Michelle Candotti a Lioness let loose in Velletri ignites Liszt’s piano

Extraordinary opening concert in Velletri ’Suono di Liszt a Villa D’Este ‘ with Michelle Candotti and the Orchestra of CDM conducted by Federico Biscione.

The eleventh series of concerts all centred around a very special piano.An Erard of 1879 similar to the one that Liszt would have played in the Villa D’Este.

Infact a series of concerts initiated 11 years ago in 2011 for the bicentenary of the birth of Franz Liszt .
The series has now found a permanent home in the ex Convento del Carmine in Velletri.

Today a happy combination with an orchestra from the youthful formation in Tivoli directed by Federico Biscione joining Michelle Candotti in a performance of Chopin’s Concerto in E minor op 11.

An aristocratic performance of great weight and authority from this young pianist from the school of Dmitri Alexeev and Carlo Palese.
Living every moment of the concerto with intensity and extraordinary sensitivity she created a rapport immediately with her young companions .The cello in particular I had never been aware of this intimate relationship until today.
The sublime simplicity of the larghetto was something to cherish as was her intelligence in keeping the rhythm until the final bar a master stroke from a masterly musician.A rondo full of character and ‘joie de vivre’ with a command of the keyboard that was breathtaking .It was the real weight of her playing that was astonishing as she delved deep into the keys of a piano that had become her friend in the days she had been the guest of Ing.Tammaro and wife Celeste.Whose birthday was celebrated after today’s performance

It was a Chopin of great temperament and also sublime delicacy.Whether dramatic or lyrical.Poetic or passionate it was all played with aristocratic good taste and style.It was the weight that gives every note a meaning like the human voice.Digging deep into the notes extracting the velvet sounds that are the true voice of a piano destined for private salons for a select group of aristocrats and not the concert hall of today for a public of thousands.In this beautifully restored Casa della cultura e della Musica this piano was allowed to sing under Michelle’s very sensitive hands and the string orchestra of only eleven elements.It was the ideal group that just exulted the exquisite sounds in a performance of chamber music proportions that surely must have been how Chopin had intended it.

Michelle Candotti with Federico Biscione

Michelle and Federico Biscione were both aware of this and it gave them a freedom to shape and mould the magic streams of notes with ravishing results.I have never heard the Romanza played with such shimmering beauty or the belcanto of Chopin’s melodic outpouring so beautifully sustained.Playing of great passion too as her hands and whole body streamed up and down the keyboard with glittering displays of notes accompanying the orchestra and driving them on with Michelle’s same infectious sacred flame.A group of musicians created and trained with patience and remarkable musicianship by Federico Biscione who I had so admired last Christmas in Frascati.An orchestra giving these young musicians a passion and professional training and above all a love for music .They are from the CDM school based in Tivoli directed with dedication by Antonella Zampaglioni and Giancarlo Gregori

Antonella Zampaglioni of CDM di Tivoli who like Giancarlo Tamarro is a tireless promoter of young talent .Thanks to them and their colleagues the hills of Rome a truly ringing to the sound of music.


Getting to know this 1879 Erard which has been so lovingly restored by Giancarlo Tamarro and given pride of place in his home when it is not being used for public performances.A series of concerts run by the indomitable Tamarro gives a platform to so many talented young musicians for a series based on the original instrument of Villa D’Este.A series inaugurated to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Liszt’s birth.The original instrument which had been given to Liszt by the Casa Ducci in Florence had been completely lost until in 1991 when it was discovered in a Convent in Rome.It was completely restored and found a temporary home in the Metropolitan Museum in New York and is now in Vienna.Filippo Guglielmi who was a composition student of Liszt and visited him frequently on Liszt’s last visits to the Villa D’Este left this testimony :”one day in the music room Liszt awaited a brilliant young student who he thought very highly of ,Moritz Rosenthal.He was accompanied by his father of israelite Hungarian extraction and his eyes lit up when he saw the magnificent Erard that had been given to Liszt by Casa Ducci in florence”

