17th International Competition “Premio Citta’ di Padova” for soloists and orchestra

17th International Competition “Premio Citta’ di Padova” for soloists and orchestra.
It was nice to be back in Padua again to help,admire and encourage this magnificent competition now in its 17th year.
Much has been said above so I will just announce the results of this year’s competition:
17th International Competition “Premio Citta di Padova” for soloists and orchestra
Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto directed by Nicolò Jacopo Suppa
First prize Ulisse Mazzon : Paganini Concerto n.4
Second prize Giovanni Claudio Di Giorgio :Mozart K218
Third prize Wada Ayako Rachmaninov Concerto n. 2

Jury members Ezio Caroli Zoltan Szabo – prize winners and Elisabetta Gesuato

Jury member Lucia Visentin temporarily incapacitaded with retired banker and now ticket salesman and administrator Dott. Gesuato

Wada Ayako with Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto 3rd Prize

Giovanni Claudio Di Giorgio 2nd Prize

Ulisse Mazzon 1st Prize

Wada Ayako Ulisse Mazzon Giovanni Claudio Di Giorgio

Elia Modenese Nicolò J.Suppa Wada Ayako Ulisse Mazzon Giovanni C dI Giorgio Elisabetta Gesuato

Ivan Krpan and Yuanfan Yang in Rome

Ivan Krpan and Yuanfan Yang in Rome

Yuanfan Ivan and me
Ivan Krpan with the Zagreb Philharmonic at S.Cecilia Hall in Rome – Liszt n.1
after concert greetings from Yuanfan Yang….after a 7 hour drive from his concert in Vicenza awaiting his live broadcast tomorrow evening at 11pm RAI Radio 3 .

Programme for the Sala S. Cecilia Celebration concert
Both superb young artists receive help and encouragement from the Keyboard Charitable Trust.

Ivan Krpan
Roby Lakatos ignites the hall after wonderful Liszt I and Beethoven 3 with the Zagreb Philharmonic directed by Dawid Runtz with Ivan Krpan,winner of Busoni 2017 and Mia Pecnik all in their early twenties.

Mia Pecnik
It was followed by ……Roby Lakatos -the violin of the devil-
“There is not one violinist who is not in awe of this man…”Linn Rothstein
………..together with his his gypsy ensemble to celebrate the Presidency of Croazia to the European Union

Roby Lakatos and Ensemble

Roby with surprise guest artist

Roby Lakatos with Ensemble and Zagreb Philharmonic

Yuanfan Yang and Ivan Krpan backstage at the Sala S,Cecilia in Rome

YUANFAN YANG IN ITALY Part 1 Vicenza and Rai Radio 3

YUANFAN YANG IN ITALY Part 1 Vicenza and Rai Radio 3
Yuanfan Yang at the Teatro Comunale in Vicenza.
Amazing performance for Incontro sulla Tastiera that for 45 years the indefatigable Maria Antonietta Squeglia has been organising in the beautiful city of Palladio.
But today there was something special in the air and a party atmosphere ignited by a young UK born chinese pianist whose improvisations and incredibly natural musicianship were being likened by an enthusiastic public to the prodigy Mozart!
At the end of the concert Yuanfan announced that he wanted to give the audience the chance to take part too.Can anyone offer a few notes on which he would create a piece,their piece,in this very moment?

Discussing the encore improvisation of three voices in jazz style
The public were a bit wary of this novelty and no one wanted to be embarrassed.So Yuanfan turned his back on the keyboard and played five or six random notes and then created a piece in the style of Beethoven.
The President of the Incontro was heard complaining that Beethoven had been missing from the programme!
And what a beautiful piece it was!Even better than Beethoven?!

Review of the concert in Vicenza by Eva Purelli
Now of course the cat was out of the bag and three people wanted to offer notes for a second encore from a now very insistent public.
No problem for our young musician touched by genius.
He improvised in jazz style using all three themes.
It brought the house down and poor Maria Antonietta and the sponsor Ermanno Detto have been bombarded by enthusiastic messages of disbelief and astonishment from their public.

Maria Antonietta Squeglia and Mrs Jieling Yu Yang in the Teatro Comunale of Vicenza
But it was the story that his mother had to tell over breakfast today that revealed the true amazing facts about a young boy who out of the blue was discovered at a birthday party to be able to play the piano!
He was 5.
At the age of 6 the BBC made a programme about him and his amazing musical genius.
Yuanfan Yang’s parents from Beijing were at Edinburgh University where he was born.His mother obtained a master in Telecommunications and his father in East European Studies.An exchange between the UK and China in the Thatcher period.Both had top class degrees from Bejing University.
His father is a professor now at Leeds University and for many years his mother taught at Leeds High School.

Yuanfan with Busoni Winner 2017 Ivan Krpan after Ivan’s performance of Liszt 1 at the Sala S.Cecilia in Rome with the Zagreb Philharmonic in celebration of the Presidency of Croazia to the European Union.Yuanfan made a 7 hour trip from Vicenza to salute his colleague and fellow KCT artist……what a family we are!
They brought the five year old Yuanfan a piano as soon as they realised that he was born with this talent.
The mother of one of his friends had asked who his teacher was,as he had played so beautifully.But he does not play the piano,she exclaimed, we do not even have one at home!
Well all that changed overnight and Yuanfan was taken to study at Chethams in Manchester with that magnificent trainer of so many amazing talented children,Murray McLachlan.
The family have altered their own lifestyle to give him all the opportunities that his talent demands.
Winning many International competitions and even the BBC Composing Competition and top prize in China for his First Piano Concerto that as winner toured eight major cities in China!
It was,infact,his own piece :’The Haunted Well’ ,the prize winning piece of the BBC competition played immediately after the interval that ignited the enthusiasm of a usually rather reticent audience.
It was this four minute piece that the audience looked at with suspicion in a programme that included Schumann Carnaval,Chopin B flat minor sonata and Bach C minor toccata.
They soon realised that they need not have worried about this so called ‘contemporary ‘ piece.
They had obviously had some nasty experiences in the past!
But here was a piece full of magical sounds.
Of a fantasy of colours and subtle shading of the clock that strikes 13 at midnight (so clearly introduced by Yuanfan in a charmingly simple way….apologising for not being able to talk in Italian).
It was all so clear as these’pictures’painted in sound filled the air with such sumptuous sounds.
Transcendental technical feats alla Messiaen were eagerly accepted by an audience immediately so involved in the story ..just like the ‘Papillons’ of Schumann ….that he had to tell.
The Chopin B flat minor sonata ( his performance is new to me) was a revelation of clarity allied to a beauty and rigor that I have only experienced from the hands of Rubinstein.
If only we could have started the concert over again we would have realised what a superb performance he gave of Schumann Carnaval.Full of subtle poetry and colour but with an aristocratic sense of rubato and flow that is of the chosen few.

