San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Italian pianist performs at Credomatic Music Festival

The 18th Credomatic Music Festival showcased a performance by renowned Italian pianist Francesco Libetta at the National Theater on Saturday night in downtown San José.

The century-old theater, designed by another Italian and built in 1897, was fully buffed, and its marble, gold inlays and parquet floors shone throughout. A display of stately red calla lilies along the front of the stage gave the air of a Christmas recital that belied the nimbleness of the concert´s pieces.

Libetta dedicated the first half of the performance with a slew of airy Chopin études that begged concertgoers to forget the chilly drizzle outside.

After the intermission, Libetta opened the second half of the performance and dove into a confident interpretation of a three-part Beethoven sonata. He wrapped up the concert with a work by Franz Liszt and closed with more than a couple encore pieces.

In a small comedic bit, Libetta, after receiving a bouquet during one round of applause, turned to play an encore, only to “realize” he had nowhere to place the flowers. Tucking the bouquet under his right arm, he went ahead and played an encore of swirling trills with only his left hand.

After the concert, Libetta said he enjoyed interpreting all three artists equally, while noting that some pieces were more comfortable to start out with than others, and eventually admitting a slight affinity for the “slow” Chopin pieces. The 39-year-old, from Salento, in Italy´s heel, said he was enjoying his trip to Costa Rica, and was looking forward to a trip to Cahuita, on the southern Caribbean coast.

Nine-year-old Simone Antich, daughter of festival director Jordi Antich, enjoyed the opening Chopin piece, which she described as “fast and pretty,” as well as the one-handed encore. She said she looks forward to the festival and new acts every year – but added that her parents sometimes have to bribe her with chocolate to keep her awake through performances that do not end until well after her bedtime.

Both Libetta and Simone said they were looking forward to the U.S. duo Aspro Dolce´s show.

Fellow attendee Emilia Castro, who singled out the Liszt as her favorite moment of the evening, said she has attended the festival for the past seven years. She said she will also go to the internationally known Tica soprano Iride Martínez´ performance at the festival´s closing concert on Saturday. As far as Costa Rican classical artists with worldwide recognition go, Castro said, “It´s just (Martínez),” but she credited festival organizers, who are “searching for more talented artists.”

The festival, which runs through Aug. 17, is bringing classical musicians from North America and Europe to audiences throughout the country. Other festival performers, 17 in all, include the Colombian a cappella group Vocal Sin Tiempo, Berlin Brass and the Dutch group, Doelen Quartet. A full schedule can be found at the festival´s Web site:


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