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Australian Pianist Angelo Villani makes much anticipated comeback concert at St James’ Piccadilly, London

18 Sep 2012
Saturday 6th October at 7.30pm

Liszt - Après une Lecture de Dante:  Fantasia quasi Sonata
Liszt  - Petrarch Sonnets 47 and 123
Brahms -  Ballade Op. 10 No. 1
Brahms – Intermezzo Op. 116 No. 6
Brahms - Rhapsody Op. 79 No. 2
Grieg - 5 Lyric Pieces

“Audiences lucky enough to hear him play will remember the music and its recreation long after the artist’s name has escaped them.”
- Matthew Boyden, musicologist, author, barrister

Australian pianist Angelo Villani makes his much anticipated return to the concert stage with his official London debut at St James’ Piccadilly.   A former child prodigy in his hometown of Melbourne, Angelo Villani was heading for a promising career as he entered the world’s hardest piano competition – the Moscow Tchaikovsky Competition.  Like many aspiring young talents, his hopes were dashed by a muscular injury, which has prevented Villani from playing in public for nearly 20 years.   2012 marks the thrilling comeback of a rare talent to the public concert platform. 

For his recital at St James Piccadilly, Villani has chosen a programme of Brahms Ballads Op. 10 No.1 in D Minor; Brahms Rhapsody Op. 79 No.2; Brahms Intermezzo Op. 116 No. 6; Grieg 5 Lyric Pieces; Liszt’s 2 Petrarch Sonnets No 47 and 123 and Liszt’s Dante Sonata.   Angelo Villani will play a Fazioli piano.  

Villani, who is of Italian extraction, has chosen works by Liszt inspired by his visit to Italy, which resulted in his Années de Pèlerinage Book II.   After a lecture on Dante’s Divine Comedy, Liszt wrote a fantasia quasi sonata that is a macabre journey into the purgatorio and the inferno before a final glimpse of paradise and redemption.  It recounts the tale of Francesca di Rimini, who was conned into marriage with the deformed Gianciotto Malatesta, thinking she was to marry his handsome brother Paolo instead. She and Paolo became lovers, but were caught and killed by Gianciotto. Dante consigned them to hell, where they were bound together for eternity, ceaselessly buffeted by a terrible whirlwind.

As Villani explains:

“I love this Faustian tale of the battle between good and evil, angels and villains. Liszt starts this work evoking the hellish whirlwind with the “diabolus in musica” triton – the diminished 5th, known as the interval of the Devil which was accordingly banned in medieval music for its satanic connotations. The tension builds from the opening chord as Liszt plays out a conflict, which echoes the torments of his own life and “forbidden” loves. I have chosen to feature this work alongside Liszt’s Petrarch Sonnets, envisaging the poet’s unrequited yearning for his love Laura, and Grieg’s earthy fairy-tales from Norway.”

"If one wished to discover a great artist whose poetic gifts remain untainted by the competitive, prodigy-driven ethos that routinely crushes the musical spirit of so many performers, one need look no further than Angelo Villani.  In his virtual absence from the concert stage, Villani has continued to develop his artistic vision and sound world to pitch intensity.  It is for us to keep up with him."

Benjamin Martin, pianist and composer

Angelo Villani

Born in Australia to Italian parents, Angelo Villani attended Melbourne's school for musically- gifted children, the Victorian College of the Arts, where his teachers included Alexander Semetsky, a pupil of Emil Gilels, and Stephen McIntyre, a student of Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli.  A flourishing career as a teenager included performances of the Tchaikovsky 1st Piano Concerto and Rachmaninov 2nd Concerto with Melbourne Symphony, acclaimed for their dramatic intensity, vision and musical conviction. 

Following further recitals and appearances on ABC Television, Angelo Villani won considerable respect and esteem and a promising career seemed forthcoming. Following recommendations by Leslie Howard and Joyce Greer de Holesch to take part in the Moscow Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition, the 23-year-old pianist was accepted for the 9th International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1990. 

The young Australian pianist arrived in Moscow a week earlier to prepare himself for the Herculean contest.  Shortly before the first round, Villani withdraw owing to a trapped nerve.  A potentially important career came to an abrupt halt, whilst Villani travelled internationally seeking effective treatment.

Since settling in London in 1991, Villani has performed sporadically in mostly private gatherings such as the Liszt Society annual meeting performing alongside Kenneth Hamilton and at the Royal Overseas League.   He has channeled his extensive knowledge of piano repertoire and recording history in new ways.  He gives masterclasses to professional musicians, has written for specialist publications and worked for 7 years in Tower Records, providing expert advice on recordings to customers. When specialist music shops disappeared from the high streets, Villani took up employment as piano teacher at Rosary Primary School (Belsize Park) and Kentish Town Church of England Primary.

Since 2010, tangible improvements have emerged which has allowed Angelo Villani to make a full return to the keyboard and over the past couple of years he has given several private concerts across the UK.  2012 marks a return to form culminating in his official London recital debut.

"Sadly we live in a world where every 6 months or so we are asked to believe that there is a new international pianistic sensation on the block, and of course, rather predictably, this almost never turns out to be anything more than typical journalistic hyperbole. Encountering a really distinctive, idiosyncratic 'new voice' is perhaps rarer than ever. Such a genuine article, appearing as if out of the blue - mercifully without the depressingly standardised credentials - is Angelo Villani who, in spite of his absence from the stage, sounds like a seasoned artist - someone with the charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent to truly command attention."
Concert pianist Daniel-Ben Pienaar

"Angelo Villani is an artist with original, creative and compelling vision. I am looking forward to his London Debut with great interest and expectations."

Concert pianist Nikolai Demidenko

“Angelo plays with stunning conviction and intensity”
Concert pianist Benjamin Grosvenor

For further information, please contact:

Nicky Thomas Media
Tel: 020 7 207 7810

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