Notes and Editorial Reviews
Capriccio su “I pretendenti delusi,”
Sonata in c,
Sonata in g,
Variazioni e Toccata,
Costantino Mastroprimiano (pn)
TACTUS 761601 (77:53)
I confess my ignorance: the only Pollini that I ever connected to music was the famous Italian pianist, Maurizio
Pollini. I had never heard of Francesco Pollini (1762–1846) until this CD arrived at my doorstep. Apparently he was well known in his time as a pedagogue and his writings about piano technique are still respected and considered historically important. How about the music? Well, it is like much of the lighter fare written by his contemporaries: elegant, fun, and easily forgettable. Or at least it
be forgettable, if it had not found in Mastroprimiano such an excellent champion.
One of the big pleasures of writing reviews is discovering the occasional fabulous composer who has been unjustly forgotten by posterity. An equal pleasure is finding a master of the second rank played with commitment and gusto by a first-class interpreter. Mastroprimiano is the kind of musician who could convince you that a C-Major scale repeated 10 times is actually a pretty nice piece! He applies his nimble technique and his overflowing musicality to extract every ounce of emotion and excitement from even the silliest phrase. His touch is natural and engaging, and his dynamic range is such that it makes us understand what was so exciting about the fortepiano (Forte! Piano!) when it began to create its space among the instruments. Mastroprimiano truly dominates all the shades of tone the instrument can produce, and thus all the voices are always exposed with absolute clarity, I would even say didactically, if there was not a sniggering nuance implied in that word. So let me stress that there is nothing sedate or boring about Mastroprimiano’s playing, quite the contrary, it sings and dances with organic
joie de vivre
. Here is an interpreter who demonstrates complete empathy both with his chosen composer and his chosen instrument, which he shows in the best possible light.
This specific fortepiano was made by Giovanni Heichele in Trieste, roughly the same region from where the composer stems, and seems in excellent state of repair. The tuning (A=430) sounds a bit odd, in the beginning, but the ear is quick to adapt. The sound is open and light, and is particularly apt for the repertoire, adding to the historical (and musical) interest of the recording. If you ever thought the fortepiano sounds like a toy piano, here is a golden opportunity to change your mind. It would have been nice if the piano specifications, so well described in Italian by Ugo Casiglia, had been translated for the foreign hearer/reader, as was the rest of the booklet’s text (which is very informative and interesting, by the way), signed by Mastroprimiano himself.
This CD is a must for pianists who can consider it as a practical treatise on how to play with feeling and flair. So curiously enough, the pedagogical value of Pollini’s music will still shine through. But come to think of it, this CD will appeal to a much larger audience than piano aficionados. Any interpreter has a lot to learn here, no matter what his instrument. And the music-lover will find much to enjoy, and might emerge from the listening experience with his curiosity about the 18th century renewed.
FANFARE: Laura Rónai
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