The Arts Journal
Date: 28 August 2012 / Venue: Queen’s Hall
Though not yet 30, pianist Francesco Piemontesi has scooped up numerous prizes, played with some of the world’s leading orchestras and conductors, and appeared on famous stages across the globe from New York’s Carnegie Hall to the Suntory Hall in Tokyo. Piemontesi is noted for his interpretations of the works of Schubert, Schumann and Mozart, among others, so his Festival programme of pieces by these three composers, along with Anton Webern’s Variations Op 27, brought with it high expectations.
There’s a sing song quality to the Italian-Swiss pianist’s playing which made his account of Mozart’s Sonata in D K284 a delightfully refreshing start to the morning. Whether he is playing slow and reflective or fast paced and dramatic, there’s a delicacy to his fingerwork and an intimacy to his sound which emphasises musical integrity over flashy virtuoso flourishes. But the bookish young musician, who admitted in a recent interview that he reads physics books to relax, showed he isn’t afraid to mix it up.
His playing of Webern’s deeply expressive piece, completed in 1936 against the backdrop of Austria’s worsening political situation, was playful and engaging, giving Piemontesi the opportunity to show off his keyboard acrobatics.
Piemontesi’s account of Schumann’s Faschingsschwank aus Wien (‘Carnival Scenes from Vienna’) was vivid and richly-textured but fell short of the theatricality and wit required to make the work really shine.
It was Schubert’s Sonata in A minor D845 which allowed Piemontesi to best show off his considerable talents. His playing was considered and precise, and he demonstrated a command of the music’s varied moods. A tight performance but one which at times lacked spontaneity and passion.