Mauro Bertoli, the Italian pianist now resident in Ottawa, sat down in a studio for a few days and recorded three CD’s of solo piano music, mostly Schumann and Liszt, with glances back to Scarlatti and Mozart, and to more modern times with Shostakovich and Gershwin, Aarvo Part, Granados and Ginastera.
It’s all good, really good. Technically Bertoli’s playing is spot on. He has feeling for everything he plays, and his powers of expression seem unimpeded. I enjoyed the jazzy strength of his Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Bertoli’s Liszt is bright and surprisingly soft; he is sensitive to the changing, introspective textures of the Brahms Intermezzo Op.118, No.2.
It’s clear Bertoli loves sharing his pleasure in playing Schumann. Bertoli delights with Schumann’s early, festive, Papillons; impresses with the formidable Paganini Etudes; is moving with the middle period lament for his dead brother Nachstucke; and the Sonata for the Young is full of the dramatic passion of Schumann’s later period.
My favourite moments with Bertoli’s albums were discovering the music of Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera. The bitonally coloured Danzas Argentinas Op.2 are gentle and wild, melodic and atonal, expansive as the pampas, and dense with criollo cacophonics. No wonder Emerson, Lake and Palmer borrowed from Ginastera.
Bertoli’s albums are music for all seasons: they offer a variety of musical charms that you can focus on and listen to, or use to elegantize the tone of a social gathering. Their titles are: Rhapsody in Blue and other piano works; From Mozart to Khachaturian; Piano Works by Scarlatti, Schumann, Granados, Ginastera.