Simone Tavoni in Florence in the second of a series of concerts in the Harold Acton Library. After Jonathan Ferrucci’s superb Goldberg Variations that inaugurated this series .Simone offered a varied programme of Beethoven,Martucci,Schumann and Bartok. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2021/10/27/jonathan-ferrucci-the-return-of-a-warrior-the-goldberg-variations-in-florence/
With the resident tuner Michele Padovano working miracles on an old but still serviceable Bechstein,Simone was able to cast a spell on the audience that despite strict Covid restrictions felt the need to share the experience of music together.
The ovation that they gave Simone at the end of Bartok’s tempestuous Sonata was evidence enough that they had been more that repaid that risk.
A surprise encore of a charming piece by Clementi – Monferrina op.39 n.12 – that Simone had found hidden in the archives was just the calm after the storm that was needed to send his audience home replenished and satisfied.
Even if without the usual glass of wine that in happier times would have followed the concert .
It did not stop many of the audience wanting to thank their fellow Toscano for the message of hope and beauty that he had shared with them tonight.
Beethoven’s Tempest Sonata opened with barely whispered sounds making it’s rhythmic explosion even more powerful.Courageously following Beethoven’s long pedal markings he managed on a difficult piano to create the atmosphere that Beethoven asks for.
The slow movement was made to glow as the embellishments were so carefully embroidered around the melodic line.
The rondo finale just jumped from his fingers with an infectious agility that was full of buoyancy and ‘joie de vivre’.
Three little pieces by Martucci were played with the charm and grace for which they were written on Martucci’s own youthful concert tours in Europe at the turn of the century.
Schumann’s eight miniature tone poems that make up his Fantasiestucke op 12 showed off Simone’s sensitivity and technical prowess.From the sublime stillness of Des Abends he plunged straight in to the whirlwind of Aufschwung.
Warum was played with a disarming simplicity and a sense of balance that allowed the melodic strands to comune with each other in a very touching way.
Has Grillen ever sounded more pompous as in Simone’s hands tonight or In der Nacht so demonic?Receiving spontaneous silenced by Simone’s superb story telling of Schumann’s Fabel
Traumes Wirren was played with a jeux perlé of fleeting lightness before the grandiose End of the Story.Simone allowing this magic world of Schumann to disintegrate before our very eyes with extreme delicacy of ever more whispered sounds.
Venice and Padua now await.
Cristian Sandrin next month on the 24th February with Beethoven’s mighty trilogy should seal the success of this new musical adventure for the British Institute with or without the glorious sound of the popping of corks! https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2021/12/14/cristian-sandrin-in-hampstead-simple-great-beethoven/
Nikita Lukinov,Thomas Kelly – following his recent triumph in Leeds,Milda Daunoraite and Salvatore Sanchez will complete this seasons collaboration with the Keyboard Trust.
Simon Gammel OBE, the enthusiastic and enlightened director of the British Institute is delighted that the magnificent library bequeathed by Harold Acton can now be filled with the sound of music.
What a treat it is to relive the concert in the surrounds of the most beautiful square in Florence that of S.Spirito.
The Piano Sonata No. 17 in D minor, Op. 31, No. 2, was composed in 1801–02by Beethoven.It is usually referred to as The Tempest (or Der Sturm in his native German), but the sonata was not given this title by Beethoven, or indeed referred to as such during his lifetime. The name comes from a reference to a personal conversation with Beethoven by his associate Anton Schindler in which he reports that Beethoven suggested, in passing response to his question about interpreting it and Op. 57, the Appassionata Sonata that he should read Shakespeare’s Tempest.Some however have suggested that Beethoven may have been referring to the works of C.C.Sturm , the preacher and author best known for his Reflections on the Works of God in Nature, a copy of which he owned and, indeed, had heavily annotated.The British music scholar Donald Francis Tovey says in A Companion to Beethoven’s Pianoforte Sonatas:”With all the tragic power of its first movement the D minor Sonata is, like Prospero,almost as far beyond tragedy as it is beyond mere foul weather.
