|Christmas tree in Piazza San Pietro - Christmas 2013|
Sunday, December 8, 2013
Santa Cecilia Hall, Auditorium Parco della Musica – 5 December 2013
Kissin is a virtuoso pianist of impeccable technique, yet what makes him so remarkable is his musical approach and insight – he seeks out the very heart of a composition – and takes an audience on that journey. There were moments on Thursday evening when I found myself smiling and almost gasping out loud at the brilliance of his playing, particularly during the second half of the concert dedicated to Scriabin – the poetic Sonata n. 2 op. 19, followed by a selection of the composer's Chopinesque Études op. 8, in which Kissin effortlessly ran through the gamut of emotions, switching mood from wistfully nostalgic, though achingly sad, to passionate. It was breathtaking playing.
After five curtain calls and thunderous applause at the end of the concert, Kissin finally ended the cat and mouse teasing with his adoring public and sat down again for three sublime encores – the Kempff transcription of Bach's Siciliana, another Scriabin Étude, and to close the evening, an exhilarating Polonaise, Op. 53 by Chopin, which brought the cheering audience to its feet for a well deserved standing ovation.
Sonata D 850 op.53
Sonata n. 2 op. 19 (Sonata-Fantasy)
Études op. 8 - nn. 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12
Étude op.42 n.5
Polonaise, Op. 53 (Heroic)
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia conducted by Kent Nagano
Santa Cecilia Hall, Auditorium Parco della Musica – 2 December 2013
I've had the pleasure of hearing Rafał Blechacz perform on several occasions over the last couple of years, and once again last night I was impressed not only by his sheer virtuosity, but also by the refined elegance, maturity of interpretation, and consummate poise in his playing. The unique peculiarities of Mozart's dramatic Piano Concerto No. 24 K 491 in C minor - one of only two concertos he composed in minor keys - turned the spotlight on the pianist in the cadenza in the first movement and the variations in the final. Mozart left us no written cadenzas for this concerto, and for this performance that of Mozart's pupil Johann Nepomuk Hummel was chosen. Greeted with long and sustained applause at the end of the concerto Blechacz was brought back out on stage for several curtain calls before accepting Nagano's invitation to play an encore. It's always a joy to hear him play Chopin and last night's Polonaise in C minor op. 40 was utter poetry.
The second half of the concert was entirely dedicated to Anton Bruckner's monumental masterpiece dedicated to Richard Wagner - Symphony No. 3 in D minor (also known as his “Wagner Symphony”). Only the third time in which this majestic tour-de-force has been performed by the Santa Cecilia Orchestra in its history (with its last outing over thirty years ago), Nagano kept the audience enthralled throughout this long, yet immensely rewarding symphony, with both orchestra and conductor warmly applauded after the finale.
Piano Concerto No 24 K491 in C minor
Polonaise in C minor op. 40
Symphony No 3 (Wagner Symphony) (1889 version)
Rafal Blechacz photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/rafalblechacz
Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma conducted by Gregorio Goffredo at the Auditorium Conciliazione – 1 December, 2013
Photo by Paul Marc Mitchell
There's no denying that Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto n.2 is something of a warhorse, forever associated with the film Brief Encounter and even borrowed in the pop ballad All By Myself, yet it remains enduringly popular and irresistibly wonderful. Moog's reading during Sunday's afternoon concert was effortlessly authoritative from the opening bell-like chords, and was played with a warm, yet muscular tone, and brilliantly articulated pianism. The grandeur of Moog's technical ability was matched by an imposing stage presence, whilst Maestro Goffredo - winner of the Rachmaninov International Piano Competition for two consecutive editions in 1982 and 1983 – encouraged a lush, sweeping accompaniment from the orchestra. It was a hugely enjoyable performance. Rapturous applause greeted the close of the concerto and the audience was rewarded with an exquisite Debussy solo encore from the pianist.
The afternoon was rounded out by a zealous performance of another perennial favourite, Tchaikovsky's Symphony n. 4.
Piano Concerto n. 2
Trois Images Oubliées
Symphony n. 4