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Piemontesi, one of many best younger pianists, impresses along with his Beethoven and Debussy in Dresden – Seen and Heard Worldwide

GermanyGermany Dresden Music Pageant 2024 [2] – Beethoven, Debussy: Francesco Piemontesi (piano). Palais im Grossen Garten, Dresden, 11.5.2024. (CC)

Francesco Piemontesi

Beethoven – Piano Sonatas: No.21 in C, Op.54, ‘Waldstein’; No.30 in E, Op.109
Debussy    Préludes, E book II, L 131

The title for this 12 months’s Dresden Music Pageant is ‘Horizons’: as Jan Vogler, the director of the forty seventh pageant says, ‘far too not often will we handle to look far out to the horizon, the place heaven and earth appear to the touch. With the assistance of our creativeness, we will see a lot additional …  and let our ideas wander throughout the universe’. These are concepts which appeared related to the recital by the younger Italian pianist Francesco Piemontesi, significantly maybe within the later Beethoven, and within the lesser-played set of Debussy Préludes.

My earlier impressions of Piemontesi have been uniformly superb: I keep in mind interviewing him about his disc of Liszt’s Années de pèlerinage (Suisse) and encountering a pianist of superb mind and unquestionable musicality. His Beethoven is a barely identified amount, in that he has put down a remarkably delicate efficiency of the piano contribution to the Cello Sonata No.4 in C, Op.102 with Nicolas Altstaedt (on Genuin), and a shocking Third Concerto with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe underneath Sir Roger Norrington as a part of an enormous 13-disc Sony field, Classical Music in Switzerland – that efficiency is from the Settimane Musicali di Ascona in 2016 (Piemontesi is admittedly on a extra engaged stage than his conductor). Piemontesi’s Beethoven has eloquence and maturity. His trigger on this recital was helped immeasurably by a superb instrument within the Palais im Grossen Garten, a Steinway from Dresden’s Piano Gäbler. With this instrument, Piemontesi was capable of conjure myriad colors.

Piemontesi’s approach is rock stable, which suggests his Beethoven want by no means compromise. He took a low-pedal method to the primary motion of the ‘Waldstein,’ textures fastidiously managed, rhythm at all times agency. Readability was clearly an crucial for Piemontesi, whose finger energy is past any doubt. However he additionally introduced moments of superb fantasy; this was like listening to the work anew. No surprise there was full silence from the viewers within the hole between first and second actions. The second motion, the Introduzione: Adagio molto, was fascinating. Gradual, monumental, this felt way more like late, ‘third interval’ Beethoven than middle-period, a pre-echo of what was to come back, maybe. Piemontesi took dangers, permitting traces to talk, unadorned, so that they exuded an aching sense of longing. The transition to the finale was completely judged, the final motion’s opening a ray of sunshine. The infamous glissandos have been simply that, and dispatched. as in the event that they have been, as probably the most pure, and straightforward, factor on the earth.

Transferring to Op.109, there was a way of overarching structural thought that was extremely spectacular (significantly because it was the one facet I missed in Klaus Mäkelä’s account of Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony with the Concertgebouw within the Kulturpalast the evening earlier than: evaluate to comply with). Piemontesi clearly understands, and lives, this music on the deepest stage. The second motion is marked prestissimo, and sure the music shouldn’t really feel breathless. Once more, this was completely judged; Piemontesi additionally, by way of dynamism, was forthright however by no means compelled. Technical management was very good; however it was within the finale that the music elevated to the best heights. The marking is, in Italian, Andante molto cantabile ed espressivo (there may be additionally the German ‘Gesangvoll, mit innigster Empfindung’). This was a real andante – it moved superbly – and what adopted because the music multi-coloured of vistas, from full-toned staccato by way of Handelian grandeur and onwards to the music of the Elysian Fields.

Each sonatas, of their alternative ways, place significance on the trill, and it was fascinating to listen to Piemontesi acknowledge that hyperlink, bringing actual selection and significance to every incidence, an oscillation of vitality relatively than simply an train.

The second half was Debussy’s second ebook of Préludes. For some purpose this set appears to look much less in recital programmes, and but Piemontesi persuaded us of its greatness. Right here was identifiably the identical pianist with the identical traits, however his soundworld modulated in direction of Debussy, adjusting to that composer’s sense of color completely. Readability was the watchword for the opening ‘Bouillards’ (Mists), mysterious and veiled. Marked Lent et mélancolique, ‘Feuilles mortes’ (Useless leaves) exuded remorse; Piemontesi’s sense of line was what made this studying notable. Character was in all places within the set, however maybe most clear within the habanera, ‘La puerta del Vino’ (The Wine Gate), the downward arpeggiations carrying fantasy and vitality. How Piemontesi’s fairies flickered (‘Les fées sont d’exquises danseuses’); trills right here once more alight, maybe offering the firelight.

This was a efficiency of contrasts, all held inside a structural arc: once more, that sense of far-sighted imaginative and prescient binding the entire, simply as in Beethoven. So it was that the light ‘Bruyères’ was set in opposition to the humour of ‘Général Lavine – eccentric’; or the hyper-calibrated strata of ‘La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune’ (The Terrace of Moonlit Audiences) in opposition to the unpredictable roulades of ‘Ondine’.

Humour definitely arrives with ‘Hommage à S. Pickwick Esq, P.P.M.P.C, with its swagger and its use of God Save the King. Piemontesi gave the piece’s false pomp completely; there may hardly be better distinction than to ‘Canope’ – the harmonies right here positively luminous. The ultimate pair of Préludes transfer forwards in velocity and momentum, the quietly chattering ‘Les tierces alternées’ (Alternating Thirds) ceding to the nice virtuoso problem of ‘Feux d’artifice’ (Fireworks), the true end result of the set, a present of highest virtuosity from Piemontesi each in finger velocity and in color. Once more, a hyperlink: the glissando right here, maybe a liberated ‘Waldstein’, stuffed with exultation; after which, type the mists, the Marseillaise.

One encore, however the viewers may have simply taken a dozen: the Bach/Busoni Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, from Chorale Preludes BV B 27 (1898), which has appeared on Piemontesi’s Pentatone disc Bach Nostalghia.

Piemontesi has recorded each books of Debussy’s Préludes for the Naïve label; he is among the best younger pianists and deserves to be absolutely recognised as such.

Colin Clarke

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