My reviews

Maggiociondolo - 8th May 2014

Review of the opening concert for Maggiociondolo Festival. Alessandria. Italy.
<<The opening concert of the 30th season of the Maggiociondolo Festival (under the artistic direction of M° Massimiliano Limonetti) had as a guest pianist Flavio Villani, a young artist from Salerno but now a resident in New Zealand for nearly six years. The program of the piano recital is thoughtfully divided into three sections.
  The first section with the monumental piece "Chaconne in D minor" by Bach, transcribed for piano by Busoni. A masterful performance that combined the almost "scientific" perfection of Bach's music (originally written for solo violin) to the entire depth, three dimensionality and dramatic emotional harmonization of Busoni.
  The next two sections provided a comparison between two great composers of piano music: a nocturne and a ballade by Chopin against a nocturne and a ballade by Liszt. With these authors Flavio Villani expressed at his best his skills as a performer, going from the atmosphere of the romantic dream of Chopin's "Nocturne Op. No. 27. 2" where the line of the song, romantically accompanied by an arpeggio, resembles the tune of a Lied or a serenade, to the "Ballade no. 4", an example of how in Chopin the romantic rapture is bound to a sublime technique that finds in Flavio Villani a perfect performer, optimising with a few movements, almost imperceptible, the agility and accuracy needed. The measured and intimate "Nocturne no. 2" by Liszt has allowed us to discover one of the three nocturnes of this composer, perhaps the least famous but no less important.
  The concert concluded with the "Ballade No. 2" by Liszt, inspired by the myth of Hero and Leander: the story of the two lovers vibrated the hearts of all the listeners through the notes of Liszt and the hands of Villani, all enraptured by the fast arpeggios that mimic the stormy sea, contrasted to the sublime song of love, which ends with a romance of the soul where the passions of the body have burned the unfortunate lovers. The pianist introduced the pieces with brief but more than effective explanations that involved even more closely the audience that crowded the beautiful auditorium at St. Anthony in Cella Monte.>>
[La Vita Casalese]

Kerikeri Recital - 8th November 2012

Interview. Kerikeri. New Zealand.
<<Pianist returns for master recital
  Four years ago Italian pianist Flavio Villani arrived in Auckland from Europe. His destination was Kerikeri and its projects of music-making.
  "With all my good intentions, a then-naive attitude and a very rusty English I was on the road towards what was going to be one of the worst winters in a long time in Northland, and one of the most challenging and exciting, professionally speaking, for me."
  He says his first year in Kerikeri taught him a lot about himself:
  "But I’m grateful to it all, because it brought me to where I am now and taught me, at the end, to learn from every situation with a humble and open heart. I owe so many thanks to so many people in Kerikeri that I wouldn’t know where to begin."
  At the beginning there was the Kerikeri School of Music and the then-director Matteo Napoli. If it was not for the chance Matteo and the school gave him, he would have kept working in Spain, choosing between a professional career in IT and a dream of honing his piano skills to a higher level to become a pianist – ‘‘never being able to do so without a full commitment".
  Kerikeri gave him that chance to commit, he says.
  After teaching at the music school, he left Kerikeri in 2010 to do postgraduate studies at the University of Auckland. He completed an honours degree in piano performance last year and is completing his masters under Professor Stephen de Pledge and Rae de Lisle this month.
  "Four years ago I wouldn’t have believed how much this course would have opened my views and knowledge on piano performing, learning and teaching – a pedagogy course under the latter professor has been giving to me invaluable tools to back up my pianism and the techniques of delivering it to my students; and I’m very grateful to it all."
  Last year Flavio was invited by Creative New Zealand to represent New Zealand playing the red Parekowhai carved grand piano at the Venice Biennale. He stayed there one full month.
  He was invited to play at the opening of the same installation in Wellington and Christchurch – "and how touching it was being part of that over the crumbles of that beautiful city."
  He has also collaborated with other artists: in the creation of a theatre-dance piece of UCOL Performing Arts students of Palmerston North with director Jaime Dorner; with Auckland-based choreographer Geoff Gilson; and he became one of the staff members of New Zealand Opera Summer School in Whanganui.   He is also often called to perform with some of New Zealand Opera emerging artists for public performances in the country.
  He has composed for the city council, played newlywritten works by New Zealand composer Alex Taylor and won the Llewelyn Jones Piano Competition, both in 2010 and 2011.
  "Maybe after all this I can start telling to myself that I am, after all, a pianist now.
  "In a way I have to say thanks to a larger family of people that I have encountered and not forgotten. Some of which are still in Kerikeri.
  "Thank you all then and I hope to keep growing in this journey of music and learning – both as a man and as a musician – and keep sharing it with this family of great people.>>
[The Bay Chronicle]

