Gabriele Baldocci …Greenwich Profiles
It is nice to see that Professors at Trinity Laban are being given the platform in a new series of “Profiles” which was opened by Gabriele Baldocci.
I was last at Trinity on the invitation of the then head of keyboard Deniz Arman Gelenbe retiring to concentrate on her own magnificent chamber music activities:
Her successor Peter Tuite had invited Boris Petrushansky to give a masterclass.
Petrushansky was a top prize winner in one of the first Leeds Piano Competitions and has since combined an International career with his teaching at the renowned Academy in Imola created by Franco Scala.
Many of the finest young pianists playing today have benefitted from his guidance.
It was a fascinating masterclass but just a pity that it was in russian with a rather intimidated student translator that slowed the whole process down.
Teaching on this level is one to one so a third party as in all intimate relationships can be one too many and create problems!
All this to say that Gabriele I heard for the first time some years ago when he was one of the privileged few to be accepted to the “other” Piano Academy,that in Como, created and directed by William Grant Nabore.
(Imola and Como are two of the most important advanced piano academies in the world – both founded by former students of Carlo Zecchi in Rome).
These superb young pianists would come regularly to play in Rome in Teatro Ghione to give them a platform before they went on to great careers.
I well remember Davide Cabassi and Alessandro Delvayan (both top prize winners at Van Cliburn )Roberto Prosseda,Michelangelo Carbonara and many more.
Above all I remember Gabriele Baldocci a young lad from Livorno who bewitched Dino Villatico the renowned critic of La Repubblica with his magnificent playing allied to sculptured good looks.
It is hardly surprising that the Honorary President of the Piano Academy in Como,Martha Argerich,has taken him under her wing and they regularly give chamber music concerts together.
The last time I saw Gabriele Baldocci was in the green room at the Festival Hall with his beautiful young son bouncing on the knee of Martha Argerich.
His lovely spanish wife looking on at this happy family scene.
It was today too that Gabriele chose to play a piece especially written by a colleague Anthony Phillips for a two piano recital tour of Spain with Martha Argerich.
Under the title Gemini ( the sign
of the zodiac of Martha Argerich of course).
Gabriele played it today in a transcription for solo piano.
Lasting only a few minutes.It is a short encore piece that could have almost have been written for a film by Oscar Hammerstein.
Beautifully played by Gabriele even if the composer thought it had more effect on two pianos.
It came as a breath of fresh air after the 6 Moments Musicaux D 780 by Schubert on a rather ungrateful Steinway D that almost turned Schubert into Beethoven.
Gabriele tried his best to tame this beast but when he attacked the 5th “moment” we literally jumped in the air !
He was though able to find some beautiful “moments” not least the weaving of the fourth or the gentle lilt of the third.The last was beautifully sung but again the middle section suffered and Gabriele wisely sought to unexpectedly change the tempo to create more contrast.
Gabriele has embarked on a very successful series of recordings of the Liszt transcriptions of Beethoven Symphonies.
So it was to Liszt that he turned for the second half of this short Profile recital.
Some beautiful weaving of counterpoints in Wagner’s intricate Liedestod.
A simple transciption from Lohengrin where Liszt allowed the sublime melodic line to sing unimpeded by the usual funambulistic fireworks that abound as in the famous Don Juan Reminiscences.
The deeply felt ostinato bass from Parsifal was allowed to unwind so beautifully in Gabriele’s hands.
The enormous difficulties that abound were dispatched with ease and we could only look on astounded.
A young italian student Giulio Poggia exclaimed to his friends that he has the best left hand in the business!
We could only look on in admiration but the great sumptuous sounds that are the real heart of these pieces was missing on a piano so ungrateful as to be almost unbearable.
Maybe its next door neighbour on stage would have been more appetizing?
It was only the great artistry of Gabriele that saved the day.
An improvisation of his own on Don Giovanni revealed all the subtle secrets that we were were not able to fully appreciate in Liszt.
Abandoning the score at last he was lost in a secret world of wondrous sounds treading carefully so as not to wake the “baby” again.
So pleased to see and hear Professor Gabriele Baldocci who had beguiled us all as an aspiring young pianist in Rome all those years ago.
I very much look forward to hearing his CD’s of the Beethoven Symphonies that have received such rave reviews from the critics recently.
Martha too would be so proud of “ her family.”