Paolo Restani showed his prodigious capabilities already in his first recital at the age of 12. In 1984, invited for a debut solo-recital at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome by the great artistic director Francesco Siciliani, gained an extraordinary success, asserted by the most prestigious press: He has already won his place in our home great piano tradition (Alfredo Gasponi, Il Messaggero), At Santa Cecilia a star is born (Mya Tannenbaum, Corriere della Sera), Sixteen years old but you don’t believe it: Paolo Restani, who appeared yesterday evening at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia, is actually shocking (Ivana Musani, Paese Sera).
Since then engagements with the most prestigious theatres in Italy followed on. Among the many successes of those years, a major one was the concert at Sala Verdi in Milan for the Serate Musicali: in January 1988, invited to replace Alexis Weissenberg with a few hour notice, he performed a programme including the Eroica Variations by Beethoven and the 12 Etudes d’Exécution Trascendante by Liszt.
During his thirty-year career, he has given concerts in many of the most important musical centres around the world, distinguishing himself by his own very personal, continuously ripening interpretative manners.
His profound interpretation and technical mastery in rendering every minor detail of a score perfectly clear and perceptible, make him an excellent performer, especially in the Romantic repertoire where his virtuoso skills are a naturally reminiscent of the greatest names of the piano-playing tradition: … in his rendering of Chopin’s compositions, his affinity with Vladimir Horowitz is quite surprising in relation to timbre, richness of colour and clarity of melodies (Allgemeine Zeitung after a solo-recital he gave in Frankfurt in 1996).
In June 2004, his debut with Orchestra Filarmonica del Teatro alla Scala conducted by Riccardo Muti (Liszt’s Second Piano Concerto) was unanimously and enthusiastically acclaimed.
In addition, still under Muti's direction, in 2008, he is soloist in the symphonic production of Lélio ou Le Retour à la Vie, op. 14b by Berlioz, together with Gérard Depardieu (as narrator), Mario Zeffiri (tenor) and the Orchestra Luigi Cherubini, Orchestra Giovanile Italiana, Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor.
Recitals of the recent seasons include the following venues: Grosser Musikvereinsaal in Vienna, Konzerthaus in Berlin, Prinzregententheater in Munich, Rheingoldhalle in Mainz, New Congress-Hall in Innsbruck, International Performing Arts Centre in Moscow, Great Hall of the Philharmonic in St. Petersburg, Colon and Coliseo Theatres in Buenos Aires, London, Brussels, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Beirut, Santiago in Chile, Montevideo.
In Italy: Milan (Teatro alla Scala, Auditorium La Verdi), Rome (Quirinale, Auditorium del Parco della Musica, Auditorium of Via della Conciliazione, Teatro Sistina), Neaple (Teatro San Carlo, Teatro Augusteo, Politeama), Venice (Teatro La Fenice), Trieste (Teatro Verdi), Verona (Arena), Bologna (Teatro Comunale), Florence (Teatro Comunale, Teatro della Pergola), Turin (Teatro Regio, Auditorium RAI), Bari (Teatro Petruzzelli), Genoa (Teatro Carlo Felice), Palermo (Politeama).
Prestigious musical festivals, where he is regularly invited, include: Flanders Festival, Martha Argerich Festival in Buenos Aires, Istanbul Recitals, Al Bustan Festival in Beirut, London Hatchlands Music Festival, Ravenna Festival, Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, Settembre Musica in Turin, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli International Piano Festival in Brescia and Bergamo, Festival Verdi in Parma, Uto Ughi per Roma Festival, Panatenee Pompeiane, Festival Romaeuropa, Todi Arte Festival, Ravello Festival, Ljubljana Festival, Jornadas Internacionales de Piano in Oviedo, Asturias Festival.
In January 2008 he was invited by Yuri Temirkanov to XVII International Festival Christmas musical meeting in Palmira of the North in St. Petersburg.
Soloist with orchestras such as Münchner Symphoniker, Berliner Symphoniker, Neue Philharmonie Westfalen, St. Petersburg Academic Symphony Orchestra , Philarmonique de Nice, Slovenia RTV, Sinfonica Nacional de Chile, Kiev Philharmonic, the Berliner Philharmoniker String Orchestra, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra Kremlin, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Milan, Rome and Neaple RAI National Symphony Orchestras, Teatro San Carlo di Napoli, Teatro Regio di Torino, Teatro La Fenice di Venezia, Arena di Verona, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Teatro Carlo Felice di Genova, Teatro Verdi di Trieste, he was conducted, among others, by Roberto Abbado, Gerd Albrecht, Piero Bellugi, Christian Benda, Yoram David, Vladimir Delman, Claus Peter Flor, Heiko Mathias Forster, Lu Jia, Lothar Koenigs, Gerard Korsten, Julian Kavatchev, Gustav Kuhn, Yoel Levi, John Nelson, John Neschling, Gunter Neuhold, Daniel Oren, Massimo Pradella, Donato Renzetti.
