Who or what inspired you to take up the piano, and pursue a career in music?
Actually no one in my family is a musician; I never had pressure from my family, and the start of my adventure with music was one of the most natural processes – so natural that I still don’t know if I chose the music, or if the music chose me.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
Definitely some things I’ve read – philosophical essays, some big German, French, Italian and Russian novels. And of course the holy books.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
Every time disenchantment has made its way into my heart.
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
Always the next one!
But I’m still touched by some unbelievable experiences, such as my debut at the Royal Albert Hall in London with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Which particular works do you think you play best?
The new one I’m going to practice!
But Mozart is without any doubt a great friend of mine.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
I try to understand the changeable directions of my artistic wishes, and follow them. A concert programme should be a coherent spiritual journey, where different composers and music works interact and connect with each other, reaching a common vision at the end.
Some composers, however, are like lights in the dark for me: things may change on the surface, but deep inside they are always there. I can think of Mozart, Beethoven and Schumann, who have always been very close to my soul.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
The Amsterdam Concertgebouw: that staircase seems to be the stairway to heaven!
Who are your favourite musicians?
Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Grigory Sokolov and Sergiu Celibidache.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
A concert with Maestro Gergiev in St. Petersburg. The concert was at 10pm, he arrived at 9.55pm. No rehearsal. Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.3 on the menu. My debut with him and his orchestra. Live broadcast in all Russia. I wouldn’t wish those first five minutes on my worst enemy!
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
To me, this kind of success simply doesn’t exist. Art is a never-ending creative process, and for this reason it will always be ahead of us, moving infinitely, and as finite humans we will never catch up!
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Just one: that there can be no Beauty if it’s not connected to the Truth.
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
I don’t know where I’d like to be, but I certainly know where I’d like not to be: in the land of illusion. I wish to always remain devoted to the Truth.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
When a human being is able to connect with all his own innermost feelings.
What is your most treasured possession?
What is your present state of mind?
Federico Colli appears at this year’s London Piano Festival which runs from 2-6 October at King’s Place. More information
Italian pianist Federico Colli is internationally recognised for his intelligent, imaginative interpretations and impeccable technique, praised for his ‘crystalline brilliance and translucence that takes you to the heart of everything he plays.’ (Gramophone)
Federico first came to prominence after winning the Salzburg Mozart Competition in 2011 and the Leeds International Piano Competition in 2012. Since then, he has been performing with orchestras including the Mariinsky Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, RAI National Symphony, BBC Symphony, Royal Scottish National, RTÉ National Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Hallé Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Vienna Chamber, Camerata Salzburg, Klassische Philharmonie Bonn, Polish Radio National Symphony, Philharmonie Zuidnederland, Pomeriggi Musicali Orchestra, Orchestra della Toscana, National Philharmonic of Ukraine and Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira; at venues such as the Vienna Musikverein and Konzerthaus, Berlin Konzerthaus, Munich Herkulessaal, Hamburg Laeiszhalle, Beethovenhalle Bonn, NDR Landesfunkhaus in Hannover, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Muziekgebouw Eindhoven, Barbican Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Usher Hall in Edinburgh, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Dublin National Concert Hall, Salle Cortot in Paris, Rudolfinum Dvorak Hall in Prague, Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome, Teatro degli Arcimboldi in Milan, Lingotto in Turin, Philharmonic Concert Hall in Warsaw, Teatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro and the Mariinsky Concert Hall in St Petersburg.