Irene Veneziano, what a Chopin! (30-09-2011) – ENG

Irene Veneziano opened, in the sign of Chopin, the 20th concert season at the Politecnico in Turin.

A hearty and crowded concert (a lot of young people were sat on the floor), for the inauguration of Polincontri Classica, 20th edition.

At the keyboard of the Steinway grand piano, with a dense sound, was the young and already well-known Irene Veneziano: a respected curriculum vitae, in spite of her age, she was winner in about thirty piano competitions, semi-finalist in the prestigious “Chopin” in Warsaw in 2010 edition, second prize in New York B&B in 2009, a series of applauded performances in titled seats, from the Salle Cortot in Paris to the Menuhin Festival in Gstaad, from Geneve to Los Angeles until to the Alla Scala Theatre, where she made her debut in 2011.

Veneziano is not simply a good pianist with a solid technique and undoubted sensibility, as you can find a lot nowadays, but a complete musician, cultured and refined and with all her papers in order to prove in a very short time a first-rate international artist.

Everybody was waiting for this recital that, as well as opening the celebration season for the first twenty years of the festival, at the same time was closing the Chopin cycle which began to coincide with the bicentenary and so spread on two years.

We realized it would have been an exciting concert since the “Study op. 25 n. 7” entry. Veneziano, in spite of her frail body, displayed a vigorous sound, strong and generous, if necessary, nearly orchestral, I dare say “virile”: in fact, she was able to make maximum use of the weight falling on the keyboard, with a great technique and an excessive control, but at the same time she played with an exceptional touch preciosity. For instance, I appreciated a lot the “cello cantabile” in the “Study”.

Some harshness, to tell the truth, came out here and there in the arduous “Polonaise op. 44”, but they were only details. What it stroke in her interpretation of Chopin were, first of all, the sense of style, the intelligence in emphasizing harmonic connections as they were “analogical”, often brilliantly modern, and more the skilled use of the pedal, the stylistic appropriateness, and many other things. A Chopin without any concession to the mawkishness, a consistent and incisive Chopin. I have then to notice her ability in holding audience’s attention even in pieces which were not easy-listening (for example in the soft but lengthy “Nocturne op. 15 n. 1”).

About the very famous “Ballade op. 23 in G minor”, there are so many interpretation references that purists (even before great performers), everybody knows, have always some reservation and something to say in a snobbish way: “not enough magnificent the epic part”, “not sufficiently distressed the “cantabile”, and then the finale, Good Lord, which has to be ineluctable, but not affected” and so on. Irene Veneziano’s Ballade seemed extremely convincing to us; of course, everything is perfectible, but, to tell the truth, seldom have we listened to a performance this absorbing: all measured, nothing upset or over the lines, a rare talent of emotional capture, and then the well-showed Chopin’s heroism, as well as the epos sense, the pearly lightness of some passages, thanks to an excellent phrasing and a fine touch. Finally, we have to underline this as it’s a rare thing, Irene Veneziano is a pianist who breathe: she is not afraid of delaying and let enjoy phrases, without moreover affording the eccentric, captious and pandering looseness which are typical of too many pianists who should be forbidden to get near the keyboard. (…)

And the audience didn’t want to go away anymore. Smiling and (seemingly) not tired at all, Veneziano gave two more encores: the virtuosic (and a bit eccentric) “Toccata” by Saint-Saens, which is the “Op. 111 Sixth Study”, prolix, inane, and even annoying at times, but she played it very well, in a charming way (see her on YouTube), it even seemed an accettable piece, and finally the delicate “Fille aux cheveux de lin” by Debussy, with pale archaisms; and said goodbye with a smile and a soft, a little bit melancholic, feminine touch.

Attilio Piovano

Friday September 30th, 2011