Raffaella Squeglia presenting the concert
Technical considerations never entered into the discussion such was his total mastery.But his incredible technical mastery was also there to be admired by colleagues who have struggled for hours to master ‘Paganini’ or the ‘March of Davidsbundler!’

Sponsor Ermanno Detto with Maria Antonietta Squeglia and enthusiastic friends.
His Bach Toccata now is like a rock.But a multicoloured rock that never wavers but is full of subtle colours and discrete ornamentation …..much more to follow….but would recommend wherever you are in the world to tune in on Friday 24th Jan at 11 pm Italian time to his live broadcast on RAI Radio 3.
Rai Radio 3 ‘La Stanza della Musica’

Stefano Roffi – left – producer La Stanza della Musica Rai 3
Yuanfan Yang last nights broadcast available on their website
Rai radio 3 ‘La stanza della musica.’
It created quite a stir.
Due to the overruning of Tristan with the live transmission from the opening of the season in Bologna there was barely 30 minutes left to midnight.
Like Cinderella the midnight hour decides our fate!
There was a quick rethinking for the programme and as in all true theatre and live performances there was magic in the air.

Yuanfan sound check
After one of the most beautiful Chopin Barcarolle`s that I can remember and opening with his own piece which starts on the same E flat with which the live relay of Tristan finishes.
He was invited by a phone in audience to improvise on The Godfather Theme of Nino Rota.
As requested ,first in jazz mode and then in vulcanic mode.
A sensational way to finish the day for Stefano Roffi and all his team applauding and cheering him from behind the glass that separates the studio from the control room.
Radio switchboard almost erupted too with enthusiastic calls…….and it was almost midnight as Yuanfans prize winning piece’ The Haunted Bell’ struck its midnight E flat 13 times!
Stefano tells me it is available forever on their web site.
From ” Here to Eternity” one might well say!

Yuanfan Yang in concert

Matteo Pomposelli at Teatro Flaiano Rome

Matteo Pomposelli at Teatro Flaiano Rome
Fourteen year old Matteo Pomposelli gave some very musicianly performances of Haydn,Albeniz,Szymanowsky
and Rachmaninov.
Playing to a packed out hall his professional presentation at that age was something to truly marvel at.
Already we had had a glimpse six months ago of what was on the horizon when he played Saint Saens 2nd piano concerto at Teatro Argentina.
Showing then great promise that is fast turning into fact as he played a very sensitive account of Haydn C major Sonata.
The new Steinway was a bit too muffled to allow the fluidity of sound that Haydn loved to explore in this Sonata.
It was generously donated though for the occasion by Alfonsi a major sponsor for many a year of this child prodigy fast maturing into a very serious artist.
Some sumptuous sounds in Albeniz El Albaicin ignited a passionate involvement as had the choice of his obviously very attentive mentor in choosing also the rarely heard Szymanowsky Chopin variations.
They allowed this young man to take command of the extreme technical demands that the composer made of his friend Arthur Rubinstein in the early 1900’s.

Franco Buzzanca indefatigable organiser with Mr Pomposelli
But it was in the Rachmaninov Moments Musicaux that allowed this young man to be totally involved in his search for the sumptuous nostalgia and romantic fervour that the composer demands.
Chopin’s “Cat” waltz op 34 n.3 was rattled off a bit too fast to allow these cats enough time  to preen their whiskers.
But the nocturne in C sharp minor op posth with which he closed gave us another glimpse of the artistry that is gradually being awakened in this already remarkably professional young pianist.
His next appearance will be eagerly awaited!

Teatro Flaiano in the centre of Rome just off Piazza Venezia

The charming foyer of Teatro Flaiano

Foyer of Teatro Flaiano in the centre of Rome

The fourteen year olf prodigy rapidly growing in stature

YUANFAN YANG IN ITALY Part 1 Vicenza and Rai Radio 3

YUANFAN YANG IN ITALY Part 1
Yuanfan Yang at the Teatro Comunale in Vicenza.
Amazing performance for ‘Incontro sulla Tastiera’ that for 45 years the indefatigable MariaAntonietta Squeglia has been organising in the beautiful city of Palladio.
But today there was something special in the air and a party atmosphere ignited by a young UK born chinese pianist whose improvisations and incredibly natural musicianship were being likened by an enthusiastic public to the prodigy Mozart!
At the end of the concert Yuanfan announced that he wanted to give  the audience the chance to take part too.
Can anyone offer a few notes on which he would create a piece,their piece,in this very moment?

Discussing the encore improvisation of three voices in jazz style
The public were a bit wary of this novelty and no one wanted to be embaressed.
So Yuanfan turned his back on the keyboard and played five or six random notes and then created a piece in the style of Beethoven.
The President of ‘Incontro’ was heard complaining that Beethoven had been missing from the programme!
And what a beautiful piece it was!
Better than Beethoven?!

Review of the concert in Vicenza by Eva Purelli
Now of course the cat was out of the bag and three people wanted to offer notes for a second encore from a now very insistant public.
No problem for our young musician touched by genius.
He improvised in jazz style using all three themes.
It brought the house down and poor Maria Antonietta and the sponsor Ermanno Detto have been bombarded by enthusiastic messages of disbelief and astonishment from their public.

