‘I fell in love with Tel Aviv at first sight,” says Italian pianist Vanessa Benelli Mosell, who returns to Israel for a concert with the Israel Camerata Jerusalem on December 26 at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. “People are open and very friendly, and I feel very safe here, contrary to what we hear on TV. Rome, Milan, London are great cities, but Tel Aviv is one of the few places where I feel at home, where I could have lived. Another city is Moscow.”
The 26-year-old Italian star made her Israeli debut earlier this year. But what about Moscow? Born in Prato near Florence, Benelli Mosell started playing piano at the age of three. At seven, she was accepted to the International Piano Academy in Imola. She made her first public appearance at 11 with renowned French pianist Pascal Roge, who described her as “the most natural musical talent I have encountered in my entire life as a musician and teacher.” At 18, she went to Russia to study at the Moscow Conservatory with Mikhail Voskresensky.
“The beginning was very hard,” recalls Benelli Mosell in a phone interview from London, where she lives, after completing her studies at the Royal College of Music. “I was a young European girl born in a small provincial town and knew nothing of other ways of life but the Western one. In Moscow, I had to share a small room with many other girls in a farfrom- clean dormitory. To find a piano to rehearse was a problem, and it was freezing cold outside. Not speaking the language, I felt so lonely! I wanted to go home, but my mother told me: ‘Your school is there!’ And after all, I do not give up so easily.”
But as soon as she learned the language and made new friends, things improved.
“I loved the sense of community among the students. Everything was strong there – feelings, friendships, love of music. But above all, the way they teach music in Russia. Teachers give you solutions for all your problems, such as sound, musicality, etc., instead of talking about the history of the piece and similar things, which could be interesting but which you can learn on your own,” she says.
Aside from music, she is a typically modern girl who enjoys hanging out with friends and is very fond of fashion.
“At first, I wrapped myself up to my eyes when I went out into the streets of Moscow; but when I saw that the most fashionable Russian girls walked around without warm hats and scarves, I changed my attitude!” laughs the pianist, who spent three years in the Russian capital.
Benelli Moselle, who is attracted to both the classical and contemporary repertoire, is internationally renowned for her performances of Stockhausen’s Klavierstuecke. Following her recording of the piece, she was invited by the composer himself to study with him in Germany.
“Stockhausen taught me that sound is alive. It is a living thing. It is a lovely material that you can transform into many other things,” she says. “He also taught me to think separately about rhythm, dynamics and tempos, which is technically a very interesting brain exercise. From him I also learned the sense of the show in performance.”
Benelli Mosell, who performs throughout the world to great audience and critical acclaim, says that for her, getting as close as possible to the composer’s concept of a piece is of the utmost importance.
“In the future, I see myself widening what I am already doing and probably running a chamber music festival: Playing chamber music with friends is the greatest fun!” she says.