Archive press 2009

Cast the bell around the world

November 17, 2009. GONDAI Atsuhiko

-Mr. Alessandro Taverna performed ‘Transient bell for piano’ in the 2nd stage. What do you think about his rendition?

I didn’t expect to be performed from memory. Because this is a new work so I assumed to be played from the score. There are renditions played from scores and from memory, and both of which are meaningful. When playing from memory, you have to fully absorb the physical expression and the scores into you and put it out. In this case, the score is like a script for a play. To the contrary, playing from the score is to re-read when performing. Mr. Taverna was fantastic. More than I expected. His glissando was skillful, too. If allowing me to ask more, it was too beautiful.

-Mr. Sean Kennard has also chosen your work, and said it was difficult to express a form.

I think he realizes the essence of the work. The form is the most important part. If you can’t create a form, there’s no music.

-In the beginning of the score, the meters keep decreasing every bar line. What’s the meaning of this?

It describes the change of the volume of the cast bell sound consisted by atari (the impact sounds), oshi (stable tone height), and okuri (the ringing ends) that gradually decrease, and also the fading-away of time which is imagined from the change. This is basis of the fundamentals where I put the most important point when I write the work.

-Do you have any message to the contestants who chose the ‘Transient bell for piano’?

I want them to include it as their repertoire, and take it with them to their country and cast the bell to the world.

da ‘Hamamatsu International Piano Competition, News & Topics’ 

Versatilidad al piano

León, 30/11/2009. Sala de Audiciones de Caja España. Alessandro Taverna, piano. J. S. Bach: Suite inglesa nº 5 BWV 810; F. Chopin: Scherzo op. 54 nº 4; F. Gulda: Play piano play, nº 1, 9 y 6; F. Liszt: Tarantelle di bravura S386; I. Stravinsky: Tres movimientos de Pétrouchka. Fundación Eutherpe

Alessandro Taverna (Caorle, Venecia, 1983) es un pianista que, pese a su juventud, cuenta en su palmarés con destacados premios en concursos internacionales celebrados en Estados Unidos, Londres, Italia, Japón y Sudáfrica. Era la primera vez que lo escuchaba en directo y me sorprendieron tanto su excelente técnica pianística como su capacidad de adaptación al variado repertorio programado.

El recital, interpretado íntegramente de memoria, se inició con la Suite inglesa nº 5 de Bach. Desde el ‘Preludio’ inicial, Taverna dio muestras de una cuidada precisión de toque, dibujando con claridad las diversas líneas melódicas dentro del entramado contrapuntístico. La ‘Allemande’ sonó delicada y envolvente gracias a un discreto uso del medio pedal. Siguieron una ‘Courante’, donde los stacatti en ritmo rápido resonaron poderosos en el Steinway de la sala, y una ‘Sarabande’, para concluir con dos ‘Passepied’ y una ‘Giga’ de carácter decidido. El recital prosiguió con el Scherzo nº 4 de Chopin, donde Taverna exhibió una admirable agilidad en la interpretación de los rápidos pasajes ornamentales de las secciones primera y tercera de la pieza. La parte central, con la típica melodía chopiniana cantada por la voz superior mientras que la inferior acompañaba en el grave a base de amplios despliegues de arpegios, tuvo un carácter más íntimo, aunque apenas sin rubato en la versión de este pianista que se muestra comedido y elegante.

Tras una breve pausa inferior a cinco minutos, la segunda parte nos introdujo de golpe, con Play piano play, de Gulda, en un universo estético diferente, de influencias jazzísticas, con ritmos a contratiempo y ostinatos muy marcados, asi como series de octavas en stacatto en el caso de la última pieza- que fueron interpretadas con limpieza y precisión. Por su carácter efectista ésta podría haber sido una obra apropiada para concluir el recital; sin embargo, las piezas que siguieron mantuvieron esta misma línea con creciente dificultad técnica. La Tarantelle di bravura de Liszt responde a un esquema de variaciones sobre un tema tomado de La muette de Portici de Auber y en su interpretación Taverna mostró de nuevo un estilo de toque pulcro y elegante, haciendo parecer sencillos ciertos pasajes que constituyen auténticos desafíos técnicos para cualquier pianista. Una adecuada dosificación de recursos le permitió no caer en el exhibicionismo o el virtuosismo gratuitos, manteniéndose así fiel a su sobria personalidad como pianista. El recital concluyó con una espléndida versión de los Tres movimientos de Pétrouchka -Danse russe, Chez Pétrouchka y La semaine grasse-, obra de delicioso carácter jocoso y desenfadado compuesta por Stravinsky para su amigo A. Rubinstein como un arreglo pianístico del ballet homónimo.

