Simone Martini, Maestà, Sala del Mappamondo, Palazzo Pubblica di Siena
Pianist Chiara Bertoglio, tall and thin in a lovely red gown, was impressive throughout the concert and generally outshone her partner, violinist Paolo Ardinghi. The best work on the program was last, Franck's A major sonata, in which Bertoglio's booming sound, accuracy, and sensitive phrasing were best matched by Ardinghi, who seemed to be most comfortable with it. This passionate piece is enough to make one think that Paolo and Francesca were right to have loved so excessively, and after all that angst and romantic fervor, its final movement is downright happy-go-lucky. Not quite as good for the violinist but mostly enjoyable was the third Brahms sonata (D minor, op. 108), largely due to the large-handed fullness of Chiara Bertoglio's piano. She shone especially in solo moments, like the second theme of the first movement. Least pleasing was the Mozart sonata (C major, K. 296), in which Bertoglio was faultless but Ardinghi sounded insecure and small-toned. Two encores, Dvořák (one of the op. 75 Romantic Pieces) and more Brahms (a driven Brahms scherzo), were offered as nightcaps.
The remaining free concerts in the Franci Festival are scheduled for the next three Tuesdays: Michele Marasco (flute) and Paola Franconi (piano) on July 10; Diego Rappuoli (clarinet), Claudia Ciabattini (soprano), and Lorenzo Peri (piano) on July 17; and Sara Ceccarelli (flute), Michele Cappelletti (guitar), and Dario Vannini (guitar) on July 24. Note that only the July 10 concert will take place in the Sala del Mappamondo of the Palazzo Pubblico; the final two will be in the Auditorium Istituto in the Prato S. Agostino. All concerts begin at 9:15 pm.