• Features

18 March 2019

Online piano lessons on "Play With a Pro".

Roberto Prosseda joined the roster of selected teachers on the online platform "Play With a Pro" for scheduling online piano lessons. More details here.


5 February 2019

Roberto Prosseda's interview for Yale University website

Roberto Prosseda's in-depth interview for Yale University School of Music has been published on Yale website:

Pianist Roberto Prosseda, on making music in the 21st century

"There are millions of people who use Facebook and YouTube but will never enter a classical music auditorium if first we don’t help them 'taste' and discover the intensity of a live classical music concert," Prosseda says
February 4, 2019

Roberto Prosseda

Pianist Roberto Prosseda will perform a program music by Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Schubert on a Feb. 13 Horowitz Piano Series recital. We recently spoke with Mr. Prosseda about modern modes of communication, musical expression, and the repertoire he’ll perform here at Yale.

Q: You’ve found benefits in modern modes of communication and talked about the importance of direct, in-person experience. “Today we tend to live through too many filters: for many people it now comes more naturally to communicate their states of mind and everyday experiences through social networks, rather than by meeting a friend directly in person,” you’ve written. “Live music, both for those who play and those who listen, is an experience of far greater depth, able to open channels of communication that are profound and direct.” Would you talk about how we, as artists and audience members, should use the tools at our disposal and when we should put them down?

A: Tools such as the internet and smartphones are very useful also for musicians, of course. For example, we have the possibility to find rare scores online (also browsing the digital catalogues of several libraries), or to compare several recordings of the same piece using streaming services: they are invaluable resources that past generations could not use. But today there is a concrete risk that we become slaves to our smartphones and lose the ability to keep our concentration and to enjoy “real life”: a coffee with a friend is a much more rewarding experience than a Facebook chat with the same friend. In the same way, a live concert is not comparable with a CD, and a live piano lesson is something completely different from watching a master class on YouTube. To prevent the risk of being addicted to smartphones or social media, I suggest to my students some “digital detox” during practicing sessions, switching off the mobile phone and the computer, as we do when we attend a concert.

Q: Technology has been an area of interest to you. To that end, you conducted an experiment with a robot-pianist called Teo Tronico in which you each performed the same piece of music and studied the resulting performances. What did you learn about your own playing and interpretations in that exploration?

A: The project with the pianist robot, Teo Tronico, was conceived to explain the differences between a real “human” interpretation and a literal reading of the score. Comparing my own playing with the mechanical performances of the robot was a good way for me to become more aware of those differences, and to deepen the research towards the dramaturgic and poetical elements of music—something that a robot is not able to achieve, yet.

Q: You’ve written, “A cold and calculated performance in which the only aim is to avoid mistakes will prove much more ‘wrong’ than a spontaneous, profound and not faultless performance.” In what ways do you apply this lesson to your own practice and playing and how do you communicate this idea to students who might aspire to a kind of “performance perfection”?

A: The above mentioned robotic performances should never be a model for us, but nevertheless there are students who think that “perfection” consists in just playing the right notes, literally respecting what is written in the score. From my point of view, the priority in making music is the intensity, depth, and sincerity of our musical expression. “Reading the score” also means knowing all the historical conventions, the meaning of each gesture corresponding to the indications written in the score. A wrong note played with the “right expression” is much better than a right note played with a wrong expression. But, while the score indicates the right notes in an incontrovertible way, the “right expression” is something that also relates to our own sensitivity, culture, and even creativity. And the same sign on the score (a staccato dot, or a slur) can have different meanings according to the context. When we perform a composition, we are at the same time film directors, actors, and photographers. It is fundamental to be aware of states of mind, expressive attitudes, dramaturgy, and rhetoric. Often, during lessons, I like to talk about the “depth of field” between the theme and the accompaniment, about the “focus” of a given melodic contour, of the temporal and spatial distance of the themes. The piano is, in fact, also a time machine, as it can “set” a theme in the present, the past, or the future, also defining the context in which it appears (reality, dream, memory, hope, illusion).

Q: Many of your projects have included an interdisciplinary element. Have these been informed by your curiosities, a desire to offer audiences something unique, or both?

A: When Franz Liszt, about 180 years ago, invented the format of the “piano recital,” this was a great innovation, breaking the traditional schemes and improving the connections between artist and audience. But I am quite sure that if Liszt were performing today, he would not give a piano recital in the way we are used to. The piano recital still works perfectly for audiences who are used to listening to classical music (and I still give about 30 piano recitals per year for those audiences), but there are alternative ways to present classical music in live formats, which fit better for other kinds of audiences. As a performing artist, I feel a responsibility to deliver a social and cultural service also to “the rest of the world.” There are millions of people who use Facebook and YouTube but will never enter a classical music auditorium if first we don’t help them “taste” and discover the intensity of a live classical music concert. Using multimedia formats or video teasers online can be an effective way to reach a wider audience and to give them the tools to understand and enjoy classical music.

