Two giants break the ice in Rome – Pappano and Ólafsson with the colours of’Novecento’

Who could substitute an indisposed Martha Argerich?No one is the simple answer she is quite simply unique.

Both she and her childhood friend Daniel Barenboim were seen still making music together in Berlin only ten days ago .https://youtube.com/watch?v=CzxZmvqZnEA&feature=share .A heart rending clip of two giants of our time who have given us so much for so long.


But tonight we were presented with a Viking bringing with him the coldest spell that Rome has known for some time.A hall decimated partly for the absence of Martha but mostly because of the extreme cold that has struck the Eternal City.


The Islandic pianist ,Vikingur Olafsson ,towered over our beloved ‘Toni’ Pappano as they came on stage together.It gave no idea of the musical giants that they both are.
Sir Antonio we know,having savoured his intimate music making with the S.Cecilia Orchestra over the past twenty years until it has become one of the world’s finest orchestras.Pappano too has grown with them and is now one of the most sought after conductors of our time ready to take over the reigns of the historic London Symphony Orchestra.
Vikingur Olafsson on the other hand has been noticed over the past few years for the remarkable recordings he has made mainly of transcriptions of Bach.A unique sound world of such luminosity that made one wonder if there had been some mechanical magic in the recording studio.


He is now gradually being heard in the great concert halls of the world and it was an inspired choice to invite him on this sad occasion to replace Martha Argerich.It must have been a daunting prospect for him too until he actually sat at the piano.

Past performances of the Ravel Concerto in Rome at S.Cecilia

The Ravel concerto was premiered at S Cecilia,a year after the world premiere in Paris in 1932,by my teacher and friend Guido Agosti.
A work that is pure chamber music and it was the way that the pianist today integrated and interwove with the players that was so impressive.
Of course the heart of the concerto is the long ‘adagio assai’ in which the solo piano sets the scene for the unique magic colour and atmosphere that Ravel could conjure from an orchestra.The long slow opening was played in whispered tones where Vikingur’s unique sense of balance could allow the melodic line to float unimpeded on a bed of true gold but with that same radiance and fluidity that had been so noticeable in his recordings.With the superb wind players,all soloists in their own right,our Viking brought an incisive assured rhythmic impulse to the outer movements under the energetic and subtle eye of our musical magician ‘Toni’ .They all united in the spirit of improvised jazz idioms that Ravel has so ingeniously woven into his web of intoxicating sounds.

Greeted by an ovation from a suitably warmed up public our Viking had passed his test and was fully accepted by all as ‘the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow’.But there was more to come as our gentle giant thanked S.Cecilia for the honour of inviting him to play with them and their illustrious conductor,He offered as a thank you the second movement from Bach’s Fourth Organ Sonata.BWV 528 transcribed by August Stradal.Here the heavens truly opened with the same unique sounds that we had heard in his recordings.A whispered luminosity created by his extraordinary use of the pedals and a sense of balance building to a climax of Busonian proportions.Building the sonorities with great bass pedal notes on which he could float his unique sounds just as I imagine Busoni may have done.It may not be to everyone’s taste as it is these days a very unconventional way to approach Bach.But surely there is no one way to appreciate and worship at a shrine that is solely created for the glory of God.

This is his recording of the same piece from his prize winning album.J.S.Bach ‘Works and reworks’ that won him the Gramophone award as ‘Artist of the year’ https://youtube.com/watch?v=h3-rNMhIyuQ&feature=share.

A second encore and a little speech to praise the works of the unjustly neglected composer Domenico Cimarosa.The sonata n.55 in A minor was played with the same glistening tone palette of whispered beauty that drew the audience in to him rather than projecting the sound out.Inwards rather than outwards as we were mere eavesdroppers.But by some magic the sounds flew through the now heated air and reached an audience listening with baited breath to such sublime beauty.

He will be playing the Schumann Concerto next week at the Royal Festival Hall in London with the London Philharmonic under Edward Gardner and look forward to a solo recital with longer works by Beethoven and Schumann in order to appreciate his unique musical interpretations of other important solo masterpieces

The concert had begun with a beguiling account of Prokofiev’s classical Symphony from 1918.An orchestra in splendid form led by the genial Andrea Obiso and of course the masterly direction of Sir Antonio Pappano.Who also united the strands of Sibelius’s 5th symphony with a dynamic pulse and sense of architectural shape.

He is not only a musical communicator via the sounds he conjures out of thin air but also a moving commentator who can explain the technical construction of Sibelius’s compositional style but that is in the end only a means to the emotional impact that strikes deeply at the heart of a musical genius.

Una risposta a "Two giants break the ice in Rome – Pappano and Ólafsson with the colours of’Novecento’"

  1. Ottimo, bravo! Io sono in treno per raggiungere la freddissima Viterbo e la caldissima Marcella! Buon fine settimana con un abbraccio

    "Mi piace"

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