In remembrance of the Maestro
The encounter with Luciano Berio influenced in an extraordinary manner my “musical” life, and it’s with a sincere emotion that I try to revive in these lines some of the most touching moments I had the chance to share with him.
I met him for the first time when I was 12, in 1989, during my concert in the Grosses Saal of the Salzburg’s Mozarteum. The Maestro thereafter invited me at Radicondoli, his villa near Siena, in Tuscany. During my visit there he was extremely hearty, and he dedicated to me most of his time: we talked for a long time and he listened to my performances with great attention. An entire universe, until then unknown, exploded in that moment in front of me; what happened there left me completely confused, but in the same time enthralled with a new curiosity and deeply fascinated. The Maestro gave me as a precious gift an autographed copy of his Petite Suite, a pièce I was proud to perform in 1993, once again in Salzburg, inside a more traditional program. Berio – among the audience – was once more generous with guidance and encouragement.
Again in front of him, in 1996 in Florence – for Gli Amici della Musica – I performed for the first time his Encores, but at that time the Composer found the execution too romantic, not enough aggressive and sensationalistic. In the following days I was invited into his Florence study; under his guide I continued to explore the new world of the avant-garde experimentation, extremely interesting to understand, to study, to deeply investigate, to live. Executions totally deprived from phrasing; no freedom, complete estrangement; emotions to be looked for - and found – in the very immobility: impassiveness and coldness towards the musical line, which becomes “modern” just because of its complete lack of expression. An ironic and aggressive touch, an attempt of transforming the piano in an electric keyboard, in a synthesizer.
I kept on with my assiduous and painstaking study, overjoyed for having been given the keys of a new way of understanding the music and the piano, a world which existence I had been until now completely unaware of; I deepened my knowledge of Boulez’s music – recorded by Pollini – and in 1997 I began to venture upon the study of the Sequenza, which I eventually performed for the first time in 1999 in Macerata, at the Contemporary Music Festival. A mesmerising experience, a performance this time immediately appreciated by the Maestro who, again, dedicated to me more of his time and guidance.
At the Piano Festival of Bergamo and Brescia, in 2000, during a special evening celebrating the Maestro, I performed his piano works composed until that date, and I accompanied the soprano Luisa Castellani during the four Canzoni Popolari, featuring Pascal Gallois in the Sequenza for bassoon. The Maestro expressed his satisfaction.
My personal relationships with Luciano Berio, in those years, had grown actually intense; I tried to describe him the feelings and the emotions I could feel whilst playing his music during my performances, and he – as usual – kept on guiding me with great generosity through the path of the interiorization of the slightest nuances and the refining of the interpretative details. Precious impulses and unrivalled support for my artistic maturation, his words fed enormously my love for the Music and my awareness of the “mission” that this Muse represents in my whole life.
In the meanwhile, my dream of recording a performance dedicated to Berio began to become more and more real; thanks to the confidence and sensibility of Maestro Franco Scala, my teacher at the International Piano Academy of Imola, and to the professionalism and experience of the Engineer Giulio Cesare Ricci, who personally produced the recording, we began our challenge. In these circumstances as well I was once again supported by the precious recommendations of the Maestro, who in the end expressed his appreciation for the final result.
In 2001, at the Scala Museum in Milan was performed a concert dedicated to Luciano Berio, organised by Serate Musicali; the program was entirely focused on his piano compositions, of which I had the unparalleled honour of being the interpreter. The concert was introduced by an enthralling conversation among Berio, Franco Puccini and Hans Fazzari. The informal tones and the sober environment contributed to transform the evening in an enlightening and fascinating event, overflowing with the human, musical and artistic pathos that sparked from the Maestro’s personality, and from the universal dimension of his Music.
On 16th January 2003, Berio invited me as a guest, together with the well-renowned musical critics Carmelo Di Gennaro and Filippo Dei Corno, to “Il Caffè” - a program broadcasted by Rai International channel - during an interview hosted by Giorgia Caruso. In a wonderful set, where the guests and the Maestro himself had the chance of describing his thoughts, his life and his compositions, I played – sadly for the last time in his living presence – four of the Six Encores. And once again overwhelming emotions, unforgettable sensations and gratifying compliments: a human and artistic inheritance that will always be at my side during my life as Man and Musician.