More beautiful playing streamed into my home…..Simone Tavoni playing a fascinating programme -something old something new indeed.The poet certainly spoke at the end of Schumann’s Kinderszenen as he had all through a most characterful series of pieces that in the right hands as today can truly come magically to life.A Clementi Sonata played with all the jewel like brilliance of this much neglected composer.
Then the revelation with Debussy’s early Images Oubliées that I can never recall hearing in the concert hall before.The second one taking me by surprise as a carbon copy of his Sarabande from Pour le piano.
To end a charmingly preposterous Grande fantasie Soirées musicales S 422 by Liszt.
Obviously suggested by his mentor Leslie Howard it was the ideal piece for this intimate setting that could have been the very place that Liszt himself would have turned aristocratic ladies into a mob of screaming fans just waiting to get their hands on their idol.
Luckily for Simone today the mob was at home self isolating but it was a performance to charm and thrill even those watching from afar.
My supper is probably burnt by now but what does it matter when one’s soul is replenished in these barren times .
The concert opened with Clementi’s hauntingly beautiful sonata in F sharp minor op 25 n.5 one of 110 sonatas from a composer although born in Rome from an early age was sponsored by a wealthy Englishman Sir Peter Beckford who agreed to provide quarterly payments to sponsor the boy’s musical education until he reached the age of 21. In return, he was expected to provide musical entertainment. For the next seven years, Clementi lived, performed, and studied at the estate in Dorset.He remained in England and was among the first to create keyboard works expressly for the capabilities of the piano. He has been called “Father of the Piano”.Strangely neglected even though promoted by Horowitz some years ago it was refreshing to see Clementi in the programme especially when played very delicately and with great sensitivity by this young Italian pianist who like Clementi transferred to London.The sublime almost Bachian beauty of the slow movement was contrasted so well with the scintillating last movement all played with such overwhelming conviction.
‘Scenes from childhood’by Schumann were played with a great sense of character from the beautifully flowing ‘Foreign lands and people’with such a beautifully flexible melodic line before the rhythmic fun of such ‘a curious story.’A busy ‘blind man’s bluff’was thrown of with great panache before the gentle ‘pleading of the child’and the beautiful ease with which ‘happy enough’was allowed to flow.A very imperious ‘important event’only made the delicacy of ‘dreaming’even more poignant. Such delicacy ‘by the fireside’led to the passionate rhythmic outburst of ‘the knight on horseback’and the contrasting beautifully shaped ‘almost too serious.’The dramatic changes of mood were indeed ‘frightening’before the sublime simplicity of ‘the child falling asleep.’All opening a magic door for the ‘Poet to speak’so eloquently in Simone’s hands with a beautifully espressive cadenza before the even more poignant final words from the poet.A magical performance ideally suited to this intimate setting and revealed by Simone’s very sensitive sound palette.
Debussy wrote the Images oubliees towards the end of 1894 and called them simply Images. They formed part of the collection of Alfred Cortot, and were, in the years between their composition and eventual publication in 1976, largely overshadowed by the two ‘books’ of Images; hence the title – Images oubliees (Forgotten Images). The autograph of this set is prefaced with a recommendation : These pieces would fare poorly in les salons brillament illumines where people who don’t like music usually congregate. They are rather conversations between the piano and one’s self; it is not forbidden furthermore to apply one’s small sensibility to them on nice rainy days. For sheer expressive beauty the untitled opening piece is almost unsurpassed in Debussy’s output.After it comes an early and somewhat lusher version of the “Sarabande” that reappeared in 1901 in the suite Pour le piano; Émile Vuillermoz has described how Debussy played this Sarabande “with the easy simplicity of a good dancer from the sixteenth century”, and Debussy’s stepdaughter recalled how he used to emphasise the characteristic sarabande “lift” in the piece’s second bar. The final Image shares its mood, its toccata texture and its use of the French nursery song “Nous n’irons plus au bois” with Debussy’s later Estampe “Jardins sous la pluie”; and its last pages imitate a clanging bell Above this passage Debussy wrote”A bell that keeps no beat” followed by the gruff remark above the closing bars, “Enough of the bell!”Some beautifully expressive playing with a luminosity of such simplicity creating a beautiful sense of atmosphere and colour as it disappeared to a whisper.The Sarabande was played with a nobility and an almost menacing build up where again Simone’s refined tonal palette added such atmosphere with the passionate almost pleading outburst dying away to make room for the clarity and rhythmic impulse of the toccata.The little folk melody so lavishly embellished before just being simply stated with a great rhythmic build up of extravagant arabesques before the bell comes to a final almost inaudible halt.Enough of the bell indeed but what a discovery these early Debussy pieces are.
