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.
Another of Benedetto’s prize students has recently taken London by storm too.https://www.facebook.com/notes/christopher-axworthy/beatrice-rana-takes-london-by-storm/10156282660502309/
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.