A standing ovation in Teatro Ponchielli for Elisso Virsaladze at the end of her concert
The magnificent Teatro D’Annunzio complex being caught up in political wrangling over safety regulations and opens only when a temporary certificate of responsability can be provided by the Mayor ……………
This for a man who has done more than any other for his home town was evidently not possible on this noble occasion!
The Schumann that filled the whole of the first half of a long programme were the rarely performed six Intermezzi op 4 and the work that immediately follows it the beautiful Davidsbundlertanze op 6 (although actually written after Carnaval op 9)
The Intermezzi were given rigorous performances of such energy and rhythmic drive .In fact much more Floristan than Eusebius that were the two sides of Schumann’s complex personality.But out of the enormous virtuoso demands from the pianist there always emerged melodic lines of passionate involvement .It is just this rigorous non sentimental approach always with a sense of the great architectural line in mind that had Sviatoslav Richter exclaim that she was one of the greatest Schumann interpreters of our time.
It was in Zwickau at the age of only twenty four after running away with first prize in the International Schumann Competition that she had the press worldwide acclaiming her performances.
In the Davidsbundlertanze that followed Schumann indicates for the first time to whom the 18 pieces are attributed.The more energetic Floristan or the introverted poet Eusebius.In the final melancholic dance Schumann writes above the score:
“Here Florestan made an end, and his lips quivered painfully” “ Quite superfluously Eusebius remarked as follows: but all the time great bliss spoke from his eyes.”
A whole world that Elisso opened up for us with her great artistry.
From the extreme simplicity of the second marked just “innig” and signed “E”to the rumbustuous third “Mit Humor” and signed “F” leading into a most passionate outburst of the fourth.
The disarming simplicity of the fifth was played with great almost elastic flexibility.
The virtuoso demands of the sixth showed her amazing command of the keyboard.
There were so many beautiful things it is impossible to list them all but the fourteenth “zart und singend” was quite magical and the sweep of the fifteenth where Eusebius and Florestan are united was quite breathtaking in its passionate involvement.
The capricious charm of the sixteenth and its gradual disintigration lead the way to the magical penultimate dance.
What was very noticable was her almost orchestral sound in Schumann as opposed to her liquid “ bel canto” sound in the Chopin that made up the second half.
From the very first notes of the second ballade (that is dedicated to Schumann) there was a completely different sound.
The hands sometimes very subtly unsyncronised which allowed a much more cantabile sound.It is the secret of the great pianists of the past who could appear as if by magic to make the piano sing without any percussive sounds.
Six of Chopin’s fourteen Waltzes were played with all the charm and style that these little masterpieces rarely receive these days.
From the charm of the “Cat” waltz 34 n.3 to the nostagia of the “Valse de l’Adieu” op 69.n.1 .The noble charm of the C sharp minor op 64 n.2 or the scintillating virtuosity of op 34 n.1 offered as an encore.
Here Elisso showed us a multicoloured world from a past era.
The nocturne in D flat was played with a luminosity of sound where every note spoke so eloquently the like of which I have not heard since Rubinstein made it so much his own.
Its partner op 27 n.1 was played with such subtle half lights at the beginning one was almost reminded of Debussy Cathedrale Engloutie .
Maria Teresa Cerocchi and one of her daughters thanking the charming presenter for his short but heartfelt introduction.
The Nocturne in F op 15 n.1 and the Third Ballade completed the programme so brilliantly.
The concert was preceded by an introduction and poem dedicated to Riccardo Cerocchi
What better tribute could there be for Riccardo Cerocchi and his wife Maria Teresa who have dedicated their lives to bringing the greatest music to the their fellow citizens.
I well remember Arch Cerocchi at Elisso’s recital in the courtyard of the Town Hall in Latina.
A programme as today of Schumann and Chopin.
I remember very well the twinkle in his eye as we exchanged our enthusiasm for the wonderful evening of such nobility that this great artist had given us …………just as she had so generously today.
Here is our Elisso over the past few years ….and with the hope for many more years to come ……..
Thank you dear Elisso for all that you share with us so selflessly