- “Piano Classics’comprehensive Rachmaninoiv set is a brilliant showcase of what the label has done so successfully over the last five years – identifying and recording some of brightest talents among today’s exceptional generation of young pianists. With six different musicians involved on these discs there are unevennesses, but none of the playing is less than very good, and some is breathtaking….
…Some have been released by Piano Classics as single discs, while some, such as Elisa Tomellini’s busy roundup of Rachmaninov’s early piano pieces, are new.” The Guardian 2016 October 26
- “The Suite in D-Minor is the piano version of an orchestral work only discovered at the turn of our century in the Siloti archive. Tomellini shows her core strengths in this repertoire at the outset: The opening beautifully strong but not banged, the turbulence visceral yet not over-sentimentalized. It is in the Lento that she shines, though, embarking with a gorgeous sense of stasis, complete with a sense of foreboding in the left hand as it underpins a mournful melody. This builds this to a simply wonderful climax, all the more powerful through Tomellini’s careful pacing of the movement. She is charming in the Menuetto before doing her best with the finale: This is the movement that it is difficult to avoid sounding like a piano reduction in, at least in its louder passages; contrasting effects have a more fluid, pianistic feel.
Pianist Julia Severus has also recorded this piece, for Naxos, on a disc entitled Rare Piano Transcriptions. Ekaterina Litvintseva has likewise recorded this on Profil, coupled with the opp. 3 and 16 sets of Moments musicaux. Severus gives an adequate performance of the first movement without plumbing Tomellini’s depths, but convinces more in the Lento. However, Severus’s Menuetto is rather dour and manages to add on an extra minute to Tomellini’s finale (5:40 to 4:43 respectively), where Tomellini is by far the most persuasive of the two pianists. Litvintseva plays beautifully and is better recorded than Severus (and she is even swifter in the finale); ideally, Litvintseva and Tomellini should share shelf space and one should enjoy the fact they fill their discs with other, equally mouth-watering, offerings.
Tomellini follows on with another D-Minor piece, a Song without Words from 1886–87; her vision penetrates to the core of the piece, even more so than İdil Biret on Naxos. As the listening experience goes on it becomes increasingly clear that Tomellini’s heart and soul are being poured into this project, her script clearly being to raise the profile of these pieces. Apparently Rachmaninoff considered making the Four Pieces of 1887–88 into his op. 1, an indication of how highly he regarded them. The initial “Romance” unfolds gloriously and inevitably, with Tomellini delineating the various strata to perfection. Curiously, the Prelude is the second movement (Alessio Bax, on an all-Rachmaninoff Signum disc, plays numbers two through four, and one wonders if this is why). This Prelude bristles with energy under Tomellini’s fingers before a “Mélodie” flows, easily and inevitably. Tomellini’s projection of her left hand under turbulent waters is blissfully judged; the later arrival of peace, depicted by the composer almost in a musical evocation of waves lapping gently at a seashore, is a delight. The more festive Gavotte that closes the set is very much of the salon but, it has to be said, hugely enjoyably so. As a side note, Tomellini manages to deliver the frequently complex textures clearly.
The three Nocturnes (1887–88; a little typo in the booklet misses out a digit) are glorious youthful outpourings. The first effectively opens out into sunshine, the cascading figures imbued with unstoppable youthful verve by Tomellini. The second Nocturne (in F♯ Minor) is impassioned with an unsettled, thrusting central panel that reveals Tomellini’s superb finger strength. The C-Minor Nocturne is a remarkable mini-edifice, strongly and compellingly given here.
If the E-Minor Canon was a composition exercise (it was), it is a remarkably charming one. The F-Major Prelude of 1891 (later arranged for cello and piano as part of Rachmaninoff’s op. 2) is a perfumed offering, fluent and engaging in this performance.
Finally, the Morceaux de salon of 1893–94, a set of pieces that begins with a Nocturne, seems imbued with the Russian soul in Tomellini’s performance. Whilst the Valse is undeniably of the salon of the work’s overall title, it rises to a bright, glistening conclusion perfectly rendered both by Tomellini and by the engineers. Infinitely more magical, though, are the Barcarolle and “Mélodie.” True, Tomellini is up against Ashkenazy on Decca in op. 10 (there are other intersections as well: see the review in Fanfare 37:6), but Tomellini’s love for the musical surface shines through the stronger of the two. She finds wonder in Rachmaninoff’s imagination in the Humoresque, the virtuoso writing towards the end positively brilliant before she locates the still interior of the Romance. The set ends with an effusive Mazurka, impressively dispatched here with great character.
Urgently recommended. The recording itself is top-notch; Tomellini’s next release is eagerly awaited.”
