The Italian fortepianist Costantino Mastroprimiano has specialized in music of the 19th century, a relatively unusual field for historical keyboardists. He has focused on such composers as Muzio Clementi, Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Jan Ladislav Dussek, Johann Baptist Cramer, Friedrich Kalkbrenner, Carl Czerny, Ignaz Moscheles, and Ferdinand Ries. Many of his performances have been buttressed by his own research into historical instruments and playing techniques. Mastroprimiano was born on October 28, 1964 in Foggia, Italy. His undergraduate studies took place at the conservatory there, and he moved on for further work in piano and chamber music at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, earning degrees in 1984 and 1985, respectively. He then launched into studies of period piano treatises and in the process rediscovered not only works by the above-named composers and others, but also hitherto unpublished transcriptions of orchestral music by Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, and he served on the committee that produced a complete edition of Clementi's works. Mastroprimiano has performed in major Italian cities and various foreign countries (including France, Bulgaria, and Austria), and in Italy, with the Perugia Symphony Orchestra and others, he has performed solo parts in concertos. In 1996, at the San Gimignano Festival, he gave what was probably the first performance in history of Bach's Goldberg Variations, BWV 988, on fortepiano. Mastroprimiano also plays chamber music frequently, with the groups Hausmusikensemble and Concert sans Orchestre. He has recorded complete cycles of the keyboard music of Clementi and Hummel, and has also recorded the music of Chopin and Alkan on period instruments. His Hummel cycle appeared in complete form in 2018 on the Brilliant label. Mastroprimiano is on the faculty at the Accademia Europea Villa Bossi in Bodio Lomnago, Lombardy, and, in chamber music, at the University of Perugia. He has also served as guest professor at the National Academy of Music in Sofia, Bulgaria. ~ James Manheim
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Solo Piano - Released July 27, 2018 | Brilliant Classics
Booklet Distinctions 5 étoiles de Classica
The complete sets issued by the budget Dutch label Brilliant often don't satisfy, delivering mere bulk in place of intelligent, illuminating programming. An exception is this set of Hummel piano sonatas by Italian fortepianist Costantino Mastroprimiano, even if it's not the complete set that's promised (there are at least three more works that were unpublished during the composer's lifetime but generally accepted as genuine). One might also complain that there was room on the CDs to do the sonatas in order, and that sequencing might have fit better with Mastroprimiano's aims. All this said, hearing a lot of Hummel at once illuminates why he was well-regarded as a composer in his time, even by the notoriously praise-stingy Beethoven. Better still, other major Hummel releases have been mostly on a modern grand, but Mastroprimiano uses a pair of fortepianos, a 1790s Walter instrument, and an 1830s Erard. The cumulative effect is to give the listener an idea of the range of ways in which Hummel influenced the incipient Romantic movement. He influenced Schumann, Mendelssohn, Chopin, and Schubert in various ways, and here you get the serious slow movements, the expanded sparkling Mozartianism, the exploration of figuration, and the vastness of musical space, respectively. The strongest work is the truly proto-Romantic Piano Sonata No. 5 in D major, Op. 106, and you can sample that on the third CD. But each of the sonatas has something to contribute to the overall picture. Mastroprimiano is a talented pianist in this repertory, giving each sonata its particular sound and shade, and the set is heartily recommended to lovers of the pre-Romantic period.
Classical - Released October 1, 2012 | Tactus
Francesco Pollini, born in Ljubljana, was a student of Mozart and the dedicatee of La sonnambula; the slow movements in the pieces on this disc are interesting as examples of the ways vocal melodism could be transferred to the keyboard in the generation before Chopin (who greatly admired Bellini). Pollini was best known in his own time for a strong-selling piano method used by both professionals and amateurs, and the music here is not of an especially virtuosic cast. The two sonatas in the middle of the program were part of a set intended to capitalize on Pollini's Metodo, published in 1811, and even the variation sets on the outside don't contain anything the average amateur, then as now, couldn't handle. Instead the music illustrates Pollini's emphasis on cantabile playing -- he even proposed that music should be notated on three staves so as to have the melody appear separately -- and other forms of articulation. There's nothing terribly compelling about any of it, but this recording, like others released by the Tactus label, fills a gap in the discography of Italian music. The period fortepiano employed is the most distinctive thing on the album. A Triestine instrument, it's noisy and clunky, with an odd buzz effect in the lower register in one of the variations of the Variazioni e Toccata, Op. 53 -- perhaps it's produced by a keyboard shift, but the notes pertaining to the instrument are only in Italian, and even those who read that language will find the text squeezed almost beyond recognition. (Note to Tactus management: the average teenager tends to have decent design skills these days, at least better than those of the designers you have been using.) The final toccata in that work is colorful, and it's something of a compendium of piano techniques of the day -- something certainly of interest to those fascinated by the history of keyboard instruments. Sound is boxy to the point where it interferes with the listener's ability to divine the timbres of the old instrument involved.
Classical - Released December 11, 2012 | Brilliant Classics
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