Elia Cecino in Rome – on his great voyage of discovery

Refined musicianship and authority were the hallmark of a remarkable recital by Elia Cecino in the Tempietto courtyard in the centre of Rome.Three masterworks played with an architectural sense of line and total mastery that belied his 22 years.His annual recital has been a highlight of the Music Festival of the Nations since his first appearance here at the age of thirteen.Winner of many accolades the latest of which in New Orleans where he won first prize that leads to many appearances with major American orchestras .

Maddalena de Facci founder of Iris Musica di Marcon

On his way now to Bergen with his remarkable teacher Maddalena de Facci by his side to guide his talent as he reaches for the heights.We were treated to some little known pieces by Grieg in preparation for the International Competition held in Bergen where Grieg wrote much of his music.Hardly surprising that Elia should have offered Liszt’s Chasse Neige as a final encore to remind us of a completely different climate from the one we were enjoying today!

In the balmy air of the open air courtyard with this unique backdrop of the Eternal city Elia allowed all the passion and colours of Liszt’s remarkable tone poem to overwhelm us after a recital that was a tour de force of intellectual and technical bravura.

Elia checking out his place at the Ghione Theatre in Rome on the 16th September.He joins an illustrious list of past performers that have included Perlemuter,Cherkassky,Tureck,Fischer,Agosti,Sandor,Fou Ts’ong,Lazar and Boris Berman,Moura Lympany,Alicia de Larrocha,Peter Frankl.Angela Hewitt,Janina Fialkowska etc.


His performance of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto at the Ghione Theatre will be his next appearance in the Eternal City on the 16th September following on from the Grieg Concerto in Bergen that is sure to crown yet another triumph for this young virtuoso

Two beautiful rarely heard miniatures by Grieg opened the programme.Improvisations on Norwegian Folk Songs op 29 .The first an Allegretto con moto with the title ‘The lad and the lass in the Cow-shed loft!’with a grandiose opening followed by a dance of frantic rhythmic passion.It contrasted so well with the second:Andante ‘This was once a King’ with playing of ravishing beauty and a sumptuous sense of balance.It was beautifully shaped and played with great weight and real depth of sound.It contrasted so well with the scintillating dance of the middle section before the beauty of the final closing bars.They were played with the same simplicity and love for his homeland that characterises all that Grieg wrote.
I have heard Elia’s interpretation of Beethoven and Prokofiev as you can see from the articles below but this is the first time I have heard his Schumann Symphonic Studies op 13.Excluding the five posthumous studies often included in performances,where they are inserted between the 11 published variations.Elia played the original op 13 with a sense of rhythmic drive and architectural shape that gave great weight and significance to this often fragmented work.From the weight of the opening the theme “the composition of an amateur”: this referred to the origin of the theme, which had been sent to Schumann by Baron von Fricken, guardian of Ernestine von Fricken, the Estrella of his Carnaval Op. 9. The baron, an amateur musician, had used the melody in a Theme with Variations for flute. Schumann had been engaged to Ernestine in 1834, only to break abruptly with her the year after.
Of the sixteen variations Schumann composed on Fricken’s theme, only eleven were published by him.The final, twelfth, published étude was a variation on the theme from the Romance Du stolzes England freue dich (Proud England, rejoice!), from Marschner’s opera ‘Der Templer und die Judin, which was based on Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe.It was incorporated as a tribute to Schumann’s English friend, William Sterndale Bennett to whom the work is dedicated.The essential character of Op. 13 was of ‘studies’ in the sense that the term had assumed in Chopin’s set op 10 .That of concert pieces through which the investigation of possibilities of technique and timbre become ‘symphonic études’ through the wealth and complexity of the colours evoked The keyboard becomes an “orchestra” capable of blending, contrasting or superimposing different timbres.It was not only Elia’s mastery of the technical hurdles, but above all the underlying rhythmic current and sense of line that gave his performance a sense of architectural shape and of mounting excitement from the simplicity of the theme to the final triumphant outpouring of the final pages.There was a clarity in the first variation and a rhythmic drive and forward propulsion to the second.Contrasting with the beauty of the tenor melodic line accompanied by lightweight fluttering of butterfly proportions.There was a monumental eighth variation that Agosti likened to the structure of a Gothic cathedral.It was followed by the breathtaking Mendelssohnian virtuosity of the ninth.What energy and passion he gave to the tenth only to dissolve into the Chopinesque beauty of the eleventh .The energy and rhythmic power of the finale was breathtaking in its sweep and orchestral sound.
It was refreshing to hear again Elia’s performance of Beethoven’s Sonata op 31 n.1 .It was also a surprise for us all including Elia who had been expecting to play Scriabin’s 3rd Sonata.Seeing the printed programme mistakenly with Beethoven instead of Scriabin with great professionalism he was able to make an immediate change at the last minute!A performance of great clarity and freshness where Beethoven’s impish sense of humour was given full reign .With the syncopations of the first movement where Beethoven has the last laugh before the ravishing beauty of the bel canto slow movement with its legato melody and non legato accompaniment and the pastoral mellifluous beauty of the last movement only to be reminded of Beethoven’s little joke at the end!
Prokofiev’s 7th Sonata was not only played with scintillating virtuosity but with a driving rhythmic force allied to a sense of colour that was truly orchestral.Not having been able to rehearse before the concert he was now able to let rip and throw himself into the fray with a breathtakingly fearless performance of the ‘Precipitato’ last movement.You will find a more detailed account in the articles below from a previous performance .

https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2021/08/05/elia-cecino-in-grosseto-the-birth-of-an-artist/

Elia in prova a few minutes before the concert just trying out a new encore of the ‘Assai Allegro Furioso’ by Grieg.All pointed fingers and rhythmic fervour for a rarely performed piece (the last of a collection of 23 short piano pieces )that he will play later this month in Bergen in view of the house where it was written.

https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2021/06/20/elia-cecino-takes-piano-city-pordenone-by-storm/

Angelo Filippo Jannoni Sebastianini for many years the ‘deus ex machina’ of the Concerti del Tempietto inspired in the 80’s by the example of the Ghione Theatre
Classical music, opera arias and music played in the magical charm of Rome by night and in an exceptional setting: as part of the Festival Musicale delle Nazioni, the historic Summer Roman music festival, Concerti del Tempietto.. Among the remains of the Temple of Apollo Sosianus, in the cloister adjacent to the church of Santa Maria in Portico in Campitelli, for three months young musicians are on stage every evening.
Each concert is preceded by a guided tour in the archaeological park around the Theater of Marcellus, the monumental theater dedicated in the name of Augustus’s favorite nephew.Twenty centuries ago the area was in fact a space dedicated to performances and sacred rites, and the theater itself was used for public performances for over four centuries.

https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2022/02/15/elia-cecino-in-london-for-the-keyboard-trust/

A celebration on the 13th September in London for the launch of the book ‘The Gift of Music’ written by the founder of the Keyboard Trust ,John Leech in it’s 30th Anniversary year.Elia is a member of the select group of young musicians of the Keyboard Trust.It will be presented by the Honorary Patron Sir Antonio Pappano at the National Liberal Club in a special gala to celebrate the founders of the KCT now in their ninetieth year

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