After having published my blog interview with renowned pianist, Jura Margulis I was delighted to receive an interview request from internationally acclaimed pianist and recording artist, Alessandro Vena. It was a thrill to learn that my blog had been read by someone as far away as João Pessoa, Brazil!
Since Mr. Vena does not have a website, and I had not heard of him before, I did my due diligence in researching his background before interviewing him. Here is what I have learned about this accomplished pianist:
1. Music Magazine, Italy’s leading classical music magazine since 1977, included Mr. Vena’s photo (right corner) on the cover of their 35th Anniversary publication, June 2012. That’s the great director and producer, Franco Zeffirelli in the feature photo.
In the magazine, independent music critic, Luca Segalla commented on Alessandro’s CD recordings (translation courtesy of Mr. Vena), “Octaves flawless and relentless, and again, Alessandro Vena this CD sends down from the pedestal of the story is convincing both Bach Busoni resulting in terms of virtuosity and style.”
2. After studying piano, harpsichord and teaching at the Scuola di Musica Anton Rubenstein in Rome with pianists such as Carlo Grante and Professor Saha Bajcic of the Moscow Conservatory, Mr. Vena began his career as a concert pianist, performing at international venues and cities including the Teatro Marcello, Rome, the Kino Babylon, Berlin and the Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires. Perhaps one day he will perform in Los Angeles, California.
4. Paola Parri interviewed Mr. Vena for Pianosolo magazine’s July 2013 edition, about his recording of the Mozart-Franck Piano Concerto No. 20, K. 466. This is the first recording of the ‘Concerto in D minor K466’ by Mozart in the version for piano, strings and harmonium by César Frank.
5. Italian Radio Station, Rai3 aired several of Mr. Vena’s recorded works during their “First Move” radio program. Sadly, the link to the radio program is no longer on their website. However, for viewers who read Italian, the September 2012 edition of Pisticci.com published an article mentioning Mr. Vena’s radio interview with Radio Rai 3.
Without further ado, I am pleased to present my interview with accomplished pianist, Alessandro Vena.
Q. What is your style of playing referred to? For my piano students, would you please describe what this style means or represents?
A. I’d rather speak about piano school and in this logic more specifically about the “Russian piano school” for (my) physical and technical approach to the instrument and for (my) conception and approach to the musical text. Maximum freedom of movement through a total muscle relaxation, flexibility and ability to get a round sound, full and never metal, but absolute expression of the cantabile: these are the essential components of this piano school.
Q. Your piano recordings are predominantly solos by composers Franz Liszt, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Federic Chopin, Claude Debussy, Domenico Scarlatti, Robert Schumann, César Franck and J.S. Bach. What is the story or inspiration behind your choice of composers, compositions and focus on solos versus duets or ensembles?
A. Despite my repertoire also includes a lot of chamber music that in concert I often propose with different instruments, my discography, actually, it focuses entirely on the repertoire for piano solo. This is because among all the musicians the pianists are privileged because they can navigate in an infinite repertoire and so my project, together with the record label Sheva Collection, aims to record both very known compositions and composers as Chopin, Schumann, Debussy, etc., but also not very famous compositions and composers as César Franck and Bach-Busoni which I’m working on the complete recording.
Q. My students are interested in the latest rehearsal trends, tips and techniques. For example, how do you prefer to mentally and physically prepare for a rehearsal? Do you have a set routine (best days/times)? How long do you usually rehearse to prepare repertoire? How do you prepare before a concert?
A. Being (a) pianist is a lifestyle choice, and it is a life of a lot of sacrifices. For concert player, detailed and daily study is fundamental. Before the decision of a repertoire to play in a concert, you must assimilate technically, musically and spiritually so that you can store it very well. The memorization is one of the issues related to the concert pianist; personally I adopt the 4 storage techniques that are visual, auditory, analytics and kinetics.
Q. At what age did you realize you were a musical spirit?
A. I began studying the piano at six years almost to bet after listening to Chopin nocturnes, and from that moment the music has never left me in my life path.
Q. Did anyone try to talk you out of fulfilling your dream as a musician? If so, how did you handle it?
A. No, it was all very spontaneous. After listening to that disc, I immediately decided to become a pianist.
Q. How old were you when you performed your first professional concert? How did you get the gig? Was it through teacher connections or via a professional manager?
A. I played my first concert at the age of 14. It was organized by a teacher at my high school who was a great lover of music. On that occasion I played compositions by Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms.
Q. Do you currently have a manager? If so, what tasks does a manager handle on your behalf?
A. Actually, I do not have a manager. My concert activity is managed directly by me, even though this is fundamental in this the contribution of the records because records today are the only real calling card in order to appear in the international concert seasons.
Q. Do you teach in addition to performing? If so, how old were you when you knew you wanted to become a music teacher? Was there any particular person or event that inspired your decision?
A. In addition to being a concert pianist, I am also a piano teacher and offer my students helpful advice on resolutions that I have discovered with the work over the years is very important. I like to teach but only to mature students while I hate to do it with very beginners, except for those who have talent. This is maybe my limit.
Q. Have you composed works of your own? If so, what style are they in? Will you be recording any of them?
A. No, I’ve never written anything; in this sense I think it is more appropriate to avoid writing if you are aware to produce not very interesting things. In this way we prevent further harm to the music.
Q. You have a CD listed on the Sheva Colleciton website. Is this your first CD? How did you come to know Sheva Collection? Did they approve you to create the CD?
A. For Sheva Collection, I have a very important recording session on July 1 and 2; I will register a CD entirely devoted to Robert Schumann with the Opus 9 -Carnaval and Opus 26 -Faschingsschwank aus Wien. This is my fifth record work for Sheva Colletion. My CDs may be purchased on their website.
It was a pleasure interviewing Alessandro Vena and learning about his career. If you would like to hear some of his recordings, please visit his YouTube page.
Here is a link to peak your interest:
[block size=’8′ title=”] [youtube id=’GqgHadXZD3s’ width=’560′ height=’315′ ]Franz Liszt Studio trascendentale no.1 “Prelude” – Alessandra Vena