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Perfectly Measured

BILL NEWMAN listens to Aldo Ciccolini


Octegenarian Aldo Ciccolini [Royal Festival Hall, London, UK, 27 May 2009] is a very great artist and a personal friend, whom I have interviewed. I attended many of his concerts, and have most of his commercial recordings.

Yannick Nezet-Seguin, likewise I admire for the clarity of his conducting and his consistent observance of dynamics. Although he makes the point of making very clear his gestures to orchestras, he is very accurate and musical in his intentions. His 2009 BBC Promenade Concert was full of fine things. A popular figure with both performers and audiences, I admire his honesty of approach, but believe he will mature as he takes on more repertoire in both concerts and recordings.

The London Philharmonic Orchestra was the very first orchestra I heard in public: at the Central Hall, Chatham in the late 1940s, then at the Royal Albert Hall in the early 50s when the great Edvard van Beinum was Principal Conductor. Other Maestri I admired greatly in their guest performances with the LPO were Basil Cameron, Nikolai Malko, Anthony Collins, Victor da Sabata, and Serge Koussevitzky in those remarkable RAH concerts he directed. Sir Adrian Boult, Klaus Tennstedt, and now Vladimir Jurowski maintained and set the wonderful standards since their inception. Unfortunately, I missed their concerts with Sir Thomas Beecham following their formation, but still relish the incredible standards achieved, re-introducing their early Columbia recordings during my EMI tenure.

Back to the 27 May event, I enjoyed both performances of the two symphonies [Mendelssohn's 'Italian' and Dvorák's Symphony No 7] and the poetry, drama and verve of the orchestra's commitment.

Rachmaninov's Second Concerto was a revelation. Ciccolini's perfectly measured and highly musical reading merged wondrously with the string tone, warmth of wind ensemble playing and splendid bite of the brass and percussion. Pascal Rogé, seated alongside, called it 'an object lesson for all young pianists'. Need I say more!

Copyright © 22 September 2009 Bill Newman,
Edgware UK










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