FRANCESCO PIEMONTESI RECITAL • Francesco Piemontesi (pn) • AVANTI 5414706 10342 (SACD: 71:16)
HANDEL Suite in Bb. BRAHMS Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel. BACH Partita No. 1. Fantasy and Fugue in g. LISZT Vallée d’Obermann
This is veryRead more beautiful and stylish pianism from this young Italian-Swiss artist. His glowing tonality and unhurried pacing gives his playing a kind of pleasantly old-fashioned allure, apart from many of his more overtly brilliant contemporaries. His performance of the Brahms Handel variations lacks the energy of the famously propulsive Rudolf Serkin approach to the score, but the listener is rewarded by a sense of repose that makes the music more episodic and lovelier, if those are qualities you think are appropriate in this work. It works for me, although Serkin’s bracing cold shower of a performance will probably never fail to excite me. Similarly, Piemontesi lowers the temperature of the Bach partita vis-à-vis the incomparably joyous and theatrically alert playing of Dinu Lipatti, and yet wins over the senses with his rich coloration, incisive harmonic voicing, and delightfully subtle improvisations. His total absorption in the sheer beauty of his material combined with an extraordinarily high level of finish (the excellent SACD sound is a great asset here) makes his playing a hedonistic joy to hear.
I can imagine that some listeners would object to Piemontesi’s tendency to round off the corners of the music. His style flirts rather dangerously with mannerism, but does not really cross the line. I find his approach to be personal but sincere. In the Liszt, his gift for tonal control and his poetic sense for phrasing seem ideal for the material, and this performance positively glows. It would be interesting to hear this tremendously talented musician in yet more repertoire.