Q: What is it about Mendelssohn’s music that’s been of particular interest to you?

A: I’ve always felt a close affinity with Mendelssohn’s lyricism. His music expresses a very wide range of moods, always keeping a perfect balance between complexity and freedom. I very much like Mendelssohn’s ability to write complex musical textures, never losing his unique linearity and rhythmical energy that are trademarks of his style. Then, I have always felt a special attraction for the “musical discoveries”: the piano repertoire still presents many unknown masterworks, and Mendelssohn’s piano output is, incredibly, lesser known than the one of Schubert, Schumann, or Chopin. For this reason, about 20 years ago I started researching Mendelssohn’s rare and unpublished pieces and got more and more enthusiastic about his music. After my first two CDs dedicated to Mendelssohn’s unpublished piano works were released, I started performing and recording the rest of his piano production, as even some published works are still quite unknown to the public and are seldom recorded. In the meantime, more unpublished manuscripts came to light, and in 2009 Breitkopf & Härtel published the new Mendelssohn Thematic Catalogue (MWV) by Ralf Wehner, which is now the reference for any Mendelssohn scholar. In recent years I’ve gradually completed recordings of Mendelssohn’s piano works, now released by Decca in a 10-CD box set. Soon after the release, I learned about a new discovery: a “Kleine Fuge,” MWV U 96, which was found among the papers of Mrs. Henriette Voigt (dated September 18, 1833). Of course, I recorded it as well, and it was digitally released worldwide on February 1.

Q: The program you’ll perform here at Yale features repertoire that was written over a 50-year period, roughly. What did this period yield in terms of innovations in the piano repertoire and the instrument itself? What do you hear of the period and the region in this particular repertoire? 

A: Those 50 years have probably been the most intense ones in the history of piano. Between 1785 and 1835, in fact, composers such as Haydn, Mozart, Clementi, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Chopin, and Liszt gave their contributions to the evolution of the piano and its repertoire. The instrument had a very fast and radical evolution: the keyboard range expanded from five octaves to seven octaves and more; the action also underwent drastic developments, as did the sound production, thanks to the increased tension of the strings and the different materials used for the hammers and the other parts of the instrument. The piano language evolved in a parallel way, as composers themselves pushed piano makers to experiment with new models, and at the same time the possibilities offered by the newly built pianos inspired the composers to innovate their own ways to write for piano. For my recital, I chose the three composers to whom I’ve dedicated most of my studies: Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Schubert. The recital will open with two of the most revolutionary piano works written by Mozart: the Fantasia K. 475 and the Sonata K. 457 in C minor, published together as a diptych in 1785. Here, Mozart is very radical in using chromatic harmonies and experimenting with deep contrasts, which make this music incredibly dramatic and modern. After the Mozart I will continue with two of Mendelssohn’s masterworks: the Fantasia Op. 28 and the Rondo Capriccioso, along with some of my favorite Lieder ohne Worte. The concert will end with Schubert’s Four Impromptus Op. 90, written in the last year of his life (1828). The No. 1 in C minor has several elements in common with Mozart’s Fantasia K. 475. It will be interesting to compare the way Schubert uses similar harmonic and rhythmical patterns to reach completely new poetic results.

Roberto Prosseda will perform music by Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Schubert on Wednesday, February 13, in Morse Recital Hall. 


1 February 2019

Decca releases the third album edicated to Mozart Piano Sonatas (13 - 18)

Decca releases the third album (2-CD) dedicated to Mozart's Piano Sonatas, including the last six Sonatas (Nos. 13 - 18). With this release, Roberto Prosseda completes his 3-year project of recording Mozart's 18 Piano Sonatas. The CDs have been recorded at Fazioli Concert Hall, on a F 278 Fazioli grand piano, tuned with the Vallotti unequal temperament. 

