Giovanni Bertolazzi at the National Liberal Club
En Blanc et Noir
A Star is Born
Beethoven’s Sonata op 7 is one of the great sonatas from Beethoven’s early period preceded by that others great early sonata op 2 n. 3 .But in this sonata that was championed by another great Italian pianist Michelangeli ,Beethoven is breaking away from the Haydn – Mozart influence and forging a new world of his own. A world full of dramatic contrasts and dynamic drive but with moments of the peace that he was only to truly find in his last great trilogy at the end of a tumultuous struggle with life. It was exactly this struggle and the sudden contrasts that were so much part of Giovanni’s performance. Electric shocks of sudden eruptions that took us all by surprise. A kaleidoscope of sounds that allowed Giovanni to change in an instant from fortissimo to pianissimo but without ever loosing the driving undercurrent of visceral energy and above all the sense of architectural line. Already from the first page with its seemingly innocent pastoral opening there was a sudden eruption of ‘fortissimo’ full orchestra to be answered by the beseeching innocent reply of the woodwind that turned into the bucolic playful entrance of the serenely chorale like second subject. One of those Beethovenian moments when the sun appears on the horizon with such strength and beauty. In Giovanni’s hands the piano was an orchestra with all the colours and heroic sounds of the Eroica Symphony that’s was to come just six years later. His attention to the bass chords in the Largo,con gran espressione made of the opening a profound declaration of emotional weight. The refined beauty of the melodic line over a pizzicato bass showed a transcendental control of sound but above all a reaching into the very soul of this deeply moving Beethovenian outpouring of aristocratic emotion. Noble chords answered on high by barely audible bird like sounds was quite remarkable and although I have heard this Sonata many times today it was as though for the first time such was the clarity and searing intensity of this young man’s vision of the composers emotional turmoil at the moment of creation.There was simplicity and innocence in the Scherzo and of course an undercurrent of turmoil in the Trio with it’s sudden ‘fortissimi /piano’ interruptions. Sublime Schubertian beauty to the Rondo where Beethoven indicates grazioso and that Giovanni played with a sense of balance that allowed the simple melody to sing with such fluidity. Soon to erupt into a tumultuous central episode of dynamic drive and insistence. The gentle return of the Rondo melody which Giovanni played with ever more tenderness and sense of surprise .The Coda was played with beauty and nostalgia as the two conflicting sides to Beethoven’s character were momentarily reconciled in a pastoral beauty worthy of the sublime beauty that he was to find in his sixth symphony.