The Grande fantasie sur des motifs de La Serenata e L’Orgia des Soirées musicales by Liszt I have heard from Simone’s hands just a month or so ago and I cannot do better than to repeat what I said then:’Based on the 4th and 11th of Rossini’s song cycle.A work rarely if ever heard in concerts for some strange reason.Rossini’s tongue in cheek melody appearing in the bass before giving way to the ravishing Bellinian cantabile that would have charmed the salons of his day.Liszt the showman and charmer with all the sounds of the opera exploding from the box of tricks under the command of his ten amazing fingers .The duet between bass and soprano,the rumbling bass reminiscent of the second ballade and the coquettish appearance of the second melody.Embellished and varied with great agility and fantasy before the triumphant final appearance of the first melody almost combining the two themes together as he had in his Norma Fantasie.Giving Rossini the last laugh with a false ending before the astonishing funabulistics of Liszt’s tumultuous farewell.Played by Simone with a great sense of style and above all colour and balance that was quite remarkable.Never a hard sound in this very enjoyable hour of music but a full orchestra of Philadelphian velvet.
The Italian pianist Simone Alessandro Tavoni has given recitals internationally, including in the United States, United Kingdom, Denmark, Hungary, France, Spain, Malta, Estonia, Greece and across Italy. He was awarded a place on the BBC Pathway scheme during the 2015/2016 academic year and through this, he had the opportunity to rehearse and perform as an orchestral pianist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and some of these performances have been played by BBC Radio 3. In 2019 Simone has been selected as a Park Lane Group Artist, as Keyboard Charitable Trust Artist and received the Luciano and Giancarla Berti full-ride scholarship to attend the Aspen Music Festival and School studying with renowned Professor Fabio Bidini. He has featured as a soloist with the East London symphony orchestra, the Kensington Chamber Orchestra, the Ashod Symphony Orchestra, the Alion Baltic symphony orchestra and the Luigi Cherubini Symphony Orchestra. Performance venues have included the Liszt House (Budapest, Hungary), Salon Christophori (Berlin, Germany), the Florence Conservatory Concert Hall (Florence, Italy), the Royal Festival Hall, the Wigmore Hall, St. Mary’s Perivale, the Brunel University, St Martin-in-the-Fields, the Victoria & Albert Museum, Regent Hall, St. James’ Piccadilly (London), Winchester Cathedral, Petit Palau in Barcelona (Spain), The Talliin Philarmonia and Glehn Castle (Talliin, Estonia) the Hausmusik of Aarhus and the Italian institute of culture in Copenhagen (Denmark). He is also a regular guest artist at the En Blanc Et Noir Piano Festival in Lagrasse, (France) and of the Aegean international art festival in Heraklion (Crete). During a recent recital in Spain his recording has been broadcasted by the Canal du sur (Almeria, Spain).After graduating from the Giacomo Puccini Conservatoire in La Spezia, Liguria (Italy) when he was 18, where he studied the piano under Marco Podestà, he then moved to Florence to study at the Luigi Cherubini Conservatoire, continuing piano studies with Giuseppe Fricelli, and studying composition with Rosario Mirigliano. The winner of numerous national competitions in Italy, he also had the opportunity to participate in an exchange programme in Budapest on a full scholarship at the Franz Liszt Academy studying with Professors Kesckes Balazs and Rita Wagner. In 2014, he moved to London to study on the Master of Performance programme at the Royal College of Music with Professor Andrew Ball. After winning a second exchange bursary in Autumn 2015, he pursued his studies for one term at the State University of Music and Performing Arts in Stuttgart, Germany with Dr. Peter Nagy. He has received also masterclasses by Dmitri Bashkirov, Fabio Bidini, Aldo Ciccolini, Zoltan Kocsis, Antonio Pompa Baldi and Malcolm Bilson.Simone has been generously supported by the Talent Unlimited organization and by the Henry Wood Trust at Royal college of Music. During the 2018/2019 academic year he obtained an Advanced Diploma course at Trinity Laban Conservatoire with professors Deniz Gelenbe and Peter Tuite majorly supported by a scholarship and was selected as a Alfred Kitchin and Trinity College London Scholar.
Simone is currently performing, closely assisted and supported by Prince Dr. Donatus Von Hohenzollern.