San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Libetta Tickles Ivories, Funny Bones

Renowned Italian pianist Francesco Libetta inaugurated the 18th Credomatic Music Festival’s National Theater concerts last Saturday with a lively performance.

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 a Christmas-recital air that belied the nimbleness of the concert’s pieces.

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

After the intermission, Libetta 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 of 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 told The Tico Times 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 the wildlife-rich southern Caribbean coast, a welcome contrast from the beaches of his native Salento, where “you see a crab, bird, that’s it,” he said.

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 onehanded 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.

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 internationally known Tica soprano Iride Martínez’s performance tomorrow evening. 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 Sunday, brings classical musicians from North America and Europe to audiences throughout the country. For a schedule of remaining concerts, see the Calendar on pages W10 and W11.


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