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A poet-aristocrat, a Renaissance prince

Scritto da Administrator
Martedì 01 Luglio 2008 08:45
Matthew Gurewitsch - New York Times - Sunday, Jan 5 2003
 
In July, the festival [of Miami] takes up residence amid the Baroque splendors of Lecce, deep in the heel of Italy. Not coincidentally, Lecce is the hometown of another repeat visitor to Florida, the remarkable Francesco Libetta, a poet-aristocrat of the keyboard with the profile and carriage of a Renaissance prince. (…) Mr. Libetta, for his part, gives Liszt's take on the waltz from Gounod's "Faust" a plush, sumptuous dynamism that plunges a listener straight into the heady vortex of the dance. In Liszt's reduction of Wagner's "Song to the Evening Star," from "Tannhäuser," Mr. Libetta is in a more delicate mood, giving the ray that pierces the somber twilight a pure, icy shimmer as quietly astonishing as Wagner's original blend of woodwinds, harp and strings.
One discovery leads to another, and the network expands. In Miami, Mr. Libetta's artistry caught the ear of a visiting lecturer at the festival, the filmmaker Bruno Monsaingeon, whose in-depth portraits of legends like Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Sviatoslav Richter are reckoned among the finest musical documentaries ever made. (His video of Mr. Anderszewski explicating and performing Beethoven's monumental "Diabelli" Variations is a winner, too.)

Now Mr. Monsaingeon has embarked on not one but two projects with Mr. Libetta, one of them ("The Pianist of the Impossible") investigating the poetic dimension of works of extreme technical difficulty. Meanwhile, Mr. Libetta has produced a video of his own, "Libetta in Lecce," interspersing concert footage with perceptive remarks by other artists and scholars from his out-of-the-way, culturally blessed hometown. (A subtitled version is being released this month by VAI.).