• Features

1 October 2016 Fono Forum

Mozart: Piano Sonatas No. 1 - 6 (Decca)

The 40 year-old Italian, known by his commitment for the pedal piano, has made another attempt to slip into his play anything which could be found in Mozart’s statements passed on to us, in autographs and first editions and in our knowledge upon historical performance practices and instruments.

And that lead him to a performance  which sets, more uncomprimisingly than all his spiritual predecessors, on sensible articulation and phrasing, colourfulness, agility and flexibility.

However, the instrument he chose was not a historical fortepiano, but a Fazioli grand piano from 2015, delicately tuned in one of the historical unequal temperaments, which allowed him to realize amazingly well Mozart’s piano writing in a lean way, with an extreme richness of nuances and a soft piano down to a breathed-like pianissimo.

Thus, he realized an interpretation of these 6 works of the Salzburg teenager which is free from professoral or historicizing rigidity, but still less from the smart ‘modern’ one-track-ideology with which Mozart can still often be heard.

On the contrary, I have the impression that, here, it has been succeeded to convey the whole musical wealth of these Sonatas more lively and more powerfully than ever.

Prosseda always remains close to the text, but presents it by a colour palette applied in an excitingly imaginative way and constantly opening new perspectives:

A recording which has to become a new reference.

 

Ingo Harden
 
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1 March 2016 Gramophone

"Mendelssohn: Complete Works for piano four hands and for two pianos" (Decca)

Is there another single-disc recording of all five of the complete original pieces composed by Mendelssohn for piano duet and two pianos? If so, I doubt if it’s as good as this with Roberto Prosseda, tireless champion of the composer, joined here by his wife Alessandra Ammara.

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20 April 2012 Wall Street Journal

Article about Roberto Prosseda and the Pedalpiano

Roberto Prosseda is a concert pianist of the old school who typically performs in white tie and tails. But for his most recent spate of concerts, he pairs them with slippers—five-fingered rubber-coated slippers that look vaguely amphibian. That's because Mr. Prosseda plays with his feet as well as his hands.The Italian pianist is on a one-man mission to revive the music of the pedal piano, a monstrous double-decker grand piano that was popular in the late-19th century but has long since fallen out of fashion.

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1 July 2014 International Piano

The Multitasking Pianist

While undertaking some research on Mendelssohn, one of his favourite composers, pianist Roberto Prosseda came across the Gounod Concerto for Pedal Piano, which had been neither performed nor published for decades. The work inspired him to study the instrument, a piano with a pedal keyboard that is usually connected to a second set of hammers and strings. As the music critic Norman Lebrecht has written: ‘It’s a piano that thinks, deep down, it’s an organ.’

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1 December 2013 Gramophone

"Gounod: Works for pedal piano and orchestra" (Hyperion)

Gounod's complete works for pedal piano and orchestra is not something the musical worls has been waiting for with bared breath. Yet, lile an item in one of those gift cataloggues full of things you never knew existed but suddenly seem essential, it proves to be a real winner. It is also among the jolliest of piano-and-orchestra recording to come my way for some time. [...] Hyperion's cast is top-drawer. The Concerto (1889) is a charmer with an especially touchin, Schubertian slow movement, beautifully pòayed by Prosseda. The finale and the 1888 Danse Roumaine give the hands and feet plenty to do. Given exactly the right light touch and deft execution, abetter by Howard Shelley's stylish accompainment, Gounod's box of bonbons is an unexpected delight. 

Jeremy Nicholas
 
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1 November 2014 American Record Guide

"Da Capo al Fine" (Decca)

“One of the best Mendelssohn recordings I have reviewed…An invaluable release”. 

