Meet Italian pianist Alessandro Deljavan and cook. Yes, I said cook! When the documentary for the last Van Cliburn competition was shot, he cooked for the filmmakers and they seriously wanted to make a cooking show with him. You can read more about it and watch videos here.
We chatted via email. How fun it was to translate his colorful Italian sayings. In the end, I think we did a good job. You could all be judges. I am grateful for the thoughtfulness of your answers and the wonderful recipe Penne Norma has shared. Please enjoy.
He started performing at the age of 3-3, at an extremely young age. Did you come from a musical family?
Luckily no! I can’t imagine myself in a family of musicians. My parents always loved all kinds of music, and Uncle Franco had an incredible musical talent. He played many instruments, but he never had a teacher!
How was your early piano learning? Of course you were a serious, disciplined child?
All my memories of the young pianist Alessandro are very much related to playing music. I loved football when I was young, and I spent most of my time, say until I was 16, playing a lot more football than playing the piano. Now that I’m no longer young, I have more time to play the piano! I have to say that I am still a big fan of my favorite football team, the Inter in Milan.
Who were your biggest mentors? How did these people affect your journey?
That’s all I can say! But the most important names are two: Fou Ts’ong and William Nabore. I first met Fou Ts’ong when I was 18, and he gave me the reassurance that music could fill my life. I will never forget that.
William Nabore is the most important Maestro – a man who really built my musical thought. He taught me that there was something behind the sheet music. He also gave me a love of the art of chamber music and the string quartet. I can never thank him the way he deserves everything he gave me. Of course a great cook too (not only as good as me)
What is your fondest memory of making music? The most humorous?
I still remember when my dad came back from work in the late ’90s and always loved falling asleep to my piano music. It was the most relaxing moment of the day and I was so proud to have had a good time.
I once played all the lies of Hugo Wolf in a famous Maestro master class. I played for the first time in my life and started playing without an apartment when it was written with 6 apartments. After the first page, I suddenly understood my mistake and decided to play the same way until the end. I was sure there was a big scolding after the singer performed, but no one understood the mistake!
They say you’re an amazing chef and you made amazing meals when you shot the last Van Cliburn documentary. Could you talk a little bit about music and food and how they come together for you?
I really like to use spices. All kinds – from curry to curcuma (tumaric), basil, parsley and coriander. But my favorite thing is risotto. Of course, we always talk about art.
I don’t find a great connection between the two arts, and, I have to be honest, it’s very hard to combine a piece of music with a special catch. The interpretation of food preparation should always be guided by the fact that you can cook unsafe or unhealthy foods, but there is no limit to musical interpretation. There will always be a new idea. The music is constantly growing!
He has performed great piano works around the world. What kind of music do you play only for yourself and / or your special loved ones?
My loved ones usually never ask me to play for them. My mother still can’t be in the room while I play – she suffers so much.
Bach makes you think and gives you the power to overcome many of life’s troubles. Sometimes I really feel like it’s time to play some Bach foreplay and fugue, or Partitas or Suite. I could also say Schubert, especially the last sonatas. Bach and Schubert are perfect when I play myself.
In addition to a number of solo and chamber evenings, as well as the first Tchaikovsky concert (which I will be playing for the first time in my life), few wonderful recording projects are expected.
In April, I dedicate two CDs to what I think is a great French-tasting Spanish composer, Federico Mompou. A few days later, in April, I work with a wonderful violinist friend, Daniela Cammarano, on a piano / violin CD of Franck and Elgar’s violin sonatas. I look forward to it!
Then I have other plans (still not recorded), but I really want to record Beethoven’s Ten Violin Sonatas with Daniela. We have been working together for a long time and performing all the sonatas. It’s time to show people what we think of these pieces.