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photo: Valentina Cenni photo: Valentina Cenni

No routine, please

A conversation with Stefano Bollani

The genre-defying Italian pianist can be heard in three very different concerts somewhere between jazz, improvisation and classical music. But why exactly are they so different?
I’m glad to have the chance to show the audience different aspects of the music. Actually, what I love is having the chance to play different music each night. No routine, please. I’m playing the piano also because that’s the best you can do in life to avoid gettin’ a job.

Your Danish Trio has been in existence for over a decade now.
It’s a sort of telepathic chemistry which is keepin’ us together. We don’t feel the need to talk about the music we play, we just play it… This is so refreshing!

How would you describe your artistic relationship with your long-time collaborator Enrico Rava who will join you in September 2016?
Enrico was the first professional musician whose music I was in love with who encouraged me to follow a personal path. And that’s what I decided to do in 1996, after my first meeting with him in Prato, Italy. Since then we recorded more than 15 albums together and played everywhere. He’s simply the most important encounter in my musical life.

Your solo performances seem to show a very personal Stefano, you perform music from a variety of sources and you also sing. In this more intimate setting, do you feel closer to the audience?
Absolutely yes. The audience is interacting all the time, and that’s what I need to perform. Otherwise, it’s only me and the piano, and that’s not enough to build an emotion. You need a third party!

In June 2017 you will join the OPL for a performance of Ravel’s Piano Concerto, a piece you have performed with some of the world’s most distinguished conductors. As mainly a jazz pianist and composer, how are these regular incursions in the classical repertoire for you as a musician?
I quit defining them as «incursions» ’cause music is one. We divide it in genres for a couple of practical reasons: being able to talk about it, but most of all being able to sell it. But a musician’s mind has to be free from these «dividing» concepts. The main difference with a so-called jazz concert of course is that I’m not improvising at all. But, you see, this chart was written by a genius who thought a lot about every note and worked hard to get the best from his creativity, so why should I change them? And this doesn’t mean there’s no creative process in playing this music. You just have to remember that without you, music would only be runes and drawings on a paper. You gotta make it live and fly.