Extraordinary performance by Ivan Donchev in Villa Mondragone,Frascati on a piano similar to Liszt`s famous Erard that was in Villa d`Este.
Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique in the transcription by Liszt.
Now in its 7°edition a concert series under the title of “The ‘sound’of Liszt at Villa d`Este” directed by Giancarlo Tammaro the actual owner of this precious Erard piano from 1879 that was found in a Religious Institute in Rome in 1991 and played in public again in 1992.
Although not the original Erard that Liszt played in a famous concert he gave in the Throne Room in Villa d`Este on 30th december 1879,it is very similar to the original Erard that Liszt mentions in a letter to Baronessa von Meyendorff in 1878:
“Thanks to the kindness of Maestro Carlo Ducci who has more than 200 pianos to hire between Florence and Rome I will have a superb Erard at the Villa d`Este and also a fine Kaps in case a “first class”pianist wants to play two pianos with me.”
The original piano was also found in a religious institute in Rome in 1991.They are still the owners having restored it and put on show in the Metropolitan Museum in New York and now resides in Vienna.
Thanks to the generosity of Giancarlo Tammaro this very similar Erard is housed in the Congress Centre of Villa Mondragone and is on permanent loan to the University Roma 2 on the proviso that it is maintained for public concerts.
Although Liszt changed his abode in Rome many times his country home was always the Villa d`Este that he called his ” El Dorado”.
He would also have frequented the nearby Villa Mondragone ,so it was a happy coincidence that due to the unavailabilty of Villa d`Este this year the concert series has transferred to the equally splendid Mondragone in Frascati.
The hills around Rome abound with great villas that overlook the Eternal city and would have been frequented by nobility on their “grand tour” of Italy.
The splendid Villa Aldobrandini dominates the centre of Frascati and these other great villas surround each other and are now mostly congress centres or Hotels.
The generosity of M°Tamarro has no limits as he introduced the concert so learnedly and provided an illuminating highly researched programme.
He even had on a stand next to the piano the frock coat that Liszt wore according to a very old lady who had bequeathed it to him saying it had been in turn left to her and that it was used by Liszt when his own had become drenched in the rain.
A rain that was very much in evidence even today!
A nice story that may or may not be authentic.
Liszt was somthing of a pop star idol in his day and even cigarette butts were conserved reverently by his adoring lady fans!
However nothing had prepared us for the superb performance that awaited us on this damp Sunday morning.
The Bulgarian pianist Ivan Donchev,a prodigy of Aldo Ciccolini had meticulously prepared the 1833 transcription that Liszt had made of Berlioz`s Symphonie Fantastique.
Liszt was a great friend and admirer of Berlioz and had even tried to persuade him not to fall for the Irish actress Harriet Smithson but eventually ended up as testimony at their wedding!She was the inspiration of this monumental work.Two years later became an alcoholic!
More importantly it is thanks to this transcription that Berlioz`s music especially in Germany became known.
As Ivan explained you can either just play the work as so many do these days with the invention of the I pad or you can really delve deeply and immerse yourself totally and in fact fall under the extraordinary spell of this masterpiece.
That was the reasoning that surprised even M°Tamarro when he closed the music stand and proceeded by memory to give us a fascinating spotlight journey through the various trasformations of Berlioz`s ” idee fixe.”
Of course he had absorbed so thoroughly the Symphonie and had come to love it (exactly as Janet Baker had reasoned recently in the moving film “in her own words” when she insisted on giving a world premier at Carnegie Hall without the score ,as she needed to possess it in order to transmit it!)
It was exactly this love and commitment that made the hour long journey so riveting.
So often these “antique” instruments can sound so weak in the vast concert halls of today (I am thinking of Andras Schiff recently with his valiently informed performances in the Festival Hall in London of the Brahms Concertos on a 1860 Bluthner……conducting from the keyboard as he very wittily exclaimed: “it is sometimes good not to have a policeman”)
Here today was the ideal location to be able to appreciate all the qualities that had so impressed Liszt.
It will be interesting too to be able to hear the same performance in the theatre of Villa Torlonia (Mussolinis residence in Rome recently restored )next Sunday morning 5th May on a modern Steinway concert grand.
A magnificent performance only hampered by the lack of the vast range of sounds to which our ears are accustomed.But there were also some very interesting things (as there had been with Schiff) which shed light on so many points of balance.
There was a luminosity of sound that in this musicians hands made the idee fixe so clear.
