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Pietro Costa - an historian with significant musical gifts!

2015-12-15 - Featured Contributors

User: Pietro

Member Since: 2011-02-10
Total Uploads: 603
Total Listens: 91151

I wonder how many of you have had the chance to listen to the superb performances of some Clerembault (harpsichord) and Chaumont (organ).

If you have, you know what a rare and superb talent has played these.  If you haven't, you should!

It's always fascinating to see just who we interact with here on the Concert Hall.  People that we "meet through music."  People who often live far away from us, and someone we would never get to know in the "real" world, become our friend through the internet and a special site like the Contrebombarde Concert Hall!  Someone like our good friend, Pietro...

For some time know, I've been a fan of Pietro's music.  I can tell that he's an "early music guy," but he always listens to my stuff, no matter how "distant" it may be from his own "center of interest," and always takes the time to comment upon it.  This is something I appreciate deeply!

In having the chance to honor Pietro as "Contributor of the Month," I've gotten to him a little better, and to learn more about him.  His life is an interesting one to be sure, and his "entrance into music" may strike a tone with more than a few of us.

Pietro Cost was born and lives in Florence, Italy.  He won't tell us his age, since he was once told that it "is not nice to ask ladies and organists their age!"  So, since he is without doubt an organist, we'll leave it at that!  Listening to the intense yet refined playing that we hear in his work, we will immediately say, "Ah!  Now this is a professional musician!"   Well, although it undoubtedly sounds that way, music is not Pietro's profession.  Rather, it is, "a private vice!"

An historian's head with a musician's heart.

For me to interject something like: You know I always knew that Pietro was a brilliant guy in things beyond music, sounds like I'm being facetious, but I'm not.  The depth of his intelligence and his "experience in learning" is immediately noticeable in his playing and in his comments.

His "non-career" in music began in his childhood, when his grandmother was his first piano teacher.  As for the organ, he was introduced to that by his father when he was about 15 years old, and he began to play the organ during the Mass.  He says that he is "inclined to think that many abandoned their faith because of his performances, but, I seriously doubt that... ;-)  He loves a wide spectrum of music, from medieval to modern, but he says that "as a performer I apply myself only to the so called early music." 

It was around that time that he came across a recording of Wanda Landowska playing the harpsichord, and it was love at first listen.  Then and there he decided that sooner or later he would get his hands on a harpsichord.  Actually, it was more than a few years that passed before he finally acquired a two manual Blanchet cembalo.  The harpsichord was an instrument built by Mark Stevenson of Cambridge, and was a French-style instrument.

He finally had a harpsichord, but no organ.  Like many of us desperate enough to suffer with the electronic organs of the time, he had to make do with an instrument where the names of the stops were promising, but the sounds did not live up to the names they bore.

At a later date a domestic "flood" destroyed his cembalo, which meant that he went on playing his baroque literature on the piano, and making the best of a quite unsatisfactory organ.

And then, Pietro Costa met Hauptwerk, and things got interesting!  

In his own words: Hauptwerk has changed my life. I mean: that part of my life (not a minor part) devoted to music. I became aware of Hauptwerk by chance, wandering through Internet. It took me a bit of time to understand what it promised. It seemed too good to be true. Instead it was.  My first sample was  the Bosch-Schnitger  organ (in Vollenhove) realised by Organ Art Media. It has been an unforgettable emotion when for the first time I heard the Bosch sounds by pressing the keys of my keyboard in my room. As for the harpsichord, I was sceptical. I feared that the samples were not able to capture the subtleties of the cembalo sound. Instead, even the cembalo samples realised by Sonus Paradisi were up to the task.

And so: I can really say that Hauptwerk has changed my musical life. I had the resources of extraordinary organs at my disposal; I had found again the cembalo sound (that I feared lost for me). What could I still want?

Intense and compassionate - kind and caring.

As with all of us who take part in this very special forum we call "the Concert Hall," Pietro has a passionate commitment to it and respect for it.   Even after thinking that he had all he could want, and was able to make his music at length and at will, he "found the Contrebombarde and the Concert Hall. Also it changed my musical habits. I used to play just for me, but now I had the chance to get in touch with performers often far more skilled than me. The site is remarkably grown over time, thanks to the efforts of its organizers and promoters, and is not only a container of musical uploads. It is a place of dialogue and mutual learning. It is a treasure trove of information. It is incredible the plenty of composers and works which I learned about thanks to the Concert Hall."

From the very first, one of things that really struck and interested me about Pietro's uploads was that many of them were played upon the harpsichord.  I've had very little harpsichord experience, and am really quite ignorant about it, but his harpsichord uploads ALWAYS get "first listen" when I see something new!

I asked him to talk a little more about the future of the organ sample sets, but also the "harpsichord side of Hauptwerk," and he was very willing to share his thoughts.

I have trouble imagining the future of Hauptwerk simply because it already seems perfect to me.  I am however sure that Dyde, Milan, Meier, Zurek and so on will continue to amaze us.   As for the organ, the merits already acquired by Hauptwerk are evident: the possibility of a concrete acquaintance and usage of great historical organs of different periods and areas; and therefore an unmissable opportunity to improve the difficult art of registration. In my opinion, every music school should adopt a Hauptwerk set and use it as a great support for teaching.

As for the harpsichord, it is right now a secondary item in the Hauptwerk showcase, in comparison to the growing supply  of organ samples. This is understandable, because harpsichord is an attainable instrument: I can have a real cembalo in my house, but I would have some difficulties in placing a four keyboards organ in my sitting room. It is however also true that I am not able to possess a collection of real Ruckers, Taskin, Blanchet, Zell, Hass cembalos. Maybe Bill Gates can do it. For this reason Hauptwerk should intervene, as it does for organs: it should create samples of historical harpsichords owned by museums or private collections. It would be a great promotion of these instruments.  If museum directors and collectors were shrewd, they would ask Zurek, Meier and so on to realizes samples of their instruments.  Maybe this will remain an utopia. Instead, it is reasonable to hope that our benefactors (Zurek, Meier and so on) will put at our disposal in the future samples of modern copies of the largest possible number of historical cembalos.

Here we see Pietro ignoring the "DO NOT TOUCH!" signs.  He is a TRUE rebel at heart!

Each of us will have our own tastes and preferences, our own likes and dislikes, and this is how it should be.  However, I encourage all my readers, all listeners on the Concert Hall to take the time to listen to the refined skill that Pietro Costa brings to his performances, whether on the harpsichord or on the organ.

It is such a pleasure to get to know people like Pietro.  He is a man of depth and substance, of talent and of knowledge.  Most of all, he is a man of caring, sensitivity and kindness.  All of these sublime gifts and qualities are present in every not of music that he plays. 

I'm grateful for the chance of meeting a man of learning, such as Pietro Costa.  I'm more that grateful and privileged to call him my friend.


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