Shunta Morimoto takes Rome by storm

Talents of the future at Santa Cecilia
Shunta Morimoto
in collaborazione con International Piano
Academy Lake Como

Sala Accademica
23 novembre 2021 ore 20:30

Johann Sebastian Bach: Partita Nr.4 in Re maggiore BWV 828 Overture,
Aria, Sarabande, Menuet, Gigue

César Franck:
Prelude, Chorale et Fugue in Si minore M.21.

Manuel De Falla: Fantasia Bætica

Maurice Ravel : da “Miroirs” Oiseaux tristes,
Alborada del gracioso

Chopin, Fryderik: Sonate no.2 “Marche funèbre” in si bemolle minore Op.35
Grave, Doppio movimento
Lento, Marche Funèbre

Wonderful to be back in this hall where as a student at S Cecilia I heard all the greatest musicians of our time.I even remember sitting on stage behind Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Murray Perahia substituting an indisposed Serkin to play the three Brahms Sonatas with Pina Carmirelli.I remember too our old piano tuner Mordacchini telling me of a certain M°Brendel who he was most impressed with. Mordacchini was a marvellous tuner from the old school who did not bother with the top or bottom registers of the piano that in his opinion were rarely used!This historic hall was immortalised by Visconti in the film ‘Death in Venice.’

Sala Accademica of S.Cecilia in Rome

Today it is the setting for the debut of one of the most , talents of his generation.Already amazing everyone at the age of twelve with performances of Liszt Venezia e Napoli that astonished the musical world . Now at sixteen he is an artist ready to be placed amongst the most revered.

Shunta at the after concert celebrations engrossed in Beethoven

A eclectic programme that showed off every facet of his artistry. From the precision of Bach,through the passionate out pourings of César Franck.The throbbing heartbeat of the Spain of De Falla,the refined transcendental pianism of Ravel to the aristocratic marvels of Chopin.A programme chosen together with his esteemed mentor William Grant Naboré for his European debut in the historic Sala Accademica of S.Cecilia where Shunta is enrolled in the class of Giovanni Velluti.

William Naboré ( left),Giovanni Velluti (centre).Shunta,Roberto Giuliani (right)

A special event organised by Roberto Giuliani,director of S.Cecilia Conservatory and William Naboré founder and director of the International Piano Academy Lake Como.

Shunta with Giovanni Velluti

Giovanni Velluti I have known since as a student he often used to play in the Ghione theatre and went on to accompany great singers such as Katia Ricciarelli.William(Bill) Naboré I first heard play in Rome in 1972 when he gave a remarkable performance of the Diabelli variations in the Gonfalone Chapel of the indomitable Gaston Tosati.When I had already launched my concert season in Rome in 1982 with Guido Agosti and Vlado Perlemuter both in their 80’s it caused quite a stir with many great artists strangely neglected in Italy .I also gave a much needed platform to many of the most gifted of the younger generation.Bill was starting up his Academy in Como as fellow student of Carlo Zecchi ,Franco Scala,would do too, later in Imola.They have become the two most important Academies in Europe and a living testimony of the need of a place of excellence where the finest young pianists could find specialist training and help in building a career.Bill would often call me up to ask if I could persuade Alicia de Larrocha,Moura Lympany,Rosalyn Tureck ,Fou Ts’ong and many others to come to Como for brief periods to live and work with some of the finest young pianists.They flocked to his Academy that was dedicated to the serious study of the piano with some of the most revered artists of our day.Martha Argerich is the President.

Bill Naboré,Shunta,Giovanni Velluti

Bill has been helping this young boy together with his early teacher Shohei Sekimoto for some time in Japan.Now at 16 Shunta has come to Rome to work more intensively with Bill and also is enrolled in the class of Giovanni at the historic S.Cecilia Conservatory.

The Bach Partita n.4 was a perfect visiting card to show the serious musicianship and intent of this young man.Nobility together with rhythmic authority were the hallmarks of an interpretation of a maturity way above his 16 years!Ornamentation that was never exaggerated but just added to the architectural structure and emotional content of Bach’s ‘knotty twine’- to quote Delius!Together with the second Partita it is one of the noblest of openings where in just a few bars one knows who one is talking to!It was contrasted with wonderful bass voicing leading to extreme lightness and fleeting agility too.Contrasts in dynamic colouring that seemed to point to the different keyboards of the period all played with the minimum of pedal that allowed for a remarkable clarity of texture.A beautiful mellifluous Allemande with such a subtle telling rubato of a vocal quality that allowed the music to live and breathe so naturally.The rhythmic very decided characterful spirit of the Courante contrasted with the delicacy of the Aria.There was a subtle luminosity to the opening question mark posed by the Sarabande full of such noble,aristocratic sentiment.A Menuet of limpid fluidity was followed by the tornado of the final Gigue.An amazing feat of transcendental playing but I just felt a little too fast for this imperious ending of such nobility.Separate bows not slurred would necessitate a speed limit as with the first of the Goldberg variations and is the only slight blemish for me in a truly exemplary performance.

