Italian pianist Vanessa Benelli Mosell (pictured) is back in town for concerts in the framework of the music series of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. She will participate in a chamber program on Monday and play Rachmaninov's 2nd concerto with the Israel Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra, lead by Yuri Medianik on Tuesday.
“I fell in love with Tel Aviv at first sight. People are open and very friendly. Rome, Milan, London are great cities, but Tel Aviv is one of the few places where I feel at home,” says the 27-year-old pianist, who wrote letters of concern to her Israeli friends during Operation Protective Edge this summer.
Born in a small town near Florence, she began playing piano at the age of three. At seven, the exceptionally talented child was admitted to the International Piano Academy in Imola.
In 2007 she was invited to enter the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, and between 2010 and 2012 she studied at the Royal College of Music in London.
She considers herself extremely fortunate to have worked with one of the most prominent composers of our time, Karleinz Stockhausen.
“I am interested in contemporary art, not only in music, and I was fascinated by Stockhausen’s pieces.
But my professors at Imola said they were unable to help me, as they never played his music. So I learned it on my own and went to audition for him,” she recounts.
“I approached the door, saw the other pianists and considered backing out. Being only 17, I believed they played much better than I. But I entered, and it turned out that I understood his music better than anybody else there, and that is how our collaboration started. Regretfully, Stockhausen died two years later, but I made the most of the time I spent with him. I realized that his was a different musical language with a different grammar, and that made me more flexible in my approach to the music of other repertoires,” shew says.
Benelli Mosell says that studying in Moscow also made a major impact on her musical education, although at the beginning things were far from easy.
“For the first month, I cried a lot. After all, I was a 19-year-old girl from a provincial town. I didn’t speak Russian, I was sharing a small room with several girls in a not-so-clean dormitory, and finding a piano for practicing was a problem. I used to call to my mother, crying into the phone and saying that I wanted to go back to Europe, but her reply was, ‘You stay because your school is there,’” she recounts.
But it paid off.
“The teachers in Moscow were great. They had a detailed answer to every musical problem.
On the whole, it was a wonderful experience.
Everything was strong there – love, friendships, a sense of community, dedication to music,” she says.
Aside from music, being a modern girl who enjoys hanging out with friends and is fond of fashion, the charismatic pianist recalls, “At first, I wrapped myself up to my eyeballs when I went out, but when I saw that the most fashionable Russian girls walked around without warm hats or scarves even in the freezing cold, I changed my attitude!” Last month, Benelli Mosell moved to Paris. Is that a better place for her as a musician? “That was not the reason,” she replies.
“Wherever you go, people will say there are better places, so I believe one should live in a place one loves, and I always dreamed of living in Paris. Everything is fresh for me there. I already have new friends and even performed a concert.
The vibes are good in Paris.”
Does she feel safe coming to Tel Aviv? “First of all, I think that music is to be played not only in places where there is no danger. Also, it is true that one should avoid physical danger, but I believe that this sense of safety comes from inside, and I still have to learn it from Israelis and not to talk about how I feel about safety,” she says.
In regard to her concert programs, she says that Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 is one of her favorite pieces.
“I have known it since my early childhood. My mother played the CD in the car on our way to my piano lessons. In my eyes, it is both a Romantic and contemporary piece, which is masterfully written for piano but, at the same time, is a true symphonic piece. It is composed in a universal language that speaks to everyone,” she says.
As for her career as a piano soloist, Benelli Mosell says, “You spend a lot of time alone, rehearsing and traveling abroad. To be honest, I enjoy it. In my spare time, I enjoy sitting in a cafe, observing the human comedy. I love a chamber repertoire, which is absolutely wonderful. For a pianist, playing chamber music is a rare opportunity to cooperate with fellow musicians, and I am not going to deprive myself of that pleasure!” The concerts take place on October 27 and 28 at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. On October 28, violinist Soyoung Yoon will perform Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto . For more details and reservations: www.tamuseum.org.il/music-lobby
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