REVIEW: Venice, moonlight and water

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The pianist Alessandro Taverna, hailed in the world of music as the ‘natural successor to his great compatriot Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli’ joined Alnwick Music Society for another concert since he came a few years ago. It was another concert to show off the society’s superb Steinway concert grand piano, in a recital with the theme of Venice, moonlight and water. The programme began with Beethoven’s popular Moonlight sonata, which was played to perfection. Liszt’s Venezia e Napoli revealed playing of great poetry. Mr Taverna made the music sparkle with the impression of the lapping water of a Venice canal. Liszt’s La Lugubre Gondola was a sad elegy based on funeral processions in Venice down the canals. One of Mendellsohn’s Songs without Words, opus 30 no.6, continued the theme, and is a nostalgic study. The remaining programme consisted of Ravel’s Une Barque sur l’ocean from his suite Miroirs, with its sparkling cascade of notes and the light reflecting on the water. Then we were given Debussy’s Clair de lune, a silvery early example of his impressionism, followed by his L’Isle Joyeuse, a rare instance of his most exultant and always poetic brilliance, reminiscent of the seascape surrounding Jersey where the composer eloped with Emma Bardac. Two seemingly impromptu encores were given which showed off Mr Taverna’s technical skill and the splendid sonorities of the piano. An international piano virtuoso’s life is sometimes hectic. Mr Taverna arrived, after a travel mishap, from a concert the day before in Cumbria, and left us that same evening for the airport.

By Martin Gilham