Of course there was a lack of that 6th gear in the more powerful moments as in the March to the Scaffold or in the powerful interruptions at the Ball.But the second movement did though have a wonderful sense of shape and style.
The Witches Sabbath was given a most powerful reading and the great chimes rang out with all the power of the great orchestra for which it was written.
An amazing tour de force.
A transcendental command and total control even in the most taxing episodes.
But also a great sense of style and balance allied to the sensitivity and poetry of a true artist.
Amazingly he still had the energy to offer two encores,much shorter as he pointed out,on the insistence of a very enthusiastic public.
Liszt Paganini study n.4 played with all the aristocratic charm and virtuosity of his mentor Ciccolini.
A second encore of Offenbach or Rossini took us back to the salons of yesteryear.
It brought this sumptuous feast to a close where time seemed to stand still on this Sunday morning in this great and nobile edifice in search of the Abbe` Liszt
A beautiful soiree around the log fire in the.depths of the National Park of Circeo.
Even the cats were supremely happy.
Only sad note was when Hugh Mather said the stream was concluded and they were about to have a party to celebrate!
The log fire kept alight by Joan Booth`s bellows that she bequeathed to me when she past away eighteen months ago at the age of almost 105.
Jessica Duchen who was one of the wonderful trio tonight had gone to meet her to ask her opinion about her book “The Ghost Variations” in which her dear friends Jelly d`Aranyi and sister Adila, around whom the story revolves, had also lived in her village of Ewelme and whose god daughter Jane Camilloni was their great niece.
Joan at 102 stayed up all night to read the book for which she gave her blessing.
I suggested to Jessica that she might like to write a book about the great love story in over 300 letters between Vlado Perlemuter and Joan.
Written in beautiful french with the unmistakable turquoise ink of Vlado`s pen.
But it was not to be.
Such a shame because it was so touching to listen to Jessica Duchen`s beautiful story of Odette a celebration of Swan Lake.
Illuminated by some superb performances by Fenella Humphreys and Viv McLean.
From the frenzy of the Danse Macabre to the tear on sleeve of a violin and piano version of Liebestraum.
A wonderfully spacious Polonaise Fantasie and schmaltzy The Man I Love to the superb virtuosity of the last movement of the Tchaikowsky violin concerto.
Nothing like this has been seen on the TV for years and thank God for Hugh Mather and his superb team (just look at the beautifully artistic camera shots and the mixing of the images).
It is exactly what the BBC used to give us when there was only one chanel and you had to look via a magnifying glass into this wooden box for the few hours that it was available.
People used to tune in each week to see how my teacher Sidney Harrison was getting on with his pupil Peter Croser.
How times have changed not always for the better I must say.
I wonder if we should pay our TV license directly to Dr Mather in future!
After only a few notes listening in my garden in Italy I found myself sending a message to Roger Nellist who was director of streaming asking who was this remarkable young musician.
Alexander Soares winner of the Gold Medal of the Royal Overseas League in 2015 and promoted by the City Music Foundation.
First class honours degree from Clare College Cambridge followed by a Masters at the Guildhall under Ronan o`Hora.
Guidance from Richard Goode,Stephen Kovacevich,Stephen Hough and Steven Osborne.
Rave reviews “huge intensity” Daily Telegraph “diamond clarity and authority”.
What more can I add.
All this was immediately apparent from the opening bars of Bach`s 3rd English Suite BWV 808.
That Bach`s music is based on the song and the dance has never been more apparent than in today`s performance.
Eyes glued to the keyboard but almost dancing on the stool such was the ebulient infectuous rhythmic energy allied to extreme clarity and very telling subtle contrasts.
The ideal tempo was established from the very first note and was not allowed to waver for a second.
Not that it was mechanical,quite the contrary it had a masculine authority that made Bach`s genius even more poignant.
The great Sarabande was even more expressive with a lack of fussyness or hairpin phrasing.
The expression was in his magnificent use of ornamentation where Bach`s great lines could speak far more simply and eloquently
The Gavotte II was an example to be cherished of pure simple expression.
El Puerto from Iberia Bk 1 by Albeniz was very interestingly introduced by this young musician.
Can it ever have been given such a chacterful interpretation?
Almost caressing the keys with such a wonderful sense of colour.
The ending was pure magic.
As Hugh Mather pointed out to his wonderfully loyal public Gaspard de la Nuit by Ravel was written with the intent to create one of the most transcendentally difficult works for the piano.
