Showing posts with label Federico Colli. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Federico Colli. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The secret world of Federico Colli

You know exactly why budding great pianists in their early to mid twenties are like London buses, don't you? That's right - you wait for a decade or so and then along comes a whole bunch at the same time. So please welcome yet another: to add to the roster of Trifonov, Grosvenor, Levit and Avdeeva, please welcome, from Brescia...

...Federico Colli, winner of the latest Leeds International Piano Competition, who made his London debut last night at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in a stunning recital of Mozart, Beethoven and Schumann. Pictured, right, with a very happy Dame Fanny Waterman, founder of the Leeds, who can be rightly proud of her laureate.

Colli - playing a Fazioli, also the choice of Trifonov last week - began his concert with the Mozart Sonata in F major K283: a vivid, spirited account that established several strengths at once, notably the sense of "flow" that characterised the whole programme, an ongoing thread of musical connection that feels as if he is entirely one with the music, creating it from the inside out. He used a light, strong touch with singing tone, beautifully balanced voicing, extremely well-judged pedalling - an ideal blend of colour and clarity. I wondered briefly about a few exaggerated gestures - hand movements for each repeated note of the slow movement's melody, for instance - but by half way through the Beethoven 'Appassionata', any such concerns went out of the window as a tingle of recognition spread that we were listening to a potential true great.

Something magical began to happen with the first variation of the Beethoven's second movement: a pattern of figuration that in other hands can be nothing more than that, but that for Colli became a shifting lattice of subtle voices, light and shade - as if he could hear and imagine things that the rest of us can't. And while everything seemed thought out and judicious, there was no sense of playing it safe: let off the leash in the finale's coda, Colli tackled Beethoven's fall of Lucifer like a lightning bolt.

Schumann's Sonata No.1 is one of the composer's weirdest works, more fantastical than the Fantasy, less "sane" by far than all those supposedly difficult "late"compositions. Pulling it off is a very tall order, yet throughout its magnificent long span Colli made it entirely his own. He gave the fantasy its head, working in the dimension of silence together with that of sound in masterful fashion: the transitions, of which there are a great many, were not only handled with ideal pacing but became virtually the raison d'ĂȘtre of the piece.

By now one could forget technical concerns and take for granted the full yet never heavy-handed sound quality, the singing nature of the phrasing, the richness of colour, and move instead into another world. He made sense of the work by recognising that making sense is not the point; that this is visionary, groundbreaking music far ahead of its time. He had the hall breathing and concentrating as one with him and the piano and the sonata. This was his secret world, unfolding in front of us. He gave us all of Schumann and all of himself.

For an encore he offered the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy, in what I think must have been Pletnev's arrangement.

It was a short programme, but one of uncompromising and unforgettable intensity.

Meanwhile, my interview with him is the cover feature for the current issue of Pianist magazine. Enjoy.




Monday, December 31, 2012

And JDCMB's top ten posts of 2012 are...

Here are the top ten stories on JDCMB this year. Good to see that among the matters that interested you most were some of the world's top conductors, several exciting young artists and quite a few of the quirky JDCMB pieces that you won't find anywhere else - not least, the April Fool's Day spectacular. Below, listed in reverse order.

Thank you, everyone, for joining me through the roller-coaster highs and lows of 2012 and here's hoping that in 2013 the comets shine bright!



10.  Socks for the Lilac Fairy?                                                  
 Why do balletomanes knit socks for their favourite dancers, but Lang Lang doesn't get gloves from the pianophiles?

Life-enhancing ways to behave at a concert.

That.

Introducing Angelo Villani.

In which I sit in on the great maestro's conducting masterclasses.

Italian romantic in cravat triumphs at the UK's premier piano competition.

You're a pragmatic lot, dear readers, and you know when you're on to a good thing.

Or can there? A look at this year's finalists.

1 April, and it looked like we might all have to play to Gergiev. Delightfully, a few of you fell for this, lock, stock and subsequent red ears.

And in first place...

The maestro gets it all off his chest.






Sunday, September 16, 2012

Federico Colli: the flower of Leeds?


The Italian pianist Federico Colli, 24, scooped first prize at the Leeds International Piano Competition last night. I tuned in on R3 in the middle of his Beethoven 'Emperor' Concerto, without remembering exactly who was due to play it, and was entranced. Seriously beautiful pianism with wonderful tone; very sensitive to nuances, voicing and atmosphere; intelligent, energetic and never heavy-handed: the sort of playing, indeed, that you don't really associate with the final of a piano competition.

Radio 3's announcer, Petroc Trelawny, seemed fixated, meanwhile, with the pianist's red cravat, and one of several friends who was in the audience remarks that Colli, who hails from Brescia, slightly resembled a cross between Casanova and Dracula, yet clearly had a lovely personality and superb stage presence.

Colli has also won the Salzburg International Mozart Competition (last year). He studies with Boris Petrushansky at Imola and Konstantin Bogino at Bergamo. Apparently he is "fascinated by the complex equations of quantum mechanics".

I'd take an educated guess, though, that it was a fairly close-run matter between Colli and the Swiss pianist Louis Schwizgebel, who played first on Friday evening. Of all the performances I've listened to so far, it is Schwizgebel's Haydn C major Sonata that has really stayed aboard.

Our doughty commentator Erica Worth, editor of Pianist Magazine, has just phoned us to report that she was very happy with the result. "The two top prizes went, I think, to the most interesting musicians, the ones who had the most personality and the most to say," she declares. "Personally I would have given first prize to Louis Schwizgebel and second to Colli, but I'm so glad they both came through at the top."

Third prize went to Jiayan Sun (China), fourth to Andrejs Osokins (Latvia), fifth to Andrew Tyson (USA) and sixth to Jayson Gillham (Australia). A special prize voted by the players of the Halle Orchestra and presented in memory of Terence Judd went to Andrew Tyson.

You can catch both final concerts and a selection of semi-final performances on BBC iPlayer (radio) this week. Today at 2pm there's a gala concert to be broadcast by Radio 3 involving all six finalists. And from 21 September the TV finally wakes up: BBC4 has a series of six hour-long programmes on successive Friday evenings devoted to the competition (though as we now know the results it seems a bit late to the party).

Bravo, then, Federico Colli. Keep wearing that cravat.

Here's a write-up from The Arts Desk. [UPDATE] Here are some more details about the prizes and their winners, from Pianist Magazine.

And here's Federico in the final of the Mozart Competition in Salzburg 2011:



Meanwhile, Louis has already had a Wigmore Hall debut. He seems to have dropped half his surname since then. It turns out that his father is a maker of animated films. Here's Louis himself, very animated indeed in a spot of Moszkowski.