It was in 1972 whilst a student of Guido Agosti in Rome that I ventured into this historic Oratorio of 1544 to hear a performance of the Diabelli Variations for the Coro Polifonico Romano by William Grant Nabore .
It was introduced by that great character and founder Gastone Tosato.
A very fine performance I remember from Nabore a student of Carlo Zecchi.
Now returning forty years later to hear Marcos Madrigal a remarkable Cuban pianist student of Nabore at the International Piano Academy in Como that he founded with Martha Argerich many years ago and that has been ever since an oasis for many great pianists.
Tureck,Pressler,Fleischer,Fou Ts’ong,Alicia De larrocha,Moura Lympany,Karl Schnabel,Frankl,Perahia,Bashkirov are just a few of the great pianists that have been to the Academy to share their knowledge and experience with some of the finest young aspiring pianists of our day.
Just in the past two weeks there has been a festival in Como for some of the more recent students that have benefited from all that the Academy has offered:Dmitry Masleev,Alessandro Deljavan,Chi Ho Han,Francois Dumont,Ran Jia,Kostantin Lifschitz and last monday Marcos Madrigal.
A semi private concert at Gonfalone for the opening of the Rotary Club in Rome which was opened by Prof Iacobelli describing some of the amazing frescos which cover the walls of this historic hall.
Starting with the Sonata op 69 by Beethoven.
The first sonata in which cello and piano have equal importance
If the great cello solo opening could have had more weight it was the piano that immediately caught our attention with the opening flourish so beautifully shaped by Marcos.
In fact it was the great temperament of Marcos Madrigal that brought this sonata to life.
Some very refined musicianly cello playing that came to life only in the more energetic moments as the slower more melodic lines could have been projected with more authority.
Authority there certainly was from Marcos and the sheer beauty of the sound and sense of balance between the hands was quite sublime.
The interplay between cello and piano was finely managed by both players in a performance between real musicians .
The Scherzo could have had more rhythmic energy to contrast with the beautiful slow introduction to the ebuliant last movement.
The three Fantasiestucke by Schumann were played with great romantic fervour.
The first one perhaps rather too much rubato from the opening cello phrase for my taste but the interplay between the instruments was absolutely perfect with Marcos following every inflection of his partner.
The cat like glance ready to pounce the moment the cello touched the strings in the last piece gave great impetus to the music that had been lacking from the cello in the Beethoven.
Some very refined playing and great sense of colour from the cello in Casella’s Nocturne and the Tarantella was thrown off with all the ease that I remember from Andre Navarra many years ago.
Now both players were completely warmed up as was the audience on this very balmy september evening in Rome.
We were treated to a virtuoso account of Castelnuovo- Tedesco’s devilish Rhapsody on Mozart’s Figaro.
Some truly remarkable ensemble playing of great virtuosity and charm .
Suddenly we were treated to the atmosphere of sheer joie de vivre that had been missing Both audience and players were united in a great performance that brought the house down.
Or almost because first there were the two thank you speeches from the charming Rotary Presidents who had hosted this feast of music
Luckily there was still time for two extraordinary encores.
Summertime played with all the sleazy flexibility of two artists now completely at their ease .
A tango by Piazzola was the only way to finish such a feast of music .
Of course Marcos on home territory relishing every minute of the driving rhythms that had the cello now totally involved too.
The Cuban sunshine had spread its rays on a cellist that had seemed at first to be a refined musician rather than a showman in the mold of Rostropovich – more a Fournier than a Tortelier .