Concert review

Gabriele Strata (piano)

16th March 2023


An Evening of consummate Italian style

Penrith Music Club committee should, once again, be it noted, be congratulated for having found a replacement, not once but twice for their last main concert. Due to unforeseen circumstances Alim Beisembayev could not make the concert date of the 16th March. Thanks too to Gabriele Strata for stepping in at the last moment. His programme may have seemed a little short to some but that was largely explained by the final work, Brahms’ 3rd piano sonata, essentially a five-movement symphony, which might aptly fit Mahler’s dictum that a symphony should encompass the world.

Brahms’ brief mentor Schumann was bowled over by this masterpiece, produced at the age of 20, a work of kaleidoscopic emotion and expression, but also very neatly constructed, with layer upon layer of thematic material. This sonata looked back in some ways to Beethoven, notably in the recurring ‘fate’ theme, but also prefigured the later romantic style.

To begin with, Signor Strata gave a concise performance of an early Mozart sonata, almost an exercise in a form of question-and-answer composition, perhaps a little formulaic, but with touches of humour and lyricism. The following Nocturne and Ballade by Chopin were, by contrast, more mature pieces, the first demanding a sure control of its sustained melody, the second a mastery of technique and virtuosity. Gabriele gave us, quite literally, breath-taking performances of both of these challenging pieces.

Brahms is not everyone’s favourite composer; I fear he suffers from the succeeding, admiring composers who tried to emulate him more than from his own musical style. Gabriele gave a full-blooded account of Brahms’ gargantuan 3rd piano sonata, well thought through, and with the same clarity that he had brought to the previous pieces.

This was an enthralling performance by an assured and talented young pianist. He deserves a great future. Once again, bravo to Penrith Music Club for securing Gabriele Strata at such short notice.

Charles Ritchie

Updated on 10th April 2024
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