Jonathan Ferrucci for theThe Keyboard Charitable Trust in their annual collaboration with Maria Antonietta Sgueglia at the Teatro Comunale in Vicenza.
Nice to be back after last year’s absence as we learn to live with Covid and to find the same warmth and appreciation from a public that is gradually venturing out to hear music live in this splendid theatre complex in the beautiful city of Palladio.
A mixed programme after a year dedicated to a profound study with performances of the Goldberg Variations.https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2021/10/27/jonathan-ferrucci-the-return-of-a-warrior-the-goldberg-variations-in-florence/
Like his mentor Angela Hewitt the day before in Rome he too chose the Goldberg aria to finish and it decreed the same triumph that she had experienced in Rome.https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2021/06/30/goldberg-in-the-land-of-perugino-jonathan-ferrucci-in-citta-della-pieve/
Bach was ,of course,on the menu.With his superb musicianship and refined sense of colour it brought vividly to life the demonic meanderings of the chromatic fantasy dissolving to a mere whisper as the fugue gently showed its head.
How startlingly similar it is to Beethoven’s inversion in op 110 that it took the uncontaminated purity of Jonathan’s musicianship to point that way for me.
Much as Murray Perahia had me newly searching in the scores after his recitals too.
The fifth French suite floated in on a wave of pastoral innocence played with a disarming simplicity and ravishing sounds.
A truly masterly touch though was the little prelude in E flat minor by Scriabin inserted as a bridge between the triumphant close of Bach and the demonic appearance of the fifth sonata.
Barely a minute of subdued sounds was enough to take us from the triumph of God in Bach to the devilish anxiety of reaching Scriabin’s star.
An astonishing performance that swept in and out like a hurricane. But such sudden changes of light as Scriabin’s kaleidoscopic prism turned full circle.Schumann’s dual personality of Floristan and Eusebius seemed like Laurel and Hardy compared to this .
Sumptuous naked emotions exposed with ravishingly subtle liquid sounds contrasting with demonic virtuosity of breathtaking audacity.
And so it was to Schumann’s great masterpiece that Jonathan dedicated the second half of his eclectic programme.
The C major Fantasy was Schumann’s gift to Liszt’s project of erecting a statue to his master Beethoven in Bonn.
It is an outpouring of love for his secretly betrothed future wife and mother of his family destined to be of almost Bachian proportions.
It was just this outpouring of sumptuous sounds that Jonathan shared with us from the opening bass G just igniting the radiance of sound (similar to the opening C sharp bass note of Chopin’s Barcarolle – thanks again Jonathan).
It was a radiance of sound that made this fine Steinway absolutely glow with a much needed warmth on this misty Venetian night- nebbia is a word tinged with fear in these parts!
It was like a halo that shone brightly over the piano as Jonathan extracted all the subtle intimate secrets that Schumann shared with his Clara.But also the passionate outpourings of longing so beautifully described in the poem that Schumann prefaces this work with.
Agosti even wrote the word Cla……ra over the first melodic notes of the last movement.Ravishingly delicate sounds where the melodic line glowed like gold on a stream of endless silver.Great power too in the gradual build up to the passionate vehement declarations but innocence as it dissolved to a whisper as Jonathan placed the final three chords with such loving care.
One could mention the march like second movement with its treacherous final leaps where I would have thrown caution to the wind more than Jonathan dared last night.
But even here the movement was encorporated in an overall cocoon of sound with an outpouring of romantic effusions that together with the Liszt Sonata are the pinnacles of the Romantic repertoire.
It is obviously more than a coincidence that Liszt and Schumann dedicated their supreme masterpieces to each other.
And it took Jonathan to illuminate this work and stimulate new ideas and discoveries in works that I have lived with for a lifetime.
Jonathan afterwards confided that he had not felt comfortable with his performances – but what great artist ever is!A timeless lifetime search for meaning in the scores – the composers secret thoughts that lie hidden just waiting to be discovered and that he shares with his public in performance.Schnabel said the truth is not in the note but behind and beside it.Liszt too said that the score is only half of the story that must be completed by the artist.Je joue,je sens ,je transmets.Blemishes and personal feelings are not relevant in a search of such searing dedication.As Gilels famously stated ‘live and recorded performance is like the difference between fresh and canned food!
‘Perfecting his studies in London with Ciccolini,Levin and Hewitt,the Florentine pianist demonstrated his gifts of enormous sensibility.Incontro sulla Tastiera began their season inspired by the piano ,the Prince of it’s programmes from it’s very beginnings.The first event of the 2022 calendar is an appointment that is repeated with the same success every year : the concert with the Keyboard Trust of London that was created with the shrewd refined intuition of two sponsors ,Noretta Conci, pianist from Trento and assistant to Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli ,and her husband ,John Leech with his great passion for music but whose career was in the Commonwealth Development Corporation.There are many young pianists that owe them thanks that through their support and help have been able to start an International career.Like the 29 year old Jonathan Ferrucci,born in Florence where he graduated from the Conservatory under Maestro Carmassi,before perfecting his studies in London with Aldo Ciccolini ,Robert Levin and Angela Hewitt.In his recital ,at the Teatro Comunale in Vicenza ,he showed himself to be a refined and enormously sensitive musician.Equally possessing a technical skill of great virtuosity which was never placed in evidence .The evening opened with two familiar works of Bach .A composer that Ferrucci loves so much that he even chose to close the evening with an encore of the Aria from the Goldberg Variations after having performed the enormous Schumann Fantasy.Coming back to the opening Bach ,that of the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in D minor BWV 903.Conceived as a great recitativo in the same period that he wrote the first book of the Well Tempered Clavier that the genius of Eisenach used to demonstrate the tonal possibilities of equal temperament.But it is not only an instrumental work but a dramatic grandiose recitativo full of expression and feeling and not withstanding his full understanding Ferrucci’s interpretation could have been more clearly defined especially in the Fugue.On the other hand the interpretation of the 5th French Suite was much more expressive.Of great style was the Prelude in E flat minor by Scriabin op11 n 4 shadowy,dark,liquid and sulphurous depicting pictures and sounds with an exceptional musicality also in the fifth Sonata op 53 by the same Russian composer and also in the Fantasy in C major op 17 by Schumann that is dedicated to Franz Liszt . Seemingly simple this work of the early Romantic period .But in truth it is one of the most complex works that Schumann wrote for the piano.Rich in musical values ,passionately impetuous and is not all that often heard in concerts.Jonathan Ferrucci on the other hand played with simplicity ,a variety of dynamic range and a commanding expressive maturity and brilliance.An attentive audience gave him an ovation at the end