Roma 3 Orchestra shine in Bach and Marcello at Teatro Palladium in Rome

Some very fine playing from this orchestra created within Roma 3 University by their indomitable artistic director Valerio Vicari.Determined that his quest not be broken in this very bleak COVID period and that his mission should carry on, in spite of seemingly insurmountable hurdles, to bring a new younger generation to classical music.In this lockdown period it is remarkable that Valerio has still found a means of offering work to these young artists providing concerts beautifully streamed live whilst Rome struggles with the closure of all artistic venues .A very interesting juxtaposition of two keyboard concertos by Bach with the brilliant young pianist Scipione Sangiovanni.The original concerto n.5 in f minor BWV 1056 and Bach’s transcription for keyboard of Alessandro Marcello’s oboe concerto in D minor S.2799.To open the concert was Bach’s Suite n.1 in C BWV 1066

Giorgio Matteoli

The four orchestral suites (called ouvertures by Bach), BWV 1066–1069 in which the name ouverture refers only in part to the opening movement in the style of the French overture.The seven movements were played with much regard to the style without vibrato and with a rhythmic impulse that gave great shape to the whole suite.In the expert hands of Giorgio Matteoli he was able to guide his orchestra of young musicians in a fine performance that showed off in particular their fine woodwind section.

This was the curtain raiser for the two keyboard concerti played by a young musician who I had heard in Monza when he won first prize in the International Competition in 2012 of which I was a jury member.There were some very fine young musicians that year in the Rina Sala Gallo competition that included Julian Brocal and Menyang Pan who are fast making names for themselves. It remember above all ,however, the encore that Scipione played after his prizewinning performance of Liszt second piano concerto.It has remained in my memory as the highlight of a very busy week of listening to some fine performances.A baroque keyboard piece that was played with a clarity and crystal like precision that was the best thing that we had heard all that week.It was that same crystalline clarity that he brought to the two concerti that he offered at the Teatro Palladium for Roma 3.

The Oboe Concerto in D minor S.D935, is an early 18th-century concerto for oboe,strings and continuo attributed to the Venetian composer Alessandro Marcello.The earliest extant manuscript containing J.S. Bach’s solo keyboard arrangement of the concerto, BWV 974, dates from around 1715.In his Weimar period (1708–17) Bach arranged several concertos by Venetian composers, most of them by Vivaldi , for solo keyboard, known as his Weimar concerto transcriptions.In three movements the Andante spiccato and Presto were played with a crystal clear clarity and precision by Scipione.But it was the Adagio that was so beautifully projected with a sculptured precision that rose above the gentle accompaniment and was quite memorable.

That is until we heard the original concerto number 5 in f minor where the masterly genius of Bach was immediately evident in comparison. The works BWV 1052–1057 were intended as a set of six concerti shown in the manuscript in Bach’s traditional manner beginning with’J.J.’ (Jesu juva, “Jesus, help”) and ending with ‘Finis. S. D. Gl.’ (Soli Deo Gloria). Apart from the Brandenburg concertos it is the only such collection of concertos in Bach’s oeuvre, and it is the only set of concertos from his Leipzig years.

Even here in Bach’s own concerto the outer movements probably come from a violin concerto which was in G minor, and the middle movement is probably from an oboe concerto in F major; this movement is also the sinfonia to the cantata Ich Steh mit einem Fuss im Grabe .BWV 156 This middle movement too closely resembles the opening Andante of a Flute Concerto in G major (TWV 51:G2) by Telemann; the soloists play essentially identical notes for the first two-and-a-half measures. Although the chronology cannot be known for certain, It would appear that the Telemann concerto came first, and that Bach intended his movement as an elaboration of his friend Telemann’s original.This of course was how music was written for occasions for the court or the church and the composers had to oblige sometimes transcribing other works to suit the occasion.However the genius of Bach shines through in this fifth concerto and it was indeed in the Largo that Scipione’s artistry was allowed to shine.Some very subtle inflections brought the golden thread of melodic invention vividly to life as it rose so eloquently over the orchestral accompaniment.The outer movements were played with rhythmic energy and precision that only made more poignant the Largo when time seemed to stand still.

Scipione Sangiovanni is a graduate of Italy’s Conservatory “Tito Schipa” of Lecce and the Mendelssohn Piano Academy of Lecce. To complete his studies, he took masterclasses with Emilia Fadini, Arie Vardi, Franco Scala, Aldo Ciccolini, Vincenzo Balzani, Marcello Abbado, Sergio Perticaroli, Fabio Bidini, Marcella Crudeli, Enrico Pace, Leonid Margarius, Alexander Lonquich, Paul Badura – Skoda as well as with Angela Hewitt. He won numerous top prizes at renowned international Piano Competitions, including 1st prize at “Città di Marsala”, 1st prize at “Premio Monopoli”, 1st prize at “Premio Chopin” and 1st prize at “Svetislav Stancic”, as well as at “Concorso Rina Sala Gallo”. He was awarded 2nd prize at International piano competition “Ricard Viñes” as well as at 52nd Concurso Internacional de Piano “Premio Jaén” and finished as runner up in many competitions.

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