Scipione Sangiovanni at the Accademia Danimarca – Mastery at Roma 3 for a Man of all Seasons

Piero Rattalino the great Piano file and musicologist died during the night today the 6th April at the age of 92.
Indefatigable communicator he had just given a conference on Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata at the Piano Academy in Imola .
Many years ago he gave masterclasses in the Ghione Theatre .The roof was left open and it was a beautiful day and I videoed the lessons in bright sun light with the dome of S.Peters in the distance.He was very happy to hear they had been recorded and I was pleased to give him the recordings.He also asked me for a video I had made of Cherkassky.Not the more virtuoso performances but his insinuating performance of the Tango by Albeniz/Godowsky.He was more interested in the style and quality of notes rather than the quantity!That was the genius Piero Rattalino.
A tribute to a great man from Prof Roberto Pujia and Valerio Vicari.Where words were not enough Scipione added his own magical tribute with Chopin’s Nocturne in C sharp minor op posth
A feast of music in three sections .The first starting with a passionate account of Frescobaldi’s ‘Toccata in G’.There was a crystalline clarity to his ornamentation and great rhythmic drive.Authentic in the dry sense that it has come to represent,it most certainly was not,but it was exhilarating and exciting and above all played with refined good taste.’Autumn leaves’ and ‘Lullaby of Birdland’ immediately showed his pedigree as a superb jazz pianist able to twist and turn a melody with beguiling jeux perlé subtlety and glistening beauty.
Handel’s great ‘Passacaglia’ was give a monumental performance with it’s opening dotted rhythms deliberately pointed after the Shearing sense of nonchalant improvisation.Leading to an overwhelming climax that brought spontaneous applause from an audience who had now realised that this was a great musical party to be relished and enjoyed.

In questa originale formula musicale Scipione Sangiovanni ha condensato il proprio intero percorso formativo, che spazia dalla musica rinascimentale al pop. Il principio fondamentale di questo concerto consiste nel creare suite accostando brani appartenenti a mondi sonori apparentemente inconciliabili. Un principio che in altri campi artistici, per esempio quello del design e dell’architettura, è stato già ampiamente sperimentato ed è, anzi, diventato la regola.

‘In sentimental mood’ by Ellington drifted into ‘Someday over a Rainbow’ with all the naturalness of an Art Tatum or Oscar Peterson .
I doubt they could have burst so spontaneously into Busoni’s monumental transcription of Bach’s Great Organ Toccata and Fugue .Especially as Scipione allowed the fugue to enter on a haze of sounds that Busoni had inherited from Liszt ,his mentor,who had been searching for the mysterious sounds of the future at the end of his genial existence.
A Galuppi ‘Andante’,the one that Michelangeli had immortalised,was played faster than the master but with the same ravishing sound and crystalline clarity.
‘Paranoid Android’ I am not qualified to judge but as Scipione said,music does not have barriers and so I too was caught up in his mesmerising performance.I was hypnotised by his total conviction and transcendental understanding of the piano and the hidden colours extracted from it’s very soul.
The famous Rameau ‘Gavotte and variations’ I have never heard so freely played with pedal,added octaves and any other vehicle for Scipione to express what he felt was in the music and trying to get out- despite the restrained straight jacket that the mistaken authentic movement has come to put on it!

Scipione Sangiovanni for Roma 3 last night opening with a ravishing performance of Chopin’s Nocturne in C sharp minor op posth dedicated to Piero Rattalino,vice president of Roma Tre Orchestra and one of only two pianofiles in the world.A renowned musicologists with a catalogue of tomes that would be the envy of even JSB.He will be dearly missed but his Heritage is inestimable.
Scipione went on to astonish and amaze us with a programme that demonstrated not only his chameleonic sense of style but above all his trascendental mastery and passionate participation.
As he himself said the message in music is universal and there are no barriers when one wants to create atmospheres to express one’s emotions and uncontaminated sense of discovery with a kaleidoscope of ravishing sounds.
Well he certainly did that with a simplicity and mastery that held us enthralled from Frescobaldi to Piazzola ………’Someday over the rainbow’ has the same sense of hope and aspiration as Bach’s ‘Ich ruf’zu dir,Herr Jesu Christ ‘? Hard to believe until tonight!
A master and a man for all seasons

Le barriere del tempo svaniscono, i canoni estetici si sublimano, mostrando che la musica è una sola nonostante possa aver generato molti figli. L’antico ed il moderno, il barocco ed il jazz, il classico ed il rock si sfiorano senza mai fondersi formando nuove alchimie sonore. Il risultato è una catena musicale nella quale gli opposti si attraggono, dialogano tra loro, si scontrano ed infine combaciano.