Maria Antonietta Squeglia and Mrs Jieling Yu Yang in the Teatro Comunale of Vicenza
But it was the story that his mother had to tell over breakfast today that revealed the true amazing facts about a young boy who out of the blue was discovered at a birthday party to be able to play the piano!
He was 5.
At the age of 6 the BBC made a programme about him and his amazing musical genius.
Yuanfans parents from Beijing were at Edinburgh University where he was born.With first class degrees from Bejing University they were invited on the Thatcher UK/China exchange to complete their Master degrees at Edinburgh University.
His mother obtained a master in Telecomunications and his father in East European Studies.
His father is a professor now at Leeds University and for many years his mother taught at Leeds High School.

Yuanfan with Busoni Winner 2017 Ivan Krpan after Ivan’s performance of Liszt 1 at the Sala S.Cecilia in Rome with the Zagreb Philharmonic in celebration of the Presidency of Croazia to the European Union.Yuanfan made a 7 hour trip from Vicenza to salute his colleague and fellow KCT artist….a true family indeed.
They brought the five year old Yuanfan a piano as soon as they realised that he was born with this talent.
The mother of one of his friends had asked who his teacher was,as he had played so beautifully.
But he does not play the piano,she exclaimed, we do not even have one at home!
Well all that changed overnight and Yuanfan was taken to study at Chethams in Manchester with that magnificent trainer of so many amazing talented children,Murray McLachlan.
The family have altered their own lifestyle to give him all the opportunities that his talent demands.
Winning many International competitions and even the BBC composing competition and top prize in China for his First Piano Concerto that as winner toured eight major.cities in China!
It was,infact,his own piece :’The Haunted Well’ ,the prize winning piece of the BBC competition, played immediately after the interval that ignited the enthusiasm of a usually rather retiscent audience.
It was this four minute piece that the audience looked at with suspicion in a programme that included Schumann Carnaval,Chopin B flat minor sonata and Bach C minor toccata.
They soon realised that they need not have worried about this so called ‘contemporary ‘ piece.
They had obviously had some nasty experiences in the past.
But here was a piece full of magical sounds.
Of a fantasy of colours and subtle shading of the clock that stikes 13 at midnight (so clearly introduced by Yuanfan in a charmingly simple way….apologising for not being able to talk in Italian)’
It was all so clear as these’pictures’painted in sound filled the air with such sumptuous sounds.
Transcendental technical feats alla Messian were eagerly accepted by an audience immediately so involved in the story ..just like the Papillons  of Schumann….that he had to tell.
The Chopin B flat minor sonata ( his performance is new to me) was a revelation of clarity allied to a beauty and rigour that I have only experienced from the hands of Rubinstein.
If only we could have started the concert over again we would have realised what a superb performance he gave of Schumann ‘s Carnaval.
Full of subtle poetry and colour but with an aristocratic sense of rubato and flow that is of the chosen few.

Raffaella Squeglia presenting the concert
Technical considerations never entered into the discussion such was his total mastery.
But his incredible technical mastery was also there to be admired by colleagues who have struggled for hours to master ‘Paganini’ or the ‘March of Davidsbundler!’

Sponsor Ermanno Detto with Maria Antonietta Squeglia and enthusiastic friends.
His Bach Toccata now is like a rock.But a multicoured rock that never wavers but is full of subtle colours and discreet ornamentation …..much more to follow….but would recommend wherever you are in the world to tune in on Friday 24th Jan at 11 pm Italian time to his live broadcast on RAI Radio 3.
Rai Radio 3 ‘La Stanza della Musica’
Yuanfan Yang last nights broadcast available on their wesite Rai radio 3 ‘La stanza della musica.’
It created quite a stir.
Due to the overunning of Tristan with the live transmission from the opening of the season in Bologna there was barely 30 minutes left to midnight.
Like Cinderella the midnight hour decides our fate!
There was a quick rethining for the programme and as in all true theatre and live performances there was magic in the air.
After one of the most beautiful Chopin Barcarolle`s that I can remember and opening with his own piece which starts on the same E flat with which the live relay of Tristan finishes.
He was invited by a phone in audience to improvise on The Godfather Theme of Nino Rota.
As requested ,first in jazz mode and then in vulcanic mode.
A sensational way to finish the day for Stefano Roffi and all his team applauding and cheering him from behind the glass that separates the studio from the control room.
Radio switchboard almost erupted too with enthusiastic calls…….and it was almost midnight as Yuanfans prize winning piece The Haunted Bell struck its midnight E flat 13 times!
Stefano tells me it is available forever on their web site.
From ” Here to Eternity” one might well say!

Yuanfan Yang in concert

Minkyu Kim at St Mary’s Viva Franz Liszt – the poet of the piano!

Minkyu Kim was born in South Korea in 1995. He studied piano with Soojeong Jeong at Goyang High School of Arts and with Hyung-Joon Chang and Sehee Kim at Seoul National University. He won many prizes including second prize in the Korean Liszt Competition, first prize in the Jock Holden Memorial Mozart Piano Prize at RCS and first prize in the BPSE Senior Intercollegiate Piano Competition. In addition to performing the entire Transcendental Etudes by Liszt, Minkyu has performed piano concertos with the Scottish Ensemble and Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
After graduating with honours from the university in 2017, he is now attending Royal Conservatoire of Scotland with a full scholarship from ABRSM, studying with Aaron Shorr and Sinae Lee.
It was Dr Hugh Mather who recommended me not to miss this concert and  to listen to this “staggering recital by a master pianist”.
And so it was that I listened in Rome on the excellent streaming from Perivale thousands of miles away.Little could Minkyu have imagined that I was listening in the company of:

Vlado Perlemuter and Alicia De Larrocha
Vlado Perlemuter,Alicia De Larrocha,Rosalyn Tureck  and others who adorn the walls of the Ghione theatre just a stone`s throw from St Peters Square.
Minkyu Kim is one of 14 pianist selected to compete in the Utrecht Liszt Competition next March.
A competition that has seen the launching of artists such as Vitaly Pisarenko, Alexander Ullman and Mariam Batsashvili.

