Review: Giulia Semerano & Filippo Di Bari, Chichester Cathedral

Giulia Semerano & Filippo Di Bari, Chichester Cathedral, June 11

There is more four-handed piano going on than one might imagine but that might be because there aren’t many venues that have the luxury of two pianos. On the other hand, as it were, one keyboard is enough as long as the composer remembers not to direct both players to the same part of it at the same time.

A check of the shelves in Chichester’s Oxfam Bookshop on a regular basis is a good idea and today I opened Cardus on Music at, a critic is constantly under a necessity to overhaul his catechism to avoid living on fixed ideas.

Indeed, but I need one more run out for my customary comparison of Brahms with Beethoventhis time with reference to their facility for piano variations. Brahms went as far as ten On a Theme by Robert Schumann, op. 29, rather than the thirty-three Diabelli and yet still went from the calm exposition to a kaleidoscope of moods, adding more notes to make the second and third before the sombre footsteps of the fourth with Giulia in the engine room and Filippo playing the top lines.

Robert Schumann is credited with ‘discovering’ Brahms who presumably already knew he was there and his Pictures from the East, op. 66, offered a similar range of short pieces, and the opportunity to use the German dictionary.

Lebhaft was exactly what it says on the tin with its running rhythms and Nicht schnell und sehr gesangvoll zu spielen was a gorgeous miniature perhaps haunted by the ghosts of Bach, Mozart and Schubert. By the time one gets to Im Volkston it’s possible to think you’ve always got a chance of guessing German but it was a military and triumphant sort of ‘folk style’ for me. The ‘Chanson Orientale’ was gently redolent of the Faure Berceuse but, to return necessarily to my ‘catechism’, another Lebhaft and a Reuig andachtig left me not for the first time taken with the sanity of Robert Schumann’s music compared with the torments he suffered in life.

This was all finely-tempered Romantic klavier given sympathetic, nuanced expression by an impressive and highly likeable double act that served to show that not all C19th music took part in a project to blow the doors off. 

David Green

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