Italian Pianist Antonio Pompa-Baldi to visit Grahamstown

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Monday, 5th May 2014

The next concert to be presented by the Grahamstown Music Society will be on 23rd May at 7:30 pm at the St Andrew’s College Drill Hall and will feature the renowned Italian pianist Antonio Pompa-Baldi. Born and raised in Foggia, Italy, Pompa-Baldi is now resident in the United States, where he serves as Distinguished Professor of Piano at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He gives master-classes around the world, both in conjunction with his performing engagements and at summer festivals.

He will open this recital with a piece by the Russian composer and pianist Sergei Mikhailovich Liapunov (1859–1924): Op. 11 No. 12, Elégie en mémoire de François Liszt ("Elegy in memory of Liszt") in E minor. Liapunov is largely remembered for his Douze études d'exécution transcendente. This set completed the cycle of the 24 major and minor keys that Franz Liszt had started with his own Transcendental Études but had left unfinished. Not only was Lyapunov's set of études as a whole dedicated to the memory of Franz Liszt, but the final étude was specifically titled Élégie en memoire de Franz Liszt.

Next up is Frédéric Chopin’s Etudes Op. 10. Published in 1833 when Chopin was twenty-three years old and already famous as a composer and pianist in the salons of Paris, these Études are the foundation of a new system of technical piano playing that was radical and revolutionary the first time they appeared. They are some of the most challenging and evocative pieces of all the works in concert piano repertoire.

This will be followed by three pieces by Franz Liszt (1811–1886): Second Ballade, Sposalizio and Verdi Ernani Paraphrase.

Pompa-Baldi believes that the Second Ballade by Liszt was inspired by the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.  Its many moods are held together through the transformation of a single gesture.

Sposalizio is the title of the first piece in  Liszt's Deuxième Année de Pèlerinage: Italie (Second year of Pilgrimage: Italy), published in 1858. Liszt composed Sposalizio after being inspired from Raphael's painting The Marriage of the Virgin.

Liszt composed three Verdi paraphrases (the other two being Rigoletto, and Il Trovatore). The Paraphrase on Ernani is based on themes from the end of Act III of Verdi’s opera, and is a much more extroverted work than the other two paraphrases.

The recital will end with a piece by the Sardinian-born Roberto Piana (b. 1971) "Aprés une lecture de Liszt”. In this piece Piana pays tribute to the immense influence of Franz Liszt on the modern pianist by means of extensive quotation from some of the composer’s most important piano works. Composed in January 2013, this work was dedicated to Antonio Pompa-Baldi , and Guytano Parks said of Pompa-Baldi’s performance “Quoting Liszt twenty-four times throughout, Piana infused this virtuosic homage with light but respectable humor, composing in Liszt’s style of utilizing every sonic resource of the piano. Pompa-Baldi executed everything brilliantly while expressively projecting the melodic content at all times.”

Pompa-Baldi’s recordings of 12 Etudes by Lyapunov, Etudes Op. 10 by Chopin, Liszt's 2nd Ballade and Ernani-Paraphrase de concert (S532), Piana's Aprés une Lecture de Liszt will be released on CD later this year.

For further information on  this exciting artist, see or like him on Facebook

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