Rosalyn Tureck,Stockhausen, Berio,Fausto Zadra and Ileana Ghione
And of course how could Dr Hugh Mather be mistaken as he listens regularly to the finest young pianists in his series dedicated to helping hundreds of young musicians.Offering professional engagements to these young musicians for the loyal very discerning public in his hallowed haven of St Mary`s?
We are used to barnstorming Liszt performances of his early works or rather tepid intellectual experiences with the later obscure works that look very much towards the future.
But today we were treated to both early and late Liszt together with the transcription of 6 of Chopin`s Polish songs
It was of a sublime beauty where every note was caressed with such love and care.Yes caressed for such were the beautiful movements of his hands on the keyboard just as Giulini`s conducting movements were like watching a Michelangelo afresco.
It was the beauty of sound and the subtlety of phrasing that held a rather depleted but courageous audience spellbound from the first to the last note of this all Liszt recital.
Between 1847 and 1860, Chopin’s friend Franz Liszt arranged six of the Op. 74 songs as piano transcriptions under the title Six Chants polonais, S.480, a set which has long been a concert and recording favourite. The six are:
  • 1. Mädchens Wunsch (No. 1: Życzenie – The Wish) Played with great delicacy combined with an extraordinary flexibility and at times passionale musicality
  • 2. Frühling (No. 2: Wiosna – Spring)Such beautiful simple lyricism with some wonderful colouring and very subtle phrasing.
  • 3. Das Ringlein (No. 14: Pierścień – The Ring), which leads without a break into …
  • 4. Bacchanal (No. 4: Hulanka – Merrymaking)A real understanding of rubato brought the Mazurka to life with lyricism and rhythmic energy.A moment of absolute magic before the glissandi that gradually grew in energy until the final double handed flourish.But even here Liszt was careful to fully recognise the subtle artistocratic style of Chopin rather than the demonstrative glissandi of his own Hungarian Rhapsodies.
  • 5. Meine Freuden (No. 12: Moja pieszczotka – My Darling)Played with such a delicate melodic line a meltingly beautiful ending of pure magic
  • 6. Heimkehr (No. 15: Narzeczony – The Bridegroom).The stormy sounds shaped so beautifully by Minkyu where we could almost picture the tempestuous rowdiness of the Bridegroom!
In this arrangement, Das Ringlein leads without a break into Bacchanal, and towards the end of the latter song, immediately before the coda, Liszt includes a short 6-bar reprise of the earlier song.
These were followed by four late works written in 1880 just six years before Liszt’s death at the age of 75.The beautiful En Reve that my teacher Gordon Green(a disciple of Egon Petri) encouraged his students to learn  together with the Bagatelle sans tonalité long before they had been accepted as part of the repertoire.
En Reve is so beautiful – very short as are all these later pieces- finishing as it disappears into oblivion.The Bagatelle too almost like one of the Valse Oubliée fifty years on when the genius of Liszt was reaching far into the distance foreseeing the direction that music was to take.All beautifully and convincingly played by someone who was totally
dedicated to transmitting his love of this music to a public that were following every note of his quite ravishing playing.
The final work was the Grosse Konzertsolo S 176 which was written a few years before the great B Minor Sonata.
As Leslie Howard said in his introduction in this very hall a few months ago this almost unknown or at least rarely played piece would be the ideal preparation for those wishing to approach the B minor Sonata which is one of the pinacles of the Romantic repertoire.
A superb performance that showed not only his ultra sensitivity but also his aristocratic sense of grandeur and superb sense of line.A wonderful sense of balance that allowed the melodic line to sing so mellifluously but allied to an enormous command of the keyboard that could unleash all the extraordinary technical demands that Liszt himself commanded before his astonished and doting public.
A very interesting encore was of the early version of Chasse Neige the last of Liszt’s 12 Transcendental studies .It was fascinating to hear this early version of a much loved piece .
An extraordinary recital of rarely heard music in the hands of a true poet of the piano.All best wishes to him in Utrecht in March. Viva Franz Liszt!

A Chain of Magnificence in Villa Torlonia – Costantino Catena plays Wolf-Ferrari

A CHAIN OF MAGNIFICENCE IN VILLA TORLONIA
A superb display of musicianship and virtuosity in the true magnificence of Teatro Torlonia in Rome.

Arricia –  Costantino Catena in front of ‘Saint’Agostino e il Bambino’ by Alessandro Mattia
A continuous ‘chain’ of notes of sumptuous beauty in the extraordinary hands of Costantino ‘Catena’ .
From the opening Schumannesque Bagatelles of Wolf-Ferrari to the truly transcendental display of the Liszt Norma fantasy.
Taking in the rarely heard Gesange der Fruhe one of the last works of Schumann.
It is a work that Guido Agosti often had on his music stand and that he loved to play so much.
The Carnaval Jest of Vienna completed a fascinating programme from a master pianist.
The concert was presented by Giovanna Manci Accademia Sfaccendati a friend and colleague of long standing.
We gave many lieder/song recitals together and even recorded the music for ‘Cosi e se vi pare’ by Pirandello, the last work directed by the legendary Orazio Costa Giovangili.
It toured the world for many years with my wife Ileana Ghione whose birthday it would have been today 15th January.

The last public performance of the musicologist Michael Aspinall who wrote the cadenzas for Caballe and Sutherland .They even came to applaud him in Rome .Now dedicated to teaching some of the finest young singers in career
Our bank manager had told us that his daughter had a nice voice and could she audition for us.
Her voice was of a ravishing beauty in the words of Michael Aspinall,with whom we recommended she studied immediately after we too had been seduced by the agility and beauty of her voice.