Great is his popularity in South-America where he is present every year. The Association of Argentina Critics awards him in 2005 as the best interpreter of the year and in 2011 for his concerts with the Quartetto d’archi della Scala, as the best ensemble of the year.
A versatile musician and fully aware of the possible integration among various art forms, he has played as co-protagonist in theatrical productions accompanying artists such as Carla Fracci, Sylvie Guillelme, Laurent Hilaire, Enrico Maria Salerno, Simona Marchini, Mariano Rigillo, Gottfried Wagner.
In 2007 he has been solidifying his artistic partnership with Chiara Muti: they created three original musical plays on the life of Mozart, on the Wagner-Ludwig II relationship and on Rachmaninov-Gogol.
Very keen on chamber music, he played with Quartetto Fonè, Quartetto David, Solisti della Scala, cellist Andrea Noferini, and accompanied Monica Bacelli, Guillemette Laurens and Claire Brua in lieder cycles. Actually he is cooperating with violist Simonide Braconi and Quartetto d’archi della Scala.
His extensive repertoire ranges from Bach to present-day composers, and includes more than 60 concertos for piano and orchestra and a same number of solo-recital programmes. His preference for the great cycles of the Romantic Period and the 19th century brings him to face the complete Chopin, Scriabin and Liszt’s Études (his own performances of the 12 Etudes d’Exécution Trascendante are more than 150), the entire works for piano by Brahms, most of the Chopin, Debussy, Ravel, Rachmaninov’s compositions and the complete works for piano and orchestra by Beethoven, Field, Chopin, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saëns and Casella.
It is to be pointed out his devotion to the Liszt’s works which he is to be considered being one of the major interpreters of.
His collaboration with Michael Nyman led to the first Italian performance of The Piano Concerto for piano and orchestra, taken from the soundtrack of the Oscar-winning film The Piano Lesson by Jane Campion.
Paolo Restani was the last and best-loved piano-pupil of Vincenzo Vitale (a renowned representative of the Neaple piano-school, who underwent piano-studies with Florestano Rossomandi, Attilio Brugnoli and, in the end, with Alfred Cortot at École Normale de Musique de Paris).
In the following, Paolo Restani’s teachers were Gerhard Oppitz (a successor of the interpretative art of Wilhelm Kempff) at Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich and Peter Lang at Mozarteum in Salzburg. In addition he attended piano-lessons under Gustav Kuhn, Piero Rattalino, Aldo Ciccolini and Vadimir Ahskenazy.
He studied composition with Paolo Arcà in Rome and Bruno Bettinelli in Milan.
Main CD recordings and DVD:
- Liszt - Totentanz for piano and orchestra, with European Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Peter Jan Marthé (Polyglobe-1997);
- Liszt – 12 Études d’Exécution Trascendante and the Concert Études (Amadeus-2004);
- Rachmaninov - Heighteen Preludes (Amadeus-2008);
- Casella – Scarlattiana, Triplo Concerto, A notte alta for piano and orchestra, with Orchestra “Filarmonica ‘900” of Teatro Regio di Torino conducted by Marzio Conti (Brilliant Classics-2008); - Brahms, Godowski, Skriabin, Saint-Saëns, Bartok, Liszt, Sancan - Music for the Left Hand (DECCA-2009);
- Berlioz - Lélio ou Le Retour à la vie op. 14b, conductor Riccardo Muti, Orchestra Luigi Cherubini, Orchestra Giovanile Italiana, Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor, Gérard Depardieu as narrator, Mario Zeffiri tenor (CD and DVD Gruppo Editoriale l’Espresso-2009);
- Field - the Seven Concertos for Piano and Orchestra with Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice conducted by Marco Guidarini (4 CDs Brilliant Classics);
- Brahms - Variations on a Theme by Paganini op. 35, Variations from String Sextet op. 18, Five Studies (DECCA-2010);
- Rachmaninov – Six Preludes, Transcriptions, Sonata no. 2 op. 36 (Amadeus-2010);
- Brahms – Piano Quintet op. 34, Schumann – Piano Quintet op. 44, with Quartetto d’archi della Scala (DECCA-2011);
- Brahms – Handel Variations op. 24, Variations on a Theme by Schumann op. 9, Variations on an Original Theme op. 21 no. 1, Variations on a Hungarian Song op. 21 no. 2, Etude from Schubert’s Impromptu op. 90 no. 2 (DECCA-2011).
His interpretations are included by Deutsche Grammophon in Piano Gold (2010) and in Classica 2011, by Brilliant Classics in The Ultimate Piano Concerto (2010), by DECCA in 50 Piano Masters (2012): anthologias of the most important piano interpreters (Abbado, Argerich, Ashkenazy, Brendel, Chailly, Domingo, Michelangeli, Rattle, Richter, etc.).
last update: September, 2013
This biography is to be used unabridged.