In the final installment of his project to record Mendelssohn's complete oeuvre, Prosseda stresses rarely heard, newly published, and yet unpublished repertoire. His scholarly acumen (he wrote his own liner notes), impeccable technique, and good taste leads to one of the best Mendelssohn recordings I have reviewed. The Baroque legacy recurs in the more familiar Variations Sérieuses, with his admirable attention to its dense textures and contrapuntal moments. He supplements the variations with four additional variations excluded from the definitive version. The 7 Charakterstücke, an earlier srt, are short, charming works performed with sensitivity and gusto. Also lively are the poised and brilliant 3 Etudes. An invaluable release for the Mendelssohn enthusiast or scholar. 

Sang Woo Kang
 
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16 February 2015 Suddeutsche Zeitung

Im Forte-Gewitter

Deshalb sind auch die Etuden op. 56 und die Skizzen op. 58 von Robert Schumann eher diskrete Experimente mit ein paar zusätzlichen Grundtönen. Doch danach legte Roberto Prosseda mehr Wert auf den pianistschen Überbau. Bei einer Uraufführung von Luca Lombardi eighte er, mit Themen von Mendelssohn und jüdischen Melodien, subtilen Piano-Minimalismus sowie dramatische Fort-Cluster-Gewitter als Schreckensbeschwörungen von Aushwitz. Auf diesem Weg zeighte Prosseda sämtliche Möglichkeiten seines Instruments. Zum Höhepunkt wurde jedoch der alte Klaiertitan Liszt - ohne Pedal, nur mit ein paar sparsamen Basstönen als Verstärkung der orchestralen Fantasien. In der gewaltigen Dante-Sonate nach Sonetten von Petrarca spielte Prosseda alle Register von Liszts Klavierkünsten aus, sein unermüdliches Narrativ, die thetorische Überwältigung, die facettenreiche Tonmalerei un das wogende Aud- un Ab gestischer Beschwörungen. Nach so viel Piano pur blieben nur noch zwei Zugaben von Alkan und Gounod für die Demonstration der exotischen Pedalkünste an diesem Abend.  

Klaus P. Richter

Klaus P. Richter
 
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1 January 2014 Fono Forum

CD Review "Gounod: works for pedal piano and orchestra" (Hyperion)

Charles Gounod hat insgesamt vier Werke für Pedalfliügel mit Orchester geschrieben, von denen das Konzert in Es-Dur sicherlich das eindnacksvollste Stück ist. Virtuose Figuren, nicht nur für die Hände, sondern von allem für die Füße, werden dem, Solisten hier abverlangt, und Roberto Prosseda bewältigt diese bravourös.

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9 April 2013 Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Review: Gounod's Pedalpiano Concerto with Staatskapelle Weimar and Leopold Hager

Der Pedalflügel gehörte zu den ausgestorbenen Dinosauren im Musik-instrumenten-Zoo. Nun hat sich der Pianist Roberto Prosseda ein neues Pedalflügel-System bauen lasen, es wurde in Weimar mit einem Gounod-Konzert eingeweiht. [...] Delikat ist das Adagio, darin der Pianist die traurig-trüben Akkorde der Hände mit dem Nachhallpedal binden und gleichzeilig mit den Füssen eine Basslinie spielen muss, was Prosseda, der in der Staatskapelle Weimar und in Leopold Hager überhaus sensible und präzise Partner hatte, eindruckswoll gelang.

Jan Brachmann
 
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1 July 2018 Fanfare Magazine

CD Review: Mozart Piano Sonatas 7 - 12 (Decca)

With the second volume of his chronological survey of Mozart’s Piano Sonatas, Roberto Prosseda reaches what might be considered Mozart’s “middle period” keyboard works. It contains the three Sonatas published in 1782 in Paris, Nos. 7-9, along with three from the following year, Nos. 10-12, published in Vienna. These are more familiar works than the six early Sonatas contained in Prosseda’s Volume I. I would have been interested to hear the unfinished Sonata movement in G Minor, K 312, had it been included, but Prosseda does offer the unfinished Sonata movement, K 400, a tantalizing fragment, completed by Maximilian Städler, and the familiar, unfinished Fantasia in D minor, which he links to the D Major Sonata K 311; its final D major chord serving as the sonata’s first beat. (Prosseda endorses the idea put forward by the fortepianist Krystian Bezuidenhout, a kindred Mozart interpreter, whose Mozart Concerto recordings offer some of the most engaging, dynamic, HIP Mozart interpretations that I’ve heard, that the Fantasia was conceived as an introduction to the Sonata).                                                            

