"In ITALIA, I wanted to highlight our instrumental solo musical heritage, too often overshadowed by the undoubted greatness of the melodramatic tradition. The project, the idea of ​​which germinated more than five years ago, was born in continuity with the spirit of Casta Diva, the album I dedicated to Italian opera music, performed on the piano. I have chosen twenty of the pieces and composers closest to me, during three hundred years of piano music, having to, unfortunately, leave out many others. But I hope they can constitute an introduction to the knowledge of an unsuspected and prolific Italian piano production, aimed at all the most curious listeners.

Pieces by well-known Italians such as Puccini, Verdi, Rossini, Respighi, Busoni, Scarlatti, Rota, Galuppi alternate with historical composers to be rediscovered such as Malipiero, Cilea, Sgambati, Paradisi, Petrassi or Casella. I also wanted to give space to the lyricism of Italian musical culture, representing it in this album with Neapolitan song, rather than with opera. For this reason I involved my friend and fellow tenor Francesco Meli, one of the most sensational voices of opera at an international level, for the interpretation of "l'te vurria vasà" by Eduardo di Capua.

However, in ITALIA there is no shortage of new, modern, contemporary or avant-garde music, terms that characterize the pieces written in more recent years and present in the album with meaning and responsibility. Luciano Berio, historic pioneer of new Italian music, could not be missing with his Wasserklavier, a composition representative of his typical way of paying homage, with respect and inspiration, to the greats of the past, with references to Brahms and Schubert.

Morricone, as well as Nino Rota in other ways, represents in this album Italian music for cinema, one of the highest forms of civilization of our culture. Among the most identifying artists of our country in the world, his music cannot, however, be reduced to film music. In ITALIA his piece Playing Love acts as a curtain, like an improvisation, to the rest of the programme.

Stroppa, one of the most admired and respected composers abroad, with Birichino, a piece that I had the opportunity to study together with the composer and play extensively abroad, making some First Performances.

Filidei, a leading young composer and one of the most loved today, as well as a friend and colleague. With his Toccata, an original and revolutionary piece, the first ever recording of it, I wanted to underline how the concept of avant-garde can be exalted, and at the same time the object of irony, when associated with the idea of ​​noise coming from the entire carcass of the piano as an percussion instrument.

Finally, Ezio Bosso, a beloved and controversial composer, who arouses strong feelings. Even though I didn't have the chance to meet him in person, his music spoke to me at his place. Over time I have collected numerous testimonies about his personality, his greatness, sensitivity and charisma. In this sense my interpretation of his homage to the poet Emily Dickinson is intended to be a gift to his memory." - Vanessa Benelli Mosell

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Vanessa Benelli Mosell performs the twelve Préludes of the second book of Debussy’s famed collection ofpostcard images, written in the last months of 1912 and early 1913. The evocatively- named miscellany of events selected by Debussy for his second set of Préludes range from fog and fireworks, to the circus clown ‘Général Lavine – eccentric’, who supposedly played piano with his toes.

Certain pieces look out across the world, from ‘Canope’ after the Ancient Egyptian canopic jars that stood on his mantelpiece, to the Moorish ‘La Puerta del Vino’ by the Alhambra. Others are drawn from literary sources: ‘Les fées sont d’exquises danseuses’ holds fabled roots in J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, while the tongue-in-cheek ‘Hommage à S. Pickwick Esq. P.P.M.P.C’ quotes the English national anthem in Debussy’s evocation of Dickens’ first novel.

Dedicated to his three-year-old daughter, Chouchou in 1908, Debussy’s mischievous six- movement Children’s Corner offers a light-hearted retrospective on childhood, from thedistracted pianist daydreaming through their exercises in ‘Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum’ to ‘Jimbo’s Lullaby’, serenading the majestic elephant to sleep, while the famous cakewalkending to the suite jokes at the expense of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde.

Also featured by Vanessa Benelli Mosell is Debussy’s vivid piano rhapsody L’isle joyeuse,written during a stay on Jersey and inspired by Antoine Watteau’s Pèlerinage à l’île deCythère, is unique in his work for its level of virtuosity and euphoria.

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Recollections of operas by Rossini, Bellini, Verdi, Puccini, Donizetti, and Busoni transcribed by Liszt, Chopin, Ginzburg, Thalberg, Carignani and Wittgenstein...

Vanessa Benelli Mosell turns from Stockhausen to the drama of Italian opera for her new album Casta Diva, to be released on Decca Classics on Friday 13 November 2020.

Benelli Mosell has assembled a collection of popular arias, overtures and themes fromNorma, La Bohème, Barbiere di Siviglia, Guillaume Tell, Madama Butterfly and more in virtuosic arrangements by some of great pianists of the 19th and 20th centuries. From lyrical variations by Chopin and Wittgenstein to pyrotechnics from Liszt, Thalburg and Ginzburg, these piano renditions unleash the instrument’s full capabilities, taking on the might of the orchestra. Often unapologetically flashy, these transcriptions provided not just a demonstration of technical prowess but also served as a haunting memory of opera in the days before recordings.

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