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Gabriele Carcano, Fidelio Orchestra Cafe - fresh, funny and focused Beethoven

David Nice - The Arts desk

Perhaps it’s just the conventional mind which celebrates the pathos, tragedy and triumph in Beethoven’s music at the expense of his humour. And that’s the one aspect of the composer which has been a constant revelation – to me, at any rate – in his anniversary year. Too often the laughs have been solitary, listening to CDs or watching online. On Saturday night, in the warm and friendly atmosphere of the Fidelio Orchestra Café, the pleasure could be audibly shared in two of the composer’s wittiest and most surprising piano sonatas, and amplified by the revelation of another major Beethoven interpreter, Gabriele Carcano, in the latest instalment of his cycle.

On this evidence, Carcano is the pianist I want to guide me further through the revelations live. His sound is full and direct – you could feel the action of the piano reverberating on the table-top - and most often pedal free, his subtleties infinite but without the imposition of a self-conscious interpretation. Of the three performances I’ve heard this year of the “Tempest” Sonata, Op, 31 No. 2 in D minor, this was the most straightforward, unleashing progressively the biggest yet clearest storms from thoughtful incantations in the first movement. All the same, I’ve note heard the Adagio work in one long unfolding like this before; usually you’re waiting for the heart-easing tune to emerge after all the fragments. That it was exceptionally moving second time around was thanks to the cumulative effect. And the rolling of the waves in the finale was all the more effective after the persistence of the unforeseen in the earlier sonatas of the evening.

There is already a virtue in hearing the “Tempest” in the company of its predecessor. The vocalizings that come out of the spellbinding arpeggios in the first-movement recap are like those of a master singer playing Prospero after the posturings of the Prima Donna in Op. 31 No. 1’s delightfully flabbergasting central aria – a parody, surely, of bel canto show-offery long before Rossini and Bellini got to work (Carcano reminded us that Beethoven was a pupil of Mozart’s rival in opera Salieri). I’d take the comparison even further: the solo becomes a duet when a basso takes up the tune, and the soprano flips into even more elaborate twittering display. It’s a very long aria – the heavier aspect of Beethoven’s humour is that he loves to go on and on – but not without its darker side. Carcano also mentioned Jean Paul’s maxim that humour in music is the art of the unexpected, and one can turn that on its head by asserting that pathos in a humorous context is unexpected too, as it was here.

After our audible delight in the witty end of the sonata, Carcano noted what he’d written at the top of the last page of his score, from Alfred Brendel, a sometime mentor. There’s a variant of it in a New York Times interview: “anyone who plays Beethoven's Op. 31, No. 1, and cannot at the very least make listeners smile should become an organist.” On the evidence of this, where every little quirk and insistence, starting with the deliberately out-of-sync left and right hands in the first movement, made its effortlessly funny mark, Carcano will not need to give up the day job and take up the organ.

His opening account of Op. 10 No. 2 in F major similarly made us wonder at the ingenuity of Beethoven’s ever-surprising wit in the outer movements, while the flow of the more serious middle movement justified the encore, a subtly nuanced Schubert Moment musicale No. 3, The human scene beyond the window complemented Beethoven's first finale beautifully – a somewhat comical running figure as the rapid motion of the finale got underway, later mirrored in police sirens and roaring motor bikes heightening the terror of the tempest later in the recital. Everything about these privileged concerts in the café space both connects one to the outside world and heightens one’s sense of it. All this in between energising, life-affirming bouts of Zimerman, Rattle and the LSO in Beethoven concertos at St Luke's (more on that when - hopefully, rather than if - the Barbican Beethoven marathon happens on Thursday). Roll on Carcano’s next instalment, which among other things. will complete the Op 31 series with No. 3.

From one Schumann to the other

Jean-Charles Hoffelé - Artalinna

"A first Brahms album of fantastic force and impressive mastery signed Gabriele Carcano's disc debut. Here he comes now with a Schumann program contrasting two opposite major works: his tormented, enrapturing, sharp and imaginative Humoreske will certainly have many people talking about it. He shines in a score where normally one looks for a more inner attitude, so to be able to fade the darkest pages. Yet, listen to the "sfumato" du Einfach und zart and you'll realize to which great control his pianistic abilities allows him to go: the entire soul of this music resonates here.

