Davidsbundlertanze, op. 6; Arabeske, op. 18; Gesange der Fruhe, op. 133
Paolo Giacometti - piano
Channel Classics SACD CCS SA 28709 *****
......This leaves me with Giacometti's Schumann and another world of musical grace and fluency. In the Davidsbundlertanze even Florestan's wildest capers surface through a delectable mist of colour and refinement while Eusebius is rapt and lost in wonder. Here is a pianist who explores the inner recesses of Schumann's glowing romanticism with a delicate emional fervour very much his own. His Gesange der Fruhecould hardly be more sensitively played and here and in the Arabesk he is poise and tonal translucence made me eager to seek out his earlier Schumann disc which includes Humoresque, Phantasietucke, Op. 12, and the Toccata. Finely recorded, this most elegant and stylish pianist leaves you both troubled and elated as he captures to the hilt the very essence of a composer who once confessed, "Sometimes I think I could sing myself to death".
Bryce Morrison - Gramophone 2009
This is Paolo Giacometti's second Schumann disc for Channel Classics. lt is also the better of the two, which is high praise indeed given the excellent qualities of the 2001 recording of the Phantasiestücke and Humoreske. Eight years later, and after four further instalments from his excellent Rossini complete piano works project, t he Milan-born pianist has returned to Schumann with the same grace and understated confidence that marked the success of the first disc. Only this time there is more of each.
This is most evident in the relatively rarely performed op. 133 set of Gesänge der Frühe, among the last works Schuman completed before entering the asylum at Endenich. In the wrong hands, these ‘contemplations on sunrise’, as the composer described them to his publisher, can sound uneventful and a little drab – ‘hard to understand’, as Clara Schumann put it. In Giacometti's performance, however, they are luminous and strikingly peaceful, possessed of a clarity of expression and structure reminiscent more of Bach than anything else. In the chordal first piece, marked 'lm ruhigen tempo', Giacometti's sensitivity to timing and voicing allow the snatches of melody to emerge like fragments of some half-remembered ancient verse, while in the more ornate fourth piece, marked simply ‘bewegt', the right-hand cascades appear to build a more traditional dramatic arc, but then recede back to more enigmatic territory before entering the rarefied, almost sacred-seeming textures of the fifth piece. Giacometti handles each of the five movements in an exemplary fashion, never seeking to express more than is in the score but simply clearing the path for the snatches of expression which emerge all the more powerfully for their scarcity.
The same confident lightness of touch is brought to the op. 18 Arabesque as Giacometti threads his way into the work's charming inner reaches. A more active interpretative input is demanded, however by the picaresque charms of Schuman’s Davidsbundlertänze. Nor are we disappointed, as Giacometti digs into the fleeting dramas of each of the 18 character pieces. But the issue is never forced, the excitable 'Sehr rasch' and the lullaby-like 'Wie aus der Fêrne', with its fiery tail, providing good examples of a pianistic intelligence with great promise for the future and little to fear from the past Giacometti is a true and rare talent.
Guy Dammann - International Piano July / August 2009
Having completed an excellent series of Rossini piano music, a Schubert disc, and a Schumann disc for this label, Giacometti now turns his attention again to the music of Schumann. It seems that hardly a month goes by without another Schumann recital, and this one amply justifies itself with playing totally in symapthy with the composer - not always an easy task.
Bypassing the major works for the moment, I decided to begin with the Arabeske. Not only is it the best-known work, but it serves as a microcosm of how an artist handles the special requirements of this composer. Giacometti properly coaxes out the music with disarming gentleness and uses rubato carefully in the different sections without distorting the flow of the music. Moreover, the sound of his Steinway D falls gratefully on the ear.
The Davidsbundlertanze is one of the composer's most imaginative large-scale compositions. Yes, it is devided into 18 sections and yes, they are mostly brief. Unlike Fantasiestucke, you would never think of excerpting any of these parts for performance as a seperate unit; they are part of an organic whole.
