Piemontesi has the reputation of a sensitive artist who approaches each phrase with great attention to detail. He opens the eight edition of the festival with a combination of the Classical repertoire and modern music. The programme is introduced with a piece by one of Germany’s most distinguished contemporary composers, Helmut Lachenmann, followed by Schubert’s late Sonata in C minor. The concert will end with Liszt´s masterful, monumental Sonata in B minor.
Date of EventSunday, 1.11. 2020 from 19.30
Event placeRudolfinum – Dvořák Hall
Price200 - 700 CZK
- Helmut Lachenmann: 5 Variations on a Theme of Franz Schubert
- Franz Schubert: Piano Sonata in C minor D 958
- Franz Liszt: Les jeux d‘eaux à la Villa d‘Este
- Franz Liszt: Piano Sonata in B minor S 178
- Francesco Piemontesi - piano
A native of Locarno, Switzerland, Francesco Piemontesi grew up in a trilingual family – from childhood he was surrounded by Italian, German, and French. If you look at his scores, you will notice the striking number of comments in all of those languages and in English as well. Ad no wonder – Piemontesi’s teachers and mentors include many illustrious pianists from around the world: Arie Vardi, Alfred Brendel, and Murray Perahia, just to name a few.
He has earned a reputation as a sensitive artist who gives careful thought to every phrase. At London’s famed Wigmore Hall he held a highly successful series of recitals with the title Mozart Odyssey, in the course of three seasons performing all the sonatas by that master of Viennese Classicism. He has received critical acclaim for his ability to give contrasting shades to individual motifs. Piemontesi revealed his approach in an interview: “Mozart was a great opera composer, so I think up a different character on stage for each of his motifs.”
Piemontesi does not, however, limit his repertoire to just the Classical period. He revealed his mesmerising sonic imagination when he recorded Liszt’s Années de pèlerinage. For the British music critic Peter Reed, the way Piemontesi, a superb interpreter of Mozart, contended perfectly with the virtuosic repertoire of late Romanticism was a revelation. “There were moments when his noble counterpoint vanished into a welter of piano roar, and by the end of ‘Wachet auf’ no sleeper could have been anything but awake,” writes Reed.
Although he had begun playing piano at an early age, in secondary school he considered whether to pursue a career in science. Fortunately for him and the public, music won out. In 2007 he won a prize at the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, and for the years 2009-2011 he was selected for the project BBC New Generation Artists. But his passion for physics has not left him. “Sometimes I spend long hours studying new discoveries in an attempt to grasp where our society’s learning is headed,” he says.
He makes no secret of his admiration for Czech music – in interviews he has said that Rudolf Firkušný’s performance of the Dvořák Piano Concerto with the Czech Philharmonic is one of his favourite recordings. He recorded the Dvořák Piano Concerto with Jiří Bělohlávek and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and with the Czech Philharmonic under the baton of Manfred Honeck three years ago he played Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto. We also find a reference to Czech music in his answer to a question from the British newspaper The Guardian: “Imagine you’re a festival director in London with unlimited resources. What would you programme – or commission – for your opening event?”. Piemontesi answered: “Myung-Whun Chung conducting the Concertgebouw Orchestra with Arnold Schönberg’s oratorio Jacob’s Ladder, completed by the young Czech composer Ondřej Adamek.”
The opening concert of the eighth-annual Rudolf Firkušný Piano Festival will present a combination of classical repertoire and modern music. It will begin with Five Variations on a Theme by Franz Schubert by one of today’s most important German composers. Helmut Lachenmann, who turns eighty-five this year, is known primarily as a composer of “instrumental concrete music”, based on the extraction of unconventional sounds from classical musical instruments. Lachenmann wrote this relatively traditional set of variations based on the theme of a Schubert waltz at the very beginning of his musical career in the 1950s. Next comes Schubert’s Sonata in C Minor, which begins with a reference to another famous set of variations, the 32 Variations in C Minor by Ludwig van Beethoven. The second half of the recital is devoted to the music of Franz Liszt. It opens with Les jeux d’eaux à la Villa d’Este, a forerunner of Maurice Ravel’s impressionistic piece Jeux d’eaux. It is inspired by the fountains at the famous villa in Tivoli not far from Rome, where Liszt was staying as a cardinal’s guest. The evening will conclude with Liszt’s Sonata in B Minor, a monumental masterpiece of great originality in terms of its compositional and pianistic techniques.