"A fascinating piano concert by Marco Antonio de Almeida... An unusual program of three piano concerts was brilliantly performed by Marco Antonio de Almeida in the Freylingshausen hall of the Franckesche Foundation. His presentation was fascinating due to his ease for merging well planned construction concepts with an elegant and variable execution technique accompanied by a joy at playing the piano. This joy was easily transmitted to all other musicians.
The chamber orchestra “Ensemble Momento Musicale” with Dorothée Stromberg as conductor was an ideal partner. Rarely one experiences such intimate assotiation between soloist and orchestra as during this evening: great attention to playing nuances by Almeida, precision in the execution of details and emphasis for the melodic passages.
The Johann Sebastian Bach (f-Moll), the Joseph Haydn (D-Dur) and the Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (A-Dur) concerts were presented absolutely in the spirit of their creators, even without the accompaniment of oboe and french horns. They were executed in all details with charming virtuosity and very lively. The transposition from cembalo to piano in the Bach concert which generated a more massive and dense sound will certainly be the basis for future discussions about the pros and contras of such practice. But, due to the fine and well done presentation, it is a welcome contribution to said discussion.
The audience enthusiastically applauded the musicians and the concert ended only after three “encores”. The cultural importance of the University for the City of Halle was heightened due to the initiative, organization and participation as pianist of one of its Music Institute’s leading professors in the person of Marco Antonio de Almeida. "
"Brazilian characteristics … the last concert of the Piano Festival took all participants into a very special musical world through the introduction to Brazilian music as presented by the Brazilian pianist Marco Antonio de Almeida, professor at the Musikhochschule Hamburg and at the University of Halle. With some exceptions, Brazilian music is little known among us.
Charmingly moderating, Almeida showed the roots and connections to Europe during the period of Portuguese colonization. Also shown was how, after independence in the 19th century, an own style, a national idiom came into being which included the musical tradition of African slaves as well as the Portuguese “fado”. This comparatively young Brazilian musical culture therefore starts in the romantic era and is correspondingly progressive.
Composer Heitor Villa-Lobos showed his veneration for Bach in his “Bachianas Brasileiras”. The serious prelude clearly based on Bach, however reveals when it was created through its expressionistic signature. Almeida pursued this self-conscious pianistic art with hands on directness. On the other hand humorously bubbling is the “Brazilian Children’s Carnival” which still carries impressionistic traits: these small scenes were told on the piano with love for detail but also somehow rough. This only emphasizes that the anecdote about cigar smoking Villa-Lobos composing while surrounded by playing children and listening to the radio is probably true.
One of the contemporaneous composers included in the program was Marlos Nobre (born 1939) whose “Hommage to Arthur Rubinstein” virtuously measures the piano’s sound-space in scales and Läufen. From an older generation and typical representatives of the national idiom were Frutuoso Viana (1896 – 1976) and Camargo Guarnieri (1907 - 1993). Almeida energetically fulfilled the demand for the artful interpretation of their impetuous and dancing pieces. Much more enjoyable and beautifully interpreted, were Ernesto Nazareth’s (1863 – 1934) pieces, clearly influenced by Ragtime and remembering the soundless film (“Odeon”) era. As a counterpoint the sad drooling “Street Waltz” from Francisco Mignone (1897 - 1986) needs a “weeping piano” as Almeida explained. The idea of a Brazilian music was also present in the “Small Pieces” from Ronaldo Miranda (born 1948) whose miniatures carry within them the impressionistic colors of a Villa-Lobos.
For the Finale Marco Antonio de Almeida interpreted the “Large Fantasy for the Brazilian Anthem” from Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829 – 1869) which certainly is dear to all Brazilians. With pianistic fireworks located somewhere between Chopin and Liszt, Almeida fully mastered the sometimes pompous and also martial composition.“
"Songs on the piano… Replacement doesn’t always mean emergency solution. It can also be a very pleasant surprise. Instead of the planned guest presentation of the pianist Victor Emanuel von Monteton together with the Heilbronn Chamber Orchestra of Württemberg, the Concert Direction of Mannheim was able to win and invite Marco Antonio de Almeida (As was previously announced in our newspaper). The Brazilian pianist isn’t an unknown personality he has already been applauded in Mannheim and at the Schwetzingen Music Festival. That is why the “Substitute” was warmly welcomed in the Rose Garden’s Starnitz Great Hall. The evening began with three Domenico Scarlatti sonatas showing that Almeida is a sensitive artist with no need for showy external effects. It was never evident how much finger-work and refined technique are necessary for such a pearly interpretation. The rapid passages shone like the music for a fairy ballet. One couldn’t wish for a more expressive presentation of the often played Robert Schumann C-Dur Opus 17 Fantasy. Clear cuts enhanced the different moods. The melody never grew sentimental even when the pianist showed sensibility for the music. The crescendos were energetic but never dramatic as would be completely wrong in a Schumann sonata. A melodic intimacy dominated the third movement ending the Fantasy with noble beauty. A cheerful ghost opened the second part of the program. A sequence of seven capricious pieces by Heitor Villa-Lobos is called “Children’s Carnival”. “Pierrete’s moods” enchants with its funny melody; “Little Domino’s bell” sounds expressively, while “The adventures of the small rag picker” and “The mouth-organ of a disguised youth” are dreamily delicate. Fast and very lively are “The great cadence” and “Polichinello”. These pieces with their surprising cuts and turns passed like a colorful masked ball. The concert ended with Franz Liszt. Almeida remained true to his fine stile, never falling for a fanciful interpretation. While playing the little known “Funerailles” and also the rarely presented sixth Hungarian Rhapsody Almeida didn’t shy away from the tensions and intensive attacks, but still, the piano “sang”. Ovations for a great artist and three “encores”! "
„Brillanter Techniker voller Sensibilität“.
