A quite astonishing recital from Andrea Molteni with a performance of Beethoven’s mighty Hammerklavier Sonata that was monumental in its relentless forward movement and total authority.
His intellectual and architectural understanding of this great masterpiece was of someone of a maturity way above his actual 23 years.There was a clarity and unwavering vision that from the very first opening fanfare demanded our attention.The treacherous leaps played as Beethoven asks with one hand as this is a work only for fearless musicians that are ready to risk all with Beethoven.There were moments of sublime beauty in the Adagio sostenuto that Beethoven implores to be played with passion and great feeling.And as if that was not enough Beethoven demands the near impossible in the mighty final fugue which ends this the longest of all his thirty two sonatas.
I will never forget the monumental performance of Rudolf Serkin in London many years ago where the tension and endless struggle of playing op 106 left him in a state of complete abandon on the final great chord as at the end of a momentous journey he was emotionally in pieces as we in the audience were too.
Serkin was well into his sixties then and Andrea is only in his early twenties.As Andrea matures he will sweat more blood and tears over the superhuman feats that he now performs with astonishing mastery.
Menuhin as a child prodigy could play all the greatest concertos when he was in his early teens .It was a natural mastery and musicianship that he never questioned in his innocent successful youthful career.It was when he was well established on the world stage that he began to question all that had been so natural in his youth and began to delve deep into the inner meaning of all he was doing.
Andrea’s is one of the most remarkable performances I have heard for its clarity,musicianship and architectural understanding it will now grow in stature as life’s struggle begins to take over.
It will undoubtedly open an even deeper understanding of Beethoven’s own great struggle with life which culminated in this Hammerklavier Sonata.
After this sonata was to come the final great trilogy where Beethoven was at last to come to peace with life and himself and hear in his private ear the paradise that awaits us all.
The incredible genius of Beethoven was that when totally deaf he could find a way of notating the sounds for posterity that only he could hear in his head.
The three Scarlatti Sonatas that Andrea played (two in the programme and one as an encore) were scintillating jewels that just poured from his fingers with such ease and delicacy.The infectious rhythmic drive and banging of the drum in K 131 was played with such drive and precision contrasting with the graceful beauty and delicate colouring of of K.266 where the ornaments glistened like jewels in his remarkable hands.
These are all from his new CD of some of the lesser known Scarlatti sonatas chosen with such intelligence and care from the 550 or more that Scarlatti had left us.
There was aristocratic playing too of great passion and excitement in the F minor fantasy of Chopin that prefaced the Hammerklavier.The Lento sostenuto was played with such simple beauty and the great technical challenges of the outer episodes were incorporated into the musical shape with great style and beauty.
Two encores from a very insistent audience brought not only another scintillating Scarlatti Sonata but a performance of Chopin’s Study op 10 n.4 that was quite hair raising in its audacity and passionate technical authority.
Prof.Franco Ricci artistic director and creator of the concert series in Viterbo now in its twenty fifth year.It is in his beautiful hall in the Tuscia University of Viterbo where the Keyboard Charitable Trust has found a home for so many of the remarkable young musicians that it encourages at the beginning of their career with tours in Italy,Germany,USA and many other parts of the world. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2021/01/15/alberto-chines-a-musician-in-viterbo-for-the-keyboard-trust/
With COVID restrictions there have been some inevitable cancellations and Franco Ricci a great friend of forty years often asks me on these occasions if I can suggest a substitute.Something I am very happy to do as artistic director not only of the Keyboard Trust but also of the Euromusica Concert Season at the Ghione in Rome which has enhanced the cultural life of the Eternal City since the opening of the theatre with my wife,Ileana Ghione ,in 1982.
Some of the greatest musicians have found a home in Rome where before the opening of the Parco della Musica there was only one concert hall to satisfy the needs of so many artists who had been excluded from Rome for lack of space.The International Piano Academy in Lake Como was created by another friend in Rome ,William Naboré in 1993 .
Bill ,who I had heard give a memorable performance of the Diabelli Variations at the Gonfalone in 1972,would often ask me if I could persuade some of the great artists playing for us in Rome to give up a week of their time to live and work with some of the greatest young talents who had flocked to his new mecca of piano playing.
Bill lives and teaches also in Rome so when Franco Ricci sends out an alarm signal I discuss with Bill to decide who best might be ready to stand in usually at short notice.This season it has happened three times and Shunta Morimoto and Andrea Molteni both studying with Bill were recommended by him.
Their extraordinary success has been noted not only in Viterbo but also worldwide due to the excellent streaming that the University still provide even though public is now permitted to attend.
The third pianist to take the helm was Giulio Biddau recommended by Martha Noguera also a friend of many years and a remarkable pianist who although living now in Buenos Aires has also played in Viterbo and has close links with them via her agent and friend Ornella Cogliolo. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2022/03/30/giulio-biddau-in-viterbo-with-crystalline-clarity-and-style/