Martha Noguera al Ghione Homage to Lya De Barberiis
Wonderful to see that great Steinway back on stage to embrace a great friend of the theatre from its very beginning in 1982.
Lya De Barberiis was one of the first pianists to play on this wonderful Fabrini Steinway,that was purchased especially for the theatre .
She was playing in a series of contemporary music for the publisher Edipan created by Bruno Nicolai.
Her contemporaries whom she championed with that same seriousness and absolute integrity that we had all learnt from our beloved Maestro Agosti.
Casella,Pizzetti,Malipiero,Dallapiccola,Martucci and her great friend Goffredo Petrassi were among the many that she gave first performances of and many of their works are dedicated to her.
From those first moments the Ghione theatre has passed into history for its celebrated series of concerts for Euromusica.
Artists that have included so many great names neglected or ignored by the great established music societies .
Artist that included in 1984 Vlado Perlemuter,making his debut in Italy at the age of 81,Shura Cherkassky,Gyorgy Sandor,The Tortelier Family,Ruggiero Ricci,Karlheinz Stockhausen,Marylyn Horne,Carlo Bergonzi and a very rare recital by Guido Agosti too just to name a few.
But the artist that created the greatest impression on Lya was the debut after a 30 year absence from the concert stage of Rosalyn Tureck,whose performance of the Goldberg Variations in September 1990 created an earth tremor not only for all those present but also for the rest of Europe where she started to play again.
The High Priestess indeed!
She had not been forgotten.
I had heard Rosalyn Tureck in London playing the “Goldbergs” in one evening at the Royal Festival Hall ,first on the harpsichord and after a long interval on the piano.
An unforgettable performance that I learn years later Martha Noguera was present at too whilst she was having a period of study with that great stylist of her day Ilona Kabos
I met Lya in Siena for Guido Agosti’s 80th birthday concert.
No party he very seriously specified but he would give a lecture recital on the Debussy Preludes .
What a wonder it was too even if it finished well after midnight.
But the Maestro did agree to a midnight brindisi after his serious work was done and it was here at the Chigiana that I met Lya for the first time with my wife .
We had all come to Siena especially to be with the Maestro and his adorable wife Lydia on what was for us at least such an important occasion.
Little did I imagine that we would all spend so much time together immersed in culture in Rome.
Infact it was Lya years later that exclaimed that we should be feted by the state for all that we had done for culture over the years.
In 2001 ” we ” were infact made a Dame by the President of Italy.
When in 2000 Lya heard me play in the theatre for a commemoration concert with my wife she decided there and then that this was the that sort of musician she wanted to make music with.
We played all over Italy travelling together when my wife was not on stage.
Ileana adored seeing me in the place where we had met (at the piano) instead of behind the scenes running our theatre business!
Our last concert at the Ghione was in 2012 in a concert in memory of our dear friend Goffredo Petrassi at the creation of an Association -” Circolo Culturale Lya De Barberiis”- to promote the music of the composers whom she had so valiantly championed during her long life but also to help bring new young talent to the fore.
All this under the admiring patronage of Gianni Letta.
Created by one of her many students – she would never accept money for teaching by the way – Massimiliano Negri who has since brought out a well researched book” Lya de Barberiis una vita di music nel Novecento italiano”
Lya loved our piano and could not understand why we did not have a proper cover for it One day a large packet arrived from Hamburg with the cover that still houses the Steinway ……”with love and admiration Lya.”
Much missed, Martha Noguera who was a great friend ,they each frequented each others concerts.
Martha had flown in especially from her home in Buenos Aires to celebrate Lya in three concerts in the places she loved playing in the most: Rome,Sorrento and Viterbo.
Part of an exchange that Lya would have totally endorsed with Martha’s Chopin Festival in Argentina ,now in its 18th year .
Included in this year’s programme was Pablo Rossi one of the greatly admired artists from the Keyboard Charitable Trust,who himself had played at the Ghione when he was just in his teens.
Martha is no stranger to Rome having given a series of concerts in 97 to 99 of the complete works of Chopin and the 32 Sonatas of Beethoven.
A remarkable capacity.
She even told me that she was engaged at the last minute to play the Clara Wieck piano concerto and not being able to find the score in time she learnt the entire concerto from the Serkin’s recording .
This was some years ago before the advent of internet.
Finding the score only at the rehearsal she was relieved to know that it was almost perfect.
The same amazing talent as another Ghione artist Ian Hobson who learnt the Horowitz transcription of Stars and Stripes from the recording as the Maestro like Liszt and Thalberg kept his secrets up his sleeve.
Someone from his University in USA sent it to the Maestro and was surprised to have a reply from the devil himself: ” Not Bad” !
And so it was hardly surprising to find the theatre packed out on a very rainy Sunday evening in Rome for this long overdue homage to a great lady.
It was hardly surpring too that the finest performance was the last work on a long and varied programme .
The Sonata n.1 op 22 by Ginastera an Argentinian compatriot of Martha with whom she had discussed this very work.
From 1952 in his “Subjective Nationalism” period in the Gauchesco tradition .
A gaucho being a landless native horseman of the plains and is a symbol of Argentina.
A superlative performance that Martha even had the energy to describe to us in Ginastera’s own words in the Green Room after the concert .
Wonderful sense of colour allied to a rhythmic energy that never relented even in the Presto misterioso somewhat reminiscent of the last movement of Chopin’s B flat minor Sonata .
Such beautiful sounds in the Adagio molto appassionato and such unrelenting sense of movement and real virtuosity in the Allegro marcato and Ruvido ed ostinato.
Throughout the concert one had been aware of her great sense of line and real sense of balance that allowed the piano to sing in such a natural way.
Particularly ideal for the “little” Schubert A major sonata op posth 120.
The opening Allegro moderato allowed to sing as if one of the composers sublime songs . A great sense of style and even if some details were occasionally blurred one was always aware of being in the presence of a true musician.
The charming last movement thrown off sometimes with a little too much liberty and ease followed a slow movement of rare beauty.
The Chopin Polonaise Fantasie given a full blown performance in which the key word was Fantasie sometimes at the price of sacrificing the true line and rhythm of the Polonaise in what could almost be considered the “old tradition” of the Chopin stylist that Pollini via Rubinstein has long eliminated .
However it was a very convincing heartfelt performance as a whole and was played with all the passion and verve of a musician half her age .
The Haydn and Beethoven E flat Sonatas :n.59 Hob XV1:49 and op 81a “Les Adieux” were given stylish performances of a simplicity in which the beauty of sound was paramount.
A very clear pulse to the opening Haydn was sometimes betrayed by the freedom she gave to the more virtuosistic passages .
The slow movement unfolded in a very spacious manner and the contrast with the middle section was very passionately conveyed.
Always perfectly in style the last movement was played with all the charm and grace that made this “little” Haydn E flat a perfect opening and preparation for the only Sonata that Beethoven himself actually gave a title .
Prefacing the three movements :Farewell;Absence;Return , Beethoven’s “Les Adieux was vividly depicted in a performance of great intelligence .
In particular notable for the beauty of the melodic line in the second movement and the nervous forward motion of the Return.
No encores were possible after such a tumultuous performance of Ginastera and it was nice to note such distinguished musicians in the audience.Prof Franco Carlo Ricci,
Maestro Cerroni, Pieralberto Biondi,Signora Martinelli Cafaro,Sergio Calligaris,Ornella Cogliolo,Avvocato Ambrosio all present to pay homage to an extraordinary artist despite a deluge in Rome that has not been seen for quite sometime.