Marco Fatichenti

Concert date: 21 January 2024
Reviewed by: JRC

Marco Fatichenti after his performance for NADSA Concerts

with Mary White and David Austin of sponsor Austins Department Store

An intriguing musical mix

When Marco Fatichenti came from London to give a concert for NADSA in 2017, he told us about his doctoral researches around the question ‘Is the score the ultimate truth?’ Apparently, many composer/performers often improvise when performing their own works, and Granados was a great improviser. Now, with Marco having flown over from Japan to play Granados [amongst other composers], I was wondering how much improvisation we might be hearing! Not a score-follower myself, I was very content to let Marco just inspire us with his performance, whatever the origin.

Marco launched straight into a bright attack of Beethoven’s variations on the theme of ‘Rule Britannia’. As Marco told us later, this was probably composed both as a bit of fun, and with an eye to sales in England. Whilst the first musical statement leads one into a false sense of security, the second might concern one that Britannia had been submerged. Subsequent variations exhibit a variety of moods from lyricism, frenzy, dark anger, and finally frivolity with fun. Beethoven gave Marco a splendid opportunity to shine, and there was no doubt that shine he did.

The delicacy of Marco’s rendition in the opening presto movement of Beethoven’s 7th Sonata was breathtaking. He then took us into a stunning mood change: the sad and pensive second movement where he held our emotions in the palm of his hands. The following minuetto was jolly light relief, leading on to the rondo which surely is Haydnesque fun.

And then something very different: three preludes by Debussy. ‘Danseuses de Delphes’ was smooth and serene. In ‘Le Vent dans la Plaine’, light breezes became wind swirls gaining in strength before fading. The eerie mood and overwhelming grandeur of the [mythical] ‘La Cathedrale Engloutie’ was another creative wonder of Debussy and Marco.

Granados’ Spanish Dances provided another opportunity for musical diversity. The first, ‘Galante’ had huge contrasts, from forte attacks to sweet cantabile. The second, ‘Oriental’ was the delicacy of Moorish decoration, - whilst the third, the almost Andalusian cliché for Spanish music, had all the drama one associates with that region.

Schumann’s Kreisleriana was last heard at a NADSA concert in October 2022, so why, one might wonder, is it rescheduled so quickly. In a word, superlatives. Marco said that this work lacks the melodies that stay with one after many popular works, but Kreisleriana is an insight into the very essence of Schumann, and we also hear Clara many times. He said that you don’t know where you are in this work, - well, during Marco’s performance there was an intensity, a total immersion in its mercurial spirit which kept the audience spellbound.

For an encore Marco said we would have ‘a bit of fun’, and Debussy’s prelude book 1 ‘Minstrels’ was certainly an amusing way to conclude the Sunday afternoon’s concert.

This was a heart-warming return of Marco to NADSAconcerts. The sold-out capacity audience not only were enthusiastic about the music, but also about Marco’s rapport with them; he is a consummate performer. Comparisons are not always odious, - and I wonder how Marco’s performance would compare with that of the late Horowitz [who preferred to perform on Sunday afternoons]. Marco flew from Japan with just four days in the UK for this concert. AND we were informed that an audience member had booked their ticket from California. It seems that NADSAconcerts’ reputation spans the globe.

This concert was sponsored by Austins Department Store

NADSA Concert, Sunday 21st January 3.00pm at The Courtenay Centre, Newton Abbot.