Very few living pianists can equal Libetta

Scritto da Administrator
Martedì 01 Luglio 2008 08:49
Jeremy Nicholas - Piano International - Jan/Feb 2004
A few years back, an amateur video circulated amongst piano cognoscenti featuring a young Italian pianist playing all 53 of the Chopin-Godowsky Studies live in concert, a few never attempted (let alone filmed) before.
The technical accomplishment and obvious musicality of Francesco Libetta left a deep impression.
Now comes the skilfully filmed/edited recital in superb sound. It reinforces my belief that there are very few living pianists who can equal Libetta in the execution of this kind of repertoire, who have the daring and stamina to play such a programme, a succession of pieces most of which, taken individually, are beyond the grasp of all but the greatest virtuosi. We are talking (the young) Horowitz, Cziffra and Hamelin.
If we take the fabulous mechanism, unerring accuracy and wondrous tonal control for granted (!), perhaps the most astonishing element of Libetta's playing is his deportment at the keyboard - unshowy, unruffled stillness, only his facial muscles occasionally betraying the enormous concentration (strangely, it is that one Classical piece in his programme, the Hummel, that prompts the most body movement). Highlights? Risler's ingenious, wrist-crippling arrangement of Till Eulenspiegel, the three Chopin-Godowsky studies, the jaw-dropping delivery of Totentanz, the most scintillanting Saint-Saëns Étude en forme de valse I have ever heard, and, as if that were not emough, the first movement of Alkan's "Le Quatre Ages" Sonata - incredible. Quite incredible. Up till this point, the audience has been amazingly undemonstrative; after it, they finally get the message. Criticism? Even the greatest celebrations of virtuosity need pauses for calm, contrast and relaxation.