Music in Bologna, musicians in Bologna.

At the Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna
Scagliarini and Zagni pay homage to the Bolognese piano

A review by Alberto Spano in Alla Ribalta, May-June 1998

Undoubtedly the "Pantheon bolognese" stands out among the most interesting Bolognese musical programs in the first half of this year, after the realization by the Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna together with the Agimus and the Istituzione Rossini and with the artistic direction of Luigi Verdi and the contribution of the Foundation Cassa di Risparmio in Bologna; eight concerts on Saturday afternoon at the Sala Mozart, from 10 January to 4 April, eight explorations of the music of great and unknown composers who were protagonists of the Bolognese musical culture, who were born, studied or operated in this town.
In his preface Verdi writes "A survey of authors who were celebrated , or undeservedly forgotten, but who were in any case linked to the town. The performance of the works - Verdi goes on writing - is mainly entrusted to Bolognese musicians".
An idea which is as simple as brilliant. The fact that, on the threshold of the year 2000 , a glorious musical institution as the Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna has devoted  a wide space inside its concert programs to the listening of the music that since the  17th century has contributed to  the history of our town means both a sign of  respect and love for the past and a service due to the citizenship and to culture.
The audience who attended the two last splendid piano recitals had the rare privilege to listen to a conspicuous range of piano music selected by Verdi including composers as Mugellini, Rosa, Ricci-Signorini, Spagnoli; Salviati, Mancinelli, Orefice, Boghen, in one of the most comfortable Bolognese places and at the most relaxing time of the week . Do those names suggest anything?  The most famous ones are Mugellini and Mancinelli, the former thanks to his well-known Bach revisions (and a not less known piano method which opened the Italian doors to modern techniques of piano studying), the second one for his reputation of ravenous orchestra conductor specialized in opera (he was able to conduct six different operas in a week) and of great teacher. The protagonists of these two splendid concerts were two women pianists whom we had not listened to as soloists for some time and whom we have  rediscovered in a new , delightful technical and interpretative maturity of theirs, even though different for stylistic interpretation and   personality: Donatella Scagliarini, who was Simonetta Ventura's pupil,  mastered the marathon concert dedicated to Bruno Mugellini (1871-1912), Raffaele Salviati (1908-1968), Antonio Ricci-Signorini (1867-1963) and Melchiorre Rosa (1884-1971) with beautiful sound effect, accurate phrasing and soft shading tones. Her fingers expressed attention to even the smallest details, enlivened and coloured pages which otherwise would have been completely forgotten (some of them rightly, some others probably less) like "Dianzi a una bimba morente" (In front of a dying baby girl) , "Abbandono" (Desolation), "Marosi" (Billows), "Salendo il colle S.Ilario" (Climbing up St.Ilario's Hill), "Fanciulla malata" (Ill girl), "Ritorno dal pascolo" (Coming back from the pasture). There were many re-echoings of Chopin, some  Mendelssohn, a lot of Debussy, some Skrjabin.
Raffaella Zagni's piano is more immediate and aflamed. Having been Ernestina Argelli's pupil, and born of a family of musicians,  she can read Luigi Mancinelli's (1848-1921), Giacomo Orefice's (1865-1922) and Felice Boghen's (1869-1945) pages with improvising attitude and skilful lunging technique: her musicality is beautiful, plucky, and able to express the spirit  of one page even at the earliest  and most immediate approach. This was the case of the extracts from Mancinelli's opera "Isora di Provenza", for example: Danza delle dee Dance of the goddesses), Danza delle nove Muse (Dance of the nine Muses) and Scherzo-Finale, and especially of the series of six among the remarkable "Preludi dal mare" (Preludes from the sea) by Giacomo Mancinelli, native of Vicenza and Mancinelli's refined pupil; one of his operas, Consuelo, winning  the Baruzzi Competition, was staged on its absolute prémière at the Teatro Comunale on 27 November 1895 and maybe would deserve to be restaged now.

Alberto Spano



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