Here, as in Volume I, Prosseda’s Mozart Sonatas are the most musically engaging, and best recorded that I know. The clarity and the exquisite, focused tone of his piano, a Fazioli tuned with “Vallotti” unequal temperament—which my ear doesn’t distinguish from equal temperament—are great assets. While his booklet notes are scholarly and coolly precise, Prosseda’s playing is spontaneous-sounding, and not without humor. As Huntley Dent has written of Piotr Andersweski, whose Mozart playing is comparably nuanced, “He can’t play three notes in a row without turning them into a phrase…and his touch is both natural and refined.”                                                                

Prosseda’s range of expression, achieved through imaginative variety of sound, precise articulation, and flexibile pacing, adds interest to these works, most of which are not among Mozart’s most profound. From his gentle, expansive take on the Andante of K. 330, through his urgent traversal of K. 310’s impassioned first movement, Prosseda savors and enhances the music’s inherent character. In K 332, the abnormal number of themes, or musical “topics’—I count seven—in the first movement’s exposition emerge with the panache of separate characters in a comic opera, though I think his suggestion that the fourth theme (dotted rhythms, minuet-like) inspired Verdi’s “La donna e mobile” is far-fetched.     

Where melodic lines suggest the potential for elaboration, such as in K 309, Prosseda’s embellishes cleverly, and unpredictably. He doesn’t hesitate to insert his own cadenza at the appropriate harmonic moment in the showy finale of K. 332. The taking of artistic license culminates in an entertaining performance of K 331’s “Turkish” Rondo, taken at a proper Allegretto tempo, with increasingly lavish melodic variants, not just ornaments, added on repeats. It’s audacious, but adheres to practices that Mozart would have recognized, and reclaims the piece from the dazzling antics of Volodos and Yuja Wang.     

Volume I of Prosseda’s cycle was on my 2016 Want List, and this Volume will likely appear on 2018’s.


1 June 2018 Musica

CD Review: Gounod Piano Works (Decca)

Il CD, pubblicato da Decca, presenta un’antologia di composizioni per pianoforte di Gounod con Roberto Prosseda, vero specialista del Nostro, dopo averci regalato, in una registrazione di Hyperion del 2013, le quattro composizioni che Gounod concepì per pianoforte a pedali e orchestra. L’intelligenza musicale di Prosseda è sopraffina, ed è percepibile in ognuno dei 74 minuti registrati, a partire dalle sei Romanze senza parole composte sull’arco di qualche decennio e qui saggiamente riunite. Deliziosi i brani singoli, come Impromptu e Souvenance, qui registrati in prima mondiale, come del resto la Sonata a 4 mani, una rarità, eseguita con Enrico Pompili. Goduriosi all’ascolto i sei Preludi e Fughe, studi preparatori alla Tastiera ben temperata di Bach, dove figurano anche tre corali. Le fughe sono a due voci, assimilabili alle Invenzioni o ai Duetti della terza parte della Klavierübung di Bach. La padronanza stilistica di Prosseda è ancor meglio apprezzabile in un paio di composizioni celebri: la Marcia funebre d’una marionetta, dove la raffinatezza è accompagnata al massimo grado da eleganza e ironia, nel più puro stile francese, e la Meditazione sul primo preludio di Bach.