Costantino Catena with Giovanna Manci
A great singing career eluded her as she and her husband Giacomo Fasolo dedicated themselves to promoting young musicians via their Coop Art based in the magnificent Palazzo Chigi in Arricia in the hills above Rome.
It was just this organisation now in its 40th year that had collaborated with the ever attentive Valerio Vicari of Roma 3 University in presenting their discovery of Wolf-Ferrari.
It had brought them to Teatro Torlonia,one of the principal homes of Roma 3,which also includes Teatro Palladium and their own Aula Magna.
Promoting the almost unknown chamber works of Ermanno Wolf -Ferrari with the remarkable Neapolitan pianist Costantino Catena.
His first recording in this series was recorded at Palazzo Chigi in Ariccia.
To follow are CDs of the works for violin and piano and Quintets in a series that aims at a revalutation of this much neglected composer.
Villa Torlonia,the residence of Mussolini had also been neglected for obvious reasons.
Wolf -Ferrari ,being the son of the German painter August Wolf and Venetian mother Emilia Ferrari had found himself in the same conflict as Furtwangler and many others for working under the Nazi regime.
However in recent times Villa Torlonia has been restored to its magnificence and given to the Italian people for cultural events.
It is time now to revalue the chamber works of Wolf-Ferrari .His operas have long been accepted and performed in the greatest opera houses.
It has taken Costantino’s searching mind and curiosity to bring his many neglected works to our attention now.

Costantino Catena-“Catena jumps through all the circus hurdles with grace and fluidity in the ‘Tarantella di Bravura sulla Muette’ di Portici by Liszt and shows extreme sensibility in ‘RW- Venezia’ capturing all the desolation of Liszt at Wagner’s funeral” Bryce Morrison Gramophone
Costantino Catena’s early training was from the School of Luigi D’Ascoli in Salerno.He was much influenced and helped by Aldo Ciccolini,Joaquin Achucarro and Michele Campanella but also obtained degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from Naples University!
His inquisitive mind and quite extraordinary musicianship is allied to a transcendental technique that seems to have no limits.
It also allowed him to unearth the manuscript in the Staatsbibliothek in Munich of the Bagatelle that opened todays recital and is the first work on his new CD.

The first in a series of CD’s dedicated to the chamber works of Wolf-Ferrari and produced in Ariccia.The cover is a painting of brother Teodoro Wolf – Ferrari(1876-1945)
https://www.facebook.com/notes/christopher-axworthy/the-hills-of-rome-are-ringing-with-the-sound-of-music-donchev-in-velletri-and-ta/10156952461477309/
As Luca Ciammarughi (another remarkable artist from the Ariccia stable) states in the programme notes of the CD “we are closer to the world of Brahm’s Klavierstucke than that of Beethoven.There is also a certain theatricality in Wolf-Ferrari’s piano pieces,not only in their life like humour-but in their writing which is characterised by continuous contrasts in which the pauses and the interruptions purposely disturb the serene flow of line”

The concert programme at Teatro Torlonia
I would go even further and say they are more similar to the sound world of Schumann with his Floristan and Eusebius contrasts that characterise the inner conflict and anguish than affected them both.
Amazingly Costantino had also re -constructed the first of the Bagatelles that was based on the unfinished sketch left by the composer.
This first of the 6 Bagatelles was very imposing indeed immediately dissoving into a delicate cantabile.Even the rhythmic scherzo type bagatelle had something of the sound world of Schumann as certainly also the sumptuous delicacy reminded one of Kreisleriana.
The last Bagatelle was of a grandeur that might be almost Rachmaninov with its great horn like melody and bells ringing.
There was a very impressive pianissimo ending too that showed off the enormous range that this remarkable pianist could find on a quite modest Yamaha B piano.
It may not have been just a coincidence that the recital continued with two important works of Schumann from both his early and late periods.

The beautiful Teatro Torlonia
The Faschingsshwank aus Wien op 26 (Carnaval Jest of Vienna ) was given a very musicianly reading with a great sense of architectural line.There was a sumptuous full sound (hard to believe it was a Yamaha) and a foreward movement that was quite exhilarating.The melody was played with a delicate passion ,the swirling accompaniment never overpowering the flow of Schumann’s melodic invention.The syncopated chords were played with a delicacy without a trace of sentimentality.
I am not sure I would have slowed the march section down to accomodate the Marseillaise.Schumann certainly does not ask for it but then Costantino is a great artist and if that is his decision there must be a reason and it was very impressive!
There was beauty and delicacy to the sound in the Romanze played with a simplicity and real sense of line.The Scherzino was rather on the light side with some rather clipped phrasing that was not so convincing and not asked for by Schumann.The Intermezzo was passionately played with great sonority dissapearing to a magical whisper as it heralded the Finale.There were some strange fluctuations in tempo and again clipped ending to phrases instead of just shaping but there was great forward movement and the presto coda brought the piece to an impressive ending.

The camera cannot quite keep up with Maestro Catena in certain parts
The Gesange de Fruhe op 133 (Songs of Dawn) were beautifully played and showed even more the influence that Schumann had obviously had on Wolf-Ferrari.
It is a comlex work and I fear the audience got lost by the end!
There was a beautiful musicianly sense of line and architectural shape and a relentless rhythmic impetus to the Lebhaft.
The most beautiful of these strange late pieces is the fourth and it is the one that both Agosti and Fou Ts’ong would play over and over again.It is very similar to the last of Brahms Ballades op 10 and here it was beautifully shaped with the accompanying figurations quite magically following Schumann’s beautiful melodic line.
There was no applause as the audience had obviously got lost!

The public staircase to the Theatre
No matter because the opening fanfare of the Norma fantasy kept everyone on their toes as we were treated to the most transcendental display of piano playing that I have witnessed since Mark Viner played it for us in London.
They were even more impressive that Hamelin because both Costantino and Mark had a fearless sense of grandeur and a real sense of theatre.
Of the curtain opening and something magical about to happen.
It certainly was an extraordinary performance even the more so for the sonorities that he managed to obtain from this rather modest piano.
His great sense of balance and ear for sumptuous sound allied to a technical fearlessness, even in the most impossibly difficult alternating hands, really held us spell bound.
The combination of the two melodies together at the end were played in an almost hushed cantabile that was nothing short or a revelation.
As Schumann would have said “Hats off Gentlmen.A genius!”.

Teatro Torlonia
In reply to the ovation he received from a large enthusiastic audience he played just one more piece by Wolf-Ferrari .
Beautiful it was indeed and he tells me it is on his CD.
But I was quite satisfied to close the curtain after Norma as in the  greatest of Opera Houses.