Colin Clarke Fanfare
- “…As a lifetime Rachmaninoff aficionado, I really appreciate this record…and I can’t recall enjoying these pieces more.” James Harrington -American Record Guide 2017 July August
- …”Brava, la giovane Tomellini, brava e accorta…. si getta entusiasta, tecnicamente ed espressivamente pronta…E ora che farà, Elisa? Viste le premesse, forse non si “fermerà” più.”-Amadeus: settembre 2017 – Piero Mioli
- … “Her Rachmaninov appears thoughtful, sophisticated in technical solutions, mastered wonderfully in technically challenging passages, capable of airy phrasing, deeply feminine in yield, reduced to charming miniatures …”…”It is impossible not to be enchanted in front of her compassionate, heartfelt performance of Astor Piazzolla operas. In them the ‘alternation of relentless rhythmic chants at oasis of Iberian melancholy, are enhanced by the arrangements of the pianist, who never betrays the spirit of this music for exterior digital exhibitions or inopportune saccharinity.”…. “You really should take the opportunity to listen to her” From: Musica, April 2016
“…Il suo Rachmaninov appare meditato, raffinato nelle soluzioni tecniche, padroneggiato a meraviglia nei passaggi tecnicamente più impegnativi , capace di fraseggi ariosi, profondamente femminile nella resa, ridotto ad affascinanti miniature…””…Non si può non rimanere incantati di fronte alla partecipe, commossa esecuzione di Astor Piazzolla. In essi l’ alternarsi di implacabili scansioni ritmiche ad oasi di iberica malinconia, sono esaltate dalle rielaborazioni della pianista , che mai tradisce lo spirito di questa musica per esteriori esibizioni digitali o sdilinquamenti inopportuni…. Davvero da ascoltare….” – Musica: aprile 2016
- “…She has endured with quintessential vigor, no yielding nor imperfections. On the contrary, a crescendo of energy , dynamism and concentration supported by such an incredible clarity and expertise so as to afford a persistent agogic evolution…… a deeply captivating and touching Rachmaninov interpretation constantly fluctuating between spectacular and decadence, between gestural and color rendering, between passion and fury. This duality has reached its climax in the two concluding pieces addressed hand in hand with her sensual lyricism and juvenile feeling…” From: Piano Time – Claudio Bolzan
“…La tenuta è stata esemplare: non un cedimento, non una sbavatura, un crescendo anzi di energia, di vitalità, di concentrazione, sorretti da una lucidità e da un bagaglio tecnico sbalorditivi, tali da permetter una condotta agocica sistematicamente incalzante…Un Rachmaninov capace di coinvolgere e di emozionare profondamente proprio per il suo costante oscillare tra spettacolarità e senso della décadence, tra gestualità e colorismo, tra passionalità e delirio: una ambivalenza che ha toccato il suo culmine nei due brani conclusivi, affrontati sull’ onda di quel sensuale lirismo e di quell’ ardore giovanile…” Piano Time Claudio Bolzan
- “…Many in the public have been touched by this pianist whose interpretations of Scriabin and Rachmaninov are fiery…”From: La Stampa , aprile 2010
“… In molti sono stati colpiti da una pianista le cui esibizioni di Scriabin e Rachmaninov sono infuocate…” La Stampa,aprile 2010
- Her playing combines Italian charm and Slavic passion.-Presto Classical
- “… Saluons le travail de la jeune pianiste Elisa Tomellini. Très à son aise dans la passion romantique , elle se montre toujours attentive à la ligne mélodique, même lorsque la musique se complexifie … Une artiste à suivre de près.” -Thomas Herreng
- Interprétation suavement expressive d’ Elisa Tomellini-Diapason 2017 June
- “Elisa Tomellini without any doubt, shows what the real meaning of playing “piano” is: she keeps notes clear and delicate, perfectly intelligible but at the same time elusive…Her phrasing turns out to be rugged as a lived in landscape, not a merely painted and contemplated one. ..In the imaginative world of the artist, the listener can find full consonance with the plasticity of those sounds that seems to permeate her performances through fresh and impalpable atmospheres, safe anchors, solids and voids, peaceful paths and steep passages, harmonies among different textures and volumes” – Roberta Pedrotti
“Elisa Tomellini mostra di saper bene cosa significhi suonar piano sul serio, lasciando la nota netta e soffice, perfettamente intelligibile ma inafferrabile…Il fraseggio sa essere frastagliato come un paesaggio, vissuto, non solo dipinto e ammirato, nel mondo poetico dell’ artista si trova piena rispondenza per quella plasticità sonora che sembra permeare le sue interpretazioni, fra atmosfere fresche e rarefatte, sicuri appigli, pieni e vuoti, placidi sentieri ed erti passaggi, equilibri di consistenze e volumi differenti.” Roberta Pedrotti