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PIETRO SCARPINI
Italian pianist (1911 - 1997)



Pietro Scarpini was called "a pianist of prodigious capacities" by New York Times critic Olin Downes after the performance of the Prokofiev 2nd concerto.  Though he studied conducting at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome, as well as composition with Casella, to whom the Busoni Op 54 is dedicated, and with Respighi, it is as a pianist that realized his ultimate talent.

Pietro Scarpini's performance of Beethoven's last piano sonata is alive in a way that the typical performance is not.  He allows the music to speak, and yes dance, rather than the almost oppressive need seemingly felt by so many pianists to pay homage to this ultimate monument of Beethoven's creative output.  I have never heard it played this way and fear I may never again.

The 4th piano concerto has a lightness of intensity that is remarkable, as though Pietro Scarpinin were confronting it for the first time and matching the elasticity of Furtwängler's conducting to create a perfectly integrated performance, at time following the great conductor's lead, at times anticipating what he will do next.  This is one of the most perfect pianist/conductor pairings I know.  And the recording of the Brahms second concerto, well suffice it to say that Brahms might have made a surprisingly good Italian opera composer.

As for the music of Ferruccio Busoni, never have I heard the Italianate essence of the composer so vividly manifested as at Pietro Scarpini's hands.  Busoni's music is so often played in a heavy handed manner.  His Prokofiev is quite different from the mainstream, and wonderful as are the pieces by Liszt, Scriabin and Rachmaninoff.

At the end is a clip from a rehearsal of a concerted work by Busoni and an exciting piano concerto by the 20th century Italian composer, Goffredo Petrassi.



Mozart Piano Concerto 22 in E major, K 482
Dimitri Mitropoulos conducting the New York Philharmonic Orchestra

i Allegro
12:46  ii Andante
21:44  iii Allegro

recorded live in 1955




Beethoven  Piano Sonata 32 in C minor, Op 111

i Maestoso. Allegro con brio ed appassionato
ii Arietta - Adagio molto, semplice e cantabile

recorded live in 1961




Beethoven  Piano Concerto 4 in G major, Op 58
Wilhelm Furtwängler conducting l'Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma della RAI

recorded live in 1952


i Allegro moderato



ii Andante con moto



iii Rondo - Vivace




Liszt  Paganini Etude 2




Liszt  Malediction for piano and orchestra
Claudio Abbado conducting l"Orchestra Rai di Torino

recorded in 1964




Brahms  Piano Concerto 2 in B major, Op 83
Vittorio Gui conducting l'Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma della RAI

i Allegro non troppo
16:48  ii Allegro appassionato
25:29  iii Andante
37:22  iv Allegretto grazioso

recorded live in 1958




Busoni  Piano Concerto in C Major, Op 39 (1904)
I Prologo e Introito - Allegro, dolce e solenne
II Pezzo giocoso
III Pezzo serioso
Introductio - Andante sostenuto / Prima pars - Andante, quasi adagio / Altera pars: Sommessamente / Ultima pars - a tempo
IV All'Italiana
Tarantella: Vivace; In un tempo
V Cantico - Largamente (with chorus)
George Szell conducting the Cleveland Orchestra

recorded in 1966




Rehearsal - Busoni  Indianische Fantasie, Op 44
Piero Bellugi conducting the French Radio Television Orchestra

taped in 1968




Busoni  Romanza e Scherzoso, Op 54 (1921)
Claudio Abbado conducting l'Orchestra Sinfonica di Torino della RAI

recorded live




Scriabin  Piano Sonata 5, Op 53

recorded in 1963




Scriabin  "Vers la Flamme" Op 72

recorded live in Venice in 1963




Rachmaninoff  Corelli Variations, Op 42 ("La Follia")

recorded in 1958




Casella  Partita for piano and orchestra, Op 42 (1924-1925)
i Sinfonia - Allegro un poco maestoso
09:09ii Passacaglia con 12 variazioni
20:39iii Burlesca
Massimo Pradella conducting l'Orchestra "A Scarlatti" di Napoli della RAI

recorded live in 1967





Prokofiev Piano Sonata 2 in D minor, Op 14


i Allegro, ma non troppo. Più mosso. Tempo primo



ii Scherzo - Allegro marcato



iii Andante



iv Vivace. Moderato. Vivace




Prokofiev  Piano Concerto 2 in G minor, Op 16
i Andantino. Allegretto
ii Scherzo - Vivace
iii Intermezzo - Allegro moderato
iv Finale -
Allegro tempestoso
Dimitri Mitropoulos conducting the New York Philharmonic Orchestra

recorded live in 1954




Goffredo Petrassi (1904-2003)  Piano Concerto (1936-1939)
Nino Sanzogno conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra

i Non molto mosso, ma energico
12:00  ii Arietta con variazioni (Molto adagio e tranquillo)
25:18  iii Rondò (Andantino mosso. Allegro agitato)

recorded live in 1959










For those of you who enjoy murder mysteries, here is my first with a strong musical polemic as background

Murder in the House of the Muse

which is also available as an audiobook.



And this is the more recently published second mystery in the series:

Murder Follows the Muse



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