CD LIVE - Adolfo Fumagalli

CD LIVE Adolfo Fumagalli

Piano Music, Volume One

Registrato a Inzago, Auditorium
settembre 2006

Adolfo Fumagalli
(Inzago 1828 - Firenze 1856)

The only one recording available

1. L'Ecole moderne du pianiste, Op. 100: No. 7 Le cloitre: priere du matin

2. L'Ecole moderne du pianiste, Op. 100: No. 10 Le reveil des ombres: danse fantastique

3. Grande Fantaisie pour la main gauche sur ‘Robert le diable’ de Meyerbeer, Op. 106

4. L'Ecole moderne du pianiste, Op. 100: No. 14 La fille de l'air: caprice de legerete

5. L'Ecole moderne du pianiste, Op. 100: No. 17 La roche du diable: etude de bravoure

6. Le prophete: Grande fantaisie de bravoure, Op. 43

Fanfare Magazine

Adalberto Maria Riva

Adolfo Fumagalli (1828­1856) is a now forgootten figure; but that was not always the case. In his lifetime he was one of the most respected pianists, perhaps the most famous Italian pianist of the 19th century until the arrival of Busoni. And Busoni esteemed Fumagalli enough to keep a number of his predecessor’s compositions in his active repertoire. Liszt hailed him as “the greatest of pianists, because anyone who is able to negotiate the difficulties of transcribing an overture like that of [Berlioz’s] Cellini is without doubt an artist out of the ordinary.” Many others also esteemed him, both for his playing and his compositional artistry. The Revue et Gazette musicale de Paris considered him “the first serious pianist to come out of Italy”; Rossini praised him especially for his cantabile playing; the critic Filippo Filippi saw in his compositions an “originality of ideas constructed mostly simply and most faultlessly” and “freedom from the commonplace and banal.” Through his virtuosity, perhaps especially for his wickedly difficult solo left-hand compositions, in Belgium he gained the nickname “the Paganini of the piano.” He died at the early age of 27. Le Figaro wrote of him that he was “rapidly advancing in great leaps to become Liszt’s successor, easily overtaking the young generation of contemporary pianists.” And by a quick glance at some of his compositions, that statement becomes clearer.

The recital here incorporates two types of works: operatic fantasies based on other composers’ music, and original compositions, of which the programmatic studies of the École moderne du pianist, op. 100, are some of the composer’s finest. Of the former works, it is difficult to say which of the two Meyerbeer-inspired compositions is the more impressive: the diabolically difficult left-handedGrand Fantasy, op. 106, with its complex counterpoint, its myriad of sounds and timbres, and its extreme virtuosity—the one hand does more in this piece than two do in others!—or the Grand Fantasy on Le proophète, op. 43, one of Fumagalli’s pièces de résistance, which was praised highly by none other than Meyerbeer himself. Forced to choose, I might have to pick the former, for even with the music sitting in front of me, my reaction must have been similar to that of the critic, Paul Scudo: Arriving late to a concert given by Fumagalli at the Salle Herz in Paris, in which the pianist was performing his own op. 106, the critic, astonished by what he heard, finally cast his eyes toward the stage. He discovered that “Fumagalli’s gloved right hand was resting on his knee.” There was good reason that the work was dedicated to Franz Liszt!

The original compositions are even more interesting in their own ways. Though only 18 of the proposed 24 studies were completed before the composer’s untimely death, the ones that were finished reveal a composer of both astonishing creativity and compositional command. Modeled on Liszt’s Études d’exécution transcendante, they provide more than just an immense technical challenge; they are moreover programmatic works meant to stimulate the listener’s sense of awe and imagination. Of the four works here, the 10th study, the “Danse fantastique,” is one of the finest. Similar in character in this listener’s ears to Saint-Saëns’s Danse macabre, the swirling figurations, the hyper-staccato bass line, the bell-like chimes, and the gracefulness of the writing all come together to create an eerie yet charming take on the macabre. Described by the pianist, Adalberto Maria Riva, as “the most technically demanding piece of the whole collection,” the 17th Study is perhaps my favorite. Entitled “La Roche du Diable” and prefaced by a text by Victor Hugo, the composition is unrelenting in its demands—its powerful use of the lower bass registerrs, its stormy use of arpeggios which cascade up and down the keyboard, and its powerful ending all come together to create a most exciting, yet sinister sounding, work.

Throughout this recital Riva proves himself the ideal interpreter of these works in both his demeanor and his virtuosity, the latter of which is, at times, astonishing; one can hardly imagine the works being played better than Riva does them here, whether technically or musically. If one is a fan of 19th-century pianism then, simply put, this recording belongs in your collection. Though some may call Fumagalli a salon composer, he at times proves himself much more than just a composer of pretty tunes and shallow theatrical gestures. And if one doesn’t know his music, then one owes oneself the pleasure of getting to know it better.

Scott Noriega

This article originally appeared
in Issue 39:4 (Mar/Apr 2016) of Fanfare Magazine.

The Guardian

Adalberto Maria Riva: a ‘convincing advocate’ of Fumagalli.
Fumagalli: Piano music, vol 1 CD review
Toccata unearths another gem

Happy 10th birthday, Toccata Classics. The creation of indefatigable Martin Anderson, the label has so far released 240 CDs, representing the work of 152 sometimes overlooked, often interesting composers (54 of them living). This disc is a perfect example of its mission to promote neglected music. In his short life, Adolfo Fumagalli (1828-1856), known as the Paganini of the piano, was revered by Liszt for his dazzling technique and compositional skill. Adalberto Maria Riva makes a convincing advocate here, particularly in an extraordinary grande fantasie for left hand based on Meyerbeer’s Robert le diable. The laconic Fumagalli wrote or arranged several pieces for the left hand so, they say, he could hold a cigar with his right while performing.

See review

American Record Guide, January 2016

Italian pianist Riva has toured internationally and is a real jaw-dropping technician. I cannot imagine these pieces done any better, and he accomplishes his tasks with ease and sparkle. His ability to maintain a light touch in the face of a shower of rapid notes is most impressive.

The fantasy for the left hand on Meyerbeer’s Robert le Diable is about as shallow a piece of music as you might encounter; the fantasy on Le Prophete benefits (somewhat) from the greater interest of the original material.

Alain Backer

© 2011 Adalberto Maria Riva

Informativa sulla Privacy - Se desideri che ShinyStat™ non raccolga alcun dato statistico relativo alla tua navigazione