Victor Sangiorgio (Piano)
reviewed by Neville Cohn
Victor Sangiorgio’s piano recitals are tailor-made for concertgoers with adventurous tastes, listeners who are interested to hear music well off the beaten track. In this sense, the recital was vintage Sangiorgio who offered rarities such as a bracket of sonatas by Cimarosa, some only recently being played in public again after languishing in obscurity for centuries.
For most concertgoers, Cimarosa is inextricably and almost exclusively associated with his perennially popular opera Il Matrimonio Segreto and a little Sonata in G that young pianists are fond of playing at suburban eisteddfodau. Sangiorgio’s offering gave a more rounded view of the composer.
Fearless, nimble fingers made light of the first and fifth of this set of brief pieces, the fifth, in particular, a little miracle of prestidigitation that rivetted the attention, as pleasing in its way as a sonata in B flat that came across as an exquisitely stated essay in staccato touch.
Clementi’s opus 47 no 2 is a sonata on a much grander scale. Although without the stylistic originality and profundity that inform so much of the output of Clementi’s great rival Mozart, the former’s sonata certainly warrants an occasional airing and Sangiorgio was the man for the job. This work is no pushover and Sangiorgio did it proud with powerful, confident fingers that took even the trickiest episodes in their stride and very convincingly conveyed the boldness and drama of the outer movements.
Bach’s great Partita in B flat was better-known fare with Sangiorgio
unbottling the joyful genie of its more vigorous dance movements to gratifying effect. This was an object lesson in what fine piano playing is all about in a recital that ought to have been required listening for every piano student aspiring to a concert career. It was a shame that there were numbers of empty seats at this important event. The Allemande was wonderfully fluent and the Sarabande almost beyond criticism, a model of cultivated musicianship with its quasi-extemporaneous quality evoked to the nth degree. This was the happiest harnessing of technique and emotion. Playing of this calibre ought to have been recorded for posterity.
Despite the authority with which they were presented, six extracts from Chick Corea’s Childrens’ Songs were a dull patch in an otherwise fascinating program. John Cage’s Dream, written, we were told, for famed choreographer Merce Cunningham, in 1948, has the character of a nocturne, a gentle offering with its hushed washes of pedalled sound bringing images of mist-shrouded vistas to mind. And Melbourne-based composer Stuart Greenbaum’s quaintly titled But I Want the Harmonica evolved gradually from quietness to stridency before decibel levels dropped again to bring the piece to a gentle close. Throughout, one heard a near-mesmeric simulation of a tolling bell.
Casella’s Toccata is no-man’s-land for any but the best equipped of pianists. Here, staying power, notational accuracy at high speed, controlled rhythmic underpinning and an iron nerve are crucial performance requirements. On all counts, Sangiorgio came through with banners flying.
Copyright 2003 Neville Cohn