With much of Schumann's output reflecting his alter egos of Florestan and Eusebius, this is music of great contrast. Giacometti is a master of Schumann contrast; and the ability to cajole, caress, show anger, impatience, repose without losing the line comes naturally to him. 'Innig' is a beautifully played as any performance I have heard, and 'Ungeduldig' closes with a scintillating lightness, made all the more effective by skillful (and spare) use of pedal. Only in tthe final 'Nicht schnell' does one question Schumann's wisdom of closing his. Op. 6 quietly. In concert this has the effect of drawing less applause from the audience than is customary, though Giacometti brings considerable concentration to the music at this point.
Gesange der Fruhe (Morning Songs) from 1853 is late Schumann. Attempted suicide was just arround the corner, but placing his thoughts on paper in a coherent manner was not a problem. At onle a little over 11 minutes, the music is well worth more frequent performances than it has been getting, especially if the hands of Giacometti's. The pianist has prepared his own lucid notes.
Alan Becker - American Record Guide July / August 2009
Paolo Giacometti is an up and coming performer of great gifts, and quite accomplished record-wise as well, though he has appeared on more chamber recordings than solo to this point, aside from his very successful series of Rossini discs. He likes to vary the instruments he uses from recording to recording, and here he chooses the standard Steinway D, perhaps the most requested instrument in all of modern concert playing. This is a wonderful recording with Channel's always reliable and super-spectacular surround sound working to capture these very poetic performances in a lush and resilient atmosphere of great clarity and cushiness. Giacometti's superb playing compliments in every way the audio excellence.
The Davidsbündlertänze ("Dances of the League of David") is a work of supreme mastery by the 27-year old composer, deeply in love with the newly-engaged Clara. The "League of David", an imaginary fellowship populated by Schumann's own alter egos and some invited composer guests, was created as a sort of antidote to what the composer thought of as a challenge to the musical values that he most admired, and not the more populist and superficial theatrics of Liszt and others. Florestan and Eusebius make an appearance here as in other places in Schumann's music, the former wild and extroverted, and the latter gently introverted, with the tensions between them amply captured in the music. This is a beautiful performance, easily equal to the best ones on the market, including Kempff and Haskil among others.
The Arabeske is given a strong and almost steely reading that also emphasizes the gentle poetry found in this short, but always welcome interlude of Schumann's. Gesänge der Frühe ("Morning Songs") make for a picture perfect conclusion to this recital, as they are the last pieces Schumann would write before being confined to the asylum at Endenich, written about to his publisher only one day before tossing himself into the Rhine in a suicide attempt. These are very internal and introspective pieces, moody little things that allow for the sunrise to imprint itself in the imagination the same way it might in an impressionist painting. I have heard only one other recording that comes close to matching this one, that of Eric Le Sage in his recent and comprehensive series on Alpha. This is sterling Schumann of great conviction and substance, and will be enjoyed by everyone who comes across it.
Steven Ritter - Audiophile Audition May 2009
Artistic Quality 9 / Sound Quality 10
Opting for a modern Steinway grand rather than the fortepianos that dominate most of his previous solo releases, Paolo Giacometti treats Schumann's mercurial Davidsbündlertänze as intimate sketches. He characterizes the music's frequent cross-rhythmic character through a kind of dry-point, almost clipped articulation that never loses tonal warmth or body (No. 6's left-hand triplets, No. 8's "striding" accompaniment, No. 16's rapid chords, to name but a few felicitous examples) and directs contrapuntal traffic as to the manner born.
Many pianists try to milk rhetorical significance from No. 12's melodic leaps and ornaments, but Giacometti conveys more of Schumann's intended humor by keeping the action brisk and forward moving. Schumann's inward temperament dominates the strange yet moving Op. 133 Morning Songs, and Giacometti's broad, caring interpretations split the difference between András Schiff's poetic impulses and Maurizio Pollini's starker demeanor. For the most part, the Arabeske sings with suppleness and simplicity, save for the March theme's overly exaggerated upbeats. Channel Classics' superb multi-channel production loses nothing in presence and definition when experienced via conventional stereo playback.
