OC returned from Dresden to Milan just long enough to repack her LV duffle and polish her Hermes riding boots for Venice (indispensable under Dresden’s pure snow and now under Venice’s grey rain). After a week of Wagner’s rich Romanticism (and his sparkling Donizetti-lite/bel canto splendor of Palermo-set Das Liebesverbot), we craved a dose of Baroque and found ourselves last night at Teatro la Fenice’s Sale Apollinee for a warm, intimate piano recital – Olivier Cavé in a well-rounded program of J.S. Bach (and a Scarlatti bis) in the Vivaldi and Marcello brothers transcriptions.
The Italian-Swiss pianist, in a well-cut Dolce & Gabbana dark grey suit (we plied him about Scarlatti with a side of Italian men’s fashion, post-recital), narrated an evening of Bach’s life (in fluent Italian) and half a dozen concerti, a soloist-as-tour guide.
Under such an opulent setting of pistachio, gold-leaf and twinkling chandeliers, it’s difficult not to fall in love with such polished fingerwork and warm, round, sonorous phrases. Bach’s precision has a great underbelly of romanticism and needs an interpreter who doesn’t exploit the sentimentalism.
Cavé’s Bach moved along at sparkling paces, driven and elastic through arching legato, but was never muscular. Bis, x3, was Cavé’s old friend Scarlatti – a modified tempi turned the Neapolitan composer’s sonata into a lullaby, which recycled through our head as we drifted over Venice’s canals and bridges in a post-recital haze. Cavé’s been dedicated to Scarlatti for more than a decade after launching a 2004 DG disc Reflexions with Scarlatti (and Beethoven, Schubert & Schumann) and the Scarlatti lullaby was all heart & homage.
Today we’re off to explore more of this magical, marshy city’s Baroque treasures – Vivaldi and Mozart with a side of Bach.