Pablo Rossi takes London by storm
It was in december 2005 that passing by the Steinway Hall in London on my way to the Wigmore Hall I saw an old friend Noretta Conci-Leech standing outside ,an elegant cigarette in hand.
She greeted me with such warmth as she was one of the few in England that had learned from the Italian mass media coverage about my wife Ileana Ghione being struck down by a thunderbolt whilst playing Hecuba on stage in her own theatre in the centre of Rome.
I had met Noretta and John 35 years ago when they accompanied their adored Leslie Howard for his Rome debut in our theatre.
How many young musicians have benefitted from the help they have given to young pianists at the difficult start of their careers.
Noretta had been the assistant to Michelangeli for 15 years so she fully appreciated that it is experience of playing allied to great talent that is so important.
She invited me in and a young sixteen year old Brazilian boy,whose parents had accompanied him to London,was playing for the newly founded Keyboard Charity Trust.
”Well why does he not come to play in Rome?”
……..and so he did.
Pablo Rossi was accompanied by Noretta and John who had also organised a distinguished group of Roman musician friends that could help advance his career.
Thirteen years on after a long period of study at Moscow Conservatory with Elisso Virsaladze followed by periods of study in Brussels and New York this young talented boy has turned into an artist of great stature.
We were able to celebrate his “coming of age”thanks to the Brazilian Ambassador and especially his great friends Joào Marcos Senise Paes Leme and his wife Vivian who have been inestimable help to him during his formative years here Europe.
A concert grand in the magnificent Cunard Hall that is part of the Embassy, a stone’s throw from Trafalgar Square in Pall Mall .
Pablo Rossi was invited to celebrate with us some still little known works by Brazilian composers Heitor Villa-Lobos and Claudio Santoro together with much loved works by Chopin and Schumann.
Ending with the fireworks that ignite the Grand Fantasy on the Brazilian National Anthem by Louis Moreau Gottschalk.
As another fine pianist colleague and disciple of Elisso Virsaladze https://www.facebook.com/notes/christopher-axworthy/elisso-virsaladze-in-latina-the-grande-dame-of-the-piano/10156059610812309/
Ashley Fripp wrote to me afterwards:https://www.facebook.com/notes/christopher-axworthy/ashley-fripp-a-poet-in-perivale/10156769491037309/
”He played beautifully and he really has his own voice.Nothing vain or exhibitionist in his playing.It’s very sincere ,mature and imaginative and it was a pleasure to hear him again.Noretta and John must have been proud to hear him play so well!”
What more can one say except that he put into words so eloquently what we had all felt and appreciated .
On a lighter note we then went on to discuss the pink sneakers that he chose to wear on this rather formal occasion!
Well no one is perfect!
H.E Ambassador in his brief introduction had explained his wish to further Brazilian music in the world and how much he appreciated the work that Pablo Rossi was doing in that direction.
Infact the first half of the recital was dedicated to little known works by Villa Lobos and Santoro.
A performance of the Prelude from Bachianas Brasileiras n.4 by Villa Lobos opened the programme .
We were immediately aware of his beautiful natural movements at the piano almost like a conductor or sculptor shaping the sounds with the same fluid natural physical movements as the magic that was emanating from this great Yamaha box of tricks.
Hands that seemed to caress the keys with a closing movement that seemed to possess the keys and allowed him to create a kaleidoscope of sounds that are never ugly or brittle.
It was this ,of course that Noretta had noted all those years ago.
You can recognise a real pianist from the way he sits at the piano.
Dexterity and pianistic perfection can be taught with hours of work but real talent and the sense of belonging to the instrument is something that you are born with.
Pablo not only looked like the young Rubinstein but he had the same feeling of belonging infront of the keyboard!
Coming home indeed.
A Villa Lobos opening from the extremely lyrical to noble passion.
The next work was a suite of pieces by the same composer called Children’s Carnival (Carnaval das Crianças).
I have heard the Baby Suite (O prol do bébé) from the hands of Rubinstein and Nelson Freire but this was a complete novelty.
It was indeed a discovery of a suite of eight pieces ,each one depicting a child’s vision and imagination of the Carnival world.
Here was an absolute control of rhythm whilst portraying so vividly the magic .It also had an unrelenting forward movement that gave a great architectural shape to the whole.
Full of charm in “Pierrette’s Morning” and a subtle use of the pedals in “Little Red Riding Hood’s Bell.”
The sheer beauty of “The Sufferings of the Little Ragpicker” and the fantastic world of the “Frolics of a Band of Children” that built to a great climax of transcendental playing spread over the whole keyboard and showed off his complete mastery of colour and characterisation.
The music was allowed to speak in such a direct way in a musical conversation that even a child could understand!
It was in the Chopin 3rd Ballade that this way of caressing the keys was so noticeable.
A much loved work that here was full of sentiment and nobility with an extraordinary sense of line.
Each episode seemed to grow out of the previous in a succession of poetic outpourings culminating in the final climax played with a control that was truly masterly.
A “Fantasia Sul America” by Claudio Santoro was a moto perpetuo of great propulsion with a kaleidoscope of sounds in the middle section
Just the right piece as an interlude between the nobility of Chopin and the poetic depictions of Schumann in his Fantasiestucke op 12.
A very passionate “Aufschwung” after a beautiful opening “Des Abends.”.Full of subtle colouring.
Florestan and Eusebius living happily together in Pablo’s expressive hands.”Warum” was played with such simplicity and “Grillen” so beautifully characterised.
Unrelenting fearlessness in “In der Nacht” with the swirling undercurrent of sounds played with great rhythmic impetus but always allowing space for the melodic line to speak so eloquently.
His story telling in “Fabel” was every bit as eloquent as I remember in the hands of Rubinstein.
A breathless “Traumes Wirren” so rightly entered the stage immediately and was played with a lightness and authority that are of few.
The grandeur of “Ende vom Lied” and the final disintegration of Schumann’s magic world was rudely interrupted by the rumbustous “Grand Fantasy on the Brazilian National Anthem” by Gottschalk .
The beating of the drums and the brass band playing with all the fun of the Circus so vividly depicted with quite breathtaking virtuosity.
It brought this remarkable recital to an end.
Pablo had not forgotten how much he owed Noretta and John Leech as he paid a moving tribute to them infront of his fellow countrymen.
Visibly moved he played the encore that Rubinstein often used to end his recitals with : “Polichinelle” from “O prol do Bébe” by Villa Lobos.
It brought the evening to a moving and scintillating end.