Jed Distler - Classic Today May 2009
Complete pianoworks (vol. 8)
Quatre Hors d'Oeuvre, Quatre Mendiants
Paolo Giacometti - piano
Channel Classics CCS 24907 (SACD)
It's a great time to be a piano fan, and anyone who feels that all of the great artists are dead really needs a reality check. There have been some stupendous releases lately ... but few discs have given me more unalloyed pleasure than Paolo Giacometti's Rossini piano music series for Channel Classics. He's not the only person recording this music at present; there are competing cycles on Chandos and MDG. But fine as those sometimes are, no one matches Giacometti in terms of consistency, brilliance, choice of instrument, and stylishness, nor does the competition match Channel Classics' exceptionally clean and clear sonics.
This final release in the series contains the delicious Quatre hors d'oeuvres and Quatre mendiants, and a delightful miscellany of other works besides. The hors d'oeuvres consist of radishes, anchovies, pickles, and a substantial finale in the form of butter. The mendiants include dried figs, almonds, raisins, and hazelnuts. Charming though the titles are, they have nothing to do with the actual music, which, like so many of Rossini's "sins of old age", is actually quite substantial--"Butter" alone lasts nearly eight minutes. But however you look at it, these pieces are genuine treats. Perhaps this is what Rossini had in mind all along.
As with previous releases in this series, the music is ravishingly performed on a crystalline-toned period piano, but for my money the most fascinating piece here is the Petite Promenade De Passy a Courbevoie, which sounds scarily like the opening of Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum from Debussy's Children's Corner. It's wonderful to see Rossini's piano music getting so much attention, and no one has done more than Giacometti to win it the high regard it surely deserves. I'm sorry to see this series end, even as I look forward to Giacometti's next project. Essential!
David Hurwitz - CLASSICS TODAY March 2007
Antonin Dvorák – Piano Concerto in G minor, Op. 33 (B 63)
Robert Schumann – Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54
Paolo Giacometti - piano
Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra - Michael Tilkin
Channel Classics CCS 17898
A strong new coupling more than capably played to stand beside the very best
To say that Paolo Giacometti measures up well to the classic versions is to say a great deal. His playing has all the energy, sparkle, poetry and technical finish you could wish for. His Schumann is as urgent as the composer's markings suggest it should be, yet without sacrificing natural characterisation for the sake of making that point. And he approaches the Dvo%u0159ák with an admirable mixture of respect and enjoyment. Nor do the Dutch orchestra and conductor sound in anyway out of their depth; on the contrary, they are clearly as engaged as their soloist in warm, lively music-making. The Channel Classics recording is rich and well balanced, and the CD booklet essay is succinct and to the point.
There are no real buts, except that the competition is exceptionally hot. Kleiber gives his Bavarians a little extra space to explore their role in the Dvo%u0159ák and Richter exudes peerless authority, while Schiff with Dohnányi and the Vienna Philharmonic finds extra touches of local colour that enliven what is frankly one of the composer's less inspired scores. To the Schumann Stephen Kovacevich brings a sense of wonder that marginally eludes the more up-front Giacometti.
Mind you, it took some very careful comparative listening to convince me that all this was so and not merely the illusion of memory. I want to stress that Giacometti's is one of the best concerto discs I have heard in a long while, and if the Schumann/Dvo%u0159ák coupling is just what you're looking for, there's really no need to hesitate.