There was a complete change of scene for the César Franck with its gentle wash of etherial fluidity.A heartfelt sense of yearning (with a Casals inspired effort) had a sense of improvisation and wondrous colouring.The transition to the Chorale and to the Fugue was so subtle where Shunta’s silences and delicate sounds took us unawares to our inevitable destinations.The chorale always anchored from the bass upwards which gave it a remarkable architectural shape leading to a climax of overwhelming authority.One could fully imagine Franck seated at the organ of the Basilica of St Clotilde in Paris with the stops fully open with an outpouring of true religious intensity.There was great clarity in the fugue contrasted with a scherzotic middle section where clarity was sacrificed to the burning intensity of the gradual build up.Pure magic returned though as the fleeting arpeggiandi created a cloud on which the theme appeared like a truly celestial vision.It gradually built up to its mighty conclusion with the bass stops again now fully opened.There was an overpowering passionate outpouring of exhilaration and brilliance that brought us to the tumultuous conclusion of an extraordinary performance.

De Falla’s scintillatingly atmospheric Fantasia Baetica was written for Artur Rubinstein and is full of the passion,fire and pure showmanship that was so much part of that much missed artist.Shunta is an ideal champion with his youthful passionate involvement and a fearless technical control that can comunicate such animal excitement.He also has the clarity and the sensual sense of colour that is so much part of this ‘earthy’ music.Sharp,crisp sounds and swirling notes like being caught up in the wild frenzy of flamenco.Better than Alicia de Larrocha I heard from an exhilarated member of the audience -and certainly on a par say I-for a work too rarely played in recital these days where Ginastera and Piazzola seem to have taken pride of place.

Have Ravel’s Oiseaux Tristes ever been in such a sumptuous atmospheric aura of stillness and isolation as in the hands of this young magician?There was a wild sense of improvisation in Alborada del gracioso and a driving sense of rhythmic frenzy contrasted with the most sensuous ‘X’ certificate outpourings.His sense of colour was every bit as astonishing as the double glissandi that he just rattled off with such transcendental ease.I am not surprised that his you tube performances have broken all records of listeners !

Shunta surrounded by admirers

Shunta is a born Chopin player as was shown tonight with an exemplary performance of the masterpiece that is the Second sonata in B flat minor.A very sonorous opening ,never hard or heavy opened the flood gate for the burning drive of passionate forward movement.It became overwhelming with its power and great insistence on the bass in the development and the contrasts between the demonic and the sublime.The second subject was played with an aristocratic nobility that truly reminded one of the majesty and nobility of Rubinstein rather than that of sickly sentimentality that is too often inflicted on it in the name of tradition!The scherzo began with a lighter texture with a gradual build up in sound and tension.The beautiful middle section was played with a continual forward movement that gave strength to the sublime beauty of one of Chopin’s greatest creations.The utmost simplicity of the Trio section of famous Funeral March showed a transcendental control of sound where his fingers barely brushed the keys but with his superb sense of balance sang out without any obvious projection but with a tenderness that was truly remarkable as it was moving.Of course the last movement was truly a masterly wind blowing over the graves but always with a subtle sense of architectural line and shape.One of the finest performances I have heard was matched and even superseded by a magical performance of the Waltz in A flat op 34 n.1 .The great Nikita Magaloff must be turning in his grave to hear such wondrous jeux perlé from this young master.A scintillating display of style and technical brilliance that was the highlight of an extraordinary evening!

Deep in thought with a newly found book on the works of Beethoven

That is until Shunta reappeared with nothing less than the mighty octaves of Liszt’s transcription of Schubert’s Erlkonig.An amazing array of power,delicacy resilience allied to a sense of artistry where Schubert’s terrifying vision was brought vividly to life.

An evening to remember and seeing telecameras in the hall surely a record breaker again for YouTube visitors.

What more do they want?

Shunta Morimoto (with apologies for his biography that I could only find in Italian)
Nato a Kyoto, in Giappone nel dicembre del 2004. Fin dalla più tenera età mostra un grandissimo talento per il pianoforte sorprendendo e sbalordendo il mondo della musica.
Vince all’età di 12 anni, nel 2017, il prestigioso Primo Premio e la borsa di studio “Fukuda Scholarship Award” riconoscimento messo in palio dalla Piano Teachers Association of Japan, uno dei più importanti premi per un giovane musicista.Questo gli permette di studiare con alcuni dei più importanti pianisti pedagoghi del mondo.
Partecipa al concorso Van Cliburn Junior a Dallas, in Texas a 14 anni nel maggio del 2019 con eccezionale successo di pubblico. Le sue esibizioni sono diventate virali su Internet e gli hanno procurato un vasto seguito di appassionati, critici, musicisti in tutto il mondo.
Da allora si è esibito in concerto con importanti musicisti e orchestra sinfoniche in Giappone e all’estero. A settembre 2020 ancora neanche,sedicenne, ha vinto il Secondo Premio nel concorso “Piano Teachers Association of Japan”, uno dei più importanti concorsi del Giappone .
In seguito a questa vittoria ha suonato il Terzo Concerto per pianoforte e orchestra di S.Rachmaninov in con al Tokyo Simphony Orchestra e a Graz, in Austria,il sestetto per pianoforte ed archi di F.Mendelssohn Bartholdy con i membri del famoso quartetto Hagen.
Nel 2021 ha eseguito il concerto per pianoforte e orchestra in la minore di R.Schumann con Tacticart orchestra e ,sempre a Tokyo, il quintetto per archi e pianoforte di C.Franck e la seconda sonata per violino e pianoforte di Brahms.
Attualmente studia con il Maestro William Grant Naboré come studente speciale della International Piano Academy Lake Como e studia accompagnamento pianistico nella classe del Maestro Giovanni Velluti presso il Conservatorio di S.Cecilia a Roma

Only 16 and a star shining brightly

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