Of course for our young pianist this was not even mentioned in his introduction to this suite based on rhe poems of Aloysius Bertrand.
The most remarkable technical feat was in Le Gibet where the relentless tolling of the bell never for a moment wavered even with the clouds of sound in the foreground.The plaintive central chant was played with a clarity and simplicity that was heartrending.
If Ondine floundered momentarily in murky waters at the beginning it was soon drowned and forgotten as his supreme musicianship and sense of line took over.
Scrupulously following Ravel`s meticulous indications in Scarbo which is no mean feat.
With all the trascendental difficulties it was his superb legato that was the most remarkable thing.
He plunged into the depths of Scarbo`s dark world and gradually emerged with masterly control and breathtaking relentlessness.
It may sound rather superficial to say that it was in the Chopin Mazurka in A minor op 17 offered as an encore that his true mastery was revealed.
It was the simplicity,noble flexibility and freedom of an artist that dares to climb up onto the tightrope and remain without ever falling off.
A beautiful final counterpoint took me so pleasantly by surprise in a piece I have heard in a million different sauces.
But then that is the secret of a great artist never to waver for a second from trasmitting the great musical line.
The secret that a chosen few are blessed with.
God bless him !
Raymond Wui-Man Yiu at St Mary`s Perivale
Another beautiful concert streamed across the world into my garden today.
Haydn,Liszt,Chopin and Schumann played with great conviction.
But it was the little poem op 32 by Scriabin offered as a thank you to us listeners world wide that showed off his true delicate artistry and sense of colour to the full.
Blending in so beautifully with spring that is bursting out all over.
Some really impressive playing of great beauty and technical command.
But one had the sensation that the picture he was painting and the sounds we were listening to were not related and this could lead to some strangely disjointed playing where the architechtural line was not clear.
This was particularly noticeable in the opening of the rarely performed two movement sonata in C by Haydn Hob XVI 48.
The great operatic opening flourishes did not flow as naturally as they could from a great singer.The contrasting movement was played with great energy but maybe the faster notes could have had more time to find their natural voice.
Liszt`s great Variations on Bach`s”Weinen,Klagen,Sorgen,Zagen”was given a very interesting spoken introduction followed by a very fine performance with the sombre delicate Bach choral building up to a sumptuous Lisztian climax.
The two late nocturnes op 62 were played with a great sense of style and some ravishing sounds.More weight to the legato would have allowed for even more projection with the almost physical shaping of the melodic line like a great painter before his canvas.
The Schumann novelette op 21 n.8 was given a suitably passionate performance as an outpouring of Schumann`s love for Clara.
The dotted rhythm passages could have had slightly more weight as they probably would have been more cantabile on the pianos of the day (as Andras Schiff showed us in his illuminating performances of the Brahms concertos in London recently where both Raymond and I were present).
A great sense of rhythmic energy allowed Schumann`s most passionate outpourings to ride on a wave of sumptuous sounds.
Chapeau to all those in Perivale that could give a stage worldwide to this very fine young musician
Kochanovsky and Lupo an evening of refined music making
Spring is upon us in the Eternal City and it was only fitting that after a mammouth performance of Beethoven’s 9th with Kirill Petrenko we should have a programme of such refined music making from Kochanovsky and Lupo.
It was like a breath of fresh air blowing into this magnificent hall dedicated to the Patron Saint of Music Santa Cecilia.
A world premier by Ivan Fedele of his Lexikon 111, commisioned by the Accademia was followed by first performances for Rome of works by Taneev and Scriabin.
Ending with that showpiece for orchestra that is Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite.
What Stanislav Kochanovsky,the young conductor from St Petersburg lacked in animal excitement (so much the norm these days) he made up for with a refined music palette reminiscent of the great German conductors of the past like Eugene Jochum or Otto Klemperer.
None of the blaring brass or outlandish percussion but a great musical line that was immediately apparent in the magical sounds that he found in the suggestive new score, Lexikon 111, of this distinguished composer from Lecce in Puglia.
A sign of a great conductor is not how loudly he can get his band to play but quite the contrary, how quietly.
It was the extraordinary sound world of Ivan Fedele that found this magnificent orchestra under Kochanovsky listening to each other.
Pulsating with the music like a great plasma rising and falling ,wailing and whispering in a piece commisioned by the Accademia lasting barely 15 minutes.
This was a world premiere for a composer who has over a hundred works in his catalogue.
