On the last day I was there, I saw Fabio Luisi conduct the festival orchestra in a performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Brahm’s Symphony No. 2. Luisi, the Metropolitan Opera’s principle conductor, was probably the most famous man at the festival. Yet the musicians I spoke to before the performance had universally praised his approachability and efficiency in rehearsals […] Under Luisi’s conducting, Alessandro Taverna, a young Venetian pianist, performed the Rachmaninoff. Like Rafael Payare, Taverna was one of Maazel’s last recruits, and also like Payare, he demonstrated a virtuosic ability to combine two seemingly contradictory, in-demand skills: the ability to muddle as thoroughly as the base of a good mint julep the deeper chords that drive the piece’s Romantic power, and yet such precision on the high, graceful notes that each seemed to fall like a raindrop. The audience, no musical neophytes, gave him a standing ovation, three curtain calls, demanded an encore, and then—I have never seen this before—clapped him to his seat when he took his place in the audience after the intermission. I stood and clapped my hands numb with the rest.
Nicholas M. Gallagher
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