Sandro De Palma in Sabaudia
Great to be back in this very fine concert venue in the courtyard of the Town Hall in Sabaudia.
A great success here of Vitaly Pisarenko three years ago and a cry for more concerts after the discovery by the Pontine Festival of this secluded courtyard in the centre of the Sabaudia .
A seaside town that Mussolini had built in the Pontine Marshes.
This model town was in the style of the Rationalist Architecture of the time,often associated with fascism, as Mussolini brought the workers from the Venetian area of Italy to drain what were malerial swamps and transform this unfortunate area into the most fertile land ready to produce fresh produce for nearby Rome
Being at the centre of a breathtakingly beautiful stretch of beach 25km long and surrounded by the National Park of Circeo it is full of people wanting to enjoy themselves on the beach and in the restaurants in holiday mood.
But the people that frequent this magical spot also want more.
They want to feed their soul as well.
Now for the second time the announcement of a classical music concert had filled this courtyard with a discerning and appreciative audience.
Shutting the courtyard doors cuts out the noise of those happy to revel in the delights of the town and allow the others to have an hour or so of peace and beautiful music
A real oasis indeed.
A mini festival of three concerts under the artistic direction of Maestro Francesco Belli who was the conductor of the first concert that included Mozart’s Coronation Mass.
Introducing Sandro De Palma to the public he exclaimed how happy he was to have a great pianist in his opening series.
Looking in the eye at the charming Mayor of Sabaudia in the hope that we may have more music in the future.
The Pontine Festival had brought a Steinway Concert Grand from their base in Latina but tonight there was a more modest Yamaha that Sandro had confided to me afterwards had not been at all easy to play!
It was Richter who liked to rise to the challenge of conquering a new piano hunting out its secrets and seducing his public with the most ravishing sounds.
And so it was with Sandro tonight beginning his recital “Dreaming of Moonlight” with a charmingly crisp and clear Sonata by Cimarosa.
The ornaments played with the same clarity that Sokolov has become renowned for in the works of Rameau.
There was absolutely no indication of the effort that was needed to produce sounds of such character that one wondered why these Sonatas were not as well known as those of Scarlatti.
Ravishing beauty of the Sonata in A minor,Largo with whispered sounds of a luminosity that was projected to the vast audience assembled.
The final Sonata Allegro in B flat major played with all the rhythmic energy and colour that immediatley demanded attention.
The Sonata op 25 n.5 by Clementi followed .
One of 113 Sonatas which Sandro is in the process of recording for Naxos
As Mozart warned his sister about the transcendental difficulty of the Clementi Sonatas and it was this rhythmic energy and precision that did not waver for a second tonight.
This was ,after all, a pianist who had carried away first prize at the Casella Competition in Naples at the tender age of 19.
From the Neapolitan School of Vincenzo Vitali well known for the meticulous preparation and almost clockwork precision of a school that spread into Argentina via Vincenza Scaramuzza of which Martha Argerich is the greatest living example in our time.
The famous “Moonlight “Sonata op 27 n.2 by Beethoven was the centre piece of this short recital.
I remember a masterclass a while ago with Andras Schiff who opened with :”Now let us forget about this Moonlight thing.”
It was an invention of Beethoven’s publisher and can lead to a mistakenly dreamy opening Adagio sostenuto.
In fact as tonight it has a very definite forward movement when played in two and a nobility of sentiment that is far off from the moonlit scene that Beethoven’s publisher obviously envisaged .
The Allegretto with its contrast of legato and staccato beautifully realised as was the contrasting almost operatic Trio.
The Presto Agitato finale was played with the same rhythmic energy that had been the hallmark of the Cimarosa Sonata earlier.
Some beautiful things of great dramatic contrast,not least the final Adagio leading to a hauntingly nostalgic coda exploding into a typical final Beethovenian burst of energy.
The last part of the recital was dedicated to Chopin.
Sandro has long been noted for his performances of the complete Chopin Studies and it was the first three from op 25 that created the bridge between the two nocturnes op 27 and the Ballade n.1 op 23 .
The so called “Aeolian” harp study op 25 n.1 ,the name given after a description by Charles Halle of Chopin’s own performance on his final visit to England just before his death.
In Sandro’s hands it was indeed an Aeolian harp but full of passion and colour.
The final A flat arpeggios made one think immediately of Ravel’s Ondine from his suite Gaspard de la Nuit written a100 years later.
The studies op 25 n.2 and 3 played with the charm of consummate artistry of who has loved peforming these works for a lifetime
A wonderful sense of colour and balance in the two nocturnes
Particularly striking was the build up in the piu mosso section of the first in C sharp minor.
The famous nocturne in D flat was played with a nobility and great sense of line,
The final ascending scale perfectly judged with the final two chords played with a touching simplicity .As if Chopin was saying :What more could I say.
The great Ballade in G minor was given a very noble performance from the very opening arresting scale to the transcendental coda played with a total command.
The drammatic comments between the ascending scales or in this case washes of sound had us sitting on the edge of our seats as we relived this story together.
Visibly exhausted after his efforts to pull out the sounds that were in his ears from an instrument that demanded constant and total concentration.
The ovation that he recieved was greeted with a simple thank you of Satie’s first Gymnopedie.
Played with a such disarming simplicity and was the demostration of the art that conceals art that we had witnessed all evening.
Fingers crossed that we will not have to wait another three years for more music in this enchanted land .