I remember being at the Royal Albert Hall in London to hear Pappano conducting “his” orchestra in the Schumann Piano Concerto with a very young unknown Canadian pianist a few years ago.
Jan Lisiecki and he had just recorded it with the S.Cecilia Orchestra.
A great talent indeed but at only eighteen he could not possibly have had the experience or weight to fill this vast hall with the sound that would have come from the hands of an Arrau or Rubinstein.
However helped and encouraged by that master musician Pappano they gave a fine if very miniature performance that came over much better on the CD than in this vast cavern full of 6000 eager faces.
I have since heard two recitals in the Wigmore Hall.
The first was magnificent and really showed off the artistry, technical command and authority of this young man blessed not only with model good looks but with the same glorious talent that his Canadian colleagues possess.
A remarkable school of piano playing born on the wings of that musical genius Glenn Gould .
I am thinking of Oscar Peterson,Mark Andre Hammelin,Janina Fialkowska,Angela Hewitt Louis Lortie to name but a few that have been enthusiastically received on the world stage
All have in common their simple pure intelligent musicianship allied to a total technical command of the instrument.
Whether in the Jazz or classical idiom.
The second recital at the Wigmore Hall was of a star marketed more for his youthful good looks than his serious piano playing.
It was such a delusion to hear some very professional playing but without the musical spark that had been so much the hallmark of his earlier performances.
Obviously this young man was looking for something which I am glad to say that after last nights performance he is now well on the verge of finding thanks to the infectious music making of Sir Antonio Pappano.
At the ripe old age of 23 here they were in Rome together again to play Chopin’s 2nd Piano Concerto.
The sublime beauty of the Moment Musical in D flat op 16. n.5 offered as an encore was one of the things I will treasure for a long time.
Here was the music that was allowed to unfold with the most subtle rubato and a projection of sound that was of such beauty that I could imagine the sounds wafting to the top of this enormous Symphony hall as they arrived to me in the nearest seat I could find to the piano.
That is the secret that only true masters discover on their long search for perfection.
The door has now been opened for this young man and will obviously lead to a voyage of discovery that will fill the hearts and souls of the public for a very long time to come.
The last movement of the Chopin Concerto so expertly abetted by Pappano and an orchestra that plays as one following his expressive hands and body movements.
This was real chamber music on a large scale where each of the solo instruments were allowed their own artistic freedom but within a whole that were following so attentively the soloist as he spun his magical web.
This dance like Finale:Allegro vivace thrown of with a real jeux perle that is so rare in these days where most soloists seem to relish in the resilience of the instrument and much less in that of our ears!
The teasing play between soloist and orchestra was a reminder of the days of a Magaloff or Rubinstein where the dance rhythm had an infectious charm of the true polish dance
Some beautiful understated things in the slow movement that sometimes however missed the weight that gives a greater sense of line to what is in fact one of the most expressive of songs from that true young poet Chopin who had just burst on the Parisian scene at around the same age as our soloist tonight.
The magical fioriture played with such subtle colouring but somehow not part of the whole song.
Surely in the hands of Rubinstein it was as if every note had a word that could breath and colour the magical melodic line as in the Schubert lieder.
The first movement with some wonderful internal colouring from the orchestra in the opening tutti and the authority of the opening notes from the piano left no doubt as to the pianists authority and the unity of purpose of Pappano and Lisiecki.
This was a young man’s vision of Chopin similar to those early recordings of Rubinstein with Barbirolli full or youthful passion and great verve.
In his later years,as no doubt with this young man, he took more time and every note sang with the same passion but with a meaning that allowed the music speak so eloquently.
This transformation all thanks to Sir Antonio Pappano who has taken yet another young musician under his wing (as Barenboim did with him and Rubinstein with Barenboim before that) to show both Jan Lisiecki and Beatrice Rana the path of a true interpreter.
J’ecoute,je sens je trasmet indeed .
I once said to Dame Fanny Waterman that I thought Pappano was the Barbirolli of today. Much better dear,she immediately replied!
Dame Fanny is rarely wrong!
A difficult lesson to learn with the impatience of youth but with such truly impassioned music making it involves them and all around them in this wish to communicate the essence of the music via a true virtuosity that does not bring itself in se to the listeners attention.
The concert had opened with an impassioned account of the G minor Symphony by Mozart.
A real voyage of discovery as the whispered opening was transformed in so many magical ways.
The Andante had never before tonight appeared as the “Pastoral” of Beethoven you could almost see nature unfolding.
Some great rhythmic energy in the opening development of the first movement and also in the Minuetto.
I felt the tension could have relaxed a bit more in the last movement with its gracious question and answer somewhat too overpowering.
A magnificent full blooded performance of Lutoslawski’s Concerto for Orchestra of which the pianist Sviatolslav Richter must have heard the first performance .
Reading his remarkably entertaining and perceptive diaries he notes……
“I heard his Concerto under Rowicki .It seems to me that he occupies a leading position among contemporary composers.I met him in Warsaw,of course,and at the Britten Festival in Aldeburgh.He struck me as a deeply serious person,a man of an uncommunicative and ascetic bent who conceals within him a delicate,fragile soul.”
and his final comment could very well be applied to today’s performance indeed:
“The musicians gave an incomparable performance of this extraordinarily captivating concerto.Bravissimi!”