In this recording - Roberto Prosseda says - I wanted to deliver the indications of articulation and dynamics in a very radical manner, breaking with a particular performance tradition based on smooth phrasing and the achievement of a “lovely sound” as an end in itself. In contrast, I tried to give a precise, dramatic meaning to every musical gesture in the score, further emphasising the points of dramatic tension by way of flexible notelengths. In line with this standpoint, there has been no compression of the sound, so the strong dynamic jolts that Mozart wanted remain intact, and are a characteristic of my interpretation. The use of the sustaining pedal has also been limited to those instances where I wanted to create a strongly defined “register”, with the intention of getting close to the sound of the fortepianos that Mozart wrote these sonatas on. From this point of view, I calibrated the use of the soft pedal to obtain the greatest difference in timbre, to thin the sound down while maintaining absolute transparency even in pianissimos. Respecting the practice of the time, repeats are often played with improvised decorations. At some pauses before the recapitulations I have inserted brief improvised cadenzas consistent with the examples Mozart himself wrote at similar points. Mozart’s piano sonatas, and these final six in particular, are an essential part of our civilisation’s heritage. The quantity and variety of expressive styles, the profound introspection, the dramatic power that Mozart achieves here have been for me a continual voyage of discovery, a source of constant enrichment. I hope that the enthusiasm that this music unleashed in me during the recording sessions can also reach the listener with the same intensity and joy that it gave me in performance.

CD 1

SONATA NO. 13 K 333 in B flat major
1 I Allegro
2 II Andante cantabile 
3 III Allegretto grazioso 

4 FANTASIA K 475 in C minor 

SONATA NO. 14 K 457 in C minor
5 I Molto Allegro 
6 II Adagio 
7 III Allegro assai 

SONATA NO. 15 K 533 / 494 in F major
8 I Allegro 
9 II Andante 
10 III Allegretto 


CD 2


SONATA NO. 16 K 545 in C major
1 I Allegro
2 II Andante 
3 III Rondò – Allegretto

 
SONATA NO. 17 K 570 in B flat major
4 I Allegro 
5 II Adagio 
6 III Allegretto 

SONATA NO 18 K 576 in D major
7 I Allegro 
8 II Adagio 
9 III Allegretto 

10 SONATENSATZ K 312 (K⁶ 590d) in G minor 

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14 November 2018

Great success of Roberto Prosseda at Royal Festival Hall with LPO

Roberto Prosseda made his debut with pedal piano at Royal Festival Hall with the London Philharmonic Orchestra on Nov. 14, 2018. His performance of Charles Gounod's Concerto (1889) for pedalpiano had a huge success and two enthisiastic reviews:

http://classicalsource.com/db_control/db_concert_review.php?id=15929

https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2018/11/17/roberto-prosseda-and-oleg-caetani-with-the-london-philharmonic-in-london/

 

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31 October 2018

New videos about the pedal piano, produced by London Phihlarmonic Orchestra

London Phihlarmonic Orchestra, in preparation of the concert with Roberto Prosseda at Royal Festival hall next November 14th, produced and released three short videos about the pedal piano:

Interview about the PedalPiano, filmed in Nice on Sept 22, 2018:
 
Interview about Gounod Pedal Piano Concerto:
 
1 minute video about the pedalpiano setting:

 

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2 June 2018

China discovers the pedal piano thanks to Prosseda’s concert

The World Art Center of Beijing was sold out for the pedal piano concert of the Italian pianist Roberto Prosseda, who took to China for the first time ever this fascinating instrument, on 30 May. The pedal piano is a both ancient and modern keyboard instrument derived from the piano, with a pedalboard that enables to play bass register notes with your feet. Prosseda himself rediscovered and promoted this instrument during recent years.

Prosseda performed a program with pedal piano pieces by Schumann, Boëly, Alkan, Liszt, and a world premiere by Nicola Sani: the Italian composer, who attended the concert, wrote a composition specifically dedicated to this instrument, “Concerto spaziale – Attese II”, for pedal piano and magnetic tape.

Prosseda said: “With this concert I wanted to introduce to the Chinese audience a little known aspect of the piano, an instrument that is very popular here. Actually, this was a first time in China both for the pedal piano and the repertoire. The presence of a Fazioli grandpiano was particularly meaningful, as it represents the excellence of the Italian artisan production. On this occasion I paired it with an antique pedal piano, in order to highlight the continuity of the great tradition of keyboard instruments, that was taken to China for the first time by an Italian, Matteo Ricci”.

Prosseda’s concert was the final event of Italian Piano Experience, the festival that celebrates the Italian piano tradition in Beijing, with a program rich of concerts, conferences and a historical exhibition of keyboard instruments, that will be open until 3 June. The events took place within the “Meet in Beijing” Festival, where Italy is “Guest Country of Honor”.

The exhibition and other events of Italian Piano Experience, will be repeated at Cremona Musica, that collaborated to organize this event, between 28 and 30 September 2018.

