“Magician at the piano”
Hannover Allgemeine Zeitung
At the age of five, Fabio Martino began playing the piano: on an instrument that belonged to his grandmother, who was a professor in São Paulo. Seventeen years later – after a rigorous education at the foremost universities in Brazil and Germany – Martino purchases his first Steinway, with the prize money received from winning first place at the most important international piano competition in Latin America, the “BNDES,” a prize equivalent to 48 thousand US-dollars. In the final round, his competitors were a Japanese and a Russian pianist, 28 and 29 years old, respectively. One year later, in 2011, Martino secures first place and a prize of 10 thousand euros at the “Ton und Erklärung” (Sound and Explanation) International Piano Competition, promoted by the German Economic Cultural Circle. Martino is noted for his artistic boldness, always open to new challenges in the international piano scene. As a personal trademark, he always performs wearing a hand-tied bowtie.
The next significant milestone in Martino’s career is the upcoming release of his first solo CD featuring works of Brahms, Schumann, and the world premieres of the Piano Sonata no.3 by York Höller and “Three Intervallic Etudes” by Edino Krieger. The composer Höller praises Martino’s “expressiveness, his power, his sensibility, not to mention his perfect technique at the piano...”. The “Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung” writes of one of his concerts: “Fabio Martino energetically revived Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto with a decisive creative force, evoking pleasure in the harmonic passages, and brilliant vigor in the virtuosic moments.”
As a soloist, Fabio Martino frequently performs internationally, playing repertoire which includes piano concertos by Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Beethoven, Schumann, Medtner and Mozart, to name a few, accompanied by important national and internationally renowned orchestras such as the São Paulo State Orchestra (São Paulo), The Brazilian Symphony Orchestra (Rio de Janeiro), the Minas Gerais Philharmonic (Belo Horizonte), the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (Munich) and the Duisburg Philharmonic Orchestra (Duisburg).
Martino’s concerts and recitals at the International Piano Festival in Miami, at the Gilmore Festival, the Heidelberger Frühling, on the NDR Radio in Hannover, and at Munich’s Gasteig were enthusiastically received by the most discerning critics.
In September, 2014, Martino appeared once again as soloist with the Minas Gerais Philharmonic and the São Paulo State Orchestra at the Sala São Paulo, in addition to two solo recitals as part of the “Osesp soloists” series, all of which were praised with glowing reviews.
“Schumann’s Fantasie op. 17 interpreted by pianist Fabio Martino will remain eternally embedded in my musical memory: something we don’t easily forget. And in the archive of my musical memory there is the interpretation of the Fantasie op. 17 with Nelson Freire, Mendelssohn’s Variations Sérieuses with Alicia de Larocha, the Bach C minor Partita with Martha Argerich, and Beethovens Sonata op. 2 no. 3 with Vladimir Ashkenazy.”
Ronaldo Miranda, critic and composer
Miami Piano Festival (USA) 20.05.2012:
Fabio Martino displays remarkable artistry at Miami Piano Festival
By Dorothy Hindman
Drizzly, dreary weather didn’t prevent an excited audience from turning out to hear Brazilian pianist Fabio Martino make his Miami debut Saturday night at the Colony Theater in Miami Beach. The 23-year old Martino is the third stellar young pianist featured in as many nights on the Miami International Piano Festival’s Discovery Series, running through Sunday.
Dressed in a colorful shirt and bow tie, Martino kicked off his program with adiscovery for the audience, Beethoven’s Fantasia Op. 77, a rarely-performed work. The Fantasia is a strange ramble through various ideas and scalar passages, settling into a theme about halfway through the work. In Martino’s hands, it became a connected narrative of Classical and Romantic moods, tested and rejected until one was good enough to inspire spontaneous variations.
Beethoven suits Martino, who followed the Fantasia with the monumental Appassionata Sonata Op. 57. Martino inhabits the music, playing with a rich intensity and engagement. His careful voicings allow the fullest timbres possible without overwhelming the melody, and he is not timid, going for a big sound with considerable power. This was clear throughout the impassioned struggle of the Allegro assai, a surprisingly faster tempo at the end announcing its ultimate resolution.
His Andante held the same richness, characterized by careful releases, immaculate pedaling and impeccable voicing, especially in the suspensions of the first variation. A wonderfully fluid attacca provided a clean approach to the final Allegro’s energy and turmoil. Throughout, Martino demonstrated his greatest strength – a sense of the long line – proving through phrasing, color, and superb dynamic control that he knows exactly where he is going.
Where Martino’s Beethoven was fully German, he channeled an entirely French technique for Maurice Ravel’s suite of character pieces Miroirs, another work rarely performed as a whole in concert. His Noctuelles captured a nocturnal fluttering from the start, with elegant phrasing and the smoothest of hammerless touches, spiced by the occasional dark, sharp edge. Oiseaux tristes was mesmerizing, weaving a spell with utter control of dynamics and a delicate touch.
Martino’s incredibly fleet fingers made the multiple spectacular runs in Une barque sur l’océan look easy, and occasional flashes of Romantic grandeur were a welcome addition. A pesante Latin flavor, with intermittent dreamy tinges and crisp repeated notes, colored the fiery images portrayed in Alborada del gracioso. Martino’s gentle bells of La vallée de cloches signaled the end of the reverie with delicacy, and an overarching sense of musical depth.
Martino’s remarkable speed and strength rounded out the evening in Scriabin’s Sonata Op. 53, No. 5, combining brilliant flashes of changing colors with well-defined themes. Playing deeply into the keys, Martino brought definition to every gesture, a wildness paired with a delicate exoticism that synthesized his entire program. Every idea in the cyclic work was repeatedly recast through shades of touch, pedaling, timbre and tempo, and each of the mounting, multiple crescendi at the end was more unbelievable than the last.
Every element is already in place in Martino’s pianism: technique, awareness of style, dynamic control, shades of pianistic color, and deep formal understanding. More importantly, he uses this considerable arsenal to portray, not just play the music. He has a remarkable career ahead.