A true revelation was a work by Taneev written in 1883/1884.
A Cantata for chorus and orchestra op 1 based on a poem by Aleksej Tolstoy (cousin of Leo Tolstoy): Giovanni di Damasco.
Taneev was a student of Tchaikowsky and Nicolai Rubinstein .
This work that is op 1 was performed in memory of Nicolai Rubinstein in 1884 after Taneev had written previously at least forty other works.
A fascinating discovery,I imagine that of today’s conductor where on reading his curriculum I learn that he has great interest in performing rarely heard works from the past.
It gave us a great opportunity to hear the chorus of S.Cecilia under their chorus master Ciro Visco.
Again it was the perfect balance and sense of line that allowed us to follow so clearly this unjustly neglected work.The chorus in particular was capable of almost whispered sounds but of perfect ensemble .The musical line passing from chorus to orchestra with such simple gestures from a conductor who was listening so attently and undemonstratively to the great achitectural line and drawing them all together in a sumptuous amalgam of sounds.
It was this same complicity that found the ideal foil with that great musician -Benedetto Lupo- in a performance of a concerto that I have only ever heard once before.
Scriabin’s F sharp minor concerto op 20 I heard years ago in my student days in a recording of Badura Skoda together with the equally unknown Rimsky Korsakov Concerto.
I had even queued up for a promenade concert performance by Mitsuko Uchida.
I thought it strange when she put the score on the piano and put her big no nonsense glasses on.
I realised too late that it was the Schoenberg concerto and not Scriabin!ù
It is a piece that needs to be heard many times such in the complexity of the score.
The piano is completely integrated into the orchestra and only rarely bursts into the great climaxes that we are used to with Rachmaninov or Tchaikowsky.I am glad to see that it was recorded and will look forward to listening many times to appreciate even more the very refined play between pianist and conductor.
It needs a great musician to bring this score to life as we heard tonight.
Such refined sounds from the piano always ready to accompany with magical filigree embellishments.Great virtuosity too but always at the service of the musical line.
A great complicity between the conductor and pianist where the piano was always integrated into the lavish and subtle sounds created by the orchestra.
It was a curious coincidence that the only other performance I have seen programmed recently of this concerto was of Ian Fountain in London (the only British pianist to have won the Rubinstein-Tel Aviv Competition) A strange coincidence is that one of Benedetto’s prize students Umberto Jacopo Laureti is studying for doctorate at the Royal Academy in London with Ian Fountain.
It is a sign of the great esteem with which his past and present students hold Benedetto Lupo that they flock to his annual performance in Rome to hear him.
Benedetto holds Masterclasses for piano at the Accademia and can count many very fine musicians that have benefitted from his dedicated mentoring and friendship.
It is just this simplicity that is so apparent in his playing and in that of his students.
They are listening attentively to the sounds they are making without any demonstrative effects that could detract from the real message of an interpreter.
In this he has much in common with that other great Italian pianist and teacher Guido Agosti who we all used to flock to hear in his studio in Siena during the summer months.
Sounds that will never be forgotten by many of the famous pianists still playing today.
It was the supreme simplicity and jewel like perfection in the encore he offered today.A short Albumblat – Prelude by the same composer intimately shared with an audience completely won over by his supreme undemonstrative musicianship.
It was the famous Firebird Suite by Stravinsky that closed this programme.Not the usual barnstorming performance we are use to but a refine distillation of the magic sounds of the young Stravinsky still under the spell of his forebears.
The magical sounds of the horn of Alessio Bernardi merited the ovation that he got from the public and his colleagues at the end of this first great success of Stravinsky in 1910.
Andrzej Wiercinski at St Mary`s as seen in the shadow of St Peters in Rome.
Glad to see that half term is over and that Dr Mather is back with his absorbing informed enthusiasm and innocent charm.
Missing Roger Nellist’s Richard Baker type introductions though!
As Hugh said at the end of a truly uplifting display of masterly playing here is the “complete pianist”For many years Krystian Zimerman and Murray Perahia have filled that slot and it is indeed refreshing to see a younger colleague at the foot of the hill that is the domain of the Gods.
It was in the encore of the famous A flat Polonaise op 53 that it became even more obvious that here is an heir apparent .
A pianist that infact holds the Zimerman scholarship.
Supreme musicianship that with his complete understanding of the music allowed such freedom of expression.
But not the usual expression of excess that many Polish pianists would have us believe is the way of playing Chopin.