“Puttin’ on the Ritz” Chines Shines in Padua for the Keyboard Trust

Alberto Chines at the Ritz
It was nice to hear Alberto Chines at last playing in the North Italian Tour for the Keyboard Charitable Trust.
He had played some time ago at Steinway Hall in London and Elena Vorotko-Bridges,co artistic director and responsable in particular for the Historic Instrument programme of the Keyboard Trust had been enthusiastic about his scholarly but artistic approach to the baroque repertoire.
Infact the original programme for this tour had been modified as the organisers who know their public had thought it might be too eclectic for their numerous faithful public of over 20 years standing.
Talking to Alberto one is immediately aware of his intelligent and informed musicianship.
His awareness, as he himself says, that an artist is known by the programmes he presents.
It is something that Leslie Howard,founder trustee and co artistic director,is equally insistent on.He often advises young musicians on how to organise and arrange a programme rather than just offering a haphazard series pieces that they are preparing ,most often for International Competitions!This was the original proposal:
RAMEAUSuite in E minor RCT 2:La Villageoise Le Rappel des Oiseaux Rigaudons  Musette en RondeauTambourin BEETHOVEN Sonata in D major Op.28(Pastoral) RAMEAU Suite in A minor RCT5:V11. Gavotte with Six Doubles BEETHOVEN Variations and Fugue for Piano in E flat major Op. 35 ‘Eroica’

Palazzo Barbarigo Padua
Of course the promoters of over 20 years standing ,Elia Modenese and Elisabetta Gesuato are both very fine musicians and know their audience.
Alberto was happy to offer from his very large repertoire a more immediately accessable programme of 4 Scarlatti Sonatas,Beethoven Sonata op 27 n.2 (Moonlight),Schubert Sonata in B flat D.960.
While I was sorry not to hear the first programme Alberto’s superb musicianship shines through and informs everything he does.
I do sometimes make some notes during a performance if I think it can be helpful.But for me it is the overall impression that is so important.

The Ritz Abano
It was the absolute clarity of Alberto’s performances that was so remarkable .The sense of architecture of each of the works he presented whether a short Scarlatti Sonata of a few minutes or the last Sonata of Schubert of over 40.
It is not a dry clarity but a very subtle use of the pedals as he searches for the sound that he thinks the composer was striving for.
The so called ‘Moonlight’ Sonata is a case in point where Beethoven asks for a very long sustaining pedal in the first movement ‘Adagio sostenuto.’The name ‘Moonlight’ was not actually a title that Beethoven attributed and in a recent masterclass by Andras Schiff he started very spiritedly with:”now lets forget about this Moonlight thing!”
Andras Schiff also recently played the two Brahms concertos on an instrument of the period .Conducting too from the keyboard as he said “it is sometimes good to play without a policeman!”
He has just finished recording them in London with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
It does indeed shed new light on works we thought we knew intimately.

Presentation in Il Mattino di Padova
The sound is very particular to pianos of that period but it is the impression that an informed musician can strive for even on a modern day instrument.The tempo too. Adagio but played in 2 not 4 that might also give an impression of Andante if not treated very carefully.
But as Alberto says the instruments of that period could not sustain sounds as the modern day instruments and it is essential though that the long melodic line must be allowed to flow and be shaped and we must not just be aware of the triplet accompaniment that most amateur pianists churn out with delight so regularly!
In Albertos performance there was also some very subtle phrasing with some slight inflections to the rhythm that only a true artist could add to shape and create the revolutionary (for it’s time) atmosphere for which the composer was obviously striving.
The ‘Allegretto’ was quite simply played with some very pointed phrasing in the trio before its return.
It created an almost hushed serene atmosphere before being taken by storm with the ‘Presto agitato.’

with critic Alessandro Tomassi and surgeon uncle Emilio
Played with great rhythmic drive and absolute clarity but with an almost orchestral sense of colour.A very acute sense of balance allowed the melodic line to sing so clearly without force The final two great flourishes normally played with such vehemence were here played with an almost echo effect with the long trill dissolving so magically into the downward spiral to the distant murmur from the bass and the immediate build up to the final explosive flourish and slam of the door.

Elia Modenese presenting the programme at the Ritz
This was a real musician’s performance where a great work that has been overplayed in every way for too long is now restored to its orginal quite revolutionary form.
It is the same great musicianship that we have come to expect from Murray Perahia where even seasoned performers reach for their scores as they are taken on his often remarkable journey of rediscovery.
It is the same journey that we were treated to today.
Even more remarkable was the little encore offered at the end of a long recital listened to with great attention by a numerous public of long standing.
’Fur Elise’ that I have not heard in concert since Wilhelm Kempff’s rare recitals years ago in London.
It was played very slowly but with such beauty and it brought an instant cry of recognition from the public.
It was played with a freedom and with great feeling.The crystal clear cantabile of the middle section contrasted so well with the disarming innocent return of the original melody.
There was a charm that one does not often associate with Beethoven.
Absolute adherence to Beethoven’s own indications with no ritardando at the end allowed for some moments of magical silence before being greeted by an ovation from a public totally won over on hearing such well known works as if for the first time!

Programme for the three concerts in Venice and Padua
The four Scarlatti Sonatas with which he opened his programmes were played with a crystal clarity and unrelenting rhythmic pulse.
Some beautiful elaborate ornamentation played with astonishing clarity and precision brought such expressivess to the simple melodic lines of the Sonatas.
K 209 was played with a driving rhythm but with some beautiful contrast in dynamics.
It was not the sound of a Horowitz or Michelangeli where each note was a single jewel or icicle but this was played more with layers of sound as one could imagine changing from one manual to another.
The well known Sonata K.159 was played at quite a pace but was beautifully shaped and ornamented with some very pointed and telling phrasing.

biography of Alberto Chines in the programme in Abano
We were treated to the famous Rigaudon by Rameau as an encore at the Ritz and were able to appreciate the driving almost drum like rhythmic energy that Alberto gave this music even on the modern day Steinway.
His ornamentation was quite superb and only added to the jewel like precision and beauty of this music originally conceived for other keyboards.
The Schubert B flat Sonata D.960 the last of the three written in such a short while before Schubert’s untimely tragic death.
This was a ‘classical’ performance of absolute clarity and a sense of architectural forward movement that was quite mesmerising.It was the same almost insistant forward movement that was so much part of Serkin’s almost frenzied but certainly not sentimental performances of these great monuments that Schubert has left us.
Then suddenly in the development section,like ray of light, there would be more pedal and a slight ease of the tension that created absolute magic.
It was magic too in the ‘Andantino’ second movement that was played with such subtle colouring and flexibility of the melodic line just as the great lieder singers have taught us .

