“Inspiration” – Homage to Maria Curcio
ARTIST(S): Anthony Goldstone
TITLE: “Inspiration” – Homage to Maria Curcio
CATALOGUE NUMBER: DDA25086 [Bar Code 0809730508622]
RELEASE DATE: 6th December 2010
PRICE POINT: Single CD/Standard Jewel Case/Full Price [UK PPD £7.95]
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Maria Curcio, died aged 89 in March 2009, and was one of the most influential and sought-after piano teachers of the second half of the 20th century. A considerable number of distinguished artists studied with her – among them Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Martha Argerich, Myung-Whun Chung, Barry Douglas, José Feghali, Leon Fleisher, Peter Frankl, Claude Frank, Anthony Goldstone, Ian Hobson, Terence Judd, Radu Lupu, Rafael Orozco, Alfredo Perl, Hugh Tinney, Geoffrey Tozer and Mitsuko Uchida.
Born in Naples, the girl’s exceptional talent was spotted at a very early age. The young Maria gave her first concert aged three and studied with Alfredo Casella, Carlo Zecchi and, in Paris, with Nadia Boulanger. At the age of 15 she played for Schnabel, who immediately accepted her as a student, describing her as “one of the greatest talents I have ever met”. Through stress, deprivation and malnutrition, she contracted tuberculosis and had to spend many months in a sanatorium after the war. She was left far too weak to play but, with great dedication, she started to rebuild her technique, giving concerts when she was well enough to do so. Artists she collaborated with included Benjamin Britten, Carlo Maria Giulini, Szymon Goldberg, Otto Klemperer, Josef Krips, Pierre Monteux and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. After hearing her in recital, the conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler suggested to Walter Legge that she should record Schubert for HMV, but another health crisis prevented this from happening.
In 1947, her health meant a performing career was no longer an option, so she turned her attention to teaching, believing she had always had a gift for it, having worked with Schnabel’s students, many of whom were older than herself. She settled in London in 1965 and it was here that her “second career” really took off. Annie Fischer, Giulini and Rostropovich sent students to her and soon young pianists were flocking to her door. She was insistent that students should progress step by step and if anyone appeared unrealistically ambitious she would say: “One does not build a house from the roof.”
The solo piano works in this programme are connected in various ways with Maria Curcio. Of the three Lieder (she cherished an enduring love of the genre); two contain “Maria” in the title. She had deep insight into the music of Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin (as well as that of Schubert and Schumann), and Goldstone was fortunate to study the present works by those three composers with her. A devil-may-care Neapolitan tarantella and a soulful Brazilian lament represent both her lineage and her temperament. Rare works by her mentors Casella and Schnabel make an appearance, and finally “Widmung” symbolises her dedication and passion.