The Davidsbündlertänze and its imaginative storytelling are much less complex in terms of understanding but gives different space to the sense of narration and contrasts. The liveliness that the young pianist puts in it, his verve without exaggeration and the carnival-like spirit reminded me of Dino Ciani's recording. I could find the same nuances, freedom, a way of playing with each finger that model every polyphony in an almost visual way. We leave the cycle almost moved but such generosity and energy.


Geister-Variations, closing the album, is one of Schumann's most secret work and demand to be played by a poet,  The music is made of almost nothing, one must be able to hear the shadow of the notes, with the left hand going almost on its own. A nocturnal stroll at the edge of madness, close to the silence: Gabriele Carcano whisper all of that with his stellar piano. A wonderful goodbye. "

Classic Voice - Schumann 

Luca Chierici - Classic Voice 

"Carcano doesn't step back when following the often secret inventions in the Humoreske writing. [...] The infernal syncopation, uncomfortable octaves passages and other difficulties spread all over the piece must be executed as if it was nothing, while never loosing sight of the extraordinary poetic contents in one of the most beautiful Schumann's work. Carcano achieves in all that extremely well and in fact he seems to find in those harder passages the hint to transform the "odd" writing into an expression of a pure artistic meaning. The same result is achieved in the not less passionate Davidsbündlertänze, which seems to be even more familiar to the pianist. Here too the references from past recording are impressive and numerous and it's nowadays almost impossible to move away from such tradition. The young Turin born pianist absorbs the teaching from the past through his own sensitiveness, which seems on one side more related to the elegiac pages but knows how to face with strength the most passionate ones."

Geister Variations

Opus Klassiek

"The Geister Variations mark the tragic end of a great composer, and they get a performance here that gives new meaning to the concept of sound despair. Heartbreakingly beautiful"

Suonare News - Schumann - Carcano

Angelo Foletto - Suonare News

"Carcano's familiarity with Schumann's poetic language, considered part of the "romantic" catalogue but hard to grasp as no one else, allows him to investigate and express the doubts and ambiguities of the score rather than what is evident. Carcano plays everything extremely well, with great ease and controlled accents. He successfully achieves especially in giving to each page a peculiar Schumann's impression: that every single character and point of focus (in expressive terms as well as in agogic and dynamics) is just a passing illusion. Therefore that only in this insecurity and in the contrasts one can find the "truth" and the tormented Schumann's coherence."

La Repubblica - Schumann 

Dino Villatico - la Repubblica 

"The Turin born pianist presents in this recording some of the most challenging Schumann’s pages. According to the composer the Variations’ theme appeared to him sung by nocturnal spirits. Nocturnal is in-fact all this music: exploring the abyss of the soul, on the edge of madness. Carcano seems like at home: his lucid maturity and finesse join splendidly with the unpredictability of youth. "

Successful return

Alessio Tonietti -

Corriere della Sera

Few seconds of silence and awaiting until the concert starts and it becomes clear right away that Gabriele Carcano just came back home. It’s the place where his musical story started: the interlacing between an intimate relation with the music and his instrument, which anticipates even more to come in the coming years. The other night the doors of Turin Conservatory’s Concert Hall opened to welcome back one of the brightest talent that Turin nurtured […]. 
Today Gabriele Carcano is a mature musician in his early 30s, whit an extremely sensitive, clear and communicative touch on the keyboard, and the clear mind of a great master. He doesn’t move unnecessarily, there is not showing off in his gestures, only the profound devotion for music and Beethoven's masterpieces, main focus of his program, featuring the composer’s Sonatas op. 28 and op 106 and a new work written for him by a young composer, Matteo Manzitti […].

Brahms - CD of the week for NDR Kultur

Chantal Nastasi

NDR Kultur

Brahms was almost 20, when he wrote it [the F Minor Sonata] and after that he has never composed a piano sonata again. The impetuosity of this young oeuvre is presented by Carcano with big contrasts in expression and timbre: on the one hand powerful and impulsive, on the other hand sensitive, romanticised and highly emotional. This Brahms is exciting and captivating and you will ask to hear more of it. 
As a listener you will have difficulties resisting the forcefulness created by Carcano’s music. 
Carcano has created a personal statement he already had in mind – and the listeners will hopefully keep it in their mind, too. After this successful debut one wishes to hear more from him soon.



