Classical pianist Allevi proves that the time is now

by Lauren Furniss

W ith an unruly mass of dark ringlets, blue jeans and a pair of black Chuck Taylors, Giovanni Allevi doesn’t look like your average classical pianist. But as he talks about the early masters that inspire him, he lights up in a way that marks him as a truly passionate musician.

Allevi performs with impeccable classical technique, yet defies the traditional standards that govern melody and rhythm. This has led critics to describe his work as “contemporary classical.”

“I think it is important now to take value from the past and transport it to the present and make new sounds,” Allevi says. “The rule of the composer is this — to break with the past and to try and create something new.”

Allevi debuted as a composer in 1997 with his first solo album, “13 Dita (13 Fingers).” Since then, he has released five studio albums, as well as a live CD and concert DVD of his 2007 “JOY” tour.

The Italian-born musician is a star in his home country, exalted as a prodigy by the media there.

Allevi has also captured the interest of younger generations not usually interested in classical music.

“It is a surprise for me because for a long time I had concerts in front of five, 10 people,” Allevi says. “But now young people come to listen to my music because they feel that music near their hearts.”

At 40, Allevi is something of a Renaissance man. In addition to graduating from Italian conservatories in Milan and Perugia with honors degrees in both piano and composition, he also earned an advanced degree in philosophy at the University of Macerata, Italy. Allevi says his philosophy studies have affected the way he looks at composing. “In the academic ambience, everyone says to you, ‘Why do you want to create new music when we have Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin?’ ” Allevi says. “Nowadays, we have written melodies that in the past no one could think about. Philosophy gave me a great help to win that intellectual battle to believe in the present.”

Allevi comes to Tokyo as part of his international “Piano Solo” tour. But it isn’t his first time; the pianist has performed in Japan three times since 2008.

Allevi cites his interactions with young people as one of the highlights of visiting Japan. “They are so sweet, they are so kind, they are so sensitive,” Allevi says. “They talk to me about great pressure from the society — they are anxious and they find something happy in my music.”

Giovanni Allevi’s “Piano Solo” concert will be held at Toppan Hall at 2:30 p.m. on June 12. Tickets cost ¥6,500 and can be purchased through E+, Pia and La. For more information, contact Toppan Hall Ticket Center at (03) 5840-2222 or visit www.toppanhall.com/