There was magic in the air at the Solti Studio today with a young Italian pianist Giordano Buondonno surely a name to remember after today’s masterly performances.
A student of Deniz Arman Gelenbe that was immediately apparent from the refined musicality of his performance of the Brahms Ballades op 10.
A work that in Michelangeli’s hands could touch the sublime as it did today with moments of searing intensity and sublime beauty as this young man allowed himself to be seduced by Michelangeli’s own piano that sits so proudly still in Sir George Solti’s studio in Elsworthy Road St Johns Wood.
A pianist who listens to himself is a rarity indeed but when one enters their magic world it reveals a land of magic colours and passionate emotions.
The intensity which this young man brought to the final pages of the last Ballade were of unbearable emotions with the clashing harmonies that reminded me of the scorching intensity of the supreme believer Messiaen.There was delicacy in the first Ballade and an outpouring of song in the second with great clarity in the contrasting middle episode.A startling rhythmic urgency in the third but with an architectural sense of line – the glowing prayer of the middle episode was pure magic with the delicately embroidered comments played with such refined delicacy.
Kantarow recently touched the same heights in an empty Philharmonie de Paris during the pandemic.Heights that I remember from the atmosphere that Michelangeli could create in the vast space of the Festival Hall.Fou Ts’ong would often say that it is easier to be intimate in a large space rather than a small one!
There too on a Fabbrini piano with Fabbrini who would travel with him to make sure that the piano would respond to the Maestros demanding needs.
Michelangeli was Godfather to Fabbrini’s children and it was to Fabbrini that I turned to choose a piano for my concert season in Rome.
Today’s young pianist chose also Ravel’s Gaspard de La Nuit,another of Michelangeli’s cavalli di battaglia.Could it be that the Maestro’s
soul was hidden deep in the piano just waiting for an artist of Giordano’s calibre to ignite and excite once again this black box of hammers and strings.
Another remarkable performance;from the glowing fluidity of Ondine where the water was allowed to flow so naturally from his magic hands as it built to an overwhelming climax and where even the final pedal indication with Ravel’s precise indications were scrupulously interpreted – yes not just played as written but played as intended by the composer!
The desolate insistence of Le Gibet with austere chiselled sounds etched with such desolation and with the relentless insistence of the distant tolling bell – a true tour de force of transcendental control with his pointed fingers as the plaintive isolated melody cried out loud in anguish .It was followed by a performance of one of the most technically challenging works for the piano:that of the devilish goblin Scarbo.Such a kaleidoscope of colours and emotions that one was not aware of the technical mastery of this young man.
Sandwiched between these two glorious works was Scriabin’s Fantasy Sonata which was a continuous outpouring of streams of gold and silver.The final great passionate outpouring which Scriabin was eventually to call the star was played with an aristocratic passion of searing intensity.A star shining brightly indeed!Ravishing golden sounds in this sumptuous early world of Scriabin were allowed to pour from his fingers with subtle beauty.It was this piercing beauty of sound with refined shading that was so seductive and overwhelmingly convincing.The transcendental sweep he gave to the second movement with swirls of notes of romantic sounds and an outpouring of passion in the climax dying away to a whispered ending of ravishing beauty.
The Etude tableaux op 39 n 3 was played as the picture book that Rachmaninov intended with ravishing colours and transcendental playing of sumptuous sounds.
They had told me in Rome that Giordano was a culturist which made me a bit worried looking at the programme and knowing that this concert grand was in a small music room .
What they did not tell me was that here was a sensitive artist of aristocratic good taste and intelligence who actually listens to himself sharing his passion and love which could reach the sublime heights that this piano has rarely known.