Elisabetta Gesuato presenting the programme at Palazzo Barbarigo
The middle section was played like the entry of the horns in a great symphony – sounding so much like Brahms!
To be taken over by the flutes and clarinet – it was all so clear in this musical conversation that Alberto was treating us to in such a fascinatingly simple way.
The return of the opening melody was then played with a simplicity and intensity that was quite breathtaking .As it quietly modulated and more and more pedal was added as it came to the end of its heartfelt journey.
The Scherzo seemed to enter in on this magic cloud as Alberto took us on this journey where everything seemed to make such logical sense .Even the stabbing syncopated interruptions in the bass were integrated into the whole.
The last movement was played as Schubert asks “Allegro ma non troppo” and the call to arms of the single octave and simple rondo theme which follows leads to some passionate outbursts and typical rondo like melody over a rolling bass – so similar to the preceeding C minor or G major Sonatas.
The final few bars were played with transcendental aplomb and brought this great work to a tumultuous close.
It is a performance that will long be remembered by all those present.
I am looking forward now to hearing his new CD of Dances and Tales.
They should indeed be quite a remarkable musical journey in the hands of this extraordinary young artist.

Music in the air in Padua

and in the square of the famous Cafe Pedrocchi

How does he get the piano into position one wonders

Prior to his two concerts in Padua ….Alberto checks out the other musicians that seem to be everywhere

Dances and Tales new CD repertoire

faithful Padua public and now old friends

Behind Alberto the genial Avv.Malipiero who was at school in this Illustrious Institute with such a proud history of Resistence during the war

The White Glove Restaurant at the Ritz
‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’ – Fred Astaire
Have you seen the well to do
Up and down Park Avenue
On that famous thoroughfare
With their noses in the air
High hats and narrow collars
White spats and lots of dollars
Spending every dime
For a wonderful time
Now, if you’re blue
And you don’t know where to go to
Why don’t you go where fashion sits
Puttin’ on the Ritz
Different types who wear a day coat
Pants with stripes and cutaway coat
Perfect fits
Puttin’ on the Ritz
Dressed up like a million dollar trooper
Trying hard to look like Gary Cooper
Super duper
Come, let’s mix where Rockefeller’s
Walk with sticks or “umbrellas”
In their mitts
Puttin’ on the Ritz
Now, if you’re blue
And you don’t know where to go to
Why don’t you go where fashion sits
Puttin’ on the Ritz
Different types who wear a day coat
Pants with stripes and cutaway coat
Perfect fits
Puttin’ on the Ritz
Dressed up like a million dollar trooper
Trying mighty hard to look like super duper
Mr. Cooper
Come, let’s mix where Rockefeller’s
Walk with sticks or “umbrellas”
In their mitts
Puttin’ on the Ritz

The Hall of Mirrors at the Ritz where my dear duo partner Lya De Barberiis used to perform regularly as did the Armellini’s a permanent fixture on the music scene at home in Padua

The Birthday of a Renaissance Man -Alberto Portugheis at 79

The Birthday of a Renaissance Man Alberto Portugheis at 79
Happy Birthday Alberto Portugheis.What can one say that has not already been said?
We can just rejoice and celebrate this remarkable renaissance man who dedicates himself to pointing us all in the direction of peace and beauty that he has dedicated a lifetime to.
A noble light illuminating our way for all those that care about the human condition and are prepared to take heed.
I look forward to his concert on the 12th August with his great friend in this same hall and their eventual celebrations as they enter their 80th year!
https://www.facebook.com/notes/christopher-axworthy/happy-birthday-martha-and-alberto-a-page-turners-view-of-a-remarkable-occasion-/10154252098337309/

Sasha Grynyuk with Katya Gorbatiouk and Noretta and John Leech
Surrounded by friends in St James`s Piccadilly to celebrate his 79th birthday.
Freshly returned from a birthday concert that his great friend Martha Argerich dedicated to him in Tel Aviv on the 1st January.
Now in London with his sister who had flown in especially from Buenos Aires for his annual birthday celebrations in his adopted city .
He will return with her shortly to his native Argentina for his annual masterclasses and concerts.
Many illustrious friends were present to celebrate their greatly admired friend and colleague who has given us so much for so long.
His message of peace mixed with the beauty of music is a rare and much appreciated lesson for us all.

Alberto with his sister Beatriz

with the distinguished critic Bryce Morrison

with Canan Maxton of Talent Unlimited

with Noretta Conci Leech founder of the Keyboard Charitable Trust

John Leech co founder of the Keyboard Charitable Trust and co author of publications with Alberto

with pianist Hao Zi Yoh

Ileana looking on in her favourite church

St James’s Piccadilly

Birthday lunch en famille at Zedal Piccadilly

with John Leech

Italy awaits the return of Yuanfan Yang

Italy awaits the return of Yuanfan Yang
It is thanks to Dr Hugh Mather and Roger Nellist that we were able to hear Yuanfan Yang in Perivale today prior to his Italian tour for the Keyboard Charitable Trust.Yuanfan had won the Rome International Piano Competition in 2018.Better known as the Marcella Crudeli Competition even if the Fanny Waterman of Italy does not want it to stop when she retires but must continue like the Leeds Competition and be known only as the Rome Competition.
Why is there a photo of Rosalyn Tureck in the Teatro Olimpico as a heading here,one may ask?It is because Yuanfan Yang’s tour will start in Vicenza which is the city of Palladio .The Teatro Olimpico was designed by Palladio and made entirely of wood and can only be used in the warmer months as obviously no form of heating is allowed.