David Fanning - GRAMOPHONE December 2002
Fantasiestücke, Op. 12;
Humoreske, Op. 20;
Toccata, Op. 7
Paolo Giacometti - piano
Channel Classics CCS 16798
A most enjoyable disc from beginning to end, and if I make it a benchmark, it's because it establishes a standard of sensitivity and intelligence in the period-instrument performance of Schumann's piano music. The piano here is a Viennese Streicher of 1847, built a bit later than Schumann composed these pieces, but the sort of instrument he knew nonetheless. It has a lovely stringy sound - by comparison, the modern Steinway sounds like steel - but yields a wealth of colour which Paolo Giacometti exploits with obvious delight and complete naturalness. My only slight misgiving is that he tends to linger too long on certain strong beats in the Humoreske and the first of the Fantasiestücke. But he has no need for rubato of convenience, as his immaculate playing of the Toccata demonstrates. On a modern piano, the double octaves in the right hand during the development sound a bit freakish. Here they fly by easily. And towards the end of the piece, the accented jumps in both hands together are contrasted with the continuing figuration between them to tremendously dramatic effect. Of course, nothing will ever sound like Argerich's matchless recording of the Fantasiestücke, with its extremes of imaginative brilliance and inspired madness. But if more sober, Giacometti is by no means less expressive, entering fully into the many moods of the cycle and evoking gentler aspects of Schumann which are equally valid. For the record, my favourite non-period-instrument recording of the Humoreske is Freddy Kempfs on BIS, and of the Toccata, Youri Egorov's on EMI.
Adrian Jack - BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE January 2002
... we like Paolo Giacometti on Channel 16798: dazzling technique, heartfelt poetry, a good sense of architecture (Schumann easily becomes episodic).
Overview: Schumann - AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE September/October 2004
Complete piano works (vol. 5) :
Quelques riens pour album - Album de chaumière
Paolo Giacometti - piano
Channel Classics CCS 20504
Patiemment, Paolo Giacometti poursuit son intégrale de l'oeuvre pour piano de Rossini. Une oeuvre qui, de prime abord et selon la manière dont elle est abordée par les interprètes qui s'y aventurent, peut apparaître comme assez insignifiante et qui, trop souvent, est accueillie avec une certaine condescendance. Bien sûr, lors du premier enregistrement réalisé par Aldo Ciccolini à l'aube des années septante, n'a-t-on pas manqué de tenter un rapprochement entre les titres de certaines de ces petites pièces pour piano (Prélude inoffensif, Gymnastique d'écartement, Ouf! les petits pois!) et ceux d'un Erik Satie. Mais il s'agissait là davantage d'une question d'esprit que d'une question de style, la musique de Rossini restant bien ancrée dans son époque et exhalant quelques effluves fatigués d'un parfum à l'origine capiteux. Sous les doigts de Paolo Giacometti, les fragrances retrouvent tout leur éclat; tout l'humour contenu dans ces petits tableaux se fait évidence. La sonorité d'un superbe piano Erard de 1837 s'accorde parfaitement à la grâce et à l'élégance de l'écriture autant qu'aux couleurs sombres dont se parent un Prélude fugassé ou les premières mesures d'un Profond sommeil. Paolo Giacometti est un magicien du piano. Il nous a séduit lors de ses premières apparitions sur disque, accompagnant avec une rare sensibilité le violoncelliste Pieter Wispelwey. Son jeu nuancé, d'un équilibre absolu, est d'une élégance sans pareille. Son toucher délicat et perlé met en évidence, mais avec le plus grand naturel, les traits de virtuosité. Écoutons-le dans Un réveil en sursaut, n'est-ce pas là toute la beauté du "bel canto" rossinien traduite pour le clavier? Mais la technique seule ne suffit pas. Il fallait en outre l'intelligence et l'intuition qui permettent de traduire la pensée du compositeur en restituant à chaque page ses couleurs d'origine. Toutes ces qualités se retrouvent chez Paolo Giacometti qui mérite, au sens vrai du terme, le titre de virtuose.
P.W. - La Médiathèque (Belgium)
Irène Maier - Zürcher Oberlander 05-02-2008
Paolo Giacometti hat sich mit äusserster Akribie und Feinsinn mit dem Gesamtklavierwerk Rossinis auseinandergesetzt. Seine elegante Spielart und seine unglaubliche fingertechnische Leichtigkeit prädestinieren den italienisch-holländischen Pianisten zum idealen Interpreten des Komödianten Rossini. .... Geschickt wählte Giacometti aus den verschiedenen Alben die treffendsten Stücke aus und stellte sie mit ein paar kommentierenden Worten vor, bevor er sie mit umwerfendem Charme und grossartiger Meisterschaft spielerisch präsentierte ....
