HAPPENED TODAY - On December 7, 1887, the pianist and composer Ernst Toch was born in Leopoldstadt

Alessio Pianelli

Good morning Alessio Pianelli. Thank you for your interest in our website and our readers.

At what age did you approach the music? In your family, did anyone already play the cello or any other instrument?
Music has always had a fundamental role in my life. When I was a child, I started playing the piano together with my dad, a jazz pianist. When I was 10 years old, I met the cello and my first teacher, Giovanni Sollima.

Can you tell us something about your studies up to the diploma, and about your first teachers?
Until graduation, I studied exclusively with Giovanni Sollima. I met him in the Conservatory of my town, Trapani. After a few years he moved to the Conservatory of Palermo and, of course, I followed him until the graduation, in 2007. I have always seen him as a father. He never imposed anything on me, he never told me how to study, or imposed on me an arch or fingering, even in the years near the diploma. He played together with me and, always together, we approached the technique directly on the repertoire pieces. He always encouraged me to be curious, to find the highest number of possible solutions to a single problem, avoid focusing only on cello, and classical methods. In a few words, I tried to develop as many points of view as possible, to be free to find “my” solutions, always serving my instinct.

After graduation, how did you improve your knowledge of the cello?
After graduation, I remained in Sicily a year, to complete my high school studies. Then, I participated in a few Masterclasses with Mario Brunello, Massimo Polidori, Maria Kliegel and Reinhard Latzko. After the experience of one year as principal cello at the “Orchestra 1813” of Como’s Teatro Sociale, I met Thomas Demenga, who invited me to study with him at the Hochschule für Musik in Basel. Demenga welcomed me making me feel all his appreciation for my “freedom”. He was able to guide me towards the direction of academic rigor, avoiding any traumatic way. He taught me the importance of simplicity, clarity, and honesty. I learned not to be obsessed with career and short term results, focusing mainly on the learning process.

In your curriculum, there are already important acknowledgments: could you remember the most important ones?
The most important acknowledgments for me are the simplest and least conspicuous ones. I remember the tears of a lady and her very strong hug, that lasted an eternity, after a concert in Ukraine, a few months ago, or even the eyes of a student and her “Grazie” at the end of my Masterclass in the summer of 2016. When I understand I’ve really touched the soul of a person, I can recognize the real power of my music. If instead, we want to talk about awards that would have made my career easier, the most important are the Prizes the Janigro, the Mazzacurati, the Renzo Giubergia Competitions, and then the Borletti Buitoni Fellowship.

What about your CD? What are the record companies with which you have produced the CD? What are your short-term projects?
I recorded chamber music for Claves, Nami Records, and Concerto. I also regularly collaborate with Almendra Music, a Sicilian label founded in 2012 with which I have already recorded a CD for cello and piano dedicated to Beethoven, Brahms and Hindemith and two CD, “Prelude” and “Sulla Quarta” for solo cello. These last two are part of a 6-album project. Each CD includes the presence of a Bach Suite, combined with contemporary music or the largely unpublished 1900s. It is, therefore, an integral of the Suites, but unveiled over the years: a journey that can tell the intellectual, the timbre and human growth of a musician in his twenty and thirty years. A path of eight or nine years in which, album after record, one of these milestones in the history of music for cello, is flanked by the music of the century just past and the new one, today, close to the culture and perceptions of a born boy in Sicily in 1989. Now, I’m working on a CD for cello and orchestra that, thanks to the collaboration born with Borletti Buitoni of London, will be released in 2020. [to be continued ⇒]