Tuesday, 10 October 2017


DAY 2: Sunday (20 August 2017)

The morning began with Satu Paavola's lecture-recital of the piano music of Sigismond Thalberg, illustrating his L’Art du chant appliqué au piano (The Art of Song Applied on the Piano), and its 12 cardinal rules on how to translate bel canto singing into the otherwise percussive world of the piano. It is still drizzling, and Husum appears very much like its most famous son Theodor Storm’s droll description of “grey town by the sea”. My only spot of sightseeing is Husum's Weihnachtshaus (Christmas Museum) which is distinguished by its devilish-looking dolls and spooky suspended wooden angels.

Benevolent Christmas angel
or evil minion of Chucky?

Recital 3 (7.30 pm)

A most varied and delicious recital was delivered by the Italian who is based in Cleveland. He has truly captured the Husum spirit even in his debut. Carl Czerny's tricky La Ricordanza Variations, based on a congenial theme by Carl Rode makes an excellent start, bringing fond memories of the Horowitz and Melvyn Tan recordings. 

There was a selection of French bonbons from Pompa-Baldi's recording The Rascal and The Sparrow, juxtaposing Poulenc and Edith Piaf songs transcribed by Roberto Piana. I loved that Steinway & Sons disc, and its even better hearing it live. There can be no better flavour of Gay Paree relived when La Vie En Rose and Les Chemins d'Amour are heard side-by-side. Then we are brought back to earth with Medtner's Sonata Tragica, with its punched out opening chords and overwrought emotions pushed to the brink.

The composer Piana returns with an excellent pastiche of Liszt in his Apres une Lecture de Liszt, the title being an obvious play on the Dante Sonata. Here, every device and gesture of the great Hungarian are revived in miniature sonata form, and there is a perverse kind of checking off the quotes from the B minor Sonata, various Hungarian Rhapsodies, Mephisto Waltz No.1, Feux follets, Tarantella... Even Giuseppe Martucci's Fantasy that followed is Lisztian. 

A selection of three Anton Rubinstein etudes closes the recital with the infamous Staccato Etude doing the honours. APB's technique is up there with the likes of Jorge Bolet and Earl Wild, and his encores just as fine. Two Piana novelettes (Serenatella and Torna a Sorriento a la Scarlatti) are delightfully wicked, contrasted with Paderewski's serene Nocturne and Grieg's Rigaudon (from Holberg Suite) played with the lightness of a harpsichord. Just awesome. 

Husum's harbour at high tide,
and the drawbridge lifts for a returning boat.

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