Nicola Losito at Piano City Pordenone
Some extraordinarily authoritative playing of Beethoven and Liszt from this young pianist from Trieste.
He had been invited to join ranks with some other superb musicians such as Andrea Bacchetti,Leonora Armellini and many others with the internet star Valentina Lesitsa at their helm.
Piano City with great courage had decided that the show must go on and despite distancing difficulties it decided to give the guiding light to start up live music making once again.
A year or so ago Nicola Losito was invited by the Keyboard Trust to play in London in the last recital to be held in the Steinway Hall of Fame.This hall was transferred from the historic site in Bond Street to Wigmore Street.A magnificent Steinway concert grand surrounded by historic portraits of all the great pianists that have played Steinway in the past.Since Nicola’s concert the hall has been restored to a piano show room in a commendable effort to commercialize Steinway in view of the strong competition from the Japanese and Italian School of Pianos makers.
Bechstein was always the great rival at the turn of the last century and their pianos were much admired by the great artists playing before the public.The Wigmore Hall was born as Bechstein Hall.
Other German makes sprung up: Boesendorfer,Bluthner,Grotrian Steinweg etc as now there are also Yamaha,Kwai and Fazioli.
Steinway has always held its head up high and universally has become the piano that is most reliable for sound,projection and workmanship.
That is not to say that there are not some wonderful pianos also produced by others.
I have heard some magnificent performances on Yamaha, by Richter and others, and also on his disciples pianos: Kwai Shigeru at the Chopin Competition in Warsaw.I have heard many great performances from Angela Hewitt and others on Fazioli too.I remember though Louis Lortie in London preferring to play Brahms Sonata in F minor on a Boesendorfer even though he is a Fazioli artist.He had told us in the programme that for Chopin Fazioli was ideal but for Brahms Boesendorfer was the only one!I understand that the mechanics of Boesendorfer are produced now by Yamaha.
In the end it is a question of sound and touch which also depends on the artistry of the performer.
The Yamaha that had been provided by Giovanni Iannantuoni was a fine intrument as were the six that he had generously provided for the Piano Barga Festival of Roberto Prosseda last year
Hats off to this civilised rivalry between piano makers that are able to make fine instruments available to so many new concert initiatives for a superb array of young talent.
The home concerts by Yamaha in this lockdown period have allowed us to hear live streamed concerts amazingly on in tune instruments!
I had heard just by chance, the day before Nicola’s concert, Leonora Armellini giving magnificent performances of Chopin.I had innocently commented on the fact that I had not expected to hear such sumptuous sounds from a Japanese piano! https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2020/06/23/leonora-armellinis-glorious-chopin-piano-city-pordenone/
Well I got playfully reprimanded by Giovanni Iannantuoni for that, quite rightly!
Nicola had offered a very musicianly programme with the two sonatas by Beethoven: Sonate quasi una fantasia op 27 followed by Liszt Fantasia quasi Sonata.
The Sonata of 27 n.2 is better known as the “Moolight ” Sonata as the Liszt is known only as the Dante Sonata.This is the programme that he was to play for the Keyboard Trust in the series for the Amici della Musica di Padova – due to the lockdown the concert was cancelled and has just been re confirmed for the 17th January leaving time to adjust to the new distancing regulations in the historic Salone dei Giganti.https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2020/02/22/giovanni-bertolazzi-a-giant-amongst-the-giants/
It is the hall where Richter used to practice on their still magnificent Steinway before travelling a short distance to Mantua where the traffic was stopped around the historic Teatro Bibiena whilst his recording sessions were in progress.The recordings were on a Yamaha piano that Richter admired and in that period had a special arrangement where a magnificent instrument and tuner would be provided anywhere he chose to travel!For Richter a prize instrument was provided!
The two Beethoven Sonatas were given exemplary performances in which every detail of the score was respected and brought vividly to life.The clarity and technical control were indeed remarkable and the Adagio of op 27 n.1 was memorable.The rhythmic impetus in the Allegro vivace was wonderfully maintained and the dynamic contrasts and very precise indications were translated into hypnotic sounds.The interruption of the Adagio and the gently unfolding cadenza led to the brilliant Presto conclusion played with quite remarkable control.
The same Yamaha as Leonora but now slightly worse for wear after the marathon of concerts at the Piano City.It did not allow quite the same sense of colour and subtlety but it did allow us to marvel at his musicianship and sense of architectural control.
The famous Adagio sostenuto of op 27 n.2 I found a little slow for the marking that Beethoven indicates.To be played in 2 not 4 which gives slightly too much importance to the triplet accompaniment. He managed to sustain the melodic line though so beautifully through a very careful sense of balance .By the ritornello and wonderful bass melodic line he had convinced me that this was a true Adagio sostenuto after all.
The second movement though I found a little too slow for the Allegretto marking and it lost something of its dance like lift.
The Presto Agitato was superbly played with great Beethovenian fervor.The balance between the hands in the lyrical sections allowed the melodic line to sing so touchingly without any forcing of the tone.The dramatic virtuoso florishes that abound in this movement were played with great passion and the final few bars had all the bad manners for which Beethoven was famed .
The Dante Sonata was given an amazingly assured performance.The enormous contrasts between the great virtuoso octaves and tremolandos were contrasted so touchingly with the delicacy and Liszt’s most intimate confessions .A performance of great authority and character that held the audience spellbound and just confirmed my previous note about this young pianist in which I had been overwhelmed by his virtuosity and poetry.
His performances in London had been highly commended by the noted critic Bryce Morrison who had invited him to his home to discuss repertoire and listen to his unique collection of great pianists of the past.Alberto Portugheis,another highly respected figure in the music world living in London had been impressed too and he had invited him to discuss music with him in his studio.
One of the KT founder trustees had been on the jury of Osimo International Competition when Nicola was awarded first prize as a teenager.He has arranged tours for him in Germany as I have been able to in Italy too.
A young man headed for the heights and it was wonderful how he rose to the occasion here in Pordenone with some memorable performances after three months enforced silence.
But the most memorable was to come with an impeccable performance of Liszt Spanish Rhapsody that Valentina Lisitsa had chosen to play too in her opening gala recital.It was played by Nicola though with all the youthful passion and freshness of a young man like Liszt himself ready to take the world by storm.
By overwhelming public demand he was allowed to play one encore.
It was indeed a make or break performance of Chopin ‘s so called Ocean study op 25 n. 12 .Played with tumultuous passion and breathtaking energy that swept all before it on a tidal wave of emotions.
Music is still alive and well .Welcome back to live music making at last!