There was beauty and respect for Busoni’s magical transcription of Bach’s ‘Ich ruf’zu dir,Herr Jesu Christ’.I still have the magic of the much missed Nelson Freire in my ears in this piece,but Scipione was just as convincing bringing out more the inner counterpoints which gave great weight and meaning to this most moving work.The final three pieces showed once again Scipione’s luminosity of sound and penetrating cantabile and the frenzied excitement that the sheer joy of music making could unleash from this most uncontaminated of souls.

I had first heard Scipione in Monza where I had been invited to be part of an illustrious jury at the Rina Sala Gallo International Piano Competition.I do not usually do that sort of thing as the Circus element in music is not my idea of what music should represent.Every performance should be enjoyed for what it is and not compared to others.Comparative music performance is not for me,but I realise that there are opportunities in the Competition field that may out- way my view of independence and uncontamination.

Connie with Nelson Freire after his concert at the Ghione Theatre

My dear friend Constance Channon Douglass was indisposed and asked me if I would take her place.Of course how could I let her down and what an honour to be on a jury with Bruno Canino,Stefano Fiuzzi and Marcel Baudet.

Marie Jose Pires with Julian Brocal playing Mozart Double in Oxford together with another student Lilit Grigoryan

With the generous fee I was able to buy a most beautiful bedspread which still adorns my bed and reawakens memories of a beautiful occasion.

The superb bedspread from Monza

A young pianist Julian Brocal had played a wonderful Schumann Carnaval and has since been taken under the wing of Marie Jose Pires and is flying high.I had thanked her for all that she is doing for young musicians and she simply replied that it was not what she did for them but it was what they did for her!The simplicity and humility of a great artist shared with her colleague Martha Argerich – ‘birds of a feather ‘indeed!

Scipione had been admitted to the final where he played Liszt 2nd Piano Concerto that I personally did not admire as much as an Emperor concerto from Mengyang Yang Pan.

But then Scipione played an encore and the heavens opened and there was no doubt that this was a quite considerable artist and of course he won the coveted first prize.It reminded me of a story that Sidney Harrison,my piano daddy,would tell of Alfred Cortot playing the Emperor concerto at the Gold Medal Ceremony of the Royal Philharmonic Society in London.A performance that was not one of the Masters best!But then he played an encore and the heavens opened and there was no doubt that Gold Medal first given to Beethoven was in the right hands with Alfred Cortot.

Scipione with the distinguished pianist Orazio Maione who had given a prize to the young student,like me,some years ago

I had not heard Scipione since as he lives in Lecce ,the Florence of the South.Like his distinguished colleague Francesco Libetta why should they want to leave paradise to struggle and suffer in an alien city when their art and heart can grow untainted in the city of their birth.

Explaining to his young daughter that Papa’ would just go and play one more piece if she agreed !And what a piece!A Piazzola as if we had never heard this famous piece before.An originality and animal excitement that should have sent us all happily home .But there was just one more sneaky encore by great request of his own improvisation I think.But what does it matter it is the music not the label that counts as Scipione had so generously shown us tonight.

Seeing him tonight as he affectionately greeted his young daughter who had patiently been following his concert ,in between playing with her crayons,I realised what a wise man that young winner of the competition had become.Listening to him I realised even more what a great artist and human being he has become.

With Ing Tammaro owner of the 1879 Erard around which for eleven years he has created a festival for the bicentenary of Liszt’s birth
The Danish Academy in Rome
For Rattalino listening to Scipione’s beautiful tribute of Chopin
A silent salute for Piero Rattalino
Music can be such fun

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