The young Italian pianist Mauro Bertoli, now based in Ottawa, Canada, displays considerable hubris in leading off his recent solo CD with three well-known Scarlatti sonatas. If he felt he had something to say that Horowitz and Pogorelich hadn’t already said, he was right. These Scarlattis call upon his proficient technique and Italian finesse to bring out their excitement and subtleties. Bertoli is very much up to the task.
The CD (Mauro Bertoli label, ASIN: B00BRR3XT0) opens with the energetic E minor, L325, played with a feathery touch that however drives forward relentlessly. The Scarlatti themes emerge with miraculous fluidity.
The next two tracks, L349 in G major and L430 in E major, maintain his high standard as the sonatas shift effortlessly from singing phrases to staccato statements, all minutely nuanced. Scarlatti’s flair for capturing the sheer joy of music is comfortable territory for Bertoli.
Equally impressive on this disc are 11 Schumann pieces, including the repertoire favorite Toccata Opus 7. He concludes with lively and accessible selections from Spanish composer/pianist Enrique Granados and lesser-known Argentine Alberto Ginastera.
The eclectic range makes for a variety of styles that succeeds in two dimensions – for the casual listener and as a platform to show off Bertoli’s accomplished pianism. It nevertheless amounts in another sense to a patchwork product. When I asked him in an email how he built the contents of the CD, he said he simply chose music that he was playing at the time. “I was happy with the quality of the performance for each of these pieces, and I thought it was a good idea to record all of them.” It is perhaps now time for Bertoli to shape his identity with a more coherent selection of works and composers, and to line up a proper distributor and label. At present, his work is available on Amazon and iTunes.
This CD is one of three that Bertoli produced in a three-day marathon recording session in Italy in 2011. One leads off with Mozart’s rondo in F major and concludes with Khachaturian’s Toccata. A third CD ranges from Schumann to Gershwin.
He had previously released three other CDs and plans another in April with cellist Paul Marleyn. An additional solo disc is possible before the end of the year, and it will be welcome.
Bertoli, 30, is associate professor of piano at Carleton University, Ottawa, and a frequent performer as soloist and with chamber ensembles.
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