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ALFREDO PIATTI, The Operatic Fantasies

With their second CD, the cellist Adrian Bradbury and the pianist Oliver Davies, conclude their precious work of reconstruction of the 12 fantasies on opera arias composed by Alfredo Piatti, the great Italian cellist known by cellists all over the world for his 12 Capricci.

“Piatti, a native Italian, became England’s – especially Queen Victoria’s – favorite cellist”.

Born a stone’s throw from the home of Gaetano Donizetti, into a family of musicians, Alfredo Piatti grew up immersed in the magical musical atmosphere of the golden age of Italian opera. From the early years of his life, sitting in the orchestra next to his teacher, playing a viola da gamba transformed into a small cello, he was able to listen to the great singers of his time and to store, in a hidden corner of his heart, a treasure of wonderful melodies,  the same melodies that the audience, who then crowded the opera houses, hummed returning home after the show, the sad, sweet, cheerful, and passionate melodies that give shape and color to the variegated kaleidoscope of human emotions.

It, therefore, seems quite natural that fragments of those melodies recompose themselves, almost alone, under his nimble fingers, like memories that recompose themselves in a wonderful dream, giving life to his fantasies, that allowed the interpreter to demonstrate his creativity and his exceptional technique, and to the public the pleasant sensation of listening to something known, but at the same time new. Because the line of a simple melody, decomposed, and recomposed in a rich game of variations, offers the listener the pleasure of continuous discovery.

Of course, the modern interpreter who deals with these fantasies, and does it starting from manuscripts, shows a lot of courage, and if he does not limit himself to one of the fantasies, but faces all twelve of them, he also shows a lot of tenacity. But Adrian Bradbury and Oliver Davies faced the challenge with the necessary tenacity but also with great seriousness and passion. Among them there is a perfect harmony of intent, which took shape in the careful philological study of the manuscripts first and then in the extraordinary ability to always put in the foreground an elegant and refined cantabilità, especially in the hardest passages, where it would have been more easy to fall into the temptation to flaunt one’s technical mastery, losing sight of the melodic line and attention to sound quality.

A challenge thus overcome, which also takes on the special value of a musical will. Unfortunately, a few days after the release of the second CD, Oliver Davies abandoned the beloved keyboard of his Bechstein forever, leaving unfinished the plan to devote himself to the many other fantasies included in the compositions of Alfredo Piatti. These CDs,  therefore, retain forever the precious memory of him and of his way of playing: precise, decisive, refined, and gentle.


ALFREDO PIATTI, The Operatic Fantasies

– Souvenir de Beatrice di Tenda*
– Souvenir de La Sonnambula, Op.5*
– Souvenir des Puritani, Op.9*
– Capriccio sopra un tema della Niobe, Op.22
– Fantasia sopra alcuni motivi della Gemma di Vergy
– Impromptu on an air by Purcell in the Indian Queen*

– Introduction et Variations sur un thème de Lucia di Lammermoor, Op.2
– Rondò sulla Favorita*
– Souvenir de l’opéra Linda di Chamounix, Op.13
– Parafrasi sulla Barcarola del Marin Faliero*
– Rimembranze del Trovatore, Op.21
– Capriccio sur des Airs de Balfe*

*world premiere recording

Performers: Adrian Bradbury, cello – Oliver Davies, piano
Label: Meridian
Released: June 18, 2020

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