Pianist Carlo Grante Makes D.C. Debut Tonight at the Kennedy Center
The spirit of Johann Sebastian Bach will suffuse the Terrace Theater of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts tonight, May 14, 2014, as Italian pianist Carlo Grante makes his first concert appearance in the nation's capital, in a program containing not a single note of Bach's music.
"Chopin's Preludes, Op. 28, form the composer's most dense and varied set of works," states Mr. Grante, "possibly the most comprehensive example of Chopin's sound-world. They were inspired by Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier and its concept of a journey through the twelve major and minor keys, with a unique breadth in terms of character, mood, invention, melodic and harmonic vocabulary. As in the Bach, Chopin's Preludes embody the essence of his compositional and keyboard idiom.
"Hearing this set next to twelve of Godowsky's Studies on Chopin's Études provides a rare insight," he continues, "suggesting how Chopin's music could have developed had he combined, as Godowsky did, 'Chopin's sonority with Bach's polyphony' (Godowsky's own words). Just as Chopin's music cannot get any denser, stylistically, than in the 24 Preludes, its hypothetical development cannot get any more complex and challenging, pianistically, than in the notorious Godowsky Studies, which have been selected, in this program, to provide a version by Godowsky for each of the twelve original Études, Op. 10 by Chopin."
In his book The Great Pianists, Harold C. Schonberg states, "[Godowsky's] most elaborate series - and they are probably the most impossibly difficult things ever written for the piano - are his fifty-three paraphrases of Chopin's etudes. These are fantastic exercises that push piano technique to heights undreamed of even by Liszt."
Fabio Luisi, Principal Conductor of the Metropolitan Opera as well as General Music Director of the Zurich Opera, has stated, "Carlo Grante is one of the most astonishing artists I have ever known and worked with. A challenging collaborator, his artistry is permeated with the deepest knowledge in many fields, not just the arts. Interesting for me as a musician and conductor is the way he approaches a musical work: considering it as expression of time, environment, and the composer's own personal, social and cultural experience. With Carlo's fantastic technical and analytical skills, the music comes alive in a way which sounds new, sometimes unexpected, but always both logical and natural. Working with Carlo Grante is for me an enrichment in musical experience and understanding, as it is for his audiences."
(subject to change)
Carlo Grante, piano
Wednesday, May 14, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.
Terrace Theater • The Kennedy Center
2700 F Street NW • Washington, DC 20566
FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN: 24 PRELUDES, OP. 28
1. Agitato - C major • 2. Lento - A minor • 3. Vivace - G major • 4. Largo - E minor
5. Molto allegro - D major • 6. Lento assai - B minor • 7. Andantino - A major
8. Molto agitato - F-sharp minor • 9. Largo - E major • 10. Molto allegro - C-sharp minor
11. Vivace - B major • 12. Presto - G-sharp minor • 13. Lento - F-sharp major
14. Allegro - E-flat minor • 15. Sostenuto - D-flat major ("Raindrop")
16. Presto con fuoco- B-flat minor • 17. Allegretto - A-flat major • 18. Molto allegro - F minor
19. Vivace - E-flat major • 20. Largo - C minor • 21. Cantabile - B-flat major
22. Molto agitato - G minor • 23. Moderato - F major • 24. Allegro appassionato - D minor
LEOPOLD GODOWSKY: 12 ÉTUDES ON CHOPIN'S ÉTUDES, OP. 10
(from 53 Studies on the Études of Chopin)
1. (Op. 10 No. 1) in C major - Allegro maestoso
4. (Op. 10 No. 2) in A minor - Allegro "Ignis fatuus"
5. (Op. 10 No. 3) in D-flat major - Lento, ma non troppo - for the left hand alone
6. (Op. 10 No. 4) in C-sharp minor - Presto - for the left hand alone
8. (Op. 10 No. 5) in C major - Vivace
13. (Op. 10 No. 6) in E-flat minor - for the left hand alone
14. (Op. 10 No. 7) in C major - Vivace "Toccata"
16. (Op. 10 No. 8) in F major - Allegro risoluto
18. (Op. 10 No. 9) in F minor - Mesto "[With] Imitation of Op. 25 No. 2"
19. (Op. 10 No. 10) in D major - Allegro moderato
21. (Op. 10 No. 11) in A major - Allegro sostenuto
22. (Op. 10 No. 12) in C-sharp minor - Allegro con fuoco - for the left hand alone
Tickets, $35, are available at the Kennedy Center Box Office, charge by phone at 202/467-4600 and at kennedy-center.org.
