Solo Performance Reviews

  • Carlo Grante’s Chopin, the Ballades and Scherzi, reviewed by Frank Daykin in New York Concert Review, 31 October 2014:

“Mr. Grante’s fluid and rapid fingers absorbed Chopin’s use of the “little” notes, arabesques, filigree, and other ornamental strategies, creating delicious harmonic washes of sound surrounding melodies that are often in the left hand, the one most ignored by amateur pianists. He revealed the contrapuntal mastery of Chopin, one of whose idols was Bach, which is too often glossed over.”

  • Carlo Grante’s recital of Robert Schumann’s 3 Sonatas in NY’s Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, 15 December 2014, reviewed by Rorianne Schrade, New York Concert Review:

“Grante [demonstrated] such thorough pianistic mastery onstage that, if his concerts were recorded straight to disc, one would be hard pressed to think of a single spot to edit. He is unflappable in the face of tremendous technical, musical, and intellectual challenges, reminding this reviewer in many ways of Marc-André Hamelin, but with a mellower persona.”… “[The] pianist was in flawless form.”

  • Grante’s recital of 3 sets of Brahms Variations in the Chamber Music Hall of the Berlin Philharmonic, 12 April 2015, reviewed by Isabel Herzfeld in the Berlin Tagesspiegel on 14 April.

With Lucid Clarity
Pianist Carlo Grante has been working his way through the High Romantics…

“The Italian pianist Carlo Grante completed his “Masters of High Romanticism” series … with 3 sets of Variations by Johannes Brahms. After the complete Ballades and Scherzos of Frederic Chopin we heard the 3 seldom-played piano sonatas of Robert Schumann: in all, an unprecedented feat involving mastery of the scores, stylistic adaptiveness, and an ability to clarify the musical processes – not to speak of the hair-raising technical difficulties of these programmes.

Schumann’s music fascinates by its extreme, passionate fantasy in a sensitive and at the same time unsentimental presentation. The flow of feeling in Brahms on the other hand seems somewhat restrained, sometimes hidden behind the finicky aspects of his arts of variation.

These variations bring together the entire corpus of compositional achievements since the time of Bach, which can unfold to the hearer’s pleasure only when played with utmost clarity. Grante did not have it easy in a first instance. The Bösendorfer Imperial that made possible a rich palette of colours in the earlier concerts was this time not available… The folkloric theme of the “Variation on a Hungarian Song” and its triumphal intensifications seemed impenetrably massive [on the replacement piano]. In the shaded piano registers Grante could nevertheless thanks to delicate and sensitive handling of touch and pedalling conjure up a filigree [of magical sounds].

It is to the artist’s credit that he did not seek to dazzle with excessive, superficial effects but to communicate what was substantial. The Paganini Variations however require an element of the spectacular and of the circus. The final variation of the first book nearly touched the realm of Rachmaninov and not for nothing called forth a round of spontaneous applause. The exhausting tour de force through intricacies of the most virtuosic kind… In the Handel Variations, Grante provided a continuous, electrifying arc of tension, full of contrasts and built up with lucid clarity. Magnificently, with well-judged intensifications and rich colour registers, the Fugue unfolded. Not only in the trill-embellished, relaxedly swinging Siciliano did one think of Scarlatti, of whom Grante played two sonatas as encores…”

  • Carlo Grante’s recital of J.S. Bach, Partita no. 2 and Busoni, Fantasia Contrappuntistica, reviewed by Wolfgang Wicht, Thüringer Allgemeine, 27 July 2005:

“The Italian Carlo Grante enraptured his audience. With an extremely cultivated but also clearly accentuated touch, he turned [Bach’s Second Partita] into a poetic event… finely-chiseled dynamic gradations…

“After the interval Grante overwhelmed the audience with a spectacular performance of the powerful Fantasia Contrappuntistica by Busoni.. with technical and creative bravoura bringing together the titanic and monumental …with the greatest possible finesse and transparency…”

[German original: “Pianistische Delikatessen: Der Italiener Carlo Grante verzückt in der Dornheimer Pfarrkirche das Publikum”

“…Mit extreme kultiviertem, aber auch klar akzentuirendem Anschlag machte er Bach zu einem poetischen Ereignis. Eine fein ziselierte Stufendynamik, die nachdrueckliche Hervorhebung von Details gaben der Musik etwas Grueblerisches and Versonenes…”

Nach der Konzertpause überwaltigte Grante… das Publikum mit einem Parforceschritt durch die zerkluefteten Klanggebirge von Busonis gewaltiger “Fantasia contrappuntistica”. Mit technischer und gestalterischer Bravour verknüpfte der Pianist das Titansich-Monumentale mit aeusserster Finesse und Durchsichtigkeit bei der Vermittlungder immer komplexer werdenen Fugenkontrapunktik… En schlüessiges Programm.”

  • Review of Grante’s recital of Bach-Busoni, The Chaconne, other works and Balakirev’s Islamey at Wigmore Hall, London, on 9 January 1998, reviewed by the critic of Musical Opinion, Spring 1998:

“At the Wigmore Hall on 9 January the Italian pianist Carlo Grante played a formidable programme with commanding authority. He showed that a full fortissimo can still be rich in sonority: never harsh and going through the floor. His soft playing would woo the most bellicose of souls: again, ample in overtones, but pure bliss to the ear. These qualities are backed by a sterling technique, so his reading of Busoni’s great transcription of the Chaconne from Bach’s Fifth Solo Violin Partita was awesome in its blend of keyboard mastery and spiritual perception.

Busoni himself was worthily represented by perceptive performances of his Seventh Elegy: Berceuse and his elaborate Toccata. Godowsky made an exquisite arrangement of a Sarabande from Rameau’s Renaissance Suite which was played with memorable tonal eloquence. After all this the evening’s tour-the-force had yet to come: a dazzling account of Balakirev’s Islamey.”

  • John von Rhein of the Chicago Tribune, reviewing a series of recitals of works at Northwestern University by Busoni, Sorabji, Godowsky, Flynn, Finnissy, Paolo Troncon and Roman Vlad, quotes Derus on 22 November 2001:

Grante is one of the handful of pianists who can pull off something of this monstrous difficulty.”

  • Review of Carlo Grante’s recital in New York, reviewed by Bernard Holland in The New York Times, June 7, 1997:

“Carlo Grante’s piano recital…systematically demonstrated technical ability, but it was a prowess that went beyond muscle and speed. Interestingly, Mr. Grante’s pianistic skills were clearest in the least showy of his music: pieces by Debussy…Here was not just attractive color but color with a purpose. The voicing in Debussy’s chords explained their character and direction. The separations of timbres clarified textures. The difficult passages were made not to sound difficult at all.”

  • Review of a recital in Teatro Ghione, Rome, in the Corriere della Sera, January 2002:

“An outstanding stylistic sensitivity, as well as an impressive technical virtuosity have characterized Carlo Grante’s performance the other night…virtuosity, suggestive colors and sonic magic in the variety of digital play, touch and phrasing.”

  • Review of a recital at Wigmore Hall, June 1996, in Musical Opinion:

“Grante offered one of the very few really fluent accounts of Mazeppa that I have ever heard… Grante can find his way through these keyboard labyrinths [Godowsky Etudes] with exactly the fluency which his records suggest… hypnotic beauty of sound…”