Fonoforum Magazine

Gabriele Carcano’s debut CD with works by Brahms can easily compete with the big recording catalogue. The 30 year old Italian keeps up with the three early and challenging works and modelizes them musically thoroughly and without extravagance, stylistically staying between the lyricism of Ugorski and the strictness of Leonskaja. Carcano’s interpretation, a coproduction of Oehms and BR, benefits from an magnificent open sound, that unites brilliancy, highly differentiated colours and ambience.”

CD Brahms - Supersonic Award by Pizzicato Magazine

Pizzicato Magazine

With the Piano Sonata No.3 in F minor, Op.5 at the beginning of the program, Carcano enthuses with an in all respects perfect interpretation, taking into account both the youthful ‘Sturm und Drang’ elements as well as the highly emotional moments of the sonata.
Carcano provides the listeners with a mix of emotions and clearly shows he has much more to say about Brahms. 
The Scherzo in E minor Op. 4 concludes the program on the highest level and shows once more that this young Italian pianist is an intelligent performer and a gifted virtuoso indeed.

Gabriele Carcano (*1985) proves an exciting Brahms performer. His playing has a virtuosity, a sense of character, an astringency and an emotionality which are quite outstanding.


To Brahm's secrets - Artmag by Artallinna

Jean-Charles Hoffelé


Brahms f minor Sonata it’s clearly Gabriele Carcano's piece: orchestral, played with wide tempo, rumbling sounds and an art to stretch the musical flow using the soft dynamics that I haven’t heard in this work since Claudio Arrau.

Besides his admirable fingers and technique, what strikes in the young Turin born pianist is the clarity of the conception, the evidence of the phrasing, the internal logic of a dared construction alternating Sonata form to rhapsodic moments able to produce the sense of epic so typical in the young Brahms. The tone is always full and never aggressive, Carcano’s has an incredible ability to retain the sound at times, to leave the poetry of the music free to surge. His pedals use let the darkest passage sounds clear, his tempo use is free and yet rigorous: not simple rubato but suspended moments. All this reveals a pianist made for Brahms.

The Sonata will transport you towards its secrets as rarely before but in the Scherzo op. 4, sparkling rather than furious, Carcano’s imaginative sound will show all itself, agile and orchestral at once: there are trumpets and pipes here as there were violas and english horns in the Sonata. 

At the middle of the album there are the Variations op. 9, one of the most secrete and beautiful Brahms’ piano work. […]. Gabriele Carcano has all understood of this fragile and deep cycle, expressing a tragic feeling which is only sketched. A wonder enclosed in the centre of a sumptuous album […]

Amadeus - 5 Stars

- Nicoletta Sguben


"He wasn't looking for a heir, he wanted me to be myself". This words where the conclusion of an interview I had with Gabriele Carcano over a year ago. The most important teaching that Aldo Ciccolini left him was to indicate the way to be himself. Disciple for six years of the great maestro disappeared in 2015, the 31 years old, Turin born, would actually have all the qualities to be his successor, considered the fact that not only he absorbed his teaching but they also performed together. But that would be doing wrong to him (even though the fact that for the young pianist this would be an injustice might sounds like a sort of paradox, considered the stature of such a guru). The reality is, seeing this remarkable recording, that Carcano has indeed found his way. And it's a personal one. Starting from the choice of the repertoire, featuring a young impetuous Brahms in his 20s that with his third Sonata (the last he composed) has already in mind an orchestra and an intense writing that would lead to other paths. Carcano excels in extricating the writing and pacing the urgency of the music. The highlights are the lyrical moments that, in the Variations op. 9, will expand into enrapturing rhapsodic moment in this fascinating interpretation.

"An interpretation exalting Brahms" - Suonare News

Angelo Foletto -

Suonare News

"The fascinating program, the wonderfully controlled sound, yet passionate
and alive, win the listener's attention from the first hearing. Carcano has
the courage to look straight at the innovative pianism, youthful and mature
at once, of a composer that at twenty years old already understood to have
finished the exploration of the romantic world contemporary to him. [...]

