I live some of the time in a beautiful rural village in Berkshire without a pub and some way from a nearby top notch concert hall.
Not one to be stopped by that, I had the biggest treat ever last weekend when the sublime pianist Angelo Villani played a program of Liszt, Grieg and his own romantic and exciting transcription of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde to a group of 20 of my friends.
I give you a very short snippet here (my low quality iPhone recording sorry!) of the Tristan to whet your appetite for what you can do in your own home. If you enjoy it then do buy his recording that includes the full version and in better quality from Amazon. You will play it over and over – and it was released to much acclaim and achieved a coveted five star review in International Piano Magazine by the critic Bryce Morison.
An excerpt from Stephen Pritchard in the Guardian in 2012 is a wonderful introduction to Angelo and implicitly explains the white gloves as well.
“I’m sitting in a small rehearsal studio with the former child prodigy as he talks me through his “comeback” programme, illustrating his thoughts with examples at the keyboard, all played in a distinctive, luminous, flexible style that recalls the golden era of Horowitz and Rubinstein.
He has an extraordinary story to tell. As a product of the hothouse world of competition and performance, Villani was playing Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto and Rachmaninov’s second in his native Melbourne at the age of 17. Further recitals and broadcasts presaged a glittering future, leading the international pianist and fellow Australian Leslie Howard to recommend, in 1990, that he compete in that ultimate test, the International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition.
He was accepted as a contestant but disaster struck soon after he arrived in Russia. A trapped nerve in his right shoulder forced him to withdraw before he could compete, bringing his performing career to a shuddering halt.
Villani spent the next two decades in search of a cure, travelling the world consulting specialists – and even a witch doctor. He moved to London and performed sporadically at private gatherings, giving masterclasses and teaching, but it wasn’t until he turned to the ancient Chinese massage technique known as Tui na that his injury finally began to heal: his therapist was gradually able to free the calcified nerve to the point that Villani felt confident enough to return to the public stage. Now, after years of planning, practice and private performance, he is finally going public at St James’s in London on 6 October 2012.
Villani, whom the great Russian virtuoso Nikolai Demidenko has described as “an artist with original, creative and compelling vision“, is determined that you won’t hear those bar lines and speaks passionately about performing the music he loves in an expressive a manner as possible. He’s not afraid to use portamento, and colours and shades his interpretations by stretching and delaying the beat away from the straitjacket of strict metronome markings.”
Since then Angelo has had a number of concerts across Europe and Asia, all very well received, has appeared as a guest on Radio 3 and and has launched his first CD, available signed tonight after the recital and has a growing and loyal following.