9 May 2018 Repubblica

Concert review: Palermo, 9/5/2018, with Shlomo Mintz and Solisti Aquilani

Nel Concerto doppio, insidioso per entrambi i solisti, Prosseda ha mostrato tutte le sue abilità di camerista nell’equilibrio del suono con l’altro solista e con l’intera compagine, senza mai nulla fuori posto. 

 


8 May 2018 Klara.be

CD Review: Gounod Piano Works (Decca)

Of Charles Gounod (1818-1893), born 200 years ago, we know of course mainly his operas, his spiritual vocal music and perhaps also his two lively symphonies. But less known is that he also wrote about 40 pieces for the piano. Those pieces may not contain the most revolutionary music for this instrument, but charming, expressive and varied - and therefore worth discovering - they are certain!

That was also the idea of ​​the 43-year-old Italian pianist and ardent defender of little repertoire Roberto Prosseda, who presents a beautiful anthology of that forgotten oeuvre on this new Decca CD, published by the Italian branch of Universal.

The CD opens with four short pieces: La Veneziana, with its smooth arpeggios; an Impromptu, in fact a short, easy roller; Souvenance, with the character of a nocturne and Marche funèbre d'une marionette, in which Gounod makes a musical caricature of an English critic.


The 6 Romances sans paroles take the central place on this CD. Gounod originally gave them the title Pensées pour piano, in other words the Lieder ohne Worte by Mendelssohn, with which Fanny Mendelssohn had introduced him to Rome in 1840. These are very attractive, charming, melodic and melancholy pieces. The subsequent Méditation sur le 1er prélude de J.S. Bach, a kind of improvisation, in which you hear a mixture of Bach with the later and very popular Ave Maria of Gounod.

And then there are the 6 preludes and fugues, which Gounod himself saw as a sort of preparation or warming up for playing Das wohltemperierte Klavier by Bach. But here he was perhaps a bit too modest, because these are ingeniously composed, and sometimes also surprising masterpieces.

The CD closes with a world premiere: the sonata for piano four hands from 1839, the year that Gounod won the Grand Prix de Rome. And although you might not hear the future composer of the opera Faust in this youth work, you can already recognize the dramatic way in which themes are played out against each other.

As already stated, the Italian pianist Roberto Prosseda is a musician who tries to avoid the trodden as much as possible. For Decca he already made an integral recording of the piano music by Mendelssohn, and he also played forgotten piano works by his compatriots Salieri and Rossini and also a lot of contemporary work. On his beautiful Fazioli, Prosseda brings fluent, poetic and technically well-controlled performances of these wrongly neglected pieces of Gounod. In the sonata he gets the excellent and passionate company of his Italian colleague Enrico Pompili.

Klara's judgment
5/5

 


6 May 2018 La Opinion

Concert Review - Mendelssohn Piano Concertos, Sinfonica de Galicia, 4/5/2018

De lo exquisito a lo pletórico

Otro artífice de este gran acto, el pianista italiano Roberto Prosseda, realizó una versión de los dos conciertos de Mendelssohn muy acorde con el estilo del maravilloso compositor: alto grado de virtuosismo, elegancia en el fraseo, refinamiento en la dinámica y una intensidad de la expresión que transmite al público la emoción de unas obras bellísimas. Aclamado, correspondió con un bis que fue una verdadera ampliación de programa: el Rondó caprichoso de Mendelssohn, tras cuya ejecución se escucharon bravos y ovaciones. La obra de Parera, radiante, esplendorosa, de lujuriante instrumentación, transmite emotividad y belleza. Fue muy aplaudido, aunque, modestamente, solo saludó, puesto en pie, desde su localidad. La brillante versión de las Metamorfosis de Hindemith, una de sus obras más bellas, hizo que Pablo se retirase entre exclamaciones de entusiasmo.


1 May 2018 American Record Guide

CD Review: Mozart Piano Sonatas 7 - 12 (Decca)

His Mozart is technically impeccable, sensitive, stylistically assured, and sophisticated. This is outstanding playing by any measure.