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To the Manner Born

Marcella Crudeli's recital at London's Leighton House
enjoyed by MALCOLM TROUP


To hold one's own in Leighton House's already exotic surroundings requires no end of colour, glamour and chutz-pah. All of these qualities were found in abundance in Marcella Crudeli's only piano recital in London last Friday 10 March 2006 -- the first of a mini-series of Celebrity Concerts mounted there by the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe (President: Alfred Brendel KBE) of which Madame Crudeli is a Patron.

Naturally she had to make the obligatory bow in the direction of the Master by including his Les Adieux Sonata, well chosen for its extrovert programmatic content reminding us that the celebration of the outdoors -- the marketplace, hunt and birdsong -- first began in the 14th century cacce of the Italian Ars Nova. Here was all the hustle and bustle of the departure and ultimate return of the imperial coach, the postilion's horn, the heartfelt 'Lebewohl' to his Archduke-Archbishop (who was his Maecenas as well as his friend), the yearning absence (during which Beethoven once had to take refuge from the bombardment in a cellar) and the breathless anticipation of Rudolf's homecoming -- all portrayed with faultless chiaroscuro never once descending to sentimentality. Indeed, if anyone thought that this rare glimpse into unbridled 19th century virtuosity would reveal self-indulgence or catch-as-catch-can, they were soon undeceived. What they heard was as much belonging to the authentic ageold school of Italian sprezzatura (though coloured with a late 19th century gloss) as anything of Cavazzoni, Terzi or Carlo Farina. It was the world of Luigi (not Ludwig!) di Beethoven (as he liked to sign himself) to which we were being introduced at a time when Rossini was filling all of Vienna's opera houses to overflowing.

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Copyright © 18 March 2006 Malcolm Troup, London UK


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