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A review following the recital at Blessed John Duns Scotus Church, Glasgow on 17th March 2019
One highlight of the festival was the cross-over between the visual arts and music that was facilitated by the concert ‘Amor Sacro e Amor Profano’. The audience at Blessed John Duns Scotus Church was left spellbound by the playing of internationally renowned concert pianist, Alessandra Pompili, and the visually arresting artwork of James Callaghan whose work accompanied the eclectic music programme via projection and an exhibition in the atrium.
Stephen Callaghan, Creative Director @ Archdiocese of Glasgow Arts Project
Review from the opening concert of the 2017 season at the Liszt Museum and Academy:
A mai Liszt-matinén a Régi Zeneakadémia (Vörösmarty utcai Liszt Múzeum) Kamaratermében a halhatatlan zeneköltő zongoraműveiből játszott a kitűnő pianista, Alessandra Pompili, aki átszellemült zongorajátékával elbűvölte hallgatóit. A műsorban szerepelt:
Liszt: Alla Cappella Sistina
Liszt: Litanie de Marie
Liszt: Lacrymosa Mozart Requiem című műve alapján
Liszt: 2. Gyászgondola
Liszt: Stabat Mater
Ezzel együtt, a Lisztre és zenéjére való ráhangol(ód)ás szükségszerű… ilyenkor legtöbbször megkap a művészet varázsa, szépsége és – kíváncsian az előadóművész interpretációjára is – úgy gondolom: el kell hogy jusson az erre a zenére fogékony közönségréteg füléhez, meg kell hogy találja hallgatóságát, hogy befogadja, a szívébe zárja.
A review from my 2014 performance of the Via Crucis at Villa d'Este (Tivoli)
Lo scorso 13 Aprile si è chiusa nella storica villa di Tivoli la II edizione della rassegna concertistica caratterizzata dall'uso di un gran coda Erard del 1879, in tutto simile, se non uguale, ai pianoforti usati a suo tempo da Liszt, ma anche da Verdi e Wagner: al bicentenario della nascita di questi ultimi era dedicata in particolare la presente edizione. Iniziata lo scorso 8 Dicembre 2013, l'intera manifestazione, organizzata dall'Associazione Culturale Colle Ionci, insieme con la Soprintendenza per i Beni Architettonici e Paesaggistici per le Province del Lazio, ha così proposto in tutto ben dieci concerti (...)
Nel concerto la pianista Alessandra Pompili, particolarmente attenta nel proporre la produzione lisztiana dell'ultimo periodo con particolare riguardo a quella di ispirazione sacra, si impegnava nell'esecuzione della "Via Crucis" di Franz Liszt, nella versione per pianoforte solo. Secondo un progetto della stessa artista, l'esecuzione era accompagnata dalla proiezione delle immagini dei quadri del pittore nazareno Overbeck, oggi conservati ai Musei Vaticani e rappresentanti le 14 stazioni della Via Crucis, ai quali Liszt, per sua stessa ammissione, si era ispirato per questa composizione.
(continued in next column)
Via Crucis at Villa d'Este continued
Particolarmente suggestivo il fatto che tale lavoro fosse stato intrapreso e portato a termine, in circa due mesi, proprio nella Villa d'Este e proprio quando gli fu portato lì un pianoforte Erard come quello usato ora in questa rassegna: lo testimoniano le citazioni delle lettere dello stesso Liszt riportate nel programma di sala.
Intensa la partecipazione emotiva del pubblico, testimoniata dal profondo silenzio e dalla composta attenzione che hanno regnato per tutta l'esecuzione. Il merito va anche alle immagini proiettate, alla appropriata – intensa ma senza enfasi – lettura, prima di ogni stazione, dei titoli e dei brevi testi che vengono cantati dai solisti e dal coro nella versione completa della composizione di Liszt, ma soprattutto va alla bella e coinvolgente interpretazione che ha fatto Alessandra Pompili dei 15 brani musicali (un prologo e le 14 stazioni) che compongono questa "Via Crucis". Ha commosso in particolare l'ultima stazione, quella della sepoltura di Cristo, dove Liszt sembra alla fine voler passare dai toni bui della morte ad una musica che si fa più luminosa, quasi un presagio di resurrezione, comunque un senso di liberazione dell'anima: una stazione che la pianista ha poi replicato, per soddisfare le insistenti richieste di un bis ... e nessun'altra musica sarebbe stata appropriata, come bis, per un programma del genere.
R. M. Caldana (www.controluce.it)
This review was for a concert I performed at in Iceland in 2014
Last Tuesday clarinetist Einar Johannesson and Italian pianist Alessandra Pompili played Rota´s sonata in D at the Sigurjons Art Gallery.
This is charming music, flowingly melodic. Einar´s playing was beautiful, every phrase filled with emotion. So did Pompili too, producing loving accompaniment, full of gentle and dreaming colours. An unusually pleasant listening experience.