the_Kiss - August 2012

Review of the show created with UCOL. Palmerston North. New Zealand.
<<Musical score integral to powerful story
  UCOL's Performing Arts students gave their second semester performance last night with The Kiss. It is a movement workshop based on chapter 7 of Hopscotch by Julio Cortasar.
  The chapter is an emotive journey of a kiss and the students have set out to depict their experiences.
  This is no dance recital or modern dance piece.
  The work is a collaborative process between students, director Jaime Dorner and pianist Flavio Villani.
  Villani's delicate score derived purely through piano is stunning, it drives the students' movements, or perhaps the movements drive the piano, it's hard to say, the join is invisibile.
  The notes follow the stories each cast member is telling of their lives. It makes you wonder what the musical score of your own life would be.
  Using light and position, tales are told through gestures and a small amount of narrative of their first kiss or the fact they haven't been kissed yet. Really?
  A particularly entrancing piece using shadow is both engaging and ingenious and demonstrates the level of imagination this group of young people has.
  At times it is hard to concentrate on all the elements that are being portrayed when the entire group is on stage, but the chaos is organised and shows how many threads of life are continuing simultaneously.
  Emotional, dramatic, delicate and powerful at the same time, The Kiss is on for a short period and the audience is small for this intimate performance. It's a must see for anyone fascinated by movement theatre.>>
[Manuwatu Standards]

More reviews and interviews for this event at the following links: Kiss and tell in story telling and UCOL news

On First Looking - 7th August 2011

A personal review of an Italian writer for the artwork at the Venice Biennale where I performed for one month. Venice. Italy
  <<[...]You approach the exhibition through a series of shady streets, following indicative arrows placed on the "paving stones". You get to a canal: you can see the water and you begin to hear, as you get closer, the sound of clear notes on the piano getting gradually more distinct. You enter and after the small entrance there is the atrium, with a piano lacquered bright red at the center; visible in the courtyard and in an adjoining room, statues with shocking juxtapositions of pianos and bulls, an authoritarian character with mirrored sunglasses, a little symbolic plant amongst the real plants.
  The surfaces of the statues are smooth and opaque, rounded; the metaphorical animal has a charge of threat blunt by the context in which it is placed. The visitor is surprised; if not in a hurry, the piano invites him to stop, with its phrasing now hesitant or reflective, now fluid, easy, or smooth and tormented ... with its pauses, even ... then the notes get pressing, the melody gets passionate and tumultuous while the shining vision of Maori carvings goes perfectly with the listening of some Liszt incandescent variations or Rachmaninov and the advance of a percussive rhythm of Prokofiev. Chopin alternates with Bach or with improvisations and unusual melodies, composed by the pianist himself; I must say that, among the many musicians who will take turns until October, I had the good fortune to meet Flavio Villani, who I thought was perfect in this role, as well as having a truly remarkable artistic personality.
  Antique benches on either side of the wall seem put there on purpose for you to stop, five minutes or an hour, whatever you want; there are people walking around, lightning flashes on the piano and on the bulls. Some people sit on the ground with their backpacks, some remain standing, and each feels mysteriously part of a long story.
  But the most stunning discovery is the eyes of the pianist: when he is not absorbed in creating his music, they are fixed in those of the visitor, breaking the invisible barrier that separates the performer from the audience in its normal chamber context. The result is a spontaneous dialogue, because the visitor looks back and waits for a pause to applaud, thank, and possibly ask for something ... for example, what is the work of art? Where? Who is the artist, or who are the composers? In addition to the pianist, a kind assistant that blends in with the public is also ready to answer.
  The artwork encompasses all you see and hear around; it was born from the mind and hands of Michael Parekowhai and continued in a project that involved a number of employees, from the antipodes to here, where the participation pushes all visitors, invited not only to watch and listen, but also to ask, think, speak, play themselves if they are able to do so and they wish.
  A little girl started to dance, and her graceful and spontaneous movements influenced the piece that the pianist was playing at the time.
  Every Sunday afternoon they have special concerts, with the participation of singers or choreography.
  Visitors sometimes come back, and still it follows them when they leave the influence of this particular work, and it works within them.
  Several components make "On first looking" memorable: materially and symbolically, it combines and unites the antipodes; Michael Parekowhai, of Maori origins, fed his creativity with Keats and the oral tradition of his people, Duchamp and the refined taste for Maori carving; he loves the sound of guitars, shared in festivities around a fire, and the melody of a top piano vibrated by expert hands. He solved, or perhaps made live in harmony, his inner identity conflicts with subtle intelligence; and he revisited on different levels the classical and contemporary art, giving to his works the energy and complexity of a haka, which is both a gesture and song, dance and ritual; in particular, this work is able to unite opposites and open barriers: those between popular language and cultured language, past and future, different art forms and distant places, tradition and a look that goes beyond ...
  Life is intertwined with art; the tired walkers rest and the expert of music or visual arts doesn't waste the opportunity to make them part of the work of art.
  Ultimately, this work cuts across everything, multidisciplinary and multicultural, and most of all interactive in the profound sense of the term: the short circuit of the incommunicability, imminent to modern man and too often present in a sterile way in his art, here is broken, and a virtuous circuit invites him to look further, to the great ocean full of expectations mentioned by Keats, author of the sonnet On first looking into Chapman's Homer.>>
[Marina Raccanelli]


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