Rimoldi’s wayward recital proves a mixed bag at Miami Piano Festival

By Lawrence Budmen

Emanuel Rimoldi performed Friday night at the MIami International Piano Festival.

Emanuel Rimoldi performed Friday night at the Miami International Piano Festival.

Emanuel Rimoldi made his American debut at the Miami International Piano Festival’s Discovery Series on Friday night, playing works by Bach, Schumann, Rachmaninoff and Liszt at the Colony Theater in Miami Beach. Yet the young Italian pianist proved to be something of an enigma.

Rimoldi boasts a stellar technical arsenal. He can play with accuracy at the most extreme speeds and his dynamic palette ranges to the most varied degrees of softness. His interpretive perspective, however, can be quirky, and sometimes wayward. He fared best in quiet, lyrical pieces where his sensitive touch was on display.

Rimoldi opened with a modernist reading of Bach’s Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue. This was definitely pianistic Bach, eschewing any attempt to adapt the registrations or limited dynamic range of the harpsichord to the modern instrument. After an initially deliberate reading of the fantasy, inner voicing in the fugue was clear with the rhythm lilting and vigorous.

Schumann’s Humoreske in B-flat Major displayed Rimoldi’s impressive technical control. He managed to capture much of Schumann’s widely divergent changes of mood and emotion. Rimoldi sensitively etched the songlike opening and later repetitions of the theme were nicely varied in color and articulation. While there were moments of poetry and eloquence, the contrasts between slow and fast sections was, at times, jarring with the rapid movements sounding too breathless. In climaxes Rimoldi’s volume could also turn excessive.

Liszt’s transcription of the temple dance and final duet from Verdi’s Aida was more attuned to Rimoldi’s sensibilities. In the pseudo-Oriental ballet music, there were nice contrasts of dynamics and coloration. The whirling figures over the melody of the farewell duet and the Lisztian buildup of volume and tension were dispatched with emphatic aplomb.

Rachmaninoff’s 10 Preludes, Op. 23, showcased both Rimoldi’s eccentricities and strengths. In the opening F-sharp minor prelude, he captured the piece’s moody aura but tended to pull phrases apart. The B-flat Major prelude emerged overwrought and exaggerated and the famous G minor Alla marcia was very fast with the contrasting central episode taken at an extremely slow clip. In the A-flat Major vignette, Rachmaninoff’s surging melodic pattern was almost unrecognizable, dwarfed by Rimoldi’s overly emphatic overlay of accompanying figurations.

Despite a very slow tempo, there was depth of feeling in the flowing Andante cantabile of the Prelude in D Major. Rimoldi brought lightness and verve to the penultimate Presto in B-flat minor. Hei can produce a singing line and lovely pianissimos and, In the final Largo, he brought out the melodic patterns with great beauty. Works that abound in lyricism and tonal shadings seem to bring out the best in this pianist.

The Miami International Piano Festival continues 7:45 p.m. Saturday at the Colony Theater in Miami Beach with Luigi Carroccia playing the Bach-Busoni Choral Prelude “Ich ruf zu dir,” Scriabin’s Sonata No. 3, Rachmaninoff’s 4 Preludes, Op. 23 and Chopin’s Barcarolle, Polonaise-Fantasy and Nocturne, Op. 62. miamipianofest.com

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Sat May 14, 2016
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