Their program was interestingly and nicely varied. The artists alternated playing together and separately. There were more piano solos, first the strangely peculiar La lugubre gondola by Franz Liszt. I say peculiar because Liszt was often in a dark mood and sombre thoughts in his last works. They are experimental and in many ways far ahead of their time. Pompili played beautifully, bringing out the introvert character in an impressive manner... An extremely meticulous performance.
Also several short pieces by the Argentinian Sergio Calligaris were colourful and delivered with great conviction. These are relatively recent pieces but very appealing and interestingly varied. Einar played Kvedja (In Memoriam) by Thorkell Sigurbjörnsson in memory of clarinetist Gunnar Egilson, Einar´s teacher. He presented it in a gentle manner, dreamily and lovingly. As a final piece Einar and Pompili gave a fiery performance of Carnival in Venice by Paul Jean-jean. Undeniably a very impressive end to a most varied recital.
Miscellaneous reviews kindly put forward over the last few years
‘…Pompili has an ultra-light and very expressive touch, and although the music presented was not quite typical of the three major composers [Liszt, Debussy, Hindemith], it did offer a fresh slant on their work… The four movements of Hindemith Sonata no. 2 were beautifully played, from the avant-garde style at the beginning to the flowing, optimistic Lebhaft and the final skipping Rondo… It was an impressive and varied piano recital… completely absorbing.’ Derek Ansell (Newbury Weekly News)
‘…her main characteristics are the iron-steel technique, infallibility in touch, capacity of self-control and clear and limpid phrasing…. she has shown a very expressive temper and a trenchancy that is out of the ordinary... she is a revelation, an extraordinary talent…’ Nicola Russo (Corriere della Calabria)
‘…splendid recital at the Teatro Ghione (Rome) … the pianist has distinguished herself for sensitive phrasing and clear and crystal-like touch. The interpretation of the Quaderno Pianistico di Renzo [Calligaris] has been especially captivating; her Brahms was with significance and depth, whilst Mendelssohn enjoyed a brilliant and light touch…’
Giancarlo Tammaro (Musica & Scuola)
‘…she has managed to enchant the public thanks not only to her artistic skill, but also to the thoughtfulness and professionalism imparted to the whole recital…’ Daniela Giordana (Musica& Scuola)
‘…admirable technical attainment and interpretive cognition…her piano playing is very intellectual and extremely detailed both in phrasing and in dynamic nuances...’ Daniela Giordana (Musica & Scuola)
‘...in every recital there is some magic that exudes from the instrument: this is the characteristic of music, which turns from an abstract to a palpable entity thanks to the interpreter. This magic has been fully experienced last wednesday. Pompili has been perfect in the interpretation, phrasing, and in the “transposition” of notes from score to intense feelings. The sonata op. 31 no. 3 [Beethoven], also known as “The Hunt”, has been especially appreciated. It is an arduous work, demanding for the interpreter. It is superfluous to say that Alessandra Pompili has been exceptional….’
Nicola Russo (Corriere della Calabria)
‘…it has been a passionate performance … the technique takes second place when compared to the interpretive consistency … She has enchanted the public…’ Ilaria Piacentini (Suburbia Sound)
An older review from a 2010 concert at which I performed Liszt's 'Via Crucis'
On Friday evening, 12th November 2010, Lancaster Cathedral was host to a very special cultural event: Concert pianist, Alessandra Pompili performed an hour-long set of pieces by Franz Liszt (1811-1886) entitled 'Via Crucis' - 'Way of the Cross'.
These were inspired by the paintings of the 14 Stations of the Cross by Johann Friederich Overbeck which are housed in the Vatican. Furthermore, Pompili gave fascinating and erudite words of introduction to the music and the art. She then played the whole work in conjunction with the projection of images of the paintings onto a screen beside the piano.
Her fluency of her tone and phrasing belied the amount of skilful preparation and spiritual imagination that had gone into the synchronization of this dual-media treat. It is worth stressing that, of course, the piano playing was 'live' (relying entirely on professional technique and touch) - as music is intended to be, and any venue that champions this concept should be congratulated and supported.
By its very nature, this was a very cerebral type of programme: one must dispel any expectations or preconceptions of a virtuoso pianist 'showing off' (music lovers will know that Liszt's music, and the man himself, has been somewhat infamous for this). This is not to say that great pianistic skill was not on display; far from it. For a professional artiste, this is an extremely brave presentation to give requiring great sensitivity and humility to the subject matter.
The order of the day was not about a solo musician claiming the limelight, but about a deeply cultured human being focusing entirely on conveying soul-searching art through masterly control of sound-projection and musical characterization.
Anybody who attended this concert was not only entertained, but challenged. For me, this event confirmed two things: 1) for classical musical events of world class quality in Lancaster, the Cathedral is now the place to be, on a par with the University's series, 2) composer Franz Liszt was not only a giant in music, but also in Christian life. It seems fitting, in the spirit of Alessandra Pompili's reverential performance, to give Liszt the last words - those with which he prefaced the music: "Hail, oh Cross, Our Single Hope!".
Phillip Fawcett, Lancaster resident pianist and teacher.