A quite extraordinary concert venue in Livorno in Carlo Palese’s per PIANO series .A new partnership with the Keyboard Trust brought Simone Tavoni to give a recital under the wings of flying dinosaurs – ‘on wings of song’ one might say!The beasts fished locally in the sand and now suspended from the ceiling for all to see in the splendid Museum of the Mediterranean.
A recital of Beethoven,Clementi,Schubert and Brahms but with encores that included an improvisation based on the local waves followed by a Mendelssohn song without words- the beautifully simple 33rd.
Simone swore that he could hear some movement above his head as he played but fortunately it only seemed to add to the poetic performances that were being enticed out of the magnificent concert grand placed at their feet!
Beethoven’s early variations on an original theme were played with all the chameleonic character that created such turmoil in Beethoven’s turbulent early life.
From the beauty and simplicity of the theme through the rhythmic energy and characterisation of the variations and the brilliance and virtuosity of the ending before the gentle return to the opening beauty and simplicity.Played by Simone with great authority and technical command together with a poetic sensibility that brought these neglected variations vividly to life.
There was great drama and weight to the opening of Clementi’s Sonata op 50 n.1 .An important work of Beethovenian proportions but with a digital brilliance for which Clementi was a renowned advocate,as every pianist knows from his collection of studies ‘Gradus as Parnassum’.It was played with brilliance and virtuosity but also an architectural shape that made one wonder why it is not more often heard in the concert hall.
A slow movement with the deeply profound long sustained melodic lines played with a chiselled cantabile of great beauty.The last movement had a dance like rhythmic drive and buoyancy and was played with passionate commitment.
A short break allowed Carlo Palese to give a brief historic guide to the Schubert and Brahms that was to follow.
It was in the Schubert and Brahms that the resonance of the hall gave great weight and poignancy to the long melodic lines and orchestral sounds that were allowed to vibrate around this cavernous animal farm.
The dramatic Beethovenian opening of the first impromptu op 142 contrasted so well as it dissolved into the sublime beauty of the central episode.The question and answer over a gently moving accompaniment was beautifully realised with Simone giving all the time necessary for the music to speak with such moving eloquence.
The second Impromptu was allowed to unfold even more generously with simplicity and luminosity.The waves of sound in the central episode were greatly helped by the resonance of the hall.
Brahms Intermezzo op 118 n 2 was played with an aristocratic simplicity that allowed the music to unfold so naturally.
The Two Rhapsodies op 79 were given performances of great orchestral colour dissolving into melodic lines of sumptuous beauty.Helped by the resonant accoustic Simone produced rich sounds of great fluidity and heroic drive.
They brought this short recital to a brilliant conclusion to which Simone created his own waves and ‘wings of song’ where words were superfluous when his playing could speak so much more eloquently and poetically under the dinosaurs wings.
The three Sonatas of Op 50 by Clementi are dedicated to his fellow Italian who had made a splendid career in Paris, Luigi Cherubini.There is good reason to believe, however, that Clementi had composed much of this music years earlier, and had intended it as the second instalment of Op 40. Perhaps some unfavourable reviews of his music around 1800 contributed to a certain caution about publishing his work; a notice in a Leipzig journal from 1807 refers to several major new compositions of his which Clementi ‘is determined not to release to the public until he has satisfied himself that they are perfect’.
The first sonata of Op 50, in A major, has an opening movement with something of the transparent texture and lyrical melody that Clementi seemed to associate with this key, as in his Sonata Op 33 No 1, and even as far back as Op 2 No 4. For a slow movement Clementi writes a rather leisurely two-voice canon flanked by two statements of a lugubrious, harmonically potent Adagio sostenuto e patetico that anticipates the subject of the canon in its middle section. The finale, a spritely Allegro vivace, mixes traditional harmonies with the distinctly nineteenth-century sound of the expanded upper range of the piano.
Schubert’s Impromptus are a series of eight pieces for solo piano composed in 1827. They were published in two sets of four : the first two pieces in the first set were published in the composer’s lifetime as Op. 90; the second set was published posthumously as Op. 142 in 1839 (with a dedication added by the publisher to Franz Liszt)
The Six Pieces for Piano, Op. 118, are some of the most beloved compositions that Brahms 8wrote for solo piano. Completed in 1893 and dedicated to Clara Schumann,the collection is the penultimate composition published during Brahms’ lifetime. It is also his penultimate work composed for piano solo. Consistent with Brahms’s other late keyboard works, Op. 118 is more introspective than his earlier piano pieces, which tend to be more virtuosic in character.
The Rhapsodies, Op. 79, for piano were written by Brahms in 1879 during his summer stay in Portschach,when he had reached the maturity of his career. They were inscribed to his friend, the musician and composer Elisabeth von Herzogenberg.At the suggestion of the dedicatee, Brahms reluctantly renamed the sophisticated compositions from “Klavierstücke” (piano pieces) to “rhapsodies “