Italian pianist Alessandro Marangoni dazzles Toronto audience with poise and polish
My review of last night's recital by Alessandro Marangoni appears to have made it neither into print nor online at the Star, so here it is:
Sitting upright in front of a gleaming black concert grand piano in white tie and tails, 31-year-old Italian pianist Alessandro Marangoni cut a dashing, old-school figure for his North American début at Jane Mallett Theatre on Tuesday night.
All that was missing to cap an enchanted program of 19th century and early 20th century party pieces was a video projection of an over-decorated salon, to make up for the drab, Modernist hall.
At first, the Music Toronto audience was not sure what to make of this guest. Weaned on a diet of Great Pieces from the classical canon, many people must have been taken aback by the lighthearted fare.
Marangoni opened with a fantasy on a theme from Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni, whipped up by Muzio Clementi (1752-1832), then continued with four of Gioachino Rossini’s “sins of old age,” written in his post-operatic retirement in the 1850s and ‘60s.
At intermission, I heard one audience member saying how much she enjoyed Maragnoni’s playing, but wished he had been more ambitious with his program. In reality, any pianist needs to conquer huge technical hurdles before being able to make these musical soufflés rise.
The Italian not only played well, but also added graceful contours and elegant colouring. There wasn’t a single note or phrase that Marangoni hadn’t honed to the point where it could sound as if it were being born in the moment.
The second half of the concert included more fun – three pieces by conductor Victor De Sabata (1892-1967), a bit of an Art Deco detour in the otherwise gilded evening – as well as substantial fare by Ferrucio Busoni (1866-1924) and Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849).
The Chopin Andante spianato and Grande Polonaise was a marvel of polish and eloquence – very much in the composer’s own style of playing, as history would have it.
The audience, finally realising what a prodigious talent they had in the room, kept calling Marangoni back for more.
Hopefully, this marked the start of a long and satisfying career for Marangoni on this side of the Atlantic.
Here is one of the Péchés de vieillesse Marangoni played last night at the Music Toronto recital (this clip from a summer-festival recital in Italy a few months ago):