Elisso Virsaladze in Latina The Grande Dame of the piano
Elisso Virsaladze in Latina in memory of Riccardo Cerocchi
Wonderful to see Elisso Virsaladze back in Latina to pay homage to Riccardo Cerocchi the founder of the Campus Musicale in Latina and of their summer Festival Pontina in Sermoneta.
She is not only a great artist but a wonderfully warm human being who gave up her time to come to Latina to pay her own homage to a remarkable man that she had known in the many years that she has been giving classes in Sermoneta.
In fact this leggendary musician only holds classes in Moscow ,Fiesole and Sermoneta.
Such is her generosity though that she had been teaching, I am told by one of her students, 13 hours a day for five days in Fiesole prior to arriving just in time to play a long and complex programme of Schumann and Chopin!
Any other artists would have cancelled and gone back home to Moscow to rest.
But not “our” Elisso who just had time to try the piano a few minutes before the public were allowed to enter.
Of course she knew that she could rely on Mauro Buccitti to give her the piano of her dreams.
For many years she has been giving Masterclasses in Sermoneta where all the finest young musicians flock in the summer months to this hill side town for Elisso as they did for Menuhin,Szigeti, Kempff ,Navarra,Rosen to mention only a few of the great musicians that have given up their time to fulfill the dream of Arch Cerocchi to fill his beloved hills in Latina with music and above all with young musicians on the crest of a wave with a wish to learn and be inspired by the musicians that he esteemed from his regular visits with his wife to Gstadt and Salzburg,
The course this summer has just been announced from the 30th June to the 5th July with her solo concert on Saturday the 29th June 2019
………….A recital of Schumann and Chopin in a new hall for me Teatro Ponchielli that Arch.Cerocchi had been responsable for designing in the initial stages .
A well appointed hall of 200 seats which is part of a local school.
The magnificent Teatro D’Annunzio complex being caught up in political wrangling over safety regulations and opens only when a temporary certificate of responsability can be provided by the Mayor ……………
This for a man who has done more than any other for his home town was evidently not possible on this noble occasion!
The Schumann that filled the whole of the first half of a long programme were the rarely performed six Intermezzi op 4 and the work that immediately follows it the beautiful Davidsbundlertanze op 6 (although actually written after Carnaval op 9)
The Intermezzi were given rigorous performances of such energy and rhythmic drive .In fact much more Floristan than Eusebius that were the two sides of Schumann’s complex personality.But out of the enormous virtuoso demands from the pianist there always emerged melodic lines of passionate involvement .It is just this rigorous non sentimental approach always with a sense of the great architectural line in mind that had Sviatoslav Richter exclaim that she was one of the greatest Schumann interpreters of our time.
It was in Zwickau at the age of only twenty four after running away with first prize in the International Schumann Competition that she had the press worldwide acclaiming her performances.
In the Davidsbundlertanze that followed Schumann indicates for the first time to whom the 18 pieces are attributed.The more energetic Floristan or the introverted poet Eusebius.In the final melancholic dance Schumann writes above the score:
“Here Florestan made an end, and his lips quivered painfully” “ Quite superfluously Eusebius remarked as follows: but all the time great bliss spoke from his eyes.”
A whole world that Elisso opened up for us with her great artistry.
From the extreme simplicity of the second marked just “innig” and signed “E”to the rumbustuous third “Mit Humor” and signed “F” leading into a most passionate outburst of the fourth.
The disarming simplicity of the fifth was played with great almost elastic flexibility.
The virtuoso demands of the sixth showed her amazing command of the keyboard.
There were so many beautiful things it is impossible to list them all but the fourteenth “zart und singend” was quite magical and the sweep of the fifteenth where Eusebius and Florestan are united was quite breathtaking in its passionate involvement.
The capricious charm of the sixteenth and its gradual disintigration lead the way to the magical penultimate dance.
What was very noticable was her almost orchestral sound in Schumann as opposed to her liquid “ bel canto” sound in the Chopin that made up the second half.
From the very first notes of the second ballade (that is dedicated to Schumann) there was a completely different sound.
The hands sometimes very subtly unsyncronised which allowed a much more cantabile sound.It is the secret of the great pianists of the past who could appear as if by magic to make the piano sing without any percussive sounds.
Six of Chopin’s fourteen Waltzes were played with all the charm and style that these little masterpieces rarely receive these days.
From the charm of the “Cat” waltz 34 n.3 to the nostagia of the “Valse de l’Adieu” op 69.n.1 .The noble charm of the C sharp minor op 64 n.2 or the scintillating virtuosity of op 34 n.1 offered as an encore.
Here Elisso showed us a multicoloured world from a past era.
The nocturne in D flat was played with a luminosity of sound where every note spoke so eloquently the like of which I have not heard since Rubinstein made it so much his own.
Its partner op 27 n.1 was played with such subtle half lights at the beginning one was almost reminded of Debussy Cathedrale Engloutie .
Maria Teresa Cerocchi and one of her daughters thanking the charming presenter for his short but heartfelt introduction.
The Nocturne in F op 15 n.1 and the Third Ballade completed the programme so brilliantly.
What better tribute could there be for Riccardo Cerocchi and his wife Maria Teresa who have dedicated their lives to bringing the greatest music to the their fellow citizens.
I well remember Arch Cerocchi at Elisso’s recital in the courtyard of the Town Hall in Latina.
A programme as today of Schumann and Chopin.
I remember very well the twinkle in his eye as we exchanged our enthusiasm for the wonderful evening of such nobility that this great artist had given us …………just as she had so generously today.
Here is our Elisso over the past few years ….and with the hope for many more years to come ……..
Thank you dear Elisso for all that you share with us so selflessly
Hugh Mather By coincidence I just came across a Youtube clip of her playing in the Tchaikovsky competition of 1962 when she was third to Ashkenazy and John Ogdon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJjQ-6yWMlw at about 6’40.
A wonderful piece of music history if you haven’t seen it before.
YOUTUBE.COM Tchaikovsky 1962
📷 Christopher Axworthy That’s wonderful Hugh I will add that if I may to my commentary.
She also played last september in Torino the Tchaikowsky Concerto absolutely magnificently.
It was broadcast live and expect you can pick it up on you tube by now