Cellist Giovanni Sollima talks about his UK tour with pianist Kathryn Stott and marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with 100 Cellos
When did you first meet Kathryn?
That’s a good question – we must have known each other for more than ten years now. We met in Tokyo a long time ago and stayed in touch with the idea of playing together, but I was always on the wrong side of the world. Last year we finally managed to meet and make music together. The tour was Kathy’s idea, but we have always talked about how much wonderful repertoire there is for the cello and piano so the idea of performing a series of concerts together came naturally. It was just a matter of finding the right time to do so.
What will you be playing, and how did you choose the programme?
For me, it’s about choosing wonderful works and then discovering the ways that they are connected. Music can be connected by colours as much as it can by stories and the time it’s written in. We are performing Piatti’s Sonata No. 2 and Schumann‘s Stücke im Volkston. Alfredo Piatti is linked to Schumann through Mendelssohn – Mendelssohn composed for Piatti but was also a close friend of Clara and Robert Schumann. Another strong theme in the programme is folk music. Folk is buried in Schumann’s language and Chopin incorporates a lot of folk material into the last movement of his Cello Sonata, which we are going to perform. Also on the programme is Monteverdi’s Lamento d’Arianna, which is so well known in Italy that it is like an adopted folk piece.
Tell me about your own piece on the programme, Il bell’Antonio…
I wrote it for the soundtrack of Maurizio Zaccaro’s 2005 film based on Vitaliano Brancati’s novel Il bell’Antonio. The music is very dark and tragic. It’s about a man who’s a little too good with the ladies until his wife shows him up. We’re going to play the slow movement, which has an underlying storm.
Before your tour with Kathryn starts, you will be performing with your group 100 Cellos. What is the main idea behind the project?
100 Cellos began at the Teatro Valle Occupato in Rome three years ago and the reaction was incredible. I was asked to do three days of concerts so I called other cellists and the idea of a large gathering evolved. Cellists of all ages and from all over the world and different disciplines responded – from rock cellists to Baroque cellists – and we played 72 hours of music. We did flash mobs in town along with smaller solo performances. Now we promote the project on Facebook and every time we meet new cellists join us – there are now more than 100. It’s amazing to see cellists of all ages – from as young as five to 80 years old – playing together.
You are playing a concert on 9 November to mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall – what will the programme include?
100 Cellos is meeting at the Teatro Regio in Turin for a concert called ‘Berlin 1989’. We are still collecting pieces but the programme will include works by Bach and other German Baroque composers, as well as an arrangement of music from Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Our repertoire is often a real mix. People will be doing readings and we are planning to play a film of Rostropovich’s impromptu performance at the fall of the Wall. I also used Facebook to find cellists who were born on 9 November 1989 to take part and I am delighted that some have responded.
Giovanni Sollima and Kathryn Stott perform works by Beethoven, Piatti, Schumann and others at UK venues from 11-20 November. Visit www.kathrynstott.com for tour dates and venues
100 Cellos commemorates the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on Sunday 9 November. Click here for more information. Watch a performance by 100 Cellos above