Roberto Cominati got around to give the recital for the WPAS Hayes Piano Series that he was supposed to give last season (where Konstantin Lifschitz substituted) – and it was well worth the wait. Born in Naples in 1969 Cominati might be pushing 40, but you’d never know from looking at the young, stylish, unmistakably – almost stereotypically – Italian man taking stage: With the jet black mane carefully combed back and a tailored suite that never once threw a wrinkle on his back he could pass as 27 if he needed to.
He would be betrayed by his playing, though. Un-self-conscious (quite in contrast to his exterior: He knows he looks good playing and he lets the audience know that he knows), mature, thought-through. It doesn’t happen often that a pianist plays so well and enchants that much without necessarily “impressing”. (The soft and subtle brilliance and musicality of Alfred Brendel is one recent example where a pianists didn't need to dazzle to delight.) With Robert Cominati it was a smooth blend of grown-up, high quality playing and technical accuracy that lend the Debussy of the first half of the program a silvery, lean quality.
Daniel Ginsberg, Roberto Cominati (Washington Post, March 20)
His Schumann offered more of the same good stuff. With a firm bite and muscle, energetic and tight, Cominati used the Terrace Theater’s Steinway like an organ, especially in the Préambule… only to switch to a finer lilt, all of which was very entertaining. Although a southerner (apart from an uncanny resemblance to Andy Garcia he even looks a good bit like another famous musician from Napoli, Ricardo Muti – including the double handed, lateral hair swipe) he sounds more like Milano or Turino, more ‘German’ – which invariably brings the greatest German pianist of our times to mind, who also happens to be an Italian.
The 15th prelude of Chopin (barring faulty memory) was a welcome encore. The rotating bass notes came in understated, threatening and gradually tightening, like a vice – only to start over again… like a cruel game in which Cominati was in full control. Nothing cruel about the performance, though: This was – having unforgivably missed the Tharaud recital last year – the best recital I have heard as part of the Hayes Series yet.