For ‘Alfredo Piatti: The Operatic Fantasies, Volumes One and Two’: Interview for BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, 19 June 2020 Interview for BBC Radio 3 “in Tune”, 22 July 2020

“the fun quotient here is enormous, with Bradbury’s very vocal cello prancing up and down melodies, mostly by Donizetti, elaborated by Piatti close to the point where absurdity begins. [… a] life-enhancing album. Geoff Brown, The Times

“virtuosic (and how) bonbons, brilliantly imitating the bel canto vocal technique, beloved of fashionable drawing rooms, and a route to getting to know opera in a pre-gramophone age”. Fiona Maddocks, Observer

“Bradbury makes a superb job of channelling Piatti’s vocal style” Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk

“… there’s no disputing that Piatti can spin an altogether superior class of tinsel. […] Piatti crowns the Lucia Di Lamermoor variations with eerie, whistling harmonics, and the cello makes a properly dramatic entrance in the Souvenir de Linda Di Chamounix. Bradbury is wholly alive to these touches of colour and character, as is Oliver Davies […] His interpretations have a red-blooded, horsehair-and-rosin quality that gives them the immediacy of a live performance, nicely capturing the physical thrill of Piatti’s often spectacular fireworks as well as the wholly fitting bel canto warmth of Bradbury’s more lyrical playing. The booklet notes, also by Bradbury, are excellent: if this is the sort of thing you like, you won’t find it done with more conviction.” Richard Bratby, Gramophone

“Bradbury’s technique is equally dazzling, yet however showy the pyrotechnics get, he always returns to a simple, warm tone for the lyrical melodies.[….] In these strange times, these beautiful melodies, decorated with such virtuosic abandon and performed so effortlessly, provide the perfect balm.” Nick Boston, Gscene

“You always wanted to hear Malibran? Well you can. Thanks to Alfredo Piatti. The two discs of his operatic transcriptions are the one devastating echo of the superb vocalism of the primo Ottocento that has survived the gulf of years. Not the tinny disappointment of acoustic wax but the aching warmth of the human spirit in full vocal flight with its ornaments and cadenzas, its points d’orgue, vivid and moving with a clarity and authenticity that is a revelation. With the aid of Piatti’s cello you can hear all of them “Jenny Lind, Grisi, Lablache, Tamburini and Rubini” be present with the same ears that once were those of the audience of his day – not as a poignant souvenir or forgotten relic but live – with the scale, ambiance and challenging physical presence of the amber instrument that more than any other enshrines the sorrows and joys of human existence. […] The fine scholarly programme notes (by Adrian Bradbury) are a complement to his fabulous technique – they leave identification of the artists to the listener but you find yourself in the theatre with them before your eyes – in their presence replete with trenchant preludes and a sweeping bel canto clutch to the heart whose unmanning import rings truer than ever before. While being works of art in their own right it is the wholly authentic impact of these transcriptions that traverses the years: the music falls gracefully just as it did when first heard with all its insidious discovery and novelty – poignant reverie – a virtuosic dream – melodies retrieved with an undermining truthfulness no revival can ever hope to echo. Often evoking an audience transfixed. If you would like to experience Puritani or a Sonnambula as first heard – as at first hand – here is your chance! […] The research for these discs included detailed examination of performance manuscripts with pencilled-in oppure duly registered, but all such musicological propriety is complemented by a virtuosic command of the cello that is more than amazing – its challenges – superhuman at times – with the miraculously timed and tuned piano of Oliver Davies in wonderful support.[…]My personal choice? I continue to be prostrate before the ‘Theme and Variations’ upon “Tu che a Dio spiegasti l’ali” from Lucia – one of which variations is made to sound as if some eminent mezzo (a Malibran?) had got hold of the aria and was singing it as a concert aria with every possible expressive attenuation and cadenza to marvellously moving effect; and another variation – the last one – as if Lucia herself was singing her lover’s wonderful adieu in heaven (in the upper strings of the cello). If you want to escape lockdown this is the way to go. Performance by a perfect symbiosis – a double essay in nostalgia and magic.” Alexander Weatherson, Donizetti Society Newsletter

“Listening to Adrian and Oliver perform ‘Souvenir de Beatrice Di Tenda’ (Volume One) I am struck by the way Piatti fuses lyricism and drama, creating a sense that the melodic material is evolving organically and inevitably. And, I’m sure the Morning Post critic would be just as impressed with Adrian’s ability to sing with equal persuasiveness through the extensive melodic phrases, the energetic excursions to the cello’s stratosphere and depths, and the delicate intricacies and ornaments, as he was when he applauded Piatti’s ‘vanquishing’ of seemingly ‘insuperable’ difficulties – I certainly heard pitches at a frequency that I don’t think I’ve heard from a cello before, and beautifully sweet they were too! Moreover, there’s a lovely spontaneity about Oliver’s and Adrian’s playing which seems to conjure the excitement of the opera house and live performance. It’s impossible not to smile during the capricious episodes, or to be repeatedly impressed at how such lighter moods segue with deceptive ease into sweet sorrow, or troubled turmoil. Oliver’s interjections are perceptive and sensitive, as if instruments in the pit were being coaxed in their turn to emerge from supportive accompaniments and join the singer in melody. […] The piano’s dark, tense opening [of ‘Introduction et Variations sur un thème de Lucia Di Lammermoor’] resonates with the horrors and histories of the cemetery in which Edgardo sings his lament, and Adrian captures both the vulnerability and despair, tapering Piatti’s drooping phrases beautifully, and the sudden, brief surges of pain and passion during which it seems as if Edgardo’s heart will burst with anguish. Plunges and peaks, supported by rumbling, oscillating octaves, suddenly transmute from turbulence to tenderness, as the cello theme voices Edgardo’s transfiguring memories of Lucia’s purity and virtue. Adrian and Oliver persuasively guide the listener through the unfolding variations with an effortless lyricism and technical assurance: the cello’s double-stopped octaves and racing scales of thirds are pinpoint-true, harmonics ring brightly and whisper softly, the athletic demands are understated – but no less impressive – and the melodising unwavering. […] Adrian’s and Oliver’s performance of Piatti’s stylistic sleights of hand [in ‘Impromptu on an air by Purcell in the Indian Queen’] is utterly magical”. Claire Seymour, Opera Today

“72 minutes of intense cello pyrotechnics, from challenging consecutive octaves to cascades of double-stops, false harmonics and stratospheric leaps […] Adrian Bradbury delivers a heroic feat of cello playing..”. Joanne Talbot, The Strad

“…double stops, harmonics and instrumental acrobatics. Adrian Bradbury deals with these with aplomb […] the tonal and rhythmic flexibility that the players bring to both the lyrical and playful aspects of the music is characterful and engaging […] There’s charm throughout.” Martin Cotton, BBC Music Magazine

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