About Carlo Grante: Carlo Grante is one of the most active pianists performing and recording today. His concert repertoire is one of the largest among contemporary pianists; it includes masterpieces by core composers as well as important works by lesser-known composers. His discography runs to more than fifty CDs and ranges from Domenico Scarlatti (the complete sonatas, a 40-CD project under the auspices of Bösendorfer and Badura-Skoda in Vienna), to Platti, Clementi, Liszt and Schumann, to twentieth-century composers such as Godowsky, Busoni and Sorabji. Recent recordings include works by Vlad (Opus Triplex) and Finnissy (Bachsche Nachdichtungen), both dedicated to Mr. Grante and inspired by Bach and Busoni, and Flynn (Glimpses of our inner lives), also dedicated to him; Franz Schmidt's two piano concertos, with the MDR Leipzig under Fabio Luisi; three Mozart piano concertos with Orchestra of St. Cecilia, and the Concerto K.271, recorded live in Vienna with Concertino Wien; the Busoni Concerto, recorded live in Vienna with the Vienna Symphony under Fabio Luisi; Robert Schumann's three piano sonatas; and works by Debussy, Ravel, Rachmaninov, Bloch, Liszt and Godowsky (whose complete works he is recording). In 1995 Carlo Grante gave the world premiere of 53 Studies on the Études of Chopin by Godowsky at the Newport Festival.
Carlo Grante is one of Europe's foremost concert artists, having performed in such major venues and prestigious halls as the Grosser Saal of the Konzerthaus and the Goldener Saal of the Musikverein in Vienna; Wigmore Hall and Barbican Hall in London; the Sala Santa Cecilia in Rome; Leipzig Gewandhaus; Dresden Semperoper; Stuttgart Opera; and in New York, Chicago, Milan, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Hanoi, Zagreb, Bucharest, Lima and Rio de Janeiro. He has performed at the festivals of Vienna, Istanbul, Husum, Newport, Miami, Tallin, Ravello, and MDR Musiksommer, and the "Neuhaus Festival" in Saratov. He has appeared as soloist with major orchestras including the Dresden Staatskapelle, Royal Philharmonic in London, Vienna Symphony, Orchestra of St. Cecilia, Pomeriggi Musicali di Milano, MDR Leipzig, Capella Istropolitana, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, and Concertino Wien.
In 1996, on the occasion of two recitals at Wigmore Hall in London, the reviewer of Musical Opinion wrote, "the discs of Grante had shown astonishing qualities...his live performances have then proved him to be the first-rate pianist that his discs suggested." In 1997, after a series of six recitals in New York, Bernard Holland of The New York Times wrote, "Carlo Grante...systematically demonstrated technical ability, but it was a prowess that went beyond muscle and speed. Here was not just attractive color but color with a purpose." Eminent author and critic Harold Schonberg said that Grante demonstrated "real, stylish virtuoso playing, nimble and confident, backed by a splendid piano tone. Fingerwork is impeccable...[The] playing has color and imagination."
Mr. Grante's recitals and concerto performances have been greeted with enthusiasm; a reviewer described Grante's Mozart Fantasia as "a small, quiet miracle" (Leipziger Volkszeitung); another dubbed Grante "a knight of the piano, without blemish and without fear..." (Schmidt, Die Presse, Vienna); another praised "Grante's meticulous, thoughtful virtuosity and stylistic insights...like Horowitz, Grante is a master at creating a multicolored portfolio of legato shadings through fingers alone, pedaling ever so discreetly" (Gramophone).
Carlo Grante graduated from the Conservatory S. Cecilia in Rome, studying with Sergio Perticaroli, after which he studied in the U.S. with Ivan Davis at the University of Miami and at The Juilliard School in New York with Rudolf Firkušný; he then studied intensively in London with Alice Kezeradze-Pogorelich.
A Bösendorfer artist, Carlo Grante is also a widely-published writer on the piano literature. He lives in Rome.