Andre Gallo Domenica in Musica Amici della Musica di Padua
Wonderful to be back in the Sala dei Giganti in Padua with our old friend Filippo Juvarra.
It was he ,in 1984 ( the year I was married to the famous actress Ileana Ghione) who rang me in our theatre in Rome having seen that Vlado Perlemuter was about to make his Italian debut at the age of 81.
Would he come and play in Padua too?
We shared Vlado for the next ten years together with many other places in Italy too.
Another shared favourite with Padua was Annie Fischer who Perlemuter adored too.
That was the first time I saw this magnificent historic hall accompanying Vlado together with his inseparable companion Joan Booth
Joan passed away the same day as my wife (12 years on) last December 3rd at the age of 104 and a half and without whom he never would have played in public until the ripe old age of 90.
We have a lot to thank her for!
The same wonderful piano.
A magnificent Steinway from 1952.
Favourite of Richter who used to prepare for his recordings in Mantua on it.
As that master piano technician Mr Manta says they do not make them like that any more.
He explained that the soundboard of a Steinway is 9+ mm and the hammers made of real wool .
The difference from other makes that have a thinner soundboard and use synthetic material for the hammers. Of course that is why a Stradivarius matures with age?
The trial and errors that go into the search for absolute perfection before finding just the right materials and craftsmanship.
It is alway stimulating talking to artists of such intelligence and sensibility as Andre Gallo.
That great critic and writer Bryce Morrison on hearing Andre play for the Keyboard Trust in London summed up just what we were about to experience in Padua for the series of Sunday morning concerts for exceptionally talented young artists at the beginning of their career:
“Now this really is fascinating. I have heard very few pianists in Noretta’s (at the most three) series at Steinways over the years who I feel could seriously consider a career as a pianist. But Andre Gallo is a very remarkable exception. and hearing this again on CD in much better sound than in Steinways was a special experience.
For a start the programme was so enterprising, a real exploration suggesting all sorts of relationships and he has such a strong, audacious personality.
Of course, I can just hear the french brigade exclaiming in horror over his determinedly ‘different’ Debussy (tres rather than un peu sentimentale for the likes of Cecile Ousset, a French literalist if ever there was one).
At the same time I am puzzled by someone who bears down so heavily on Debussy’s early evanescent magic (all that push-pull rubato). He doesn’t believe in under-statement and, provocatively, everything is inflated beyond its natural perspective.
At the same time the pianism is masterly and the Dutilleux is superb (this should go on record with, for example, the Sonata).
Loved the Marco di Baris and the Vecsey/Cziffra, again suggests a superb pianist.
I have not heard playing of this quality for a long time in this series and I would go anywhere to hear him.
If you need a quote from me, you could perhaps use the following:
‘A masterly pianist with a bold and intriguing personality.’
Again with so much anodyne playing around, carefully trained for the exam room or the competition circuit (the reverse of what is required on the public platform), this is very exciting.”
Great words indeed from someone who has made the study of the piano and performance a lifetime mission.
Fascinating to watch the sheer beauty of the movement of his whole body whilst playing.
“Moulding” indeed as Dame Fanny would have exclaimed.
Like a great sculptor shaping the sounds with the same shape as his hands were making.
As Agosti used to say fingers like steel but wrists and arms like rubber.
Starting as a youth in Imola with Lazar Berman that great disciple of Goldenweiser as was his great compatriot Tatyana Nikolaeva.
Always so fundamentally important the early training.
Andre tells me he was always insistent that his shoulders should be completely relaxed and in a natural position. How many pianist seize up in later life without these principals established from the beginning?
In fact Andrea sits back like Radu Lupu with the arms outstretched looking ever like the caricature of Brahms at the keyboard.
What it gives them is complete control of sound through really feeling the sound through the fingers.
Je sens ,Je trasmet indeed!
Certainly it is this that gives Andre such freedom and such a pure unforced kaleidoscopic sense of colour .
I asked him if he used the middle pedal at all and he replied not only did he not use it but he never uses the soft pedal either . Preferring to use his ultra sensitive fingers to produce the refined sounds that he likes.
The slightly nasal sound of the soft pedal that Perlemuter and Arrau chose to use to such effect is not of his taste .
I defied him to maintain his word today in Padua and he certainly did!
The ravishing subtle pianissimi always with a resonance produced totally by his transcendental command of the keyboard sonorities.
Particularly noticeable was the beauty of sound in the final encore of Debussy’s First Arabesque.
Has the coda of the Schumann Arabeske op 18 ever sounded so beautiful?
A real Dichterliebe indeed.
The supreme subtle colouring in Claire de Lune one could almost feel the glowing rays that Debussy was depicting in sound.
Indeed some real passionate playing in the Passepied.Andre is a real artist with a soul which also has something personal to say and who is not afraid to speak out .
So many beautiful things in the Five Romanze senza parole op 62 by Mendelssohn offered today .From the jeux perle and delectable shaping of Mendelssohn’s melodies to the beautiful Spring Song played with an aristocratic sense of shape and an irresistible elasticity.A real “song” without words .
The childlike simplicity; of the opening of Poulenc’s rarely heard Suite Francaise played with such mesmerising rhythmic energy .
The same energy that he had saved for the Danzas Argentinas op 2 by Ginastera that closed this all too short Sunday morning recital.
He had been warned to finish like Cinderella before 12 when all the wonderful pandemonium of bells of Padua broke out in full voice.
It was of no importance for his totally hypnotised audience.
The extreme beauty of the Danza de la moza donosa had been encompassed by an absolutely sintilating almost whispered Danza de viejo bovero and an absolutely extraordinary tour de force of Danza del gaucho matrero .
Pealing bells or no after such a transcendental performance of this old warhorse the public insisted on more and Andre was only too delighted to share his unique musicianship with them in an all too rarely experienced intimate two way conversation.
A little piece by Mompou was the only thing possible after such a tumultuous performance of Ginastera and the beautiful Debussy Arabesque that followed bodes well for his recording of the complete works of Debussy that is being recorded in these very days.
As Bryce Morrison rightly says :”A masterly pianist with a bold and intriguing personality”