Last night, Italian pianist Luca Buratto led the audience at the Thousand Islands Playhouse through a magnificent program of Bach, Beethoven and Schumann. His performance was a sensational introduction to the brilliant fresh, young artist that he is for Ontario concert-goers.
The occasion was the season’s first of Eric Friesen’s 'Studio S' series of concerts. Friesen, a long-time CBC broadcaster and writer has been playing host to great classical musicians from around the world for each of the past seven years in an intimate setting, complete with a breathtaking view of The Thousand Islands from the theatre’s balcony at intermission. The programs are styled after Friesen’s former radio show Studio Sparks and feature interviews with the soloists as each work is introduced.
The program began with J.S. Bach’s Capricio on the Departure of a Beloved Brother, BWV 992. This early work of Bach was most likely written as a good-bye to his brother Jacob who was leaving home for life in the military. The piece is a cantata-like keyboard work in six movements, each expressing emotions associated with loss and goodbyes. The final fugue is a joyful farewell with the imitation of military horns sending off the adventurer. Buratto artfully created a harpsichord-like effect on the piano with his crisp articulation of the highly ornamented work. It was easy to sense that he had a personal connection with the music; he himself has just left his family and friends in native Italy for an extended stay in North America. Buratto effectively conveyed a mixture of sadness and loss as well as a joyful anticipation of new challenges ahead.
In Beethoven’s Sonata No. 23 in F Minor: Op 57 ‘Appassionata’ that followed, Buratto played with remarkable clarity and passion. His delicate articulation of the pianissimo passages made the fortissimo sections which express Beethoven’s fury, all the more powerful. The audience was thrilled by Buratto’s dazzling technique, and even more so by the raw emotion that came through note after note after note. The spectacular thunderstorm going on outside the theatre was reflective of the turmoil in the music. The sound of pounding rain added pathetic fallacy to the music. Buratto played through a power failure without hesitation when the hall went black momentarily. His interpretation of the work propelled us forward with ever increasing energy to the height of frenzy in the last movement.
Robert Schumann’s Davidsbündlertänze Op. 6 is representative of a personal story of love and passion written for his beloved Clara Wieck. In eighteen short movements, it alternates from impetuous energy to lyrical beauty. Buratto easily handled the incredible technique required for the blinding speed, the dense harmonies, and the virtuosic arpeggios. His lyrical passages sang with a longing and desire for his treasured Clara. Schumann’s bi-polar personalities that he named ‘Florestan’ and ‘Eusebius’ came through in dramatic contrast to each other. Buratto is certainly at ease with the romanticism of Schumann. All of the emotion in this masterpiece of Romantic literature was reflected in his interpretation of the work.
Buratto refuses to compare his playing of these masterpieces with the great pianists of the past. It is clear that he is creating his own voice as an interpreter that speaks with integrity and conviction to the listener. At the age of 23, Buratto has a brilliant future. His schedule of Canadian performances in the next few months include concerts in Stratford, Regina and Calgary. On the international stage, concerts are scheduled in the cities of Singapore and Milan as well as in Wigmore Hall in London; all this as he continues his musical studies at the prestigious Colburn School in Los Angeles.
The 'Studio S' series of classical concerts by renowned international artists continues throughout the summer at the Thousand Islands Playhouse in scenic Gananoque with cellist Denis Brott (July 11th), pianist Simone Dinnerstein (July 25th), and pianist Jan Lisiecki (August 22nd).
Luca Buratto (pianist), Photo courtesy of Colin Way
Review by David Richards
Gananoque ON, June 20 2016
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LUCA BURATTO: a pianist who spreads love and passion in his playing…