Who or what inspired you to take up the piano and pursue a career in music?
There has always been a piano at my house, perhaps a strategic move by my mother. Soon I found myself curious about which sounds I could trigger out of the instrument. Then I realized the piano is itself a world.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
Growing up I found the most inspiration in three musicians of the twentieth century: Paco de Lucia, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and Joe Zawinul. And the discovery of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
Not to repeat myself, not to fall into a routine.
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
Pride is not a feeling I measure I measure my achievements with. Perhaps my album ‘Idioynkrasia’ (inFine, 2011) is my most personal, and ‘Piano Circle Songs’ (Sony, 2017) the most challenging.
Which particular works do you think you play best?
When I was 5 years old, I said to my piano teacher: “I only want to play the music of Bach, and my own music” She thought I was a cute little boy, and taught me how to play the piano.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
The complete works for keyboard of J S Bach is a project for a lifetime, not necessarily a season.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
I like a variety of venues, and also alternating them. There are some fantastic concert halls in Japan for instance, really pristine acoustics. D-Edge, a club in Sao Paulo, Brazil, has a great sound system and vibe.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
Probably a show at Jeita Grotto in Lebanon. Stalactites and stalagmites, plus a 7-second reverb.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
To be in line with what you do artistically. (Whether this works out commercially speaking is another question)
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Wake up, listen up, be yourself.
What is your present state of mind?
Francesco Tristiano’s ‘Piano Circle Songs’ is released on the Sony label. Francesco performs music from his new album, with Canadian pianist and songwriter Chilly Gonzales with whom the project was developed, at the Southbank Centre on 20 September 2017 – details here
Francesco Tristiano’s biography
Artist photo by Marie Staggat