It is great when major orchestras put their faith in young talent, so the first thing must be to applaud the London Philharmonic for giving a platform to the Italian pianist Giuseppe Andaloro. With a large auditorium to fill, the temptation to fall back on artists with pulling power is very strong, and it can be something of a gamble to hire a youngster, however gifted, whose name is not yet fully before the public.
Admittedly, the risk is somewhat diminished when, as in this case, the concert slots in to a popular Friday evening series with its own loyal audience, but this performance of Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto, given in between the suite from Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Tale of Tsar Saltan and Mussorgsky’s Pictures from an Exhibition, will have won Andaloro new admirers and could well help him along that tricky path of recognition.
He is not a complete unknown in London, but this was his first high-ranking date here since winning the London International Piano Competition in April last year. On that occasion he was outshone by the pianist who came second, Alberto Nose, but the intervening 18 months have brought Andaloro, still only in his early twenties, a more striking maturity, confidence and individuality. Added to which, there is a world of difference between participating in a gladiatorial contest, with a thumbs up or down from a jury, and giving a concert in which the only duty is to the public and to the pianist’s own integrity. There was plenty of evidence here that Andaloro, despite his diffident platform manner, relished the situation in which he found himself.
In many ways it is more of a test of a musician’s powers to play such a well-known piece as Rachmaninov’s Second Concerto than to opt for something more off the beaten track. The impressive feature here was that Andaloro had his own ideas about how he wanted the music to go and that he carried the orchestra and the conductor Petr Altrichter with him. There was good dialogue between orchestra and soloist. Andaloro dictated a spacious approach to the first movement, but one in which there was natural flexibility of pacing and a firm directional sense.
The slow movement capitalised on warm piano tone and lyrical nuance, and on the strong, agile finger-work that Andaloro brought also to the finale. Above all, the performance struck that delicate balance between being true to the music’s idiom and exerting an interpretative personality. It sent several shivers down the spine – and that’s always a good sign.”