After her astonishing performance of Chopin Michelle let rip with performances of the Liszt ‘Ernani’ paraphrase and the ‘Dante Sonata’.They were even more astonishing than her Chopin for her total self identification with the theatrical world that Liszt depicts so vividly in music.
She threw herself into this world with terrifying abandon but always with a total command and understanding of the story that Liszt depicts so vividly.
Sumptuous sounds and ravishing beauty went hand in hand with scintillating virtuosity and awesome octaves that could make this 1879 Erard roar as it surely has never done before.
A true lioness of the keyboard that with her sublime inspiration kept us all spellbound and on the edge of our seats with performances that will long be remembered.

A grandiose opening to the ‘Ernani’ paraphrase dissolved into magical flourishes as the heroic declamation of the theme in octaves took centre stage.There was sumptuous sound too as the tenor melody was accompanied by arabesques over the entire keyboard .Both Liszt and Thalberg were accused of having three hands such was the magic effect they could create and which Michelle today played with supreme mastery and passionate participation.There were scintillating birdlike cadenza’s of great delicacy but above all there was a grandiloquence and aristocratic control allied to an astonishing technical command that seemed to know no limit.Michelle had created on this Erard a past world where the greatest composer pianists were above all magicians who could create the illusion of a full orchestra from a box of strings and hammers.But it was above all the pedals that as Liszt’s illustrious student Anton Rubinstein said are ‘the soul of the piano.’Today Michelle revealed her soul as she uncovered the secrets that have been hidden away for too long in this antique instrument.

I can do no better that quote Leslie Howard the undisputed authority on Liszt who had chosen this as a set work for the Liszt Competition in Utrecht of which he is president.It is where Michelle was noted and much admired in 2016.”The standard Ernani paraphrase was issued with the paraphrases on Il trovatore and Rigoletto. It was based, in part, on an earlier, unpublished work, which is performed here: the later paraphrase confines itself to the finale of Act III – the King of Spain’s aria and chorus at Charlemagne’s tomb – and is an elaboration, transposed from A flat minor to F minor, of the second part of the earlier work (Verdi’s key is F minor). In the earlier piece the A flat minor section is preceded by an exceedingly florid transcription in E flat major (Verdi’s key) of a chorus from the finale of Act I: Elvira’s would-be lover is revealed to be Don Carlo, the King.”Leslie Howard will perform in this series with Ludovico Troncanetti on the 14th May.

Michelle’s performance of the ‘Dante’ Sonata where she immediately set the scene from the very first opening flourishes played with total conviction with a reenactment of the scene that was about to unfold.There was a demonic look in her eyes as she attacked the piano with fearless conviction and towering virtuosity.There was radiant beauty and the serene benediction of the central episode played with whispered delicacy and luminosity as the delicate web of sounds unfolded to ignite the piano with Recitativi of overpowering conviction.The final treacherous leaps passed unnoticed such was her musical involvement where technical difficulty just was not an option.But above all it was the silences that were even more menacing than the streams of notes that poured from her infallible fingers.These were fingers at the service of a heart that could beat with overpowering conviction and communication.

Après une lecture du Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata also known as the Dante Sonata) is a sonata in one movement completed in 1849 and first published in 1856 as part of the second volume of Liszt’s of Années de pèlerinage (Years of Pilgrimage).It was inspired by the reading of Victor Hugo’s poem “Après un lecture du Dante” (1836)

Unbelievably this seeming waif of a young lady could still offer Chopin’s Octave Study op 25 n.10 as an encore.Played with astonishing power and dynamism but also with the central episode unfolded so naturally with real legato as it was an integral part of an overall architectural whole.A musician at the service of music that she enacted with towering virtuosity and dynamism.


Celebrations of a birthday and opening concert of a season that will finish in June

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