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Christian Leotta

 

“The careful reading and faithfulness to the score, the exceptional wisdom, sensitivity and musicality as well as his technique and virtuosity … seem to prove that the Piano Sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven have found a faithful, committed and very competent performer in the young Italian pianist.”
Muzyka 21

Still in his twenties, the Catania-born, Como-based Christian Leotta is the youngest pianist to attempt the complete Beethoven piano sonatas since Daniel Baremboim performed the complete cycle in Tel Aviv in the 1960s. Leotta’s first performances of all 32 sonatas took place in Montréal in 2002 when he was just 22. Since then, he has performed the complete cycle 12 times in cities around the world including Madrid, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Vancouver, Venice, and Québec City. The first two volumes of Leotta’s complete Beethoven sonatas have been released on ATMA to international acclaim — including CD of the Month from Poland’s Muzyka 21 — and the third volume is scheduled for recording in June.

How does a 22-year old decide to embark on such an undertaking? Some credit must go to Leotta’s father, who gave his 11-year old son Barenboim’s recording of the complete Beethoven piano sonatas as a gift. Despite his tender age, the young Leotta was so deeply moved by Opus 111, in particular the Arietta, that he decided to learn it.

Leotta also acknowledges the influence of one of his teachers, Karl Ulrich Schnabel, who encouraged him to learn all 32 sonatas. Interestingly, Leotta’s studies with Schnabel link him to a musical lineage that traces its roots all the way back to Beethoven: Leotta’s teacher was the son of the legendary Arthur Schnabel, who was a student of Theodor Lesketizky, in turn a student of Carl Czerny, who was taught by the great Ludwig van himself. Leotta credits another teacher, the iconic Rosalyn Tureck, with passing along one of the most important lessons a musician can learn: to convey complex musical ideas without creating barriers between the composer and the audience.
As much as Beethoven is central to Leotta’s career, his repertoire is wide-ranging and includes Bach, Chopin, Debussy, Bartók, Liszt, Mozart and Schubert, among many others. A highlight of his recent engagements is the complete cycle of five piano concertos and the Choral Fantasy by Beethoven, performed in Guadalajara’s stunning Degollado Theatre.

Both at home and on the road, Leotta is a devoted reader with broad tastes. Texts by philosophers Seneca and Kant and sociologist Georg Simmel are of major interest, and he often returns to Balzac’s classic La Comédie humaine and the novels of Sicilian-born masters Giovanni Verga and Luigi Pirandello.

Since childhood, Leotta has been fascinated by geography and architecture – two passions that he is able to indulge fully in his breathtaking surroundings on Lake Como. “When my schedule permits, I love boating on the lake, watching the splendid villas and towns go by where Bellini and Liszt composed their music.”

Though other pianists of his generation are less inclined to concentrate so much of their touring and recording repertoire on the works of Beethoven, Leotta is unapologetic about his focus. In an interview with Como’s La Provincia, Leotta declared, “Beethoven is to music what Kant is to philosophy and Dante is to poetry. His music is so universal that it will always convey a meaningful message to any audience, past, present or future. It has been my enormous privilege to spend thousands of hours in the company of this master.”

By Luisa Trisi

Spotlights

Christian Leotta
Still in his twenties, the Catania-born, Como-based Christian Leotta is the youngest pianist to attempt the complete Beethoven piano sonatas since Daniel Baremboim performed the complete cycle in Tel Aviv in the 1960s. READ MORE...
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