A.G. - Walliser Bote 12-07-2005
Pianist Giacometti .... spielte diese Werke mit Subtilität und Virtuosität. Er suchte nicht leere Brillanz, sondern gestaltete Schuberts Impromptus und Chopins Préludes mit feiner Behutsamkeit, sensibel, mit klarem Anschlag, spieltechnisch versiert und souverän .... (full article in pdf) >
Lidy van der Spek - Leidsch Dagblad 12-04-2005
Only a master can create music out of technical difficulties. Giacometti, who gives us so many emotions in such a short time, is one of them.
In Schubert’s four Impromptus Giacometti maintains a transparent and graceful atmosphere with cleverly weighted fortissimi, taking all the time to follow the musical lines carefully. The A-flat Impromptu maintains a lovely, almost solemn character. Giacometti plays the Rosamunde theme and variations with great care for details and shows an impressive delicate touch in the fast passages.
Elly van Plateringen – De Stentor 25-09-2004
The rendering of Chopin’s Preludes op. 28 became a true event.
No matter how many times you have listened to Chopin’s Preludes, Paolo Giacometti surprises you with new accents and smart tempos and succeeds in creating new touching miniatures. For instance the "Raindrop" Prelude receives a particularly penetrating dynamic build-up ending in a violent burst of emotion, while Number 23 goes by as a fragile filigree.
Paolo Giacometti is a pianist capable of controlling the keys with incredible perfection.
Cees Hilberdink – De Gelderlander 18-10-2002
Giacometti could competently match the delicate atmosphere of this music (Ravel’s Tombeau de Couperin) without indulging in a light-hearthed interpretation; on the contrary he remained sober and convincing. Listening to the Forlane, one had the impression that every single note had just to be played that way.
With "La Cathèdrale Engloutie" Giacometti could reveal the deepest feelings of the music, with rich contrasts followed by a subtle balance of dancing lights and shadows. Giacometti at his best!
Lidy van der Spek - Leidsch Dagblad 27-05-2002
His delicately weighted dynamics is impressive, with expanding and contracting sound within the same phrase, resulting each time in marvellous contrasts. Giacometti knows how to hit the piano functionally: furiously fast scales are more and more shining and obsessing, the weight of his entire arm resting on the keys in a smooth and relaxed way to allow his fingers to play in the most natural manner. Giacometti’s touch is powerful and velvet smooth at the same time. In Chopin’s Ballades he knows as nobody else how to build suspense till the inevitable final tragedy happens.
Ginastera’s Sonate n. 1 is a terribly difficult piece, full of breath-taking passion. Only a son of a god can play such a music and Giacometti is one of them. He begins the Allegro marcato with absolute concentration and all listeners become suddenly in his power. In the Presto misterioso he flies rapid and unseen in a no man’s land and subsequently he arouses deep emotions in the following Adagio molto. In the final movement Ruvido ed ostinato Giacometti exploits the piano as a percussion instrument. With furiously rapid, incredibly difficult broken chords he succeeds in monopolising the public’s attention till the final overwhelming ovation.
Maarten Mestrom – Apeldoornse Courant 02-12-1996
Paolo Giacometti is an extraordinarily poetical pianist. He knows how to build music from silence like true musicians can do. All this became clear from the very first notes of Schumann’s Fantasiestücke opus 12, where Giacometti successfully expressed the contradictory voices of Schumann’s meditations. This young musician possesses a delicate feeling for the deepest emotional layers of the music.
The way he gave new life to Chopin’s Ballades op. 38 and op. 52, all too often played to death by all kind of pianists, was really unprecedented. From a surprisingly tender and meditating begin up to an exploding climax, so silent and passionate at the same time: if all this is not an occasional event but represents his standard quality, than this 1970-born pianist is a real master.
Eddie Vetter – De Telegraaf 20-03-1995
In Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit he made clear that, besides being a talented pianist, he is also a true musician, capable of transforming by magic into a poetical evocation even the most scaring mess of notes.
Giacometti: a name to remember.