Star Italian pianist and conductor Luciano Bellini set to perform in Kolkata
This Wednesday, The Calcutta School of Music, The Consulate General of Italy in Kolkata and The Italian Embassy Cultural Centre, New Delhi, brings to you an exclusive performance by famous Italian pianist and conductor Luciano Bellini, who will be performing in Kolkata for the first time. This will be his first trip to India too, where he will be visiting Kolkata and Delhi, to perform select opera pieces from the 19th century, as well as some instrumental pieces of the 20th century. We caught up with the maestro, a few days ahead of his performance, when he spoke to us in detail about his works and future projects. Excerpts...
Tell us about the musical pieces which you will be performing here.
The musical pieces I will be playing in the first part of Recital Italiano are rare compositions which were done in the 19th century by Opera composers: Verdi, Rossini, Puccini and Leoncavallo. In the second part, I will be playing the pieces composed in the 20th century, especially for the revival of instrumental music which had been neglected because of the supremacy of Opera. I’m not absolutely certain but I suppose that they will be premiering in India because even in Italy they are rarely performed.
What are the future projects that you are working on, as a pianist and the conductor of Nova Philarmonia Chamber Orchestra?
As a pianist I have a tour in Canada as soloist in September, and, in Pianistic Duo, I have some concerts in the Middle East and in Poland in next months. As a guest conductor, I’m going to perform some of my symphonic and chamber compositions in Italy after summer. In summer, I’ll conduct an international master class in “orchestra conducting” in Trevi, a small old Medieval Italian town. The work 5 liriche greche, based on the poetry of Saffo, Alceo, Anacreonte, and a pièce on Ovid's Metamorphosis, will premiere in Rome in October this year.
Your works are known for their unique emotional interpretations. Please tell us about your creative process and how does the interpretation of western classical music, from the notes to the instrument, works?
I always need a starting point: an image, a melody, a syntactic project; then, step by step, the music grows in my mind and in my score, and I begin to recognise and see my creation. Then begins a long ‘craftwork’ where each small, minimum detail is the protagonist and essential. The interpretation born by the intimate meeting and merger between the score and performer’s sensitivity; written music is an objective item, but also a subjective dream. There is no improvisation in western classical music, but there is a great deal of interpretation and recreation.
How do you establish a connection between literature and music and compose the pieces accordingly? Is that deeply rooted in your personal interest in literature? What kinds of literature do you prefer reading?
I’ve been attracted to stories and tales since I was a child and, while I’m doing a composition, I often imagine a story or, at least, a development of feelings. As far as poems are concerned, I think that poetry is similar, in some ways, to music because they both work through analogies, instead of logical sequences. Yet, merely for pleasure, I love reading thrillers.
How does the music you create, suit theatre so aptly? What kind of personality or tonal quality/range is essential for such pursuits?
My Opera performances are different from the best-known operas in our tradition: actors and singers don’t act on the stage as in a theatrical pièce. They simply read texts and sing songs or arias. There isn’t any set design. This kind of performance, besides music and words, sometimes includes the projection of photos and/or videos. My compositions are so varied and ‘contaminated’ that they need performers with diverse skills.
It is said that your music speaks for several cultures and bears traces of some traditional folk elements. How do you combine Western classical music with folk?
I love Mediterranean and Middle Eastern music as I have also studied them besides classical music. While I’m composing, I insert in a classical texture, some melodic, harmonic and rhythmic elements/schemes borrowed from the folk cultural heritage.
Have you ever collaborated with any Indian classical or contemporary musician? Are you familiar with Indian classical music? What do you like about it?
I haven’t yet collaborated with an Indian classical musician, although I would love to work with them. I’m not so familiar with Indian classical music but I know Ravi Shankar and I have some LPs by him. Once, in Rome, I watched a performance of Ram Chandra. I’m fascinated by ‘raga’ and by the sound of sitar and tablas.
You have had a vast illustrious career in music. Standing at this point, how would you define music?
Music is so unspeakable, that no one could define it. However, it plays a crucial role in my life.
Can you share with us, the mystery of how a new tune is born? Is it a mere rearrangement of the order of notes or does the process go into a far complicated terrain that cannot be put into words?
After tonal harmony, cromatism, pentatonic music, dodecaphony, I think it is not possible to find another order, another musical low; it is important for a student to study and to analyse historical tunes and languages, but then everyone has to find his expressive style by themselves, by trial and error, to recognize his intimal and personal language, the sound of his heart, and the sound of his soul.
Luciano Bellini will be performing at The Calcutta School of Music, Sunny Park, on April 17 at 7 pm.
The Easter Piano Concert will premiere in Delhi at the Italian Embassy Cultural Centre on April 18 at 7 pm