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The opening night of the 2022-23 season of the Camerata Strumentale Città di Prato, although preceded by a “preview” on October 20 with a concert conducted by Nicola Valentini, seems to want to highlight the opening features that characterize the director’s artistic choices artist Alberto Batisti. Moreover, the occasion is solemn: this year we celebrate the 25th anniversary of that great cultural reality which is the Camerata, by now deeply rooted in the artistic and social reality of Prato, which offers the citizens a season of prestige with many well-known names of performers and composers, and also a new score, The Song of the Ladder (Il Canto della Scala) by the British John Barber, which will be performed next May.

Two strands, that of the classical repertoire and that of the contemporary, seem to want to coexist in the programming of this opening evening as of the entire 2022-23 season: alongside the planned integral, on a multi-year basis, of the Brahmsian symphonies of which the Second is the leader, a reflection on pieces characterized by a modern spirituality in music is proposed, of which Arvo Pärt and Peteris Vasks are the representatives chosen for this first appointment.

Hugo Ticciati is an English conductor and violinist in his early forties who, in addition to dedicating himself to the normal repertoire, is interested with absolute dedication in contemporary music. In fact, many authors have written compositions which he brought to concert halls for the first time, and among these Peteris Vasks, featured on the playbill with Concerto n. 2 for violin “In Evening Light” commissioned by the English conductor. The spirit of the piece, which as an atmosphere is linked to the short Silouan’s song by Arvo Pärt which opens the evening (the two pages were performed one after the other without interruption), is well explained in the anonymous notes of the hall programme: “The poetic heart of his works expresses the relationship between man and life nature, understood both as a contemplation of the harmonious beauty of creation and as a warning to its imminent destruction”. The “evening light” of the title of the composition is none other than the pessimistic departure of hope and the spiritual dimension from human life.

It is in these contrasts that Vasks’ work arises, with an invitation to search for the spirituality that should touch everyone’s heart, a spiritual dimension that is the cornerstone of Arvo Pärt’s production of which an introspective was performed at the opening of the evening page steeped in mysticism, inspired by the figure of Silouan, an orthodox mystic who lived between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The reading of these two passages by Hugo Ticciati (also violin soloist in Vasks Concerto No. 2, page of 2021 which was in its first Italian performance) is absolutely exemplary in depth, great technical mastery, executive warmth, instrumental suggestion that becomes emotion for the audience. There City of Prato instrumental chamberengaged only in the string sector, follows him with admirable commitment finding softness, beautiful sound, amalgam and also showing great conviction in playing pieces with a difficult contemporary language.

As a violinist, Hugo Ticciati seems to be at ease in this repertoire like a trout darting in a stream: one can see the enthusiasm and dedication which, together with his instrumental skills, allow him to make the most of a language that is quite difficult for the listening, certainly not easy for the soloist (even virtuosic in some pages, like the two Cadenzas) in a highly suggestive phantasmagoria of colours, hesitations, expectations, digging into the technical-expressive possibilities of the instrument.

Objectively a little less interesting the second part of the evening, with the Symphony n. 2 in D major op. 73 by Johannes Brahms, rendered in a rather fragmentary manner and with mixed results: at times we listened to a fresh and almost chamber-like Brahms, at other times too lively and lively, and this overall contributed to making the performance rather discontinuous.

The Camerata Strumentale Città di Prato followed the director’s gesture (an enthusiastic and very instinctive gesture) with efficiency, passion and involvement; the Politeama audience was quite large and there was a lot of applause for everyone.

The review refers to the concert on November 17, 2022.

Fabio Bardelli

Prato – Teatro Politeama: Concert by Hugo Ticciati conductor and violinist with the Camerata Strumentale