The result of a long gestation process and study, also in terms of
character, Carcano's interpretation strikes for its beauty, pureness and
mature richness of poetical inflections. "

"Un Brahms de haut niveau"

- La Clefs ResMusica distinction


Du répertoire pour piano seul de Brahms, le pianiste italien Gabriele Carcano retient trois pièces des années 1853-54, que nous hésitons à qualifier « de jeunesse » tant elles sont abouties. Un enregistrement de haut niveau, au jeu profond et varié.

Comment ne pas être saisi par l’entrée magistrale dans la troisième sonate, dont la dimension symphonique, en son temps déjà soulignée par Robert Schumann, est ici évidente ? Mais aussi par la suavité et la délicatesse de l’Andante qui le suit, puis l’énergie qui mène le Scherzo, comme le Scherzo op. 4 qui clôt le disque, sans toutefois correspondre à l’indication de « rasch und feurig ». Aussi dans l’ensemble, le pianiste semble contenir la fougue et la passion propres à ces œuvres dans un tempo ample qui lui permet de soigner ses couleurs et son jeu, sans pour autant perdre en énergie ni en légèreté. Il sait conduire la musique à son climax : les accords finaux de la sonate apparaissent comme l’aboutissement lumineux et naturel d’une brillante coda.

Avec les Variations op. 5, le pianiste fait entendre un aspect peut-être plus inattendu de l’œuvre de Brahms, et fortement empreint de l’influence musicale de Schumann et probablement de sa liaison personnelle avec la famille de son aîné. Dédiées à Clara, elles s’appuient sur un thème des Bunte Blätter, dont il cite d’autres pièces (la variation 9 faisant par exemple allusion à la pièce n° 5). Les pièces rêveuses et contemplatives alternent avec les pièces passionnées et vives, à l’image des êtres schumaniens Eusebius et Florestan. Le pianiste est convaincant dans ces différents registres.

Gabriele Carcano, trentenaire italien qui a travaillé un temps avec Aldo Ciccolini et son disciple Nicholas Angelich (parfois réunis sur scène) est un pianiste actif sur les scènes italiennes, allemandes, et dans une moindre mesure françaises. Il mène un travail soigné et mûri dans ce répertoire allemand qui semble fait pour lui.


Four encores for an enthusiastic crowd

- Mozart concertos with Camerata Ducale

Rita Francios -

La Sesia

Four encores were given this last Saturday at the Viotti Festival by the young and talented pianist Gabriele Carcano for a numerous and enraptured public. It could have been ten or twenty of them because the loud clapping seemed not to get to an end. […] It was evidently a very successful night for this young musician, less than 30 years old but already internationally acclaimed. 
[…] The all Mozart program featured the two concertos in minor tonality: K466 and K491. Carcano’s interpretation gave big space to the dramatic structure of the pieces and was able to make sound alive what the music describes. His playing was visceral and delicate at once, his nervous fingers were producing a deep and yet luminous sound, with a great deal of attentions for every tone and nuance. 
With his very expressive approach he combined moments of pathos and virtuosity, while in the slow movements the result was a dreamy cantabile, able to be extremely correct and expressive at once. 

Beethoven 5th Concerto

- Orchestre National Montpellier / Ion Marin

Alain Breton -

L'Herault du jour

"The pianist Gabriele Carcano is completely in his element, he has no technical difficulties and interprets this well-known piece in a wonderfully expressive and romantic style. He's a virtuoso when needed but knows when to dialogue with the orchestra, which elegantly responded him."

Verdi Orchestra Milan - Corriere della Sera

Paolo Isotta -

Corriere della Sera

Soloist for Beethoven 3rd piano concerto was the young, Turin born Gabriele Carcano, who made a wonderful debut with the orchestra that night. He has a brilliant technique with great precision in the articulation. He showed, nonetheless, sensitiveness in the sound: none of the chords would prevaricate the melody in the cantabile sections. 

Carcano offered then a Scarlatti Sonata played with great delicacy.