Italian Piano Experience was conceived by Roberto Prosseda, who is also the artistic director. The event was organized by the Italian Culture Institute in Beijing, in collaboration with Cremona Musica, Fazioli Pianoforti and Bizzi Strumenti Storici a Tastiera, in order to celebrate the cultural bridge that connects Italy and China, that is also the first international market for pianos: about five centuries ago, the Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci took the first Italian harpsichord to the court of Wan Li, from the Ming dynasty.


20 April 2018

Decca releases Prosseda's new CD "Gounod Piano Works"

 

CHARLES GOUNOD: PIANO WORKS

Celebrating the 200th Birthday of Charles Gounod, including world premieres of works for solo piano

 

Roberto Prosseda, piano

Enrico Pompili piano (Sonata in E flat major only)

This album is a celebration of the 200th birthday of French composer Charles Gounod.

He composed about forty piano pieces in all, and this collection of a number of them allows us to appreciate their charm and expressive variety.

Performed by Italian pianist Roberto Prosseda, the release contains a number of world premieres, alongside Gounod’s more famous pieces such as Méditation sur le 1er prélude de J. S. Bach (1852), later known as Ave Maria and Marche funèbre d’une marionette, popularised by its use as a television theme tune.

The album is supported by the Palazzetto Bru Zane – Centre de musique romantique française, favouring the rediscovery of the French musical heritage of the long nineteenth century (1780-1920). It is housed in Venice in a palazzo dating from 1695, specially restored for the purpose.

 

A note from the pianist:

Charles Gounod: the "French Mendelssohn".

I decided to explore Charles Gounod’s piano music as I feel that he is one of the most underrated Romantic composers. Famous for his operas Faust and Roméo et Juliette, Gounod wrote about 40 pieces for piano, and some of them, like the ambitious Sonate pour piano à quatre mains (here recorded with Enrico Pompili), remained unpublished and unrecorded till today. After having recorded Gounod’s complete piano works for pedal piano and orchestra (the only concertante repertoire of his catalogue) it was a natural step for me to discover Gounod’s piano repertoire as well. Much of the pieces included in this CD are influenced by Mendelssohn: Gounod met Fanny Mendelssohn in Rome and she introduced him to Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier and to the Lieder ohne Worte by Felix Mendelssohn. It is not a coincidence, though, that also Gounod composed Six Preludes and Fugues (like Mendelssohn’s op. 35) and Six Romances sans Paroles, with their exquisite post-mendelssohnian lyricism. But the most famous piece is the Méditation sur le 1er Prélude de J. S. Bach (1852), that was originally written for piano solo: only later, in 1859, he added the words of Ave Maria to the melodic line, giving eternal fame to this music. Another world famous piece, originally written for piano solo, is the Marche funèbre d’une marionnette (1872), a grotesque musical portrait of the British music critic H. F. Chorley, which was used, in a later orchestral transcription, for Alfred Hitchcock's TV series.

 

TRACKLIST

 

* with Enrico Pompili

WP - World Premiere

1. La Veneziana (Barcarolle)  in G minor CG 593                                          

2. Impromptu in G major CG 580WP                                                            

3. Souvenance (Nocturne) in E flat major CG 590WP                                  

4. Marche funèbre d’une marionette in D minor CG 583                             

 

Six Romances sans Paroles:

5. No. 1: La Pervence in B major CG 585                                          

6. No. 2: Le Ruisseau in G flat major CG 589                                    

7. No. 3: Le Soir in E flat major CG 441a                                                          

8. No. 4: Le Calme (La Nonne sanglante) in D flat major CG2e WP

9. No. 5: Chanson de Printemps in A flat major CG 359a                             

10. No. 6: La Lierre (Ivy) in B flat major CG 581                               

 

11. Méditation sur le 1er Prélude de Bach (Ave Maria) in C major CG 89b

 

Six Préludes et Fugues

12. Prélude in G major CG 587 a1                                                    

13. Fugue in G major CG 587 a2                                                       

14. Choral in E minor CG 587 b1                                                       

15. Fugue in E minor CG 587 b2                                                       

16. Prélude in C major CG 587 c1                                                     

17. Fugue in C major CG 587 c2                                                       

18. Prélude in D major CG 587 d1                                                    

19. Fugue in D major CG 587 d2                                                       

20. Choral in F major CG 587 e1                                                       

21. Fugue in F major CG 587 e2                                                       

22. Choral in A minor CG 587 f1                                                       

23. Fugue in A minor CG 587 f2                                                        

 

Sonata in E flat major for piano four hands CG 617 * WP

24. I. Allegro                                                                         

25. II. Adagio                                                                        

26. III. Presto                                                                        

3.23

2.08

4.16

5.19

 

