Costanza Principe at St Mary’s Perivale

Costanza Principe at St Mary’s Perivale
The young Italian pianist gave a beautiful recital today in Hugh Mather’s Tuesday young virtuoso series.
From the first notes of the Mozart variations on a minuet by Duport K.573 it was obvious that we were in the presence of a highly sensitive musician.
The exquisite shaping of the theme and the purity of the trills caught our attention from the very first notes.
Such pure crystalline tone gave just the innocent simplicity that can be all too elusive for any but the finest musicians.
Each variation was shaped not only with great technical skill but there was much more besides in a performance where every note had a meaning.
Great character to the final variation gave even more poignancy to the final re-emergence of the theme .
So it was no surprise to see on the programme of a real thinking musician Schumann’s late Gesange der Fruhe op 133 very rarely heard in public but much admired by that great musician Guido Agosti.
No one who ever heard him playing and intoning the magical fourth piece in his studio in Siena will ever forget those magical sounds.
Somewhat similar to the 4th Ballade op.10 of Brahms in the hands of that other Italian magician Michelangeli
It is an elusive piece that Costanza managed to hold together making the five movements into one whole .
Not sentimentalising Schumann’s romantic musings but giving an almost classical performance that worked extremely well in this very complex piece.
Now she must find the magic that her illustrious predecessors have shown us in the past and imbue these magical pieces with the same wonderful tone colour that was so much in evidence from the very first notes in the Mozart variations.
The second part of the programme was given over to a monument of the piano literature : Brahms Variations and Fugue on a theme by Handel op 24 .
An innocent theme which is a rock on which the 25 variations are built leading to the triumphant return of the theme and a massive final fugue almost in the Bach Busoni style. Wonderful lead up to the final statement of the theme played with a relentless rhythmic impulse that led to some transcendental playing in the infamously difficult fugue .
It might have been better to have played the opening theme almost coldly without any of the warmth and shaping that was so much part of Costanza’s musicianship so as not to anticipate what was to come later in Brahms’ hands .
In the second variation the two’s against three’s give us all the rubato we need already written into the score.
Some very robust octave playing in the 4th variation contrasted so well with her true legato octaves in the 6th and the majesty of those of the 9th.
A great sense of rhythm in the 7th and 8th contrasted so well with the maestoso of the 13th.
The extreme technical difficulties of the 14th and 15th,reminiscent of the Paganini variations,was thrown off with just the right musicianly rock solid virtuosity that this piece needs.
The beautiful lyricism of the 19th was only surpassed by the luminosity of her sound in the little music box that is n.22 that comes before the storm.
The very revealing trills and ornaments in this seemingly innocuous opening theme were absolutely perfect which is no mean feat as was noted with envy by our connoisseur host and piano expert Hugh Mather.
I gather she is about to go on tour throughout Europe with the Turkish Symphony Orchestra playing nothing less than Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto which in my day was only for the bravest of men.
She even finds to play a different recital programme in her home town of Milan this weekend.
Remarkably she is till to graduate with her Masters from the Royal Academy this summer where she studies with that renowned teacher Christopher Elton.
Another very fine recital in this very well attended Tuesday series of some of the finest young musicians of our time .


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