Ravel - Württembergische Philarmonie Reutligen

Nicole Jost -

Frankfurter Neue Presse

"The outstanding pianist Gabriele Carcano was the masterful interpreter of the Ravel G Major concerto..."

Musicians from Marlboro tour

Lew Whittington - 

The Huffington Post

"Gabriele Carcano produced music of zest and passion […] displaying sparkling-clean finger work."
- Robert Battey, The Washington Post

"Carcano’s piano playing throughout was stunningly accurate."
- Lee Eisaman, Boston Music Intelligencer

"Carcano drove the piano lines with silky tempo shifts, and gave the performance lustrous immediacy. Some of his keyboard dexterity makes you wonder if Ludwig van Beethoven was the first jazz composer."

Thought through every detail - Munich Herkulessaal

Andreas Pernpeintner -

Süddeutsche Zeitung

"...the concert was wonderful: Carcano is a sculptor of sound. An aesthete. 
His performance of some of Scarlatti's Sonatas was exquisite. High-precision, refined dynamic graduation, elegant in tasteful accents and the discreet use of pedal [...] 
It was enchanting how, in the Schubert-Liszt transcriptions, the melody came out from the dense writing, Carcano filling it with life."

Elegance and charm

- BASF Matinee with Italian pianist Gabriele Carcano

Gerd Kowa -

"Sunday Piano matinees in BASF’S Gesellschaftshaus are always interesting. Young pianists take to the stage to perform a mélange of classical and contemporary repertoire, delighting audiences from Ludwigshafen and the surrounding areas.

As a salute to his Italian heritage, Gabriele Carcano opened with sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti. What a wonderful idea. The Italian born Scarlatti is often described as the father of classical and romantic piano works. Gabriele Carcano’s playing, which combines elegance, control, charm and flexibility, casts a spell on his audience.

The young pianist then proceeded to play pieces by Luciano Berio, Schubert songs (arranged for piano by Franz Liszt) and concluded with Schumann’s Davidsbündlertänze. It quickly became clear that this young man takes a meticulous approach to every piece he studies and is a far cry from replicating the keyboard style of the mid-18th century. Carcano plays as he thinks and dreams as he plays. His authenticity cannot be denied. 

Carcano seems to particularly love Berio's 5 Variazioni. His playing was especially rousing and quite refined. Berio experimented with sharp contrast and Carcano played with great range of tone and a big sound. His inspired attacks to the keyboard and his sound felt like an excursion into exotic landscapes. 

Schumann’s Davidsbündlertänze can be rather demanding. Even the titles of the individual dances are odd: lively, swiftly, with humour, impatient, not too fast. Gabriele Carcano however, had no problem with any of this. Quite the opposite in fact – his version of the more dainty dances could be likened with a fairy waltz. For the dramatic dances, his skilled, strong hands were seen in action. Carcano bade us farewell with a piece by French composer, Erik Satie."

The mind and the heart - Bordeaux, Festival Esprit du Piano

Alain Cochard -

The twenty-four-year-old Italian pianist Gabriele Carcano is already a very skilled and convincing artist. 
Beethoven is clearly one of his preferences: it's not just anyone who achieves such a lively approach and freedom in a sonata less often heard as the Opus 22. Between tension and lyricism, Carcano found the right balance with an impeccable sense of construction. Such ability was also shown in the "Pathétique" Sonata, in which the fast movements, played with ardor but never rushed, and the Adagio, with its simple approach, revealed a first rate stylist with a superb technique never imbued of itself.
One couldn't expect less than two stunning Schubert / Liszt's Lieder Transcriptions played with grace, then, and finally Ravel's "Gaspard de la Nuit" that rejected any exterior effects in favor of an original and poetic approach, as if it was coming out of a dream...

Rome IUC - An astonishing sound, able to illuminate.

