Suonare News – September 2023
Triumph in Valencia
The young pianist from Treviso, a pupil of Aldo Ciccolini and Eliso Virsaladze, went on to win the prestigious Iturbi Prize of Valencia, which takes place every three years. He won 30,000 euros, the recording of a CD for Ibs Classical and solo concerts and with orchestra in Spain and other European countries
At the Palau de la Música in València, for the Iturbi Prize, in over 40 years the most beautiful world of piano has been in the jury: Alicia de Larrocha, Alexis Weissenberg, Pascal Rogé, our Andrea Lucchesini and Maria Tipo, even the composer Joaquín Rodrigo, that with its melodies has enchanted more the six strings of the 88 keys.
On the official website images and texts flow in three languages. It is the Spanish that does more effect: «Elia Cecino gana el primer premio». Yes, because at the age of 22, turned at the Iturbi, sometimes destiny is a kind of lamp of Aladdin, this young pianist from Treviso triumphed in Valencia in a prestigious (the adjective is not useless) competition “federation” that is, registered with the Geneva Association, a sort of “doc” mark of competitions.
⌈ Maestro, congratulations from all the readers of Suonare news, let’s get down to brass tacks. At Iturbi you win tough stuff: how much and what? ⌋
In addition to winning 30,000 euros, the first prize includes the recording of a CD for Ibs Classical and solo and orchestral concerts in Spain and other European countries.
⌈ How did the various phases of the competition take place? ⌋
Competitors were selected last January via video, with a repertoire different from what would later be played in Valencia. The competition was held between late May and early June at the Teatro Principal of Valencia: two solo rounds and two with orchestra. It was less tiring than others because the four rounds were well distributed in two weeks. Grand final gala in which winners and related prizes were announced.
⌈ In Valencia you won by playing what, exactly? ⌋
The structure of the solo rounds was free, but there was an obligation to present a sonata by Mozart and one by Beethoven, at least two works by Chopin, a page by Spanish author and the contemporary piece written specifically for the competition. The first round with orchestra was dedicated to the Beethoven Concerto and the final was scheduled for a romantic or modern concerto.
⌈ What did you choose? ⌋
Tchaikovsky’s First. I am honored to have received the special awards for the best performance of Chopin, with the Second Sonata op. 35, and for the performance of Beethoven’s Fourth Concerto. The jury gave me a particular ability to characterize the music of different styles and composers, filtering with my sensitivity the philological dictates that each musical epoch implies.
⌈ The most difficult moment? ⌋
Probably after the performance of Beethoven’s concerto, in the two days between the first and second round with orchestra. At the final, only three contestants were admitted. It was very hot and I had accumulated tiredness in the previous days. It was difficult, before being sure that I had passed, to find the concentration and energy to continue studying.
⌈ How did you win the Iturbi Prize? ⌋
It would be ideal to play in competition as if you were in concert. There are competitions where I feel more breathing and I can express myself with sincerity and certainly the Iturbi was among them. The perception of a relaxed environment is fundamental and depends on many factors, starting from the ability to manage study and rest times with flexibility without too many constraints. In practical terms, in the days of the competition I try to organize the days with regular schedules, to rest or sleep for a long time and to follow a light and protein diet. Also, I limit the use of the phone and social networks. From an emotional point of view I try not to get swallowed by the tension: there are so many factors that can lead to success or elimination that a balanced view of the situation must be maintained.
⌈ Let’s rewind the tape of time: do you have precise memories of the first moment you sat at the piano? ⌋
Relatively large, at 9, so with a curious but rational attitude, as I had approached other extracurricular activities. I sat for the first time in front of an acoustic piano in my teacher’s class. I remember that I was immediately gratified to be able to easily perform what was asked of me and that my instinct was to repeat each melody more and more quickly.
⌈ What’s your musical background? ⌋
I trained in the school where I started playing, a reality in which the growth of the young pianist is treated in a personalized way and able to enhance the peculiarities of each and I graduated from private at 17 years, in 2018, always followed by my first teacher Maddalena De Facci. I have integrated my path with the masterclasses that have gradually been indicated to deepen certain technical or interpretative aspects. Two important figures who have been a point of reference for me and for my school, are Giampaolo Nuti and Riccardo Risaliti. After graduation I specialized at the Scuola di musica di Fiesole and at the Accademia del Ridotto in Stradella.
⌈ The first meeting with an internationally renowned pianist? ⌋
With maestro Aldo Ciccolini, who in 2014, to my amazement, I was only 13 years old, he selected me for what turned out to be his last masterclass. It was one of my first experiences of confrontation and attending his lessons together with other pianists, all older, insinuated in me a great sense of responsibility towards the musical path I had undertaken. Another fundamental meeting was with Eliso Virsaladze, with whom I have been studying since 2019, an artistically charismatic figure who has helped me to believe in myself to face increasingly demanding contexts. I am also specializing with Boris Berman, an example of balance and pragmatism.
⌈ Is there a teacher or a musician to whom you owe the pianist who is today? ⌋
Certainly, my first teacher, the pianist Maddalena De Facci, with whom I constantly confront today. I owe above all to her not only the discovery of my musical attitude but also the search for my identity as a musician and an independent mindset.
⌈ Maestro, Horowitz or Glenn Gould? ⌋
Between the two I consider myself closer to Horowitz’s approach, which follows an ideal of recital conceived according to a clear but functional project to be inspired by the context, perceiving on the moment the energy of the audience with which emotions are shared.
⌈ Is there a pianist of the twentieth century who excites you more than others? ⌋
I am fascinated by the narrative ability of Radu Lupu, every interpretative choice is convincing. Lupu reserves continuous surprises in the conduct of the musical speech, as if moving in a fantastic aura. I am very sorry, in recent years more than once I had bought the ticket to listen to him live but the concerts were canceled: the maestro already did not enjoy good health anymore.