Fuera de programa y en atención a los numerosos y merecidos aplausos Taverna interpretó ‘Danza del gaucho matrero’, la última de las tres Danzas argentinas de A. Ginastera.

Roberto San Juan

Este artículo fue publicado el 21/12/2009

A Dexterous Journey

Alessandro Taverna at London’s Steinway Hall,

reviewed by BILL NEWMAN

28 July 2009

Born at Caorle, near Venice, in 1983, pianist Alessandro Taverna studied at the Music Academy of Santa Cecilia, Portogruaro (where he teaches, today) with Laura Candiago Ferrari. Here he attended masterclasses, pursuing his knowledge of chamber music and obtaining his final Diploma. At Imola in 2008, he attended classes by Petrushansky, Lortie and Rattalino. His awards and live performances are too numerous to list, but perhaps his recordings for Radio Classica, Italy, the Slovenian National Radio Television and Classic fm radio in South Africa have given added prestige to his many cultured live activities.

As happens occasionally, I arrived late [Steinway Hall, London, 1 April 2009, recital for the Keyboard Charitable Trust] and lay down at the back of the piano, where I witnessed Taverna’s perfect pedaling, synchronized with long fingers scaling their dexterous journey through J S Bach’s seven-movement English Suite No 5 in E minor, BWV 810. An interesting new perspective — listener-viewers should indulge, occasionally. Exit an artist-sketcher, and I seated myself.

The remainder of the programme with its Russian-German tinges of mysticism, ornate versatility and pictorial stage craft really brought the whole thing alive. Skryabin’s Sonata No 10, Op 70 — the last in a line of weirdly strange experiments in keyboard fantasy — was very much my métier. As a follow-on to the ‘Black Mass’ Ninth, it has an almost Mahlerian quality that compels imaginative players, and proved the ideal foil to Mendelssohn’s rarely performed Sonata 3 in B flat, Op 106. The interest here lies in the three Allegros — vivace, non troppo and moderato — that enshroud the interlinking third movement — Andante quasi Allegretto. The amazing thing about dear Mendelssohn Bartholdy is his ability to always sound fresh and convincing in his ideas that are never clogged up with sheer repetition.

Stravinsky’s eternal barnstormer in his truncated three-movement reduction for Artur Rubinstein — Petrushka — left the piano still intact. Brilliant!

Leeds International Pianoforte Competition

There are some who seek to impress by their sheer virtuosity, others by demonstrating their musicality, but with the 23 year-old French pianist, David Kadouch, you can have both in ample proportions.

From the pure joy that he brought to Beethoven’s Fantasy, his weighty Liszt Variations on a theme Bach; the delight in the ‘naughty’ bits of Shostakovich’s Preludes and the perfectly structured Prokofiev Eighth Sonata, you felt that he was not in a competition, but had come to give pleasure to his audience.

The slightly built Taiwanese, Ching-Yun Hu, exhibited the same values, gossamer in her Ravel, outwardly romantic in Chopin’s Third Sonata, and her lack of size did nothing to inhibit an account of Shostakovich’s First Sonata that was a show of red-blooded brilliance.

Another to impress was the Italian, Alessandro Taverna. Ever thoughtful, weighting the various elements of Beethoven’s Eroica Variations, and infinitely detailing Scriabin’s Tenth Sonata, he threw caution to the wind in the three extracts from Stravinsky’s Petrushka. Not without error, but it excited the audience.

The 17-year-old Chinese, Julian Zhi Chao is still some years away from catching all of the emotions of the music in his programme, and the Russian, Alexey Chernov, left me feeling battered with his cold and hard-hitting playing. I don’t envy the jury choosing from the remainder.

The third and final day of the semi-finals was dominated by the Russian, Sofya Gulyak, a pianist of immense power that she brought to weighty performance of a Clementi sonata, and grew even more awesome as we passed through Schumann and Liszt arriving at a highly charged Prokofiev Sixth Sonata.

Maybe the memory lapse in Jianing Kong’s account of the Liszt Sonata may have gone against him after a well structured major sonata by Schubert. I had also hoped that a place could be found for Wai Ching Rachel Cheung who had give one of the most magical and perfectly shaped accounts of Scrabin’s Fourth Sonata I heard live or on disc.

