece was brought to life by a pianist who was aware of the great contrasts and revolutionary pedalling that Beethoven asks for
Not afraid to arrange some passages to give greater ease pianistically speaking ,something Arrau would never allow ,the first movement in particular was played with great conviction and a passion that held the audience’s attention and indeed his own in a quite extraordinary way.
The ever present I pad but on this occasion there was not even a moment to glance at it such was his total engagement with the spirit of Beethoven.
After that the second movement did not have quite the same propulsion or tension that was so evident before.
The last movement played with all lilting energy that Beethoven in his almost pastoral mood could apply.
The great Liszt Ballade was played with great sense of contrasts but somehow missed the constant pulse that could have made the overall line so apparent and even more gripping.
Some astonishing virtuosity in the parts where the 40 year old Liszt was obviously at the height of his powers taking the world by storm.
A heartrending cantabile leading to the most tumultuous outpourings of bravura of the great theme and then dying away to a whisper at the end.
An encore by Massenet was followed due to great public demand by what was for many the highlight of the recital.
A little sonata by Cimarosa.
It is hardly surprising that he has been awarded the Premio “Cimarosa” for his work in making these gems from this Neapolitan Composer better known.
Almost Scarlatti like in the rhythmic energy and showing off the now perfect repeating action of this Steinway it was a real lesson in control and finesse as had infact been this entire unforgettable afternoon in Viterbo.
Lucky New York.
Lets hope other capitals will realise what they have been missing.
And above all hats off to Prof. Franco Carlo Ricci for capturing yet again for his series in Viterbo another real eye opener for conossieurs of music making.
The recording for Naxos is now in preparation and the four Clementi Sonatas chosen will appear as soon as the editing process has been achieved.