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Fire and brimstone?

Fabio Grasso plays Rubinstein -
and GORDON RUMSON raises some serious issues

'... great elan and vibrancy.'

Anton Rubinstein - Fabio Grasso. © 2002 Disques du solstice

Because of my interest in the music and influence of Anton Rubinstein I must applaud any effort to bring his compositions before the listening public. That being said, I also believe that performances of Rubinstein's music which do not bring something 'extra' to the mere notes on the page -- in accord with Rubinstein's own methods (as frequently described) -- leave something to be desired.

There is no question that the Italian born Fabio Grasso is a fine pianist. Besides graduating from the Turin Conservatory in piano, he took a degree in composition at Milan and earned a doctorate in Classical Greek Literature. He has performed widely and his performances and compositions have earned him awards in significant and prestigious competitions. Here is a serious and devoted artist who evidently brings to the piano a wide cultural and musical character. Grasso plays with elegance and genuine beauty in the more lyric compositions, such as the Nocturne Op 71 No 1 [listen -- track 7, 0:00-1:05].

Fabio Grasso has also studied Rubinstein's life and music deeply. Extensive research into the music has provided him insight into Rubinstein's compositions. For example, in the notes, which he wrote, Grasso importantly draws attention to Rubinstein's compositional methods, he writes:

'The piano writing of these pieces indeed reconciles the fluidity of a rich, ornate melodic line with the monumentally of a solid, massive harmonic substratum, It requires the performer to master in suppleness the density of chords and the polyphony that occasionally results from it and, at the same time confront (if possible, with an aristocratic nonchalance) real, albeit only rarely spectacular, technical difficulties.'

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Copyright © 20 July 2003 Gordon Rumson, Calgary, Canada


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