My wife Ileana Ghione in the centre in the brown dress
Lord Burlington took a fancy to La Rotonda, one of the imposing Palladian villas in this Venetian area of Italy.
He had a replica built in the ‘countryside’ in Chiswick and used to take his guests on a coach ride from Burlington House in London after dinner to listen to Handel perform in the villa.
It was here in Vicenza that I took Rosalyn Tureck many years ago to perform a Bach recital in this historic theatre.
It is where my wife used to perform and she is infact still on the cover of the tourist brochure
It is in Vicenza that Yuanfan will start his tour for the ‘Incontro con La Tastiera’ organised by Maria Antonietta Squeglia and her daughter Raffaella.The concerts during the winter months are held in the magnificent Teatro Comunale complex where Radu Lupu, Murray Perahia and many other illustrious artists perform every season.

Programme in Perivale today streamed live to my home in Italy
Yuanfan will play in Italy a superb programme which will start as today in Perivale with the C minor Toccata by Bach.
It will then include Schumann Carnaval op 9.
A piece of his own ‘The Haunted Bell’ and the Chopin Sonata op 35 Funeral March.
In Rome he will play the Chopin Barcarolle that he played today and three Preludes from op 32 by Rachmaninov in place of the Chopin Sonata.
In Frascati in the historic Villa Aldobrandini he will play in the series to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Michelangeli and has been asked to improvise in the style of Mozart on a theme given to him by the audience!

Streamed live from Perivale today
A quite remarkable young man born in Edinburgh of Chinese parents and studying as a child at Chethams in Manchester with that superb trainer of talented young musicians Murray McLachlan.
He has completed his studies at the Royal Academy with Christopher Elton and is now at the Royal College with Vanessa Latarche and Dmitri Alexeev.
His Italian tour after Vicenza will include the Univeristy of Viterbo for Prof Franco Carlo Ricci (whose biographies of Francesco Siciliani and Vittorio Rieti are definitive ),Frascati Villa Aldobrandini for the distinguished french pianist Marylene Mouquet and in the historic Teatro di Villa Torlonia in Rome for Roma 3 University directed Valerio Vicari.
He will also be giving a live radio broadcast for the Italian Radio RAI 3.
I have heard Yuanfan many times since that first time when he won the Liszt Competition held by the Liszt Society of Leslie Howard.
I remember this young man in his first year of studies in London playing a magnificent Vallee d’Oberman and running off with first prize from a very distinguished jury indeed.
I also heard him a few years later for Canan Maxton’s Talent Unlimited Showcase concert.
He played one of the finest performances I have every heard of Brahms Handel Variations
And then just a while ago I heard a performance streamed live from Perivale of his Schumann Carnaval that was of such subtle artistry that it was hard to believe that this young man could have matured so wonderfully.
There is something about the Chinese personality that understands Chopin so well.
One thinks that only the Polish can truly understand Chopin ,but it was Fou Ts’ong who ran off with the best mazurka prize many years ago at the Chopin Competition in Warsaw.
He explained in his many wonderful masterclasses that he gave for us in Rome that Chinese poetry and the poetry in Chopin’s works have much in common.
It was infact Bizet who wrote the most magnificent spanish music with Carmen never having set foot in Spain!
And it was indeed the Chopin Barcarolle that seemed to illuminate this young artists face as he played the ravishing melodic phrases with such a flexible rubato but without any excess. Always with such refined taste never slipping into the rather sloppy rubato that can pass for the Chopin tradition in lesser hands.
But here is an artist that from the very first bass C sharp it was clear that we were in very special hands.
And as Yuanfan explained to the full house today the Barcarolle is like a journey to Venice full of subtle ebb and flow and pure magic.
It is something of course he will be seeing for himself when he flies into Marco Polo Airport in Venice at the start of his tour later this month.
I am much looking forward to the Chopin B flat minor Sonata op 35 which I have not heard him play yet.
The Bach which opened the programme today and will open his programmes in Italy was a young man’s Bach.
As he explained the Toccatas were written to show off the keyboard technique and it certainly did that in his hands.
It reminded me of the same ‘joie de vivre’ that Martha Argerich brought to this piece years ago in Florence beforeplaying the Liszt Sonata.
But I think there is much more in these Toccatas than just rhythmic delight.
It was Angela Hewitt the other night in Perugia with this very Toccata who created such a special atmosphere with the Adagio after the opening flourishes.
The toccata was played not at breakneck speed but with a constant rhythmic pulse that did not budge for a moment.
Like Rosalyn Tureck but with more song and dance than she cared to admit to.The strands of the subject played really quite quietly where every one became such a clear voice in its own right.
The counter melodies just a delightful humorous comment.
This of course will come to Yuanfan as he matures.As it has come to Angela after living and performing these masterpieces for so many years.
The Haydn Variations in F minor were beautifully shaped with a great sense of colour and character.As he explained to the audience it was a piece inspired by the death of a friend.
In contrast the Sonata in E minor Hob XVI:34 was played with such a joyous spirit and the last movement was like a well oiled spring jumping out of the keyboard with a great sense of charm and pure fun.
The Andante was magically shaped and the embellishments quite exquisite.
Four Rachmaninov Preludes op 32 completed this short programme.
The turbulence of n.1 in C major was thrown off with great elan but ending so mellifluosly leading into the beautifully melodic n.5 in G major.
A wonderful sense of colour and balance allowed the melodic line to sing out on a cloud of magical harmonies.
The G sharp minor n.12 that followed was full of that typical Russian melancholy building up to a climax only to die away into the depths of dark despair disappearing into thin air.
The grandeur of the D flat n.13 was played with sumptuous sound and the aristocratic pianism of the pianist that Perlemuter described as looking as though he had swallowed a knife but producing the most romantic sounds he had ever heard.

streamed today to my computer near to Naples
It brought the concert to its official ending but then Yuanfan knew it was tradition in Perivale for him to improvise on themes given to him by the audience.
Something this remarkable young musican loved to do as it gave something back to the audience and allowed them to participate in the music making too.
An amazing display of an all but lost art that in this young man’s hands caused quite a stir at the final concert in the Rome International Piano Competition as it did indeed today.