Paolo Restani in Viterbo

Paolo Restani in Viterbo
Paolo Restani at Viterbo University today for Prof Franco Ricci’s Saturday Concert Series.
It was in 1980 when I drove the car to Naples from Circeo where I was on holiday on the chance finally of listening to the masterclass of Vincenzo Vitale at the Villa Pignatelli.
A legendary name as was that of Vincenzo Scaramuzza who transferred to South America where he founded the famous school that has produced such artists as Martha Argerich,Nelson Freire and Bruno Leonardo Gelber. All with its origins in the famous Neapolitan School of piano playing of Florestano Rossomandi Vincenzo Vitale his teachings of piano technique as that of Pierre Sancan would be discussed at length by us students. Vitale whose students included Bruno Canino , Michele Campanella,Laura de Fusco,Carlo Bruno,Francesco Nicolosi,Sandro De Palma,Franco Medori and Riccardo Muti amongst many other brilliant pianists. The fifteen year old student playing a fabulous “Feux Follets”,one of the most tortuous pieces by Liszt, was Paolo Restani who I was listening to today thirty eight years later.
Vincenzo Vitale students are immediately recognisable by the crisp clear,clean use of the fingers like perfect little hammers somewhat to the exclusion of the warm rich natural sound of the Matthay school. Of course technique is only a means to an end as the superlative musicianship of Canino is testimony.
Strangely enough Vincenzo Vitale,a former student of Alfred Cortot,only spoke of musical matters in his masterclass.Obviously preferring to talk about technical matters in the privacy of his studio
Paolo Restani presented a programme in Viterbo showing off the glorification of the Vitale school of highly professional piano playing glorified in fact in Michele Campanella’s 50 anniversary this season in the University Season. A programme based on short virtuosi studies and preludes obviously with the Viterbo public also in mind. The three largest pieces were in fact Debussy L’Isle joyeuse the Chopin A flat Polonaise and the Liszt Spanish Rhapsody. Passing through a selection of Rachmaninov Preludes op 32 and some Chopin and Liszt studies.
All played with an ease on a piano that was rather too small to accommodate such an overpowering technique. Some beautiful moments though in Chopin’s op posth Nocturne and Debussy’s suggestive “La plus que lent”.Not always following the composers markings though most notably in Chopin’s “Revolutionary “study where the dramatic difference between forte and piano was not put in evidence also some ingenious fingerings that were certainly not Chopin’s!
All presented with a conviction though and sense of communication that held his audience spell bound until the ovation at the end. A generous encore of the Liszt Rigoletto paraphrase that I had just read on a quick visit into the centre of Viterbo that the Verdi opera was presented due to Papal censorship under the different name of Triboletto in the beautiful Teatro dell’Unione, another of Italy’s beautiful theatres the opens and closes with alarming regularity.
A mad dash to the station at the end by this Lisztian figure who had so captivated the Viterbese public to catch his last train back to the Eternal city where he repeats the programme tomorrow.


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