This is the revolutionary Chopin of Rubinstein where all the sentimentality and sugary sensless rubatos that Chopin’s rich but hopelessly untalented aristocratic pupils would have us believe is the real Chopin style are cancelled once and for all.
In their place is a masculine musicianship full of sentiment,colour,shape and total command but absolutely no sentimentality or empty “jeux perle” virtuosity.
I missed the first Scarlatti …such is life in Rome!
I did,after all, have a morning performance of Waiting for Godot and an afternoon performance of famous Italian arias for our chinese tourists who are just longing to embrace the whole Italian Culture scene.
I did though hear a superlative account of the first Scherzo op 20.
Such clarity allied to a fantasy and shaping of phrases that can so often sound like exercises in lesser hands.
Aristocratic pauses worthy of an Arrau made his virtuosity even more breathtaking.
The C sharp minor Scherzo was played with a rhythmic energy but sometimes the octaves were slightly clipped at the ends of phrases and although very fine playing it did not have quite the authority of the previous Scherzo.
The Scriabin Fantasie op 28 was given a masterly performance with such control of sound in a work that can easily slip into the oppresive.
A great sense of control but above all sense of balance and shape were the hallmarks of a truly exemplary performance.
The 12th Hungarian Rhapsody was played with great style.
Although slightly clipped the ends of the opening phrases it had a sense of colour and overall “joie de vivre” that was every bit as irresistible as Rubinstein’s memorable performances.
I remember Freddie Jackson,that almost forgotten musician and teacher of so many fine musicians.He used to tell me how as students they used to stand on the seats to cheer Rubinstein so infectious was his sense of rhythm.
And so it was with Andrzej today.
The Corelli Variations op 42 by Rachmaninov showed off all the extraordinary qualities of this young musician.
Total control,exquisite sense of colour and phrasing but above all a temperament that could ignite the great virtuoso variations of Corelli’s seemingly innocent melody of La Folia.
Much more could be written about this young man, but I will leave that to more competant critics ,in a career that is obviously destined for great things.
I am not at all surprised to see that this 23 year old pianist just three days ago won the International Piano Competition Antoine de Saint Priest in France.
7 aprile alle ore 21:54 ·
Chers Amis, retenez bien ce nom, car le plus grand avenir lui est promis : ANDRZEJ WIERCINSKY
Ce pianiste polonais de 23 ans vient de remporter le 1er Prix du Concours International de Saint-Priest. Quel artiste ! Quel pianiste !
Je suis encore dans le souvenir de son incroyable épreuve finale, cet après-midi, avec la 12ème Rhapsodie de Liszt jouée avec une virtuosité étincelante, un chic, une maestria grisante; suivie d’une 7ème Sonate de Prokofiev comme j’en ai très rarement entendu : orchestrale, dramatique, hallucinée, constamment surprenante par la créativité de l’interprète et la sidérante réalisation instrumentale. Et hier, nous étions plusieurs, dans le jury, à être au bord des larmes en l’écoutant jouer les Variations Corelli de Rachmaninov : quelle classe, quelle noblesse, quelles inoubliables sonorités pour exprimer la mélancolie, la tendresse et les colères de cette œuvre souvent malmenée. Bravo Andrzej !
Hats off to Hugh Mather and Roger Nellist for jumping the gun yet again!
Of course streaming is fine but I feel Dr Mather should now dedicate himself to providing the same refreshments of those lucky souls in Perivale to accompany his magnificent TV cameras into every corner of the world that choose to follow.
A live radio broadcast had the RAI 3 producer with superlatives for the professional artistry of this young pianist in a recital that start at 11 pm and went on until after midnight.
Ilya will now be playing for the KCT in the USA in a concert tour that will take in the new Steinway Hall in New York.Philadelphia with the amazing Elizabeth Glendinning,former assistant to Eugene Ormandy and now in her 90th year still dedicated to helping young talent emerge. Sharing the platform with Dietlinde Maazel in the beautiful theatre on the estate that she shared with her late husband Lorin Maazel in Castleton ,Virgina.
Dietlinde Turban Maazel Wood is a renowned actress and singer who will join Ilya in a Masterclass on the songs of Schubert with Ilya performing the Liszt transcriptions.
Here is the previous tour of the KCT in the USA with Chloe Jiyeong Mun winner of Geneva and Busoni International Piano Competitions who also performed for Dr Hugh Mather in Perivale two years ago.