Leonardo Colafelice at the Filarmonica in Rome this evening in their complete Beethoven series in the Sala Casella .
One of the best kept secrets here in Italy is what we call the Florence of the south meaning the cultural capital of Italy . It is in fact that wonderful city of Lecce, all Spanish Baroque in the heel of Italy .
When we were on tour with the Importance of being Earnest and Pirandello’s La Vita che ti Diedi we could not believe that even the man on the petrol pump had a season ticket for the theatre .Even at the back of the stage was a statue to the great Tito Schipa .
Martina Franca in the Valle d’Itria,the shin that leads to the heel one might say, has become one of the major Opera Festivals in Europe along the lines of Wexford in Ireland in discovering unknown opera masterpieces and performing them for the first time in modern times.
Paolo Grassi (together with Giorgio Strehler founders of the Piccolo Teatro di Milano – the National Theatre) and the great violinist Gioconda da Vita were both born in Martina Franca.
Riccardo Muti was born in Monopoli in Puglia where the pianist Benedetto Lupo has been teaching for some years with some startling results: the most recent of whom Beatrice Rana is rapidly taking the international concert scene by storm.
A recent CD with Pappano of Tchaikowsky 1 and Prokofiev 2 has had the critics world wide searching for superlatives .
And so it was today the turn of Leonardo Colafelice from Altamura in Puglia present in the fourth recital in the complete Beethoven Cycle that Andrea Lucchesini has devised for the Filarmonica to give a stage to some of the most remarkable young Italian pianists that are appearing ever more frequently as top prize winners in International Piano Competitions .
Matteo D’Amico,renowned composer and artistic director of the Filarmonica, had decided to include a short contemporary work by young living Italian composers in every concert with a brief interview with Guido Zaccagnini of Rai 3 radio all to be broadcast at a later date. A wonderful opportunity for these great young talents,pianists and composers alike , to be heard by a wider public .
The series opened in October with Federico Colli,winner of the Leeds International Piano Competition in 2011.
Leonardo Colafelice at only 18 was a finalist in the Rubinstein Competition ,and went on to win second prize in Cleveland as well as being finalist in the Busoni competition last year . Beautiful piece by Francesco Fournier “Fernweh ” a world premiere was full of beautiful colours as well as some very virtuosistic sections reminiscent of Stravinsky.
It was Stravinsky played as an encore: Dance Russe from Petrouchka and the March from Pletnev’s transcription of the Nutcracker that showed off to the full, the range ,colour and virtuosity of Leonardo Colafelice’ s remarkably assured playing .
His Beethoven was very correct and musicianly presented but I felt it was too Beethovenian in the sense of being too stern ,lacking in the colour and character that he reserved for the other of today’s composers on the menu.
Whereas Leonora Armellini in the second recital in this series had shown us what colours and sensitive music there is in Beethoven not only the stern severe unsmiling teutonic composer that Leonardo had chosen to show us this evening .
Surely the little sonata op 79 in G major is full of charm and wit apart from great rhythmic drive – deprive it of that and we have a series of wonderfully performed scales and arpeggios but there is no story being told.
The very opening Sonata op 54 Tempo di Minuetto lacked the very lilt and charm that this unique little sonata offers sandwiched as it is between the great Waldstein and Appassionata sonatas .
Surely the wonderfully played octaves in op 54 should not sound so bare and unyielding even although played with an enviable assurance.
The Sonata op 81a” Les Adieux” that ended the recital was by far the most successful Beethoven performance of the evening of the four Sonatas offered .
It was exactly as though Beethoven having pointed out the story our wonderful young virtuoso was happy to tell it to us and to lead us with his imagination into a territory he had not dared venture before .