Shunta Morimoto in Viterbo Refined sensibility and artistry of a true virtuoso

Shunta Morimoto in Viterbo

The artistry and beguiling sense of style in the Chopin Waltz op 34 played as an encore summed up a recital in which intelligence sensibility and artistry had gone hand in hand.Hands that etched out golden sounds with a sense of balance that allowed the great architectural shape of each piece to be so clearly defined.
Beethoven’s Sonata op 27 n.1 was given a performance of great drive and forward propulsion.The first movement was played with the same gentle cantabile as the Pastoral Sonata op 28 which was shortly to follow from Beethoven’s pen after the so called Moonlight Sonata op 27 n.2 .There was great beauty from the very first notes as the left hand melody was answered by the gentle throbbing of the right hand chords.The beautiful melody of the middle section was played with great weight that added sumptuous richness to the rich harmonic accompaniment before the return of the opening theme.Like a distant memory,the gentle beautifully timed conclusion with a final chord placed so carefully as was the solo bass note with which it concluded.The busy urgent meanderings of the Allegro molto were rudely interrupted by furious outbursts of rhythmic strength followed by a middle section of syncopated chords of great clarity and precision.It was though the Adagio that was particularly beautifully played with such simplicity and maturity with it’s sumptuous accompaniment that just added to it’s searing beauty in this young man’s sensitive hands .The Allego vivace bubbled over with bucolic energy with some transcendental playing of remarkable rhythmic drive.Some truly scintillating playing of transcendental control and dexterity but played with such buoyancy and ‘joie de vivre’ as it was driven to it’s frenzied impatient conclusion.This was the real Beethoven character slamming the door unrelentingly in our face.

The highlight of the concert,though, was the discovery of Faure’s 6th nocturne played with the same maturity that I remember from the 80 year old Perlemuter.

Perlemuter lived as a student in Faure’s house being a child prodigy student of Alfred Cortot at the Paris Conservatoire and he loved telling me that Faure’,who was director of the conservatory ,would ask him to try out his music while the ink was still wet on the page.Perlemuter could not abide the rather romantic way that many play these nocturnes.They have more to do with Chopin’s Ballades that his Nocturnes as there is a strength and rhythmic drive to these miniature tone poems that excludes any sentimentality.Shunta understood immediately and entered this world of sentiment without sentimentality.There was a luminosity to his sound that allowed the melodic line to shine with such ravishing beauty as it built up to a climax of astonishing passion.There were whispered sounds like the flight of birds in the middle episode,on which floated one of Fauré’s most hauntingly mellifluous melodies.Streams of notes of seemless gold played with extraordinary jeux perlé of such whispered purity and control.Great passion too as the opening melody is triumphantly given deep down to bass octaves before dissolving into the final murmured chords with Shunta barely caressing the keys.In Shunta’s hands there was a whole world ,a tone poem that covered a complete emotional experience thanks to the kaleidoscopic range of sounds that this young man was able to seduce us with.I think that Perlemuter would have been the first to offer’chapeau’ for the refined emotional performance that we were treated to today.

It was the late Aquiles delle Vigne who who arrived at the Ghione theatre on one of his numerous annual visits with the Urtext of the Fantasia Baetica. A fascinating work rarely heard in public these days because it needs an interpreter of the calbre of Alicia de Larrocha or Artur Rubinstein (to whom it is dedicated) to bring it to life.It was this seventeen year old Japanese boy who today showed us how to bring this work vividly to life with astonishing technical prowess.Above all,though, with a fiery latin temperament that ranged from sultry despondency through cries of yearning to the savage excitement of the native Spanish soul.

Chiselled sounds and astonishing washes of colour where the flexibility of his arms -like rubber-was something to marvel at as he dug deep into the very soul of the piano to carve out such frenzied sounds.Cries of yearning hammered out almost like Messiaen’s devotional exclamations of faith but here answered by the gentle strumming of the guitar.There was real savagery in his hypnotic dance rhythms and a finale that both startled and astonished.A remarkable performance full of youthful passion and total commitment.De Larrocha’s performance may be the most perfect I have heard but Shunta’s today will be the one that remains in my memory for its astonishing immediacy and youthful audacity.

There was serenity and passion in his performance of the Prelude,Chorale and Fugue by César Franck.An astonishing range of colours.From the magic opening melody floating on etherial vibrations of sound to the passionate declarations of emotion as the music weaves its way towards the ravishing beauty of the chorale.The arpeggiandi chords were spread over the entire keyboard with a luminosity of golden sounds and his aristocratic control of the great climax was of such searing intensity as he dug deep into the bass as he spread the sounds over the entire keyboard with such musicianly audacity.Gradually dying away to absolute silence as the fugue subject appeared building in driving intensity and grandeur before the magical reappearance of the opening theme and the triumphant march to the heroic ending.

Shunta busy studying his scores before the performance
The University hall with covid distancing sheets in view on the seats

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