It will do you no harm to think of Miranda at bars 31–38 of the slow movement… but people who want to identify Ariel and Caliban and the castaways, good and villainous, may as well confine their attention to the exploits of Scarlet Pimpernel when the Eroica or the C minor Symphony is being played.”The sonata is in three movements Largo/Allegro- Adagio-Allegretto
Giuseppe Martucci 1856 – 1909, Sometimes called “the Italian Brahms Martucci was notable among Italian composers of the era in that he wrote no operas. As a composer and teacher he was influential in reviving Italian interest in non-operatic music. As a conductor he helped to introduce Wagner’s operas to Italy and also gave important early concerts of English music there.Martucci’s career as an international pianist commenced with a tour through Germany, France and England in 1875, at the age of 19.He was appointed piano professor at the Naples Conservatory in 1880,and moved to Bologna in 1886, .In 1902 he returned for the last time to Naples, as director of the Royal Conservatory of Music.Martucci began as a composer at the age of 16, with short piano works.He was championed by Toscanini during much of the latter’s career.His NBC Orchestra performed a number of Martucci’s orchestral works in from 1938 to 53.NBC musical director Samuel Chotzinoff, in his 1956 book “Toscanini—An Intimate Portrait”, said that every time the Maestro proposed scheduling Martucci’s works, certain orchestra members and NBC authorities objected, but the conductor was not to be deterred.The works that Simone is playjng today are from 1873/74 for his own concert tours as a travelling virtuoso.
The Piano Sonata, BB 88, Sz. 80, by Bartok was composed in June 1926. A year that is known to musicologists as Bartók’s “piano year”, when he underwent a creative shift in part from Beethovenian intensity to a more Bachian craftsmanship.
The work is in three movements: Allegro moderato- Sostenuto e pesante – Allegro molto
It is tonal but highly dissonant (and has no key signature), using the piano in a percussive fashion with erratic time signatures Underneath clusters of repeated notes, the melody is folklike. Each movement has a classical structure overall, in character with Bartók’s frequent use of classical forms as vehicles for his most advanced thinking.Bartok wrote this piece with an Imperial Bosendorfer in mind, which has extra keys in the bass (97 keys in total). The second movement calls for these keys to be used (to play G sharp and F ).
Bartok was also a masterly pianist and as there was an absence of Mozart in the programme today of all days I add Bartok’s historic performance with his wife of the Sonata for two pianos K.448 to celebrate the genius of Mozart on his 255th birthday
Fantasiestücke, op 12, is a set of eight pieces written in 1837. The title was inspired by the 1814–15 collection of novellas, essays, treatises, letters, and writings about music, Fantasiestücke in Callots Manier (which also included the complete Kreisleriana, another source of inspiration for Schumann) by one of his favourite authors, E.T.A Hoffmann.
Schumann dedicated the pieces to Fräulein Anna Robina Laidlaw, an accomplished and attractive 18-year-old Scottish pianist with whom Schumann had become good friends.
Des Abends” (“In the Evening”) in D flat major/ Sehr innig zu spielen (Play very intimately)
Aufschwung” (“Soaring”, literally “Upswing”) in F minor/ Sehr rasch (Very rapidly)
Warum?” (“Why?”) in D♭ major / Langsam und zart (Slowly and tenderly)
Grillen” (“Whims”) in D♭ major / Mit Humor (With humor)
In der Nacht” (“In the Night”) in F minor / Mit Leidenschaft (With passion)
Fabel” (“Fable”) in C major / Langsam (Slowly)
Traumes Wirren” (“Dream’s Confusions”) in F major / Äußerst lebhaft (Extremely lively)
Ende vom Lied” (“End of the Song”) in F major / Mit gutem Humor (With good humor)Schumann described this piece as a combination of wedding bells and funeral bells. In a letter to his fiancée Clara Wieck, who would become his wife,three years later, he wrote about this last piece: “At the time, I thought: well in the end it all resolves itself into a jolly wedding. But at the close, my painful anxiety about you returned.”
More to follow from Venice and Padua in collaboration with AGIMUS Padua of Elia Modenese …………….Part 2 Venice and Padua
In the beautiful hall in Venice an unexpected full house for a very enthusiastic audience.A fine Kwai piano allowed Simone to give the best of himself even the very subtle pedal effects in Beethoven were totally convincing.The charming salon pieces by Martucci were projected with great beauty,the Melodia op 21 sounding even more like Mendelssohn with its waves of arabesques weaving it’s way around a ‘heart on sleeve ‘melodic line.A surprise encore of an improvisation in the style of Mozart was Simone’s way of celebrating the 255th birthday of the genius from Saltzburg.
Another full house for Elia Modenese and his wife Elisabetta Gesuato who for 29 years have been organising concerts for young artists via Agimus Padua.In Palazzo Barbarigo in Padua,a very resonant hall that in the Bartok sonata could be rather overpowering.In the Schumann and Martucci however it helped the melodic line to sing out with a glowing sound that judging from the ovation he received certainly was much appreciated by another unexpectedly full hall.Even the little encore of Clementi shone with grace and charm as the sounds wafted around this very lofty historic hall.
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