Classical Music Guide - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - Written by Donald Isler

Massimiliano Ferrati

19th International Keyboard Institute and Festival at Hunter College
July 27th, 2017

Mozart: Sonata in C Major, K. 330
Beethoven: Sonata in E-Flat Major, Op. 81a “Les Adieux”
Scriabin: Nocturne in D-Flat Major, Op. 9, No. 2 for the Left Hand
Chopin: Berceuse in D-Flat Major, Op. 57
Sonata No. 2 in B-Flat Minor, Op. 35

I always enjoy Massimiliano Ferrati’s recitals. Towards the end of this program I remembered why: He never “just” plays the piano; he is always making music! His playing has warmth, sensitivity and depth. These qualities alone will take one far!

The first movement of the Mozart sonata was cheerful, elegant and delightful. The second movement was lyrical, and he brought out the quiet drama in the middle section. The last movement was invigorating and jaunty.

The beginning of the Beethoven sonata was slow and eloquent. He did not emerge entirely unscathed from the most difficult parts of the rest of the movement, and there were also occasional memory problems, but he played with spirit, and color. The second movement was very good, and always expressive, with lovely shadings. The third movement was playful and boisterous. He received an enthusiastic response from the audience after this work, and at other times during the program.

In the second half of the program he did something I remember him doing before, which is that he played the entire half from beginning to end (ie from the Scriabin through the Chopin sonata), without pauses, as if it were a six movement work. Harmonically, and dramatically this worked well.

The Scriabin Nocturne for Left Hand is a piece I’ve been fortunate to hear several times recently, and this performance was truly wonderful. Slow, moonlit, and thoughtful he made it sound surprisingly deep and dramatic. And the shimmering filigree passages, which pianists rarely have to play with the left hand, were exquisite.

Mr. Ferrati’s way with the Chopin Berceuse was, perhaps, a bit less to my taste than the rest of the program, with more “push and pull” in the rubato than other pianists use. Yet, it had some really interesting and individual ideas, and coloristic effects.

His performance of the Chopin sonata was very fine. The first movement was energetic and passionate. He did not play the repeat of the exposition, as do some pianists. Of course the beginning of the second movement was fast and intense, but what I was particularly listening for was what he would do with the beautiful middle section, in G-Flat Major. Mr. Ferrati did not disappoint. With subtle shifts in the rubato, and the ability to play shockingly softly, when appropriate, he brought out the poetry one hopes to hear in this movement. The funeral march began softly, yet fraught with emotion. But when the same material returned, after the poignant middle section, it was completely different, smoldering with tension. The last movement, perhaps the most bizarre thing Chopin ever composed, was very well-played, sounding surreal, and with splashes of color.

There was one encore, the D Minor Fantasy of Mozart. It is quite possible to play the beginning of the Fantasy in a very boring manner. But not if you’re an artist like Mr. Ferrati, who made the opening measures sound like an improvisation, with his fine understanding of color, and timing. There were other individual touches, too, one of which was a chromatic scale that sounded impressionistic, but in the context of this performance, worked!

One hopes Mr. Ferrati will return to play at the Festival next year!

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