Paolo Brama -

His young-looking face might seem more well-suited for another kind of repertoire, but appearances could not be more wrong. The young Gabriele Carcano is already a mature artist, able to face some of the most challenging Beethoven's pages. 
Returning to the IUC series a few months after his brilliant and vibrant debut at the end of last season, Carcano replaced pianist Till Fellner after a sudden cancellation and offered and entire Beethoven program.
The Sonata Op. 22 was stunning [...] The final Rondo was remarkable in its balance between form and a passionate mood: superb. There was only time for a quick loud clap and Carcano started the "Pathetique" Sonata. His approach was, from the first few bars, very personal but undoubtedly mature, the sign of a brave personality that doesn't fear facing one of the most well-known and loved of Beethoven's piano compositions. 
The second half started with the Sonata Op. 54, Carcano faced it with an artistry that was perfectly revealing of his excellent technical and interpretative skills. 
Then the "Appassionata": here too, Carcano's rigorous approach to form was paired with excellent personal interpretation. It was highly vibrant from the first bars of the Allegro until the triumphant final Presto in which he showed an impressive legato, control and ability. It was like tightrope walker, a cascade of notes suspended on a wire.
If this was meant to be the confirmation of Carcano's talent after a sparkling debut, we can definitely say that this young pianist, "born already grown up", brilliantly succeeded.
Mr. Carcano offered a musical moment for which to be grateful, thanks to his mature interpretation, astonishing technique and, especially, his sound. A sound that really makes you wonder, that is a delight to listen to and that truly illuminates. A sound that - we're ready to bet on it - many will be soon able to recognise.

French May - Hong Kong

Danny Kim-Nam Hui

Mr. Carcano raised the curtain with an engrossing reading of three of Chopin’s Nocturnes. He was natively attuned to the poetic language of the composer by rendering with a milky and singing tone. The vaporous pianissimo in the B-flat minor Nocturne, cantabile melodies in the F major, and crystalline articulation in the E-flat major are all telling exemplifications of his innate poetic insight. I can imagine the refinement he possessed would have sounded more cogent in an intimate salon, a setting that Chopin himself preferred to perform. The following Nocturne by Fauré was also an absolute delight brimming with charm and imagination. 

Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit gave room for the young Italian to demonstrate his nimble fingers. The dreamy sonority at the opening and elsewhere was delivered with utmost lightness and cleanness. Under his nimble fingers Mr. Carcano transformed every note into arching lines of a coloristic delineation. Throughout, the music was enshrined in a sense of delusion and myth that gave the audience ample space to imagine their own versions of the story. 

Rome - The touch of a talent

Paolo Brama -

Mr. Carcano enchants immediately with the maturity of his sound, his sparkling touch, and interpretative skills -- rare at such young age. 
His ability in solving the complex Skrjabin pages was impressive, and the interpretation of the Sonata n. 9 op. 68 was truly sublime. The virtuoso passages were offered with freshness, the cantabile parts were played with passion and abandon. His youthful spirit is enriched by the craftiness of a mature pianist.
We find the same ability in the interpretation of the Liszt pages, especially in how the melodies were clarified through the dense writing, Carcano showing his artistry and control in the romantic language as well. 
The style changed again with Debussy and Ravel, but not the quality of the playing. Here Carcano offered an explosion of colours, showing the ability of the great interpreters to move in different repertoires and showing qualities that one cannot just improvise. 

Piano with personality - Lovere

Adriano Frattini -

Eco di Bergamo

If the music has colours then the young and talented Gabriele Carcano is surely able to understand them and make them live. In Debussy he was able to create the enchantment for the sound in itself.

Carcano, pianist of crystalline technique

- Verona, Virtuosi Italiani Orchestra


Gabriele Carcano played Haydn D major Concerto Hob XVIII. 11. [...] Clean playing, crystalline and agile technique, extremely accurate phrasing, a lot of personality: these are some of the characteristics of the 24 year old pianist. He was able to fascinate the public from the first phrase until the final Rondo, which sounded sparkling and luminous despite the many traps hidden in the score. 

With youth and sensitivity - Orchestra da camera Mantova

Andrea Zaniboni -

La Gazzetta di Mantova

The 23 year old Gabriele Carcano was a sparkling, mature and flawless soloist with the Orchestra da Camera di Mantova. His performance was secure and luminous. 

Vicenza - Orchestra da camera di Mantova

Eva Purelli -

Il Giornale di Vicenza

The perfect harmony of the orchestra was even amplified when the piano of the 22 year old Gabriele Carcano joined. He was an exceptional soloist in Mozart Concerto K453, a brilliant performance with ease, incisiveness and grace.

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