A beautiful programme for the Keyboard Trust’s annual concert this year in Viterbo with the superb Sicilian pianist Alberto Chines.There are not many musicians who would risk improvising the ornamentation in Rameau during a concert broadcast live.And programming two suites by Rameau with two important early works of Beethoven.The beautifully mellifluous Pastoral Sonata op 28 seemed the ideal coupling for the 2nd suite and the 5th was rudely awakened by Beethoven’s call to arms of his Eroica variations op 35.
La Villageoise sprang to life from the very first notes with a clarity and eloquence of another era.The famous ‘birds’ from Sokolov’s hands was here allowed to sing so delicately as the magic world of Couperin was unravelled by a true musician rather than technician.With ornaments that were as crisp as they were clearly part of the musical conversation.A gently insistent Musette was followed by the rhythmic energy and sheer joy of the Tambourin.It is hard to think that this young musician was prepared to spend the entire day on the train from his home in Milan to have the joy of sharing music at last with others in this bleak period.I remember standing backstage in Rome as Alicia de Larrocha played the Pastoral Sonata op 28 and being reminded today by Alberto of the sheer beauty of this work.An oasis for Beethoven with a walk in the Viennese woods between the fantasy op his sonatas op 27 and the tempestuous brilliance of op 31.
Strangely the piano in Viterbo that I have enjoyed playing many times with Lya de Barberiis today via streaming seemed at times strangely muted and without that resonance that I well remember from our live performances.The ‘Pastoral’Sonata whilst superbly played by Alberto seemed to lack that resonance that can elimimate the bar lines and allow the music to breath in long phrases.Alberto played exactly as Beethoven intended with one in a bar but the sound would not dissolve into the air as I imagined it was doing in this University Hall that has an unusually resonant acoustic.
As Prof Ricci said in his filmed presentation of the concerts,the microphone and streaming can never be as good as a live performance. In these difficult times,though,we have to adapt and accept some not totally convincing aspects.Necessità virtù.Alberto’s scrupulous attention to Beethoven’s indications and sense of architectural shape were very positive sides of the equation,as was the superb forward movement of question and answer in the development section.The Andante we are told was one of Beethoven’s favourite pieces and Alberto kept the Andante moving ( Andras Schiff pointed out recently that ‘andare’means moving as he demonstrated at the Wigmore Hall his choice of tempo for the second movement of Bach’s Italian Concerto).As Alberto pointed out to me when I told him that he played the movement faster than many other pianists.’Just listen to the non legato Alberti bass and the tempo finds itself’- what it is to be a simple true thinking musician!Everything seemed to make such sense with the capricious scherzando episode riding on the same constant beat.Even the ornamented variations of the theme seemed to flow so naturally to it’s final disintegration before the ever busy Scherzo and even busier Trio.The beautiful pastoral simplicity of the last movement was again lacking the resonance of the open countryside even though played by Alberto with such precision and loving care.The passionate central outburst was the only outward sign of the temperament of Beethoven that in this sonata he had managed to keep under control as he admired the beautiful Viennese landscape that he was to capture only more magically with his sixth symphony.Great dexterity and energy in the coda which bubbled over with the simplicity of water over the stones of a brook .
It was the same pastoral feel that Alberto brought to the 5th suite by Rameau as one began to appreciate even more the choice of programme by this thinking musician.Crystal clear ornaments played with an elegance and fluidity and an ever more increasing excitement as the elaborations progressed.The return to the simplicity of the Gavotte was even more elaborately embellished than at the opening.An ornamentation that even astonished Alberto,such was his voyage of discovery and informed improvisation.
Of course it was Beethoven of a few years after the pastoral tranquility of his op 28 Sonata that brought us to order.A mighty call to arms with the fortissimo E flat chord that opens the 15 Variations and Fugue op 35.A fine performance that had a great architectural shape to it as well as moulding each variation with intelligence and care.The first four variations bubbled over with rhythmic energy before coming to rest with the beautiful legato of the fifth.Great turbulence in the left hand insistence of the sixth before the teasing scherzando of the 7th,9th and the cat and mouse of the tenth.The music box of the eleventh was answered by the rhythmic drive of the twelfth.The ‘cheeky’ thirteenth was played with ‘serious’ clarity,the acciaccaturas only adding to the fun.The beautifully melodic fourteenth in the minor was the preparation for the longest and most moving of the variations with a mellifluous Largo in the major.The fugue burst in out of the final long held pedalled note.It built to an orchestral climax that was to dissolve with all Beethoven’s unexpected humour to a joyful play on the opening theme.In turn it gradually built up to the ravishing final flourishes of this,Beethoven’s first important set of variations.A form that was to be elaborated on all his life until that final great work with 33 variations on an innocent little melody by his publisher Diabelli op 120.
Una formazione solida e il confluire di tante esperienze didattiche e professionali assai diversificate hanno contribuito a fare di Alberto Chines un artista vivace e poliedrico.Il giovane pianista palermitano si è formato presso l’Accademia di Imola con Franco Scala e Piero Rattalino e al Conservatorio di Bolzano con Davide Cabassi.A quindici anni ha esordito al Teatro Massimo di Palermo e nel 2011 ha vinto il primo premio al Concorso Pianistico Internazionale “Palma d’Oro” di Finale Ligure. Nel 2013 è stato vincitore del Sony Classical Talent Scout di Madesimo e, nel 2014, del secondo premio all’EuregioPiano Award (Geilenkirchen, Germania).L Si è esibito nella Sala Mozart dell’Accademia Filarmonica di Bologna, al Teatro Olimpico di Vicenza, al Politeama Garibaldi di Palermo, alla Van Cliburn Recital Hall di Fort Worth (Texas) e in Spagna, Portogallo, Inghilterra, Francia e Germania.Ha recentemente debuttato a Londra per il Keyboard Charitable Trust e al Tiroler FestspieleErl (Austria), ed è da poco stato pubblicato il suo primo CD con musiche di Bach, Schumann, Ravel e Bartók (BAM International)Alberto Chines è molto attivo anche nell’ambito cameristico: collabora con la violista Anna Serova, col chitarrista Eugenio Della Chiara, col Quartetto Nôus e con il pianista Emanuele Delucchi, e ha negli anni seguito diversi progetti in trio (Trio Casa Bernardini), quartetto e quintetto.Ha inoltre ideato la rassegna concertistica internazionale Musica Manent Festival (Ustica) e collabora con la Primavera di Baggio di Milano.Alberto Chines è Steinway Artist dal 2020.