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The positive nihilism of Paolo Pessina or a brief apologetic dissertation on the possible future of "l’art pour l’art".
The vacuum originated by the political ideology that greatly influenced the seventies, left several orphans. Artists who no longer have to defend the lesson lernt, nor refuse embarassing heritages, as there is no teaching to follow , nor it is any longer necessary to suit an aesthetic creed, subordinate to the ethical creed, which too often had to cover up the damages caused by an over-conceptualism, whereby anything called music was considered as such,even if it was soundless.
Paolo Pessina belongs to this new generation of composers. He handles with utmost freedom the most varied pattern of forms and colours that belong to the near and remote past. He has not inherited the neurosis transmitted by the hystorical avand-garde to a multitude of neo-romantic or minimalist "Kleinmeister". Pessina takes from the past solely what suits his exuberant vitality; a vitality which is woven with lights and shadows, namely made with violent flashes and introvert meditations. Superficially, he may seem to treat the matter in an amused almost clownish way; one can perceive his interest for the "calembour" and the disenchantment of the person who teases himself and the others with utmost ease. Yet, beyond the citation — and the violin sonata contains several ones winking to the classical dialectics — his music offers a rigorous logic that nothing allows to aestethism. Let’s take, for example the vigorous Sonata op. 8 for Violin and Piano. In the first movement, the short opening theme vanishes in a wave of sounds subjected to percussive rhytmics, where the author shows his ability to set the piano pulsations into the aggressive notes of the violin. The same features emerge in the second movement, where the violin part is built with an even more concise logic.
Very likely, Pessina refuses any alignment as he doesn’t feel attached to a particular place. Following his father’s frequent relocations for working reasons, he was educated in different foreign countries (Iran, Austria, Germany) and in various towns in Italy. Like a Levantine merchant, who sells all sort of goods without feeling affection for them, the composer, (unlike the merchant, however he is not concerned about money), is not influenced by the past and present environment of his life. The only suggestions he receives come from a world of pure sounds, an innermost world, therefore sometimes unfathomable, a sort of music box, that continually changes its melodies, even though the author’s signature is indelibly overprinted. We can only say that presently he composes by "square" parodying the lexicon of more and less cultivated genres, not considering their hierarchic order.
And this is done with a little bit of snobism, self-complacency for his natural skills of fascinating spellbinder who can produce music of great appeal. Swaying works like Grantango and Sertango, conceived as a study on the nervous sincopation of the voluptuos Piazzolla-style tangos, or rigorous black and white (auraless) counterpoints, dedicated to Reger (An Max Reger).
In the Divertimento op.3, for solo violin, we can admire, instead, the structure of the phrasing evoking here and there Hindemith polyphonies, which, however, turns into the research of absolutely personal tone-colours, obtained both through a biting and virtuosic pattern.
The 24 Preludes op. 1, then, are like short captions, they are namely conceived as character sketches, or curt aphorisms, which the author does not intend to develop, contrary to what he does in other compositions. Again, this combination of works with various structures, shows the composer’s desire to shun any ideologic equation, so pernicious to artistic creativity. Pessina likes the iconoclastic approach, as he is convinced that only who can make fun of himself can discover the secret of life and music represents his irrational means to shorten the way.
© 1996 by Ivano Cavallini [booklet notes CD EPIC 190 369.001-2]
Italian composer and conductor, born in Milan on March 19, 1969. He starts very young his musical training (violin, piano, organ and composition) in Trieste; in 1995 he graduates in composition at the Milan Conservatory with Azio Corghi, while attending the orchestra conducting classes at the Vienna Academy.
In 1995, following the award of two scholarships, he attends the annual master classes held by the "Accademia G. Petrassi" of Fondazione Arturo Toscanini in Parma and by Informatic Acoustic Center "Agon" in Milano.
He attends the master classes at the "Academy of Santa Cecilia" in Rome, where he obtains his Master Degree in 1997; he is also awarded the "S.I.A.E. prize" (Italian Authors’ and Publishers’ Association) as the most outstanding graduate of all courses held in S. Cecilia that year.
In 1997, he works for the "Accademia Musicale Chigiana" in Siena, for the Contemporary Music Festival, sponsored by the European Community.
After the academic studies, he conducted his own compositions as well as works of the traditional repertoire, in Italy and abroad. In 1995-96 worked as assistant (Buhnemeister) with Maximilan Cencic in Vienna at Wienerstaatsoper (Wiener Philarmoniker and Wiener Symphoniker) and, invited by Maestro Semyon Bychkov, assisted him in Florence (Orchestra del Teatro Comunale).
In 1996, invited by Maestro Jesus Lopez-Cobos, he works in Switzerland (Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne) with soloists as Gidon Kremer, Vadim Sacharov etc.
