It was in 1983 that a fourteen year old schoolgirl was presented to us in the Ghione theatre by the brother of our leading actor Walter Maestosi.Side by side with my wife Ileana Ghione in Private Lives by Noel Coward and a new play ‘Only a Holiday’ by Guido Nahum.Elio Maestosi had met at the Chopin Competition in Warsaw ,Thorunn Johannsdottir who was destined in 1961 to become the wife of Vladimir Ashkenazy.He was an expert dedicated to the performance of Chopin and was now teaching at the Terni Conservatory .He had a remarkably talented young student who he wanted to make her debut playing Chopin in Rome.She played for our Euromusica Concert season ,a programme that included the 24 Preludes by Chopin.
It was in December 1984 that I invited my teacher Vlado Perlemuter to make his debut in Italy – he was 81.It followed in the footsteps of another forgotten legend and teacher of mine :Guido Agosti who played in 1983 also in his 80’s.Legendary figures strangely neglected by the concert circuits due to their fear of playing continuously in public and their own careers as the most sought after teachers of their age.
Perlemuter had been ,at the age of fourteen,the youngest student of Alfred Cortot.He lived in the same house in Paris as the director of the Conservatoire ,Gabriel Fauré .He was one of the first pianists to play the complete piano works of Ravel under the composers supervision.He not only gave a recital – all Chopin – for us but was invited immediately to play in Padua and from there Venice Milan and Florence .He played for us until his ninetieth year and he would also give a masterclass the day after his concert.It was in 1984 that Cristiana played in his first of many classes that he gave over the next ten years.
The theatre had opened in 1982 after three difficult years of restoring a derelict cinema in the centre of Rome.With a ridiculously low budget we managed to transform an abandoned cinema into a jewel of a theatre thanks to to my wife’s determination and my hard work!I had left all my commitments in London to help my future wife in her life’s quest to have a theatre of her own.With only three workmen to keep inspired daily ,the theatre opened and fast became a favorite venue where the plays that my wife could now choose lived happily together with music.Rome in that period was a city where there was a desperate need for a medium size hall for chamber music and recitals.We filled that gap!
Cristiana today in Latina with a benefit concert for the Lions Club Latina to create funds for the Breast Cancer Unit at the Goretti Hospital.A guest of Alfredo De Santis and Roberto Volpe the untiring organisers of fund raising events in Latina.
A voyage of Ithaka a modern day Ulysses.A theme inspired by the poetry of Costantino Petrou Kavatis.
A voyage of life around which Cristiana had composed a suite that describe a life’s journey in search of love.
Her own book of poetry is dedicated to her parents for never having denied her the possibility to dream.
In fact it is Giuseppe Giacovazzo who beautifully sums up the meaning of Cristiana’s message:‘ A book of verse that is a love letter without address.Sent to eternity but with an unknown destination .A letter inexorably destined to a mailbox………hers. Releasing a secret chest,a kite to the wind.And it was returned to its sender.Like the kites.Cristiana could not have expected anything else from her thirst.So limitless.
There is a musical trace of her in those verses:the sea.Its music .”This autumn is becoming too vast for those who cannot forget the colour of the sea”.She feels life like the sea that “stole the imprints from the sand”In the winter months she dreams of being the seagull that dominates,alone,the waves of the sea.And the storms of love.This is the music that accompanies the song of her piano.
And so it was with the pieces she chose from her suite that described this journey.’Sailing away’;’The wind and the sea’;’Summer morning’;’Infinite’;’Now I know’.Some very descriptive playing of great colour and passionate involvement.A technical command that allowed her to bring her classical training to an almost improvised outpouring of sounds.From the whispered secrets of the sea to the passionate wind.Every bit as expressive as Ravel or Debussy but with a more immediate popular melodic appeal.
Opening with a ‘smile’ as she delightfully describe the start of her journey.Mozart’s Turkish March from his Sonata K.331 was played with impeccable style and good taste.As she said it was written for a piano in Mozart’s day,that would have provided a pedal effect of drums and bells that in Cristiana’s hands were more than amply provided for from this gleaming Brodmann Grand.
This was followed by a piece dedicated to the patron saint of her home town of Terni:San Valentino.A work that also summed up the message that Cristiana wanted to share with us today:’Colours of Love- Never loose the courage to love’.
By request of our host Dott De Santis her own transcription of Rossini’s Figaro from the Barber of Seville was played with scintillating jeux perlé and remarkable technical command.
Let’s not forget that Cristiana a while ago asked me if she could play the 32 Beethoven Sonatas in our concert season where her debut recital had included Chopin’s 24 Preludes.A real virtuoso ,dedicated also to concerts with a social meaning but who after her early studies in Italy had continued at the Juilliard School in New York where she plays regularly to a sold out Weil Hall of the Carnegie Hall
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