Robert Schumann’s “Kreisleriana,” an eight-movement dramatic fantasy, was a favorite of his critics, and is certainly one of pianist Nicolas Giacomelli’s, as well as a member of the audience who asked for a photo with Giacomelli after he played on the third day of the NTD International Piano Competition.
“His performance has everything—technique, mastery, expression of the soul,” she said before darting back into the recital hall.
Giacomelli, from Italy, performed the Schumann piece and Tchaikovsky’s “Dumka” on Sept. 28 at the Baruch Performing Arts Center as a finalist in the competition.
“Schumann’s ‘Kreisleriana,’ it is one of my favorite pieces in the whole of classical music. I think it’s wonderful because it’s so varied. There is a lot of things inside, a lot of details, little details, and the musician can also have much freedom in the piece. He can give his own vision, because it’s very romantic,” Giacomelli said.
“Dumka” may not be as famous as “Kreisleriana,” but it’s also a well-loved piece.
“It’s this big picture of Russian culture of the late 19th century,” Giacomelli said. “It has a very wonderful melody.”
Giacomelli said he has an affinity for big romantic pieces that are on the expressive side, but was also deeply appreciative of the competition’s emphasis on tradition, including bringing Bach etudes into the early rounds.
He sees the competition as playing a role in reviving tradition, and also sees it a way he didn’t expect. He found it interesting that the semi-finals included performing a commissioned piece, which while arranged for piano using classical techniques, is a piece with Chinese melodies.
Giacomelli understands the cultural side of the traditional Chinese piece, and recognizes the classical elements as well, but the result was nothing like he’d ever experienced.
“It’s completely different,” he said. “You would never see something like this.”
It was perfectly in line with what he sees as a musician’s mission: to advance us artistically, without losing what came before us.
He said part of a musician’s job is to “instruct audiences, always push them a little bit farther, but always within the tradition.”
Music is a wonderful vehicle to do so, because it is something that touches everyone’s lives.
“Music is important to a person’s well being. It is something that can always be with you,” he said. “It is a big part of the life of a person, and important in society.”
“It’s important that people listen to this music; it’s wonderful,” he said.
Giacomelli, 20, studies piano at the Bologna Conservatory. He’s dreamed of playing classical music since he was a child, so when people ask about the hours of practicing or the grind, he says he doesn’t think of it that way at all.
“I want to play,” Giacomelli said, “and this is the way to do it.”