"De Almeida is a perfect virtuoso and a serious, convincing musician. He belongs to that rare breed that can make one forget the dexterity needed to produce such sheer musical expression. His artistry is marked, not by unbridled temperament, but by discipline. In Schubert's Sonate B major, de Almeida impressed as a mature pianist endowed with great ability"..
"This pianist is an unique artist. The magical ease of his playing was at no time misused for effect. Even in the bombastic progression of the finale, the meditative element, embarked upon in the theme, shone through. That de Almeida is no showman was also expressed by the fact, that he was sparing with pedal, prefering to soften the sound, accenting the dance-like structures and pushing back the sentimental feeling. In this way he turned a quite problematic music piece into a fine study of piano artistry “. (Rachmaninow: 3. Klavierkonzert) “
"The pianist was given a trying task - Gershwin's Concerto in F and the Rhapsody in blue - with no interval in between. De Almeida solved it masterfully. He is an elegant pianist with a great sense of detail, for rhythm and sound".
“A fascinating evening. Almeida is one of those pianists for whom music flows naturally from his fingers; a musician who gains the confidence and convinces his listeners through the correctness and honesty of his interpretation. The audience was overjoyed”.
"His style was a mixture of functionality, simplicity and straightforward freshness, combined with a pleasing clarity and subtle variety of touch. Following the impressive depth of expression in the larghetto, the last movement was made especially effective by the wittiness of Almeida's playing (Mozart, KV 595)“..
"A memorable performance. De Almeida immersed himself into Schubert's B major Sonata with supreme maturity. We were permitted to listen to a Schubert from its inner core. Being as gifted as he is, de Almeida can also allow himself to play less popular works (Villa-Lobos)“..
"From the rousing start onwards Almeida had the audience in the palm of his hand. His interpretation of Prokofiew's Sarcasmes op.17 was highly impressive. Powerful chordplay, filigree runs and a distinctively rhythmical interpretation of these ironical piano pieces made this performance a pleasure to hear“.
"Mozart’s emotions and depressions, the person and musician, expressed in his letters and sonatas. De Almeida presented himself as a congenial partner for the oboist. He allways found the right balance between gentleness and selfconsciousness, never overpowering the oboe, but demonstrating that the piano had the leading role (originally for violin) in Mozart’s early sonatas. Interpretations of a very individual character were thus created, dancingly light as in the last movement of the Sonata in A Major melancholic as in the Sonata in e minor or more heavy as in the Sonata in B flat Major, but allways finding the intimate cameristic tone.". (Kissinger Sommer)“
"Disciplined and refraining from putting on airs, Almeida achieved the most fascinating results. In Brahms' Variations op. 9, he accentuated the pondering character of the piece, his sensitive touch and perception of the beauty of the sound being used here to best advantage. Producing an orchestral sonority in Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody n° 6, he pulled out all stops of his incredible technical skills musical temperament“.
"An unforgetable Schubert B major Sonata"! .
"De Almeida began the Mendelssohn-Bartholdy like an improvisation - calm and reflective. His interpretation was true to style in both the classical and romantic sections of the work. He prefered to reserve his virtuosity and technique for the demands of the composition rather than for self-portrayal"..
"A legendary day, a legendary concert, culminating in a standing ovation. Almeida conjured up graphic images from the musical score. The quicker the tempo, the less he seemed to brake. The frequent changes of mood were mastered with ease. Sparkling runs meandered softly, contrasting with the pointed pulsation of the main theme"
"This Brazilian musician, currently living in Hamburg, showed much respect for the delicate and reflective passages in this Mozart's piano concerto (KV 595). Time and again de Almeida proved his worth, in no small way thanks to the agility of his virtuoso parlando. A fine pianist".