In the same year he was invited by Sir Georg Solti to assist him during rehearsals with the London Symphony Orchestra. During the 1997-98 season he worked, both as a composer and conductor, on the production of his own Ballett "...dal Barocco al Tango..." Op.30 (...from Baroque to Tango...), commissioned by the "Arturo Toscanini Foundation" in Parma and by the "Orchestra Sinfonica dell’Emilia Romagna" (O.S.E.R.).
He attends Masterclasses with final Degree in conducting (in 1998) with Maestro Yuri Ahronovich, becoming at the same time the only assistant of Maestro Alexander Rahbari, working continuously with him in Madrid (Orquesta Radio Television Espanola), Croatia (Zagreb Philarmonic Orchestra), Palermo (Orchestra Teatro Massimo), Bruxelles (BRTN Symphony Orchestra), Vienna (Wiener Symphoniker), Bern (Opera House Orchestra), Turkey (Istambul Symphony Orchestra), Prague (Czech Philarmonic Orchestra).
His catalogue includes symphonic works, chamber, vocal and stage music, published by Ricordi, Sonzogno, Berbén and Pizzicato Verlag Helvetia.
Some works of his have been recorded on CD (Koch-Discover International, Rivo Alto, etc.) and by "State Archives" in Rome and were broadcast by RAI (Italian Broadcast Corporation) and RTV Koper (Slovenia). In May 1999, some of his latest works have been successfully performed in New York at The Juilliard School of Music; summer 2000 his chamber works were played in Tokyo.
In November 1999 he gave lectures in a workshop organized in Paris (Université de la Sorbonne, Fondation Singer-Polignac) and in Le Mans, by "Le Circle des amis de Jean Françaix", to commemorate the French Composer who died in 1997.
During 2000 he follows "Music for Cinema" masterclasses helded by Mr. Luis Bacalov that encouraged him composing in his own ecleptic-polistylistic way, Soundtracks and Stage Music.
"I admire the human and artistic qualities of Mº Paolo Pessina who attended with dedication and enthusiasm my composition classes at the Conservatory G. Verdi in Milan and Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome, where he graduated with full marks.
His extraordinary musical talent is supported by a deep technical preparation and a cultural background (which goes far beyond the specific field of music). I trust that Paolo Pessina has a bright future ahead both as a Composer and Conductor."
[Azio Corghi, composer / Academic Professor of Santa Cecilia, Rome — Italy]
"I am pleased to confirm that M.o Paolo Pessina is a very talented musician who knows very well piano, violin and organ. His compositions reveal a unique formal skill and a non-avant-garde invention supported by a full command of orchestration."
[Giorgio Vidusso, pianist / advisor Italian Ministry of Culture]
"...I wish to express my sincere admiration for your music. I have listened to your CD with great pleasure: the violin sonata is indeed an important work and the short pieces are stylistically very refined and enjoyable... My best wishes for a continued success."
[Franco Gulli, violinist — Italy, U.S.A.]
"Dear Pessina, your compositions are now catalogued in our library... their writing technique is everytime very clear and idiomatic... certainly they will be very useful and helpful for our teachers and their courses..."
[Irma Ravinale, composer / Director of Santa Cecilia Conservatory, Rome — Italy]
"...a very talented composer Paolo Pessina... What a satisfaction it must to be born with such talent. I would trade in a minute."
[Ruggiero Ricci, violinist — U.S.A.]
"...You handle with masterhood the possibilities of the piano, violin and of the whole orchestra palette.
...Your very extroverted style, ranging from the Romantic to the great Russian composers, with special preference to Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff and Shostakovitch, is to me a title of merit. ...Bravissimo... and continue this way."
[Franco Mannino, composer / pianist / conductor — Italy]
"cher Ami italien, Pardonnez-moi de vous dire si tardivement tout le bien que je pense de votre musique, et de vous féliciter pour votre fidèlité à la tonalité, illustrée par tant de grands compositeurs à travers le temps. Vous avez choisi la voie courageuse de l’honnêteté artistique dans laquelle on ne peut pas tricher, ni envers soi, ni envers le Public. Et votre interprète est visiblement ravi qu’avec vos idées musicales un violon soit un violon et non une succession de grincements dèsagrèables. Encore bravo! Et me croyez, ainsi que votre Frêre, trés fidelement votre." (Paris, le 25 Mai 1997)
[Jean Françaix, composer/pianist/conductor — France]
"I know Mr. Paolo Pessina since about eight years as a Conductor, a Composer and an Arranger. He is allround a very talented musician with a very high knowledge of not only the standard repertoire, but also of general knowledge in culture.
He is a very passionate conductor and can easily transfer his emotions to the other musicians and interpreters." (December 7, 1999)
[Alexander Rahbari, composer/conductor — Austria]