national Arts Festival Banner

Friday, October 22, 2010


Most enjoyable concert as Italian pianist scores another triumph in a memorable performance. (Review by Michael Green)

The extraordinary 28-year-old Italian pianist Mariangela Vacatello, who had created something of a sensation in her Friends of Music recital earlier in the week, scored another triumph when she appeared with the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra in the Durban City Hall, playing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major.

This was music very different from the Liszt and Stravinsky with which she had dazzled her earlier audience, and she revealed a new dimension to her musical personality. The technical brilliance was there, certainly, but it served the poetry and lyricism of this wonderful concerto, one of the great masterworks.

From the quiet opening phrase for solo piano to the final flourish, it was clear that here was a pianist of exceptional gifts. She displayed a lovely lightness of touch and total accuracy in the glittering yet graceful piano figuration, and the slow movement, one of the most original ever written, was played with absolute control over its subtle dynamics.

The orchestra, conducted by Robert Maxym, played its part fully in a memorable performance.

In response to foot-stamping applause, Mariangela played a lengthy encore, a formidably difficult and spectacular Liszt etude (study). I think I would rather have been left with Beethoven’s music in my ears, but there was no doubting the excitement generated by the Liszt piece. And it is understandable that the pianist would want to show what she can do. If you can play like this, why not?

The concert began with Beethoven’s grand Consecration of the House overture, written for the re-opening of a theatre in Vienna in 1822. The opening staccato chords were excellently timed, thanks to the conductor, setting the tone for an imposing performance.

Dvorak’s melodious and spirited Symphony No. 6 in D major ended a most enjoyable concert. - Michael Green