Uto Ughi in Rome The Prince of violinists

Uto Ughi in Rome The Prince of violinists
60th Anniversary concert of Uto Ughi at La Sapienza Rome with Michail Lifits

Uto Ughi’s first concert in 1959
A concert to celebrate sixty years since Uto Ughi’s first concert at Rome University for Lina Fortuna in her remarkable series of concerts started just after the war.
A lifetime in which Uto Ughi has been ever present.
He used to come to listen to Ruggiero Ricci at Teatro Ghione and I remember him playing with FouTs’ong the Kreutzer Sonata for Alba Buitoni in Perugia in the 70’s.
He played often too for the Filarmonica of Adriana Panni and I remember the wonderful sounds of his violin resounding from behind the altar filling the magnficent church surrounded by Caravaggios at her sad farewell .He had come to pay a private tribute to the remarkable lady who had given him his first concerts as a child prodigy.
Now in his 75th year he was happy to celebrate with us his unblemished artistry on his “Kreutzer” Stradivarius of 1701 and the most beautiful of Guarneri Gesu of 1744 that once belonged to Arthur Grumiaux.
I had the fortune to sit next to a master violinist Maestro Leofreddi who had played with Licia Mancini in 1995 in the Ghione Theatre in a homage for the 10th anniversary of the death of Guido Agosti.He like me was astonished to hear such perfection from a violinist at an age when some physical aspects could have tarnished his artistry.

Ughi with Michail Lifits infront of the magnificent mural of Sironi
Playing the entire concert without the score too from the very first note to the last delicious notes of “Schon Rosmarin” we were treated to a concert of rare artistry.
Starting with the Chaconne by Vitali in which the subtle exquisite sounds from the bass continuo- piano sustained an ever more intense gradual build up from Uto Ughi’s magnificent instrument.
It immediately established a rapport between piano,violin and audience that was to be carried through to the very last notes of the strepitoso “Le ronde des Lutins” and “Schon Rosmarin” offered as a thank you to an audience on their feet.
The Brahms Sonata n.3 in D minor was a meeting of equals.
Lifits and Ughi never having played together before found themselves on a wonderful voyage of discovery.Each one revelling in the company and conversation between equals.
The sumptuous sounds from the piano never overpowering the violin .Listening so intently to each other and above all the musical line that they were sharing together.
That is not to say that there were not great symphonic sounds from the piano matched by the golden tone of the violin .
A shared glee between complices as the audience burst into spontaneous applause between movements.
The scherzo glided along like a well oiled train.The piano throwing off its embellishments with a subtle joie de vivre.Immediately attacking the Presto agitato and not giving the audience a chance to interrupt this time.
The final chord placed with just that slight wait of a duo that has been playing for a liftime togther.
Feeling the need to communicate also verbally with his audience Uto Ughi happily introduced the Suite Popular Espagnola to them.
Explaining that only six of the seven original pieces had been transcribed for violin by Paul Kochanski.
There was some extremely atmospheric playing from both artists.
Very subtle whispered sounds from the piano matched by some very idiomatic sounds on the violin and a final ” voila” from Ughi as if to say now you may applaude.
The party atmosphere was now set.
A very beautiful opening to the Introduction of the Rondo Capricioso by Saint Saens was contrasted with a scintillating Allegro of such subtle rubato interrupted only by great orchestral sounds from the piano
Following with the great show piece by Ravel :The Tzigane.
Dedicated to Jelly d’Aranyi who lived for many years in Ewelme in Oxford the same village that Perlemuter,a disciple of Ravel ,had chosen as his summer home too.
It is a great show piece for both piano and violin.The only work that Ughi chose to have the score for.
He need not have worried because violin and piano played as one in an electrifying performance that brought the concert to its official close.
“Le ronde des lutins” was the extraordinary piece that Ughi chose to thank his devoted public.
Great feats for the violin of both pizzicato and legato in quick succession.
The piano was played with such subtlety that made the combination quite intoxicating.
Kreisler’s “Schon Rosmarin” was played with all the subtlety of the great man himself.
A rubato that was so much part of this world of nostalgia and charm it was the perfect ending to an afternoon celebration of one of the greatest artists before the public today.

Michail signing the souvenir for Ughi’s 60th celebrations

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