LAWRENCE BUDMEN enjoyed the Seventh Miami International Piano Festival Discovery Series
Few composers changed music history as decisively as Frederic Chopin (1810-1849). Although he wrote scores for cello, voice, and orchestra, Chopin regarded the keyboard as supreme. George Sand noted that 'Chopin created a revolution in the language of music but with only one instrument.' Beneath the delicacy of his melodic writing -- pianistic bel canto -- Chopin was a bold innovator. His explorations of harmonic chromaticism and expressive inner voices reinvented keyboard music. The feverish Romanticism and daunting technical challenges of Chopin's music pose a formidable challenge to the performing artist. The amazing Italian pianist Pietro De Maria held a large audience spellbound by his inspired Chopin interpretations on 15 May 2004 at the Lincoln Theater in Miami Beach, USA -- the high point of the Seventh Miami International Piano Festival Discovery Series.
De Maria, a student of the great pianist Maria Tipo, is a dazzling virtuoso with the soul of a poet. His sense of rhythmic freedom, elasticity of phrasing, romantic ardor, and caressing tonal hues set a new standard for the four Chopin Ballades. The fury and tortuous passions of the famous Ballade No 4 in F Minor Op 52 were given commanding musical shape and singing cantabile line in De Maria's stellar performance. Chopin's two sets of Etudes, Op 10 (1829-32) and Op 25 (1834-36) broke new pianistic ground -- combining technical invention with surging lyricism and fiery bravura. De Maria's stunning technique easily encompassed the music's virtuoso demands. He played with such freedom that it seemed he was creating the music as he performed. (De Maria's musical approach is closer to the generation of pianists that had direct contact with the nineteenth century Romantic tradition -- artists such as Ignaz Friedman and Moritz Rosenthal.) The beautiful lyrical line (bel canto indeed), sensitivity, and poignant emotion that De Maria brought to the third étude of Op 10 made the piece all the more nostalgic in its Polish nationalism. For once the Revolutionary Etude was not an overt display piece but the summation of a deeply emotional, passionate musical utterance. De Maria's lithe, golden sound, creative imagination, singing tone, and wonderful sense of the music's light and shade produced a Chopin performance to remember! Following in the grand tradition of Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli and Mauricio Pollini, Pietro De Maria is the new Italian Aristocrat of the Piano!
Copyright © 15 June 2004
Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA