Premio Sergio Cafaro
In the historic hall of the Academy of S.Cecilia in Via dei Greci ,invited by the director M°Roberto Giuliani, the 13th edition of the Prize took place Saturday in memory of Sergio Cafaro.
His wife Anna Maria Martinelli Cafaro has offered since 2005 scholarships to particularly talented young artists at the beginning of their careers via the Associazione Il Ventaglio represented by Tiziana Cosentino
This year there was a special prize for the interpretation of works by Schumann and Schubert,composers that were particularly close to Sergio Cafaro It was offered by the past students from the renowned School of Piano of Sergio and Anna Maria Cafaro.
The president of the jury was Pieralberto Biondi for many years promoter of a series of concerts in Rome in the Ghione Theatre and himself a very fine pianist, teacher and highly esteemed jury member.
Laura Manzini,one of Sergios pupils of whom he was very proud for her musical prowess and refined piano playing which she had just been demonstrating a few days before in Bucharest in a duo concert with Salvatore Accardo as part of the Enescu Festival
Luisa Prayer another of Sergio’s favourite students and now Artistic Director of the Orchestra in Aquila where her programmes show off all her great musicianship as organiser and performer.
The other two members of the jury were Roberto Giuliani ,director of S.Cecilia and Stella Quadrini substituting for AnnaMaria Martinelli.
A special prize of concerts for AGIMUS in Rome and for Prof Franco Carlo Ricci’s prestigious series at the Tuscia University in Viterbo.
Both Prof Ricci and the violinist Rodolfo Bonucci were also part of the special Schumann/Schubert jury this year .
In all three winners the thing that was most noticeable was the musicianship as well as the remarkable technical accomplishment of the competitors.
A beauty of sound and superb sense of balance that allowed the very fine Steinway concert grand to show off the artistry of all three finalists.
Gaia Sokoli ,third prize winner was also winner of this years special Schubert and Schumann award.
Her Scarlatti Sonata K13 showing off her refined rhythmic control and sense colour which was even more apparent in a magical account of Liszt’s La Leggerezza.
”Leggerezza” indeed was the word that springs to mind in a very refined musical palate shaped with astonishing control and sense of bravura always with the musical shape and style to the fore.
Pasquale Evangelista,who won second prize, gave a very fine performance of the Concerto sans Orchestra which is the 3rd Sonata op 14 by Schumann.
A very difficult work to hold together due to the rather capricious nature of Schumann’s fantasy.
The famous Clara Wieck variations that make up the second movement were superbly shaped .
The first movement though could have been more rhythmically tightly held together .
Nevertheless it was played with great romantic fervour which could be even more engaging if he allowed himself more flexibility in his physical movements.
The last movement although marked Prestissimo possible could also have been even more carefully articulated.
Nevertheless it was a very successful performance of one of Schumann’s most problematic works.
The first prize went to a very fine Korean pianist Boosung Lee who played two works by Rachmaninoff.The Etude Tableaux op 39 n.1 and the original version of the Sonata n.2 in B flat minor op 36.
Some very fine playing indeed from a student of an old friend M°Micheletti from his own concerts at the Ghione quite rightly proud to pass on his remarkable skill to this beautiful young Korean pianist.
Some ravishing sounds from the piano that could now have more inner rhythmic energy in the slow lanquid sections.
The faster virtuoso passages were played brilliantly .
It was nice to see Paolo Fazioli in the front row listening to a Steinway concert grand!
His own superb pianos are to be found in most major concert halls all over the world with artists such as Angela Hewitt insisting on playing a Fazioli whenever possible.
Prof Ricci was happy to tell me that Anna Maria in desperation had told Paolo that he would never become a pianist and why did he not do something else like making them instead of breaking them!
He was there out of the esteem and thanks that he has for the “Cafaros”.
It was so nice to be back in this historic hall where as a student I had heard for the first time some of the greatest artists of our age.
I remember sitting on the stage behind Elisabeth Schwarzkopf in one of her inimitable lieder evenings.
Of Pina Carmirelli playing the three Brahms Sonatas with a last minute substitute of her regular partner Rudolf Serkin,the young Murray Perahia.
The last time I heard Aldo Ciccolini was in this hall in a concert that he gave to thank the family Napolitano that had looked after him so well after a long illness in Naples .
Many old friends and distinguished musicians present to celebrate Sergio Cafaro and to demonstrate with what esteem he was held by his colleagues.
From Luciano Cerroni and his wife Patrizia,Fausto Di Cesare as well as Laura Manzini,Luisa Prayer and many others.
Roberto Prosseda and Alessandra Ammara were in a sense present too as it was one of their pupils that took one of the major prizes .
Of course the shadows of Lya De Barberiis,Guido Agosti,Carlo Zecchi,Franco Manino,Franco Ferrara,Anna Rosa Tadei,Fausto Zadra ,Licia Mancini,Marisa Candeloro,Gabriella Galli Angelini and of course our beloved Sergio Cafaro
Nice to see Sergio Perticaroli’s star pupil Carlo Guaitoli and to hear news of this other great musician whose life so sadly has been held together by a string for so long.
Sergio who used to live near the theatre near S Peters Square that had become a mecca for musicians that just needed a space where they could share their music with others.
Sergio often used to pass by to discuss his future programmes or to tell me about particularly talented students that he and his wife had befriended.
Sergio was the most eclectic of men and one day he came with a painting that he wanted me to have that he had painted,inspired by Debussy’s Cathedrale Engloutie
Sergio was tall and thin and quite distracted and lived in his own extraordinary world of art and culture and of course his hobby of collecting insects!
He was a remarkable musician who accompanied artists of the calibre of Nathan Milstein .
He was also the most amazing improviser who could play any piece you cared to name in any style!
He was of course a very remarkable pianist and I still remember very vividly the clarity and sound of his left hand in Beethoven’s little Sonata op 79 in his very last concert for us .
Roberto Prosseda and Francesco Libetta gave a duo concert for his birthday in the Ghione theatre bringing the house down with Sergios own extraordinary pot pourri of melodies .
It is refreshing to see that the values that Sergio and Anna Maria have shared with their numerous students live on and will do so for a long time to come .