Monday, March 19 , 2018, 6:00 am | Fair 41º


Italian Pianist Domenico Codispoti Makes Santa Barbara Debut

The young Italian piano virtuoso Domenico Codispoti will make his debut in Santa Barbara with a solo recital Sunday evening at the Lobero Theatre.

Pianist Domenico Codispoti will perform a program of Chopin and Rachmaninov on Sunday at the Lobero Theatre.
Pianist Domenico Codispoti will perform a program of Chopin and Rachmaninov on Sunday at the Lobero Theatre.

Codispoti’s program will include two exquisite pieces by Frédéric Chopin, the Nocturne in E-Major, Opus 62, No. 2 and the Nocturne in c#-minor, Opus Postumus; Sergei Rachmaninov’s Etudes-Tableaux Opus 39, Nos. 1, 2, 3, 8, 5; three selections from Federico Mompou’s Impresiones intimas (“​Pajaro triste,” “Cuna,” “Secreto”); and Franz Liszt’s fiendishly difficult Sonata in b minor.

Thanks to YouTube, I managed to hear Codispoti playing most of this program and I have to admit to being wonderfully impressed — not by his technical agility, which is something one can almost take for granted in a young pianist, but by what I can only call his extraordinary delicacy and sensitivity.

A friend once told me something about Chopin that I have never forgotten: that he was hyper-conscious of his physical weakness, and that when he marked a piece “FFF,” it was a marking for his performance alone. Yet, my friend said, other pianists take the triple forte markings as a license to pound away like they were playing Liszt.

Far from trying to make a big impression, Codispoti often seems to be trying to be invisible. It is the composer’s personality he his concerned with, not his own ego. His Chopin is like moonlight on a mountain stream. A lot of pianists play Rachmaninov as if he were the same sort of music as Alexander Scriabin.

Nor does he go “all Russian” (as Gene Hackman might say) when he plays Rachmaninov; much closer to Chopin than Scriabin, and rightly so, beautifully so. Plus, he sorts out the complexities of the Liszt about as well as I have heard them sorted, achieving a remarkable coherence. He is an altogether exceptional musician.

The concert starts early, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $45-$55, $20 for students, and they are available at the Lobero box office, 33 E. Canon Perdido, by phone at 805.963.0761, or click here to purchase tickets online.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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