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Pleyel by the Lake



Romantic Nights piano festival features four historic instruments


In Lugano, the festival of Martha Argerich and Friends may have given its last concert (see our recent news story), but another Alpine lakeside town plays host throughout September to a piano-focused concert series, and one with a unique historical slant.

In the town of Verbania, just 80km west of Lugano on the southern tip of Lago Maggiore, ‘Les Nuits Romantiques’ features the music of Chopin and his contemporaries given on instruments of the period by three noted French manufacturers: Boisselot, Erard and Pleyel. Taking place through the summer, the series continues over three weekends in September. It is curated by Costantino Mastroprimiano (pictured below), who has made a specialty of Classical and Romantic music in historical performances and recordings: Clementi, Chopin, Alkan and others have featured in his recordings for Brilliant Classics, all made on restored fortepianos and pianos from the 19th century.



Mastroprimiano has invited several distinguished international colleagues to join him for ‘Les Nuits Romantiques’. On 9 September there is the screening of a film about Chopin, La Valse d’adieu, made by the French historian Jean-Yves Patte. On the following evening in the town’s superb Villa Giulia of 1847 (pictured below), Mastroprimiano plays Schumann on an 1838 Erard before accompanying the clarinettist Vincenzo Casale in sonatas and fantasy pieces by Burgmüller, Schumann and Niels Gade.



The Erard also features in the 17 September recital given by Edoardo Torbinelli, and the closing concert of the series on 1 October, with Naruhiko Kawaguchi. Chopin is naturally the focus, and on 24 September there is a rare chance to hear a collection of mazurkas, the Barcarolle and the Polonaise-Fantasie played by Jean-François Antonioli on an 1856 instrument by the composer’s favourite maker, Pleyel.


Look out for the next issue of Pianist which will contain a special focus on the history of the Pleyel firm, and what makes its instruments so perfectly attuned to Chopin’s music.


Further information about ‘Les Nuits Romantiques'


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