 

2.54

2.32

3.10

4.08

1.40

3.11

 

4.59

 

 

1.01

1.31

0.51

2.14

1.21

2.27

1.19

2.04

1.01

2.10

0.52

2.31

 

 

6.20

6.09

4.17

 


16 April 2018

New video clip VEVO "Marche Funèbre d'une Marionnette"

The famous director Antonio Bido conceived and realized the new video clip "Marche Funèbre d'une Marionnette", on the occasion of the release of the CD "Gounod Piano Works" by Roberto Prosseda. Based on Prosseda's recording of the famous, very famous piano piece, the video explores the concept of manipulation, finely playing with unusual shots (also performed inside the piano), in which the pianist's image (the same Prosseda) alternates and overlaps with that of a wooden mannequin, manipulated by a mysterious marionette artist, and with that of a young dancer. The video, shot in 4K, is available on the official VEVO channel.


20 November 2017

Decca releases the second album of Mozart's piano Sonatas (n. 7 - 12)

Decca releases the second album of Mozart's piano Sonatas (n. 7 - 12), recorded by Roberto Prosseda in 2016. The approach is coherent with the previous release, using a Fazioli new grand piano with Vallotti unqual temperament tuning. Roberto Prosseda also used the "sordino" in several pianissimo spots, and adopted the newly discovered manuscript version for the Sonata K 331.

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21 August 2017

Roberto Prosseda launches his new Academy MUSICAFELIX

From September 2017, Roberto Prosseda will regularly teach at his new Accademy MUSICAFELIX, that he founded in his hometown, Prato, Tuscany, together with hois wife Alessandra Ammara. The annual course will offer young piano students the opportunity to follow a customized and flexible didactic path in a highly professional context. More details at www.musicafelix.it which also includes several writings by Prosseda about pianp performance and some videos of his previous master classes. 


1 July 2017

The 10-Cd Box "Mendelssohn Complete Piano Works" awarded as "Best CD of the Month"

The authoritative Italian magazine Amadeus choose the 10-Cd Box "Mendelssohn Complete Piano Works" as the "Best of the Month". "Pure poetry", writes the reviewer Nicoletta Sguben. The Box is also in the longlist for the Deutsche Schalplattenkritikpreis.  


7 April 2017

Decca releases "Mendelssohn Complete Piano Works" (10-CD Box)

On April 7, 2017, Decca releases the 10-CD Box “Mendelssohn Complete Piano Works”, which collects all Roberto Prosseda’s previous recordings of Mendelssohn’s piano music. It is the most complete collection of Mendelssohn’s piano works, and includes 59 World Premieres, many of them never premiered in Asia yet.
Roberto Prosseda received huge acclaim for his Mendelssohn Decca recordings, including several prizes (Diapason d’Or, CHOC de le Monde del a Musique, ICMA Awards nomination).

The box includes 10 CDs, recorded between 2005 and 2015, and the works for piano four hands and for two pianos, with Alessandra Ammara. The booklet in four languages features a new essay by Roberto Prosseda and the complete list of Mendelssohn's piano works, based on the MWV Catalogue by Ralf Wehner (2009), with the correspondances to the track listings.

 
CD 1–2
56 Lieder ohne Worte, 4 Fugues, Allegro con Fuoco

CD 3
Sonatas

CD 4
Fantasias, Capriccios, Scherzos

CD 5
Variations, Preludes and Fugues

CD 6
Characterstucke, Kinderstucke, Etuden, Klavierstucke

CD 7–9
Occasional pieces and Juvenilia

CD 10
Works for piano four hands and for two pianos
with Alessandra Ammara

Roberto Prosseda, piano

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1 February 2017

Pianostreet interview about Mozart Sonatas

The piano portal pianostreet.com has published an extensive interview with Roberto Prosseda about his interpretation of Mozart's Piano Sonatas: http://www.pianostreet.com/blog/piano-news/immersed-in-mozart-%e2%80%93-roberto-prosseda-on-recording-the-early-sonatas-8579/

 


23 December 2016

Mozart CD competing for Deutsche Shallplatten Preis, 1/2017

Roberto Prosseda's CD with Mozart Sonatas No. 1 - 6 has been selected among the 7 piano recordings to compete for the Deutsche Shallplatten Preis, 1/2017: http://www.schallplattenkritik.de/…/do…/168-longlist-12017-1


22 December 2016

Interview for Saarländische Rundfunk

A nice interview about the Pedal Piano and more with Gabi Szarvas at Saarländischer Rundfunk, here in podcast: https://www.sr-mediathek.de/index.php?seite=7&id=46540