John Covelli & Friends: Fantasia with too little sax

Reviewed by Leo Cotnoir

There is no question that John Covelli is a talented pianist, and it is clear that mid-19th Century Romanticism is his métier. After a somewhat overlong but informative introduction Sunday (Oct. 3) at The Schorr Family Firehouse Stage in Johnson City, Covelli launched into Robert Schumann’s “Fantasia in C Major, Opus 17” with the energy and gusto of a much younger man performing for a jury who would decide his fate. One could not help but hear the connection Covelli feels with the composer through his teacher, who studied with Schumann’s wife, piano virtuosa Clara Schumann. When he ventured into other periods, however, although still technically impressive, Covelli seemed on shakier musical grounds. For my taste his performance of a transcription of Bach’s “Prelude in B minor” had far too much tempo variation as did his reading of Mozart’s “Fantasy in D minor” that at times sounded more like Brahms than Mozart. His performance of Debussy’s “La Cathédrale Engloutie” (“The Sunken Cathedral”) began with the ethereal quality we associate with French Impressionist composers but soon seemed to be grow a bit bombastic. A second piece by Debussy, “Ce qu’a vu le vent d’ouest” (“What the West Wind Saw”), since it calls for a heavy hand to depict the storm wind, was more successful. Read the rest of this entry »

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