The magic of Emanuel Rimoldi
Magic moments in Padua with Emanuel Миямото Мусаси
Wonderful to be back in this beautiful hall where my old teacher Vlado Perlemuter used to play regularly when he was well into his eighties. The hall that Richter loved too and would often spend hours working on his programmes that he would record in nearby Mantua. The same magnificent Steinway “D” of 1954 that Emanuel Rimoldi played this morning in a programme of Mozart Sonata K.310,Liszt Aida paraphrase and the Ten Preludes op.23 by Rachmaninov. The scene was set by my dear friend Filippo Juvar responsable for inviting some of the finest musicians to Padua over the past 40 years. I well remember the telephone call after Perlemuter’s Italian debut in my theatre in 1984 at the age of 81.Incredulous that this leggendary pianist,pupil of Moskowski,Cortot and Ravel was alive and still playing in public.Perlemuter had lived in the same house as Faure who used to pass him his latest compositions to try out.
Would he play in Padua? Thus started his Italian career that lasted until his 90th year. We shared Annie Fischer too. They felt “en famille” and so looked forward to making music amongst old friends. And what music!
So it was to Filippo I looked as Emanuel Rimoldi sat at the same piano this morning. Fresh from his Wigmore Hall and Manchester camerata debut for the Keyboard Trust only a week ago. There was certainly magic in the air in Padua today and I think I can quite rightly say that rarely can Padua have heard a more beautifully ravishing recital than today.
In Hollywood lingo you might say “A star is born”.
A Mozart as though hearing it for the first time. So unexpected but oh so right the different layers of colours that he found in a truly noble Allegro Maestoso. Quite startling the sheer beauty of sound combined with a sense of style and structure that I have not heard since Rosalyn Tureck and been so taken aback by the seemingly simple way the music is allowed to speak.
A glorious delicate cantabile in the Andante con espressione that was just as Mozart indicated.
The tempestuous middle section always kept perfectly in style and the magical minor section was truly memorable . One could almost feel the public gasp in astonishment. The murmurings of the Presto at just the right tempo that made the magical major section in Mozart’s seemingly endless invention so unusually right. With the statement of the theme in the left hand we were made aware too of what invention there was in the right. Instead of the usual “starter” this was a performance that reminded us of the much missed Curzon.One never wanted it to end.
He made us realise what a true genius Liszt was in a performance of the Danza sacra e duetto finale da Aida di Verdi S.436. A work in which gone is the ceremonial march and pomp that is usually associated with most productions of this much loved opera. Liszt has seen into the heart of this work which is one of the most touchingly moving chamber operas. Just as Zeffirelli had realised in his memorable production in Verdi’s little jewel of a theatre in Bussetto.An Aida restored to its touchingly intimate atmosphere as Liszt too had totally understood. So it was with the meltingly moving statement in the left hand that Liszt had brought this neglected masterpiece to a close, just as Verdi had intended. Some amazing feats of delicacy and transcendental virtuosity that was totally at the service of this very poetic atmospheric piece.
Finishing in the same key as the first of Rachmaninov’s op 23 preludes begins was only one of the very memorable things hidden in this artists subtle musicianship. Art that conceals art one might say. Preludes as only once before heard in such a musicianly whole and that was from that very first recording that astonished and ravished us all years ago. That of Sviatoslav Richter. We marvelled at the seriousness and total dedication to the score of pieces that had been up until then used as a vehicle to show off many a pianist’s technical bag of tricks.
Here as then they were restored to their rightful place at the pinnacle of the piano repertoire. The delicate strands of the first prelude with all the various layers made total sense always with a ravishing piano sound.The second famous “cavallo di battaglia” of so many pianist played with such grandiose virtuosity and temperament the wonderful left hand melody in the central section allowed to sing because the ravishingly subdued accompaniment was held so much at bay.The gentle disintegration of the Tempo di Minuetto so poignantly nostalgic .Unbelievable sense of control in the D major cantabile where the filigree accompaniment in the right hand seemed to float in the air as the melody was allowed to sing with such poise and good taste. The famous Alla marcia played with such solid rhythm and shape and some very violent climaxes played with almost military precision always timed to perfection that led to the most thrilling performance .The elusive ending at last made such sense as I am sure the Paganini variations would in his hands too.A sense of being thrown off but with the real musical meaning always foremost in mind .
Wonderfully nostalgic sixth prelude with an awesome sense of balance that allowed the piano to reverberate in an extraordinarily expressive way .Led to the enormously busy C minor prelude where the melody shaped with such care seemed to soar above the most intricate of weavings . The enormous difficulties of the ” feux follets ” prelude played with a seeming ease .This was the only one I felt could have had a little more old style teasing rubato at the cadences . The last Largo played with such understated sense of line and balance it really was a lesson in its self in true cantabile playing .
Total silence with the rapt attention of an almost full house brought an ovation that was thanked with the little Waltz Melancolique by Rebikov that I remember Cherkassky playing in my theatre as an encore . Here it was again with just the same charm and colour of that other much missed magician of the keyboard . What amazing people true artists are . Emanuel who had played the same programme well enough in London just a week ago had now reproduced a performance and a piano sound in Padua the like of which I just never thought I would live to hear again after the passing of Rubinstein and Cherkassky.
That is the glory of art of course.