Tommaso Carlini at St Mary’s

Tommaso Carlini at St Mary’s

Today’s programme
This is the third occasion that Tommaso Carlini has been invited to St Mary’s but the first time I have had a chance to hear him play.
He even played all the Liszt Transcendental Studies in Rome ….when I was in the UK!
A very interesting mainly virtuoso programme very well introduced to a public sadly diminished as the skies opened up today and Summer suddenly became Winter.
It was however the encore that showed off his best qualities, where beauty and range of sound combined with a sense of architecture were poetically portrayed in the first of Liszt’s Years of Pilgrimage in Swizerland – La Chappelle de Guillaume Tell (William Tell‘s Chapel) in C major – For this depiction of the Swiss struggle for liberation Liszt chooses a motto from Schiller as caption, “All for one – one for all.” A noble passage marked lento opens the piece, followed by the main melody of the freedom fighters. A horn call rouses the troops, echoes down the valleys, and mixes with the sound of the heroic struggle.
Some full rich sounds allied to a beautiful sense of shape and colour.
The recital had begun with a little known sonata by C.P.E Bach.
Three short movements played very clearly with some imitation from a telling use of the soft pedal .Very sparse use of the sustaining pedal meant there was very little actual colour or real weight or shape although there was scintillating passage work played with great elan like with a Scarlatti Sonata.

St Mary’s Perivale mecca for pianists
Thalberg’s Gran Caprice sur “La Sonnambula” op 47 is one of the finest of all of Thalberg’s vast output.Clara Schumann noted in her diary:”On Monday Thalberg visited us and played to the delightment beautiful on my piano. An even more accomplished mechanism than his does not exist, and many of his piano effects must ravish the connoisseurs. He does not fail a single note, his passages can be compared to rows of pearls, his octaves are the most beautiful ones I ever heard.
Mendelssohn’s student Horsley wrote of the meeting of his teacher and Thalberg:”We were a trio, and after dinner Mendelssohn asked Thalberg if he had written anything new, whereupon Thalberg sat down to the piano and played his Fantasia from the “Sonnambula” … At the close there are several runs of Chromatique Octaves, which at that time had not previously heard, and of which peculiar passages Thalberg was undoubtedly the inventor. Mendelssohn was much struck with the novel effect produced, and greatly admired its ingenuity … he told me to be with him the next afternoon at 2 o’clock. When I arrived at his study door I heard him playing to himself, and practising continually this passage which had so struck him the previous day. I waited for at least half an hour listening in wonderment to the facility with which he applied his own thoughts to the cleverness of Thalberg’s mechanism, and then went into the room. He laughed and said: ‘Listen to this, is it not almost like Thalberg?”
A fascinating world that Tommaso Carlini showed us today as he took us into the era of the great Parisian salons where Chopin,Liszt,Alkan and Thalberg were treated with much adulation from an aristocratic public looking for ravishment and excitement.
There was even a duel between Liszt and Thalberg where each tried to outshine the other in Princess Belgiojoso’s salon where she declared:” Thalberg is the greatest pianist but there is only one Liszt.”
Tommaso played with great authority, Bellini’s beautiful melody played with a great sense of balance and colour with cascading embellishments of great delicacy.Some really transcendental playing at the end played with great rhythmical urgency and sense of line.
This led very nicely to what the programme describes as a Nocturne on Bellini’s “I Puritani”.It is infact the most poetic piece in a work called “Hexameron” which was pieced together by Liszt with many of the great virtuosi of the day contributing each a variation.
Hexaméron, Morceau de concert S.392 is a collaborative composition for solo piano. It consists of six variations on a theme, along with an introduction, connecting interludes and a finale. The theme is the “March of the Puritans” from Vincenzo Bellini‘s opera I puritani.Princess Cristina Trivulzio Belgiojoso conceived the piece in 1837 and persuaded Franz Liszt to assemble a set of variations of the march along with five of his pianist-friends.
Liszt composed the introduction, second variation, connecting sections and finale, and integrated the piece into an artistic unity. Five well-known composer-performers each contributed one variation: Frédéric Chopin, Carl Czerny, Henri Herz, Johann Peter Pixis and Sigismond Thalberg.
Princess Belgiojoso commissioned Hexaméron–the title refers to the Biblical six days of creation–for a benefit concert for the poor on 31 March 1837 at the princess’s salon in Paris. The musicians did not complete the piece on time, but the concert was held as scheduled. The concert’s highlight was a piano “duel” between Thalberg and Liszt for the title of “greatest pianist in the world.” Princess Belgiojoso announced her diplomatic judgment: “Thalberg is the first pianist in the world–Liszt is unique.”
Beautifully played by Tommaso Carlini with a sonorous bass and a magical melodic line

Dr Hugh Mather congratulating Tommaso Carlini
In fact it was in the more melodic Mazukas op 41 that followed that the 2nd in E minor and 4th in A flat sang so beautifully with great shape and style.
The first in C sharp minor and third in B minor needed more rhythmic drive for this the dance of Chopin’s longed for homeland.
The Vallée d’Obermann followed from the same book of Pilgrimage as William Tell.
A great romantic outpouring inspired by the novel of Senancour “Obermann”, which includes the crucial questions, “What do I want? Who am I? What do I ask of nature?”that preface the score of Liszt’s magnificent tone poem.
Beautifully played with some quite magical moments especially of the appearance of the melody high in the treble register.
Great drama in the first transcendental climax and after the pleading recitativo a gradual build up to the sumptuous climax and explosion of octaves.
The famous Hungarian Rhapsody 6 in D flat was played with all the scintillating virtuosity for which it has become the war horse of the great pianists of past and present.Repeated octaves at breakneck speed
fearlessly played by Tommaso with great panache and technical assurance brought the recital to a exciting conclusion.

instructions for use on the front door – nothing compared to the bathroom!

Dr Mathers faithful helper sorting out the programmes

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