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Having completed six years at one of the world’s most prestigious and demanding music schools in Russia, Italian pianist Mauro Cecchin is now touring Europe. His Budapest debut takes place on 26 November, his choice of venue, the Fészek Művészklub.
We Love Budapest: What made you decide to study at the Moscow Conservatory and how different do you think it was to its counterparts in Italy or Central Europe?
Mauro Cecchin: When I was 18 years old, I was about to finish my piano studies in Italy when I flew to Moscow for a short masterclass at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory, known as one of the top music schools in the world.
I was immediately amazed by the level of musicianship and the atmosphere around the school, where some of the greatest composers and pianists of the 20th century studied and worked.
The art of the piano
At that moment, I decided that this was the place where I would spend my next six years and learn the art of the piano.
What characterises this Conservatory is that you have extremely concentrated piano classes with teachers with a strong Russian piano tradition, and the level of all the students is really high. At the same time, you cannot be focused only on piano because it’s required to work hard on other practical subjects such as accompaniment and chamber music, also with superb, strict Russian tuition.
The course is
very intense, and you have to hold practical and theorical subjects in the Russian
language. You are also required to perform quite often in public. And, if you
want to, as a student, you can watch as many concerts as you like for free.
On any given night, just at the Conservatory, there are about three concerts, often given by top international artists. You live in a dormitory with hundreds of other students, so for me it's the best place to become a top musician, if you are motivated enough to take it seriously.
WLB: A piece by Prokofiev is part of the programme on 26 November. Do you always try and include works by Russian composers for your concerts?
MC: Well, not
exactly. I choose pieces only if I think they suit my idea of the concert. My
direction for these concerts is to play music I haven’t studied as much as everything
else. So, I choose which pieces I would like to learn, the less-known, the
better. I study them and then make the programme.
For example, I've just recorded a CD for Da Vinci Classics with the world premiere of compositions by Robert Casadesus. I discovered this wonderful music and I decided to study and disseminate it. But, of course, when I create the programme, I think about what the public would like to listen too.
WLB: Have you played Budapest before? What made you choose the Fészek as the concert venue?
MC: Another artist suggested I should get in touch with the Fészek Művészklub. This is my first concert in Budapest, so I went to visit the venue and I discovered that it is amazing. The building hides some marvellous halls with precious Bösendorfer pianos. The people I spoke to were very kind and extremely helpful, so I had no doubt about performing here.
WLB: Do you feel any extra pressure playing Liszt before a Hungarian audience in Budapest?
MC: No, let’s say that I really hope they will love it! I studied many Liszt pieces over these last years, and I’m focused on understanding what is written in the music score in an honest and modest way, and try to convey as much emotion as I can to the audience.
If the public can sense these emotions in a concert hall, then they get what they came for. That’s the aim of music.
WLB: How long do you intend on spending in Budapest and is there anything you're also planning to see and do?
MC: Of course, after any concert I always spend a few days relaxing and discovering the city I’ve just performed in. Budapest has a fascinating cultural heritage and I'll spend three days here. I want to visit Buda with Matthias Church and Buda Castle, then St Stephen’s Basilica and the Synagogue, the wonderful Parliament building and, if possible, take a boat trip down the Danube. And, of course, eat some typical food!
WLB: What plans do you have for the future, both in the short and long term?
MC: In the next few months, if the pandemic allows, I'll be busy with concerts in Turkey, Italy, Switzerland, England, Russia and France, to play new programmes and promote my CD. I'm also writing a small essay on piano technique, I hope I'll find time to finish and publish it. At the same time, I teach piano, that gives me a great satisfaction as well.
Concerning the next few years, well, I'd love to keep on recording pieces by Robert Casadesus and other compositions by JS Bach that I love very much. I hope I’ll always be able to travel and perform abroad as I’m doing now, learning new music, playing it, evoking emotions, receiving satisfaction and making art.