After writing this review the jury have given me much of my wish list for tonight and Saturday’s final, with Kadouch, Cheung, Taverna among the final six, joined by Gulyak, Kang and the Ukrainian, Alexej Gorlatch who might count himself lucky.

David Denton (from ‘The Yorkshire Post’ , 11 September 2009)

Leeds Piano Competition Final

The gold medallist at this year’s Leeds International Pianoforte Competition was a 29-year-old Russian named Sofya Gulyak, whose success carried with it intimations of history in the making. ‘She is our first woman first-prize-winner,’ Fanny Waterman announced. Waterman co-founded the competition with Marion Thorpe in 1961; despite this very female genesis, its winners, up to now, have all been men.

With Mark Elder conducting the Hallé, Gulyak powered her way to the prize with a performance of Brahms’s First Concerto that was often superb in its measured intensity. In some respects, she’s an unassuming player. But she has the right combination of tonal weight and dark lyricism for Brahms, and she’s wonderfully alert to the mix of passion and rhetoric in his music, all of which mark her out as being a formidable artist, with a significant career ahead of her.

Yet opinions about the judges’ decision will doubtless differ, since the standard was so high that placing the top three finalists in order seemed almost unfair. There were sighs of disappointment when the second prize went to Ukrainian Alexej Gorlatch for a performance of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto that was immaculate in its poetry and aggression. Like many in the audience, I would have liked to see the first prize go to bronze medallist Alessandro Taverna, who played Chopin’s E minor Concerto with forthright, articulate beauty. He commanded the platform as if it were his by right, and looked to be thoroughly enjoying himself. Remember his name, along with Gulyak’s: I suspect we shall also be hearing much more of him in the future.

Tim Ashley (from ‘The Guardian’, 15 September 2009)

Leeds International Piano Competition at the Town Hall, Leeds

You wait for ages for a bus, and then three come along at once. That must have been how Sir Mark Elder felt as he rallied the Hallé for the final of the prestigious 16th Leeds International Piano Competition, in which three of the six young finalists chose to play Beethoven’s Fifth concerto, “the Emperor”, a piece that had not turned up in the final since the competition began 46 years ago.

That wasn’t the only first in the two-night concerto final played out in the sweltering heat and civic grandeur of Leeds Town Hall. Whittled down from 200 entrants to 69 and then six, during two weeks of intensive heats, the finalists competed for a prize more famous for its historic runners-up — Uchida, Lortie, Schiff — than its recent winners.

The first of the Emperors, the Chinese pianist Jianing Kong’s bright, abrasive tone and rigidly metronomic emotion did not make much impact on Beethoven or indeed on the Town Hall Steinway. His successor at the keyboard was similarly saddled. The 17-year-old Rachel Cheung (China) never looked likely to succeed the 2006 winner Sunwook Kim as the youngest-ever winner. She got the audience vote for her machine-gun Rachmaninov 2, but failed to grasp its Romantic sweep.

Taking fourth place, the excited Frenchman David Kadouch brought lyrical poetry and touch to what was a rather misplaced, individual take on the Emperor concerto which had less to do with Beethoven than Kadouch. The Hallé, magnificent throughout, echoed his nuances admirably.

The top three rankings were less easily assigned. The Ukrainian Alexej Gorlatch (the “last Emperor” as Elder delighted in remarking) was more true to Beethoven’s intent, his conventional, quietly poetic if occasionally overdone approach nabbing him second place.

The Italian Alessandro Taverna, eventually placed third, although he perhaps ought to have ranked higher on this performance alone, made lovely work of Chopin’s fiendish Piano Concerto No 1 despite occasionally grappling with the flurry of notes. What marked him out from some rather forced emoting elsewhere was the delight he showed in and through the music, resulting in a triumphant rondo.

But in a competition that is judged on the heats as well as the final, the buzz over the past two weeks surrounding the competition’s first female winner in its 48 years of existence, Sofya Gulyak (Russia), proved telling. The oldest of the competitors at 29, Gulyak had presence. Her Brahms Piano Concerto No 1 was an intelligent, mature performance that maintained a ferocious level of intensity. The judges found their winner in her robust combination of technique and artistry. The runners-up can always take consolation from history.

Sarah Urwin Jones (da ‘The Times’ del 15 Settembre 2009)