Classical Music Guide Forum - Friday, July 26, 2013 - Written by Donald Isler

Massimiliano Ferrati Recital

Massimiliano Ferrati, a prize-winning pianist who has performed throughout Europe, the United States and Israel gave a delightful and impressive recital last night.

He does a few unusual things. For instance, he sat down at the beginning to play the Schubert Moments Musicaux, and never got up to bow, or receive applause till the conclusion of the first half of the program. He used the end of the last Schubert work, in A-Flat Major, as a dominant to go straight into the Chopin Nocturne, which is in D-Flat Major. And from there, with only a brief pause, he moved directly into the Second Scherzo of Chopin, in the relative minor key (B-Flat Minor) of the Nocturne. All of which was unorthodox, but harmonically effective. He also makes a lot of faces (presumably expressing suffering, ecstasy, etc.) while performing.

But the playing is wonderful.

One could tell from the way that he threw the opening phrase of the first Schubert piece up in the air that this is a musician whose playing is lyrical, and who understands pacing. Several friends commented on his beautiful tone. High points of the Schubert, for this listener, included the dark color in which he played the G Minor part of the middle section of the first piece, the way he made the third piece sound both quirky and stately, and his heartfelt playing in the last piece, which displayed his masterful control of subtle dynamic shadings.

Mr. Ferrati’s performance of the Chopin Nocturne was impassioned yet sensitive, and he dazzled his audience with the run that all pianists listen for in the middle of that work. The B-Flat Minor Scherzo, in the wrong hands, sometimes becomes sectionalized. Not so with Mr. Ferrati, who kept it continuously afloat with his drive and enthusiasm, luxuriating in the beautiful melody which is first heard on the second page, and flying through the E Major section.

Mr. Ferrati’s playing of Pictures at an Exhibition was powerful and dramatic, yet full of subtleties, owing to his wonderful ear for color (he often tries to control tiny little gradations of sound, and usually gets them), and his aforementioned understanding of pacing. The recurring Promenade always set the tone for the next “exhibit” and there was a huge range of sound, resulting from his fine musical instincts, and pianistic ability. The Old Castle sounded exotic and far-off, Tuilleries was charming, the Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks was very fast, light, even funny, and the Catacombs was slow, indeed, and spooky. Baba Yaga was dramatically, though not tonally brutal, and Mr. Ferrati played the octaves, and jumps with ease. The theme of the Great Gate of Kiev was played surprisingly softly the first time, yet led, of course, to the dramatic ending, featuring, as always, Mr. Ferrati’s big, bronze tone.

For an encore Mr. Ferrati played the Rachmaninoff Etude-Tableaux in E-Flat Minor, Op. 33, No. 5. It was highly animated, and Mr. Ferrati wrung every bit of drama from it.

This is a pianist I would happily hear again.

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