Giulia Contaldo (piano)


Ottorino Respighi Noctturno
Robert Schumann Sonata No 1 in F sharp minor Op 11
Claude Debussy Estampes


Ludwig van Beethoven Sonata No 32 in C minor Op 111
Richard Wagner arr Liszt Isolde’s Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde

Giulia Contaldo piano


This concert will include an interval and will end at approximately 9.30pm.

Programme Notes

I would like to dedicate this recital to everyone who has crossed my path at the RNCM making my time unforgettable. My deepest thanks to my professors for their insightful guidance and to my friends and colleagues for being a source of inspiration every day.

Respighi’s imaginative and rarely performed Notturno will be a prelude to a very troubled evening recital which will comprehend two sonatas: Schumann’s monumental Sonata Op 11 and Beethoven’s last piano Sonata Op 111. Despite their differences, these two sonatas curiously share some common ground. Both sonatas have a second movement titled as a song and seem to suggest the performer to be inspired by voice whilst playing. Schumann’s unusual second movement is titled Aria – espressivo ma senza passione (in Liszt’s words ‘a song of great passion, expressed with fullness and calm’). This melody is taken from his lied An Anna II, one of a group of settings of poems by Justinus Kerner from 1828 published posthumously by Johannes Brahms. Beethoven’s transcendent second and last movement of Op 111 is titled Arietta: Adagio molto semplice ma cantabile (adagio, very simple, but song-like). Both sonatas also have an unusual structure, revolutionizing and reinventing the sonata form.

In between the two sonatas, Debussy’s Estampes (‘prints’ or ‘engravings’) offer three examples of Debussy’s pictorial rhetoric. They take us on an exotic journey from the Far East, to the centre of Spain, then home to France again, each stop treated as the subject of a reverie. The final scene of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, transcribed by Liszt, brings the recital to an end. Tristan’s death sets up the final scene of the opera, the Liebestod (‘love-death’) scene, in which Isolde, standing over Tristan’s dead body, commemorates him rapturously. Whilst singing of her love, Isolde dies on Tristan’s body in a tragic ending that has few equals in opera.

Notes by Giulia Contaldo.


Described as a ‘Dashing Pianist’ (The Guardian), Giulia Contaldo has most recently performed Schumann’s Piano Concerto conducted by Omer Meir Wellbar with the BBC Philharmonic broadcasted by BBC Radio 3, standing in at three days’ notice for legendary pianist Eliso Virsaladze.

Born in Florence, Italy, Giulia completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees with highest honours and special mention at Florence’ s Luigi Cherubini Conservatory, whilst also completing an Artist Diploma at Imola International Piano Academy with Jin Ju. From September 2019 she was offered a scholarship for the Advanced Postgraduate Diploma in Piano Performance at the Royal Northern College of Music with Graham Scott and Dina Parakhina thanks to the generous support of the Helen Mackaness Award, graduating with distinction. Giulia is currently continuing her studies on the International Artist Diploma Course of the RNCM.

Giulia has received numerous prizes and has most recently won the third prize and audience prize at the James Mottram International Piano Competition, culminating in a solo performance with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Joshua Weilerstein. She has also won first prizes at the 28th J.S. Bach Italian National Competition, the Gradus ad Musicum Certamen Competition, the 15th International Maria Giubilei Piano Competition with an award to the Mozarteum Sommerakademie, prizes at the International Competition ‘Prémio Internacional de Piano Figueira da Foz’ (Portugal), and at Massarosa International Piano Competition among others. She was a winner of the Concerto Competition and the Piano Duo Prize of the RNCM and was awarded the prestigious Gold Medal of the RNCM. Giulia was also one of the pianists chosen to participate in the first round of the Leeds International Piano Competition in 2021.

A chamber music advocate, with violinist Sara Pastine, Giulia won the first prize in the International Chamber Music Competition ‘Massimiliano Antonelli’ (Latina), the ‘A. Burri’ Chamber Music Competition organized by Festival delle Nazioni and most recently the duo was awarded a prize at the 32nd Concours Européan de Musique de Chambre organized by FNAPEC (Paris), the ‘Giovanni Guglielmo’ Competition in Padova.

Giulia has collaborated with musicians such as world-renowned violist Bruno Giuranna and cellist Mario Brunello and she has also been a klavierkammermusik postgraduate student at the Universität für Musik und darstellende kunst Wien where she studied with Johannes Meissl, Peter Schuhmayer (Artis Quartet) amd Stefan Mendl (Wiener Klavier Trio).

Giulia has performed throughout the UK, Italy and across Europe for many festivals including Amici della Musica di Padova, Amici della Musica di Modena, Aurore Musicali (Torino), Spoleto (Festival dei Due Mondi), Latina (Salotti Musicali), Festival delle Nazioni (Città di Castello), Festival Internazionale di Musica da Camera (Asolo), Imola (Emilia Romagna Festival), Oratorio del Gonfalone (Roma), Sale Apollinee (Teatro la Fenice), Lucca (Musica a Palazzo Pfanner), BeethovenHaus (Vienna), Teatro della Pergola (Firenze), Bridgewater Hall (Manchester), Musica Insieme (Bologna), Wigmore Hall (London), Teatro Alighieri (Ravenna), Moritzburg Festival etc.

As a soloist Giulia has performed with Orchestra del Carmine, Giovane Orchestra d’Abruzzo, Florence Conservatory Orchestra, Manchester Camerata, Young Musicians European Orchestra (YMEO), RNCM Symphony Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and BBC Philharmonic. An eclectic and versatile pianist, she has also collaborated with world famous choreographer Virgilio Sieni’s Dance Company in the production Prélude à l’ après-midi d’un faune.