“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

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