Violinist Domenico Nordio: Musical Message from Italy

Domenico Nordio’s career began after his first recital at the age of ten, and at the age of sixteen he won the international Viotti competition in Verchel. Along with various other achievements in international competitions was the European Grand Prix in 1988, when D. Nordio became the first and only Italian to win this award. Now known as the Venetian Wunderkind, the violinist performs in the world’s most important halls, such as La Scala in Milan, Carnegie Hall in New York, the Barbican Center in London, and collaborates with London, Paris, Rome, Switzerland, and other symphony orchestras. D. Nordio, who is returning to Lithuania, talked about his connection with Italian composers, the ups and downs of classical music, and imperfect performance.

Tonight you are performing in Klaipeda together with Klaipeda Chamber Concert. Do you have a certain pre-concert routine?

Nothing special. Most importantly, I try to relax and concentrate. But not really getting ready for the concert comes out because you can’t predict what the experience will be like. Concerting is not a job for me, it is never normal and I can’t get used to the stage in any way, no matter how often I play. So every time it seems like my first time on stage and no matter how hard I try, I’m not ready for it. An hour before this concert, we will meet to rehearse a bit, which is not usually the case. So today’s routine is a little different.

You have already performed in Lithuania many times. What sets this experience apart from performing in other countries?

I am always very happy to return to Lithuania. I have given concerts in Kaunas, Klaipeda, Vilnius, music festivals, as well as in collaboration with various conductors and ensembles. This year I will give a concert in Klaipeda with the Klaipeda Chamber Orchestra, and later I am very much looking forward to my concert in Vilnius with the orchestra and where I will perform J. Brahms’s violin concerto in D major with the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra and conductor M. Pitrėnas. I know the conductor because I played his first concert in Lithuania with him and again a little later. So I really respect this conductor. For me, as for every violinist, J. Brahms’s violin concerto is a very important piece, in my opinion the most important violin concert. As a result, I am looking forward to this performance.

Every time I enjoy collaborating with Lithuanian conductors and ensembles, they are always well prepared and take rehearsals and concerts seriously. I have noticed that there is a certain respect and interest in classical music in Lithuania, which I, as a representative of classical music, greatly appreciate and therefore I am happy to return here to perform.

You have performed in the most prestigious music halls, in many different countries and cultures. How would you compare these experiences? Was there a concert that you would consider particularly important to you?

I actually performed everywhere I could. I’ve played in many countries and the experiences were really different, each important and unique in its own way. There is constant acquaintance with other cultures, travel.

I’ve noticed that interest in classical music is changing these days, as if another wave is coming. In my opinion, interest in classical music, its concerts and its sound has waned in Western European countries and North America. Perhaps tired of this, people living here are looking for newer, more interesting experiences; they are interested in other cultures and foreign music traditions. I don’t think it foretells the end of classical music. I think it’s just another wave: culture has its tides, like everything else. Various cultural changes are also taking place for different political and economic reasons.

Most interestingly, however, there is a very rapidly growing interest in classical music in other places – especially in South America, Eastern Europe, and, of course, the Far East, where the cult of classical music has developed for some time. In South America, very young audiences gather for classical music concerts, and the orchestras there are of an extremely high standard, well prepared. In Eastern Europe, I also notice that interest in classical music is much stronger. This surprises me and is certainly very gratifying. Sure, not all places have good economic conditions, but there are good musicians everywhere, in countries where it would be hard to expect. But as I said, in my opinion, it’s just a wave, not a real change.

You come from Italy and grew up in an Italian music school. How would you describe this culture and your experience?

The Italian Violin School is undoubtedly of paramount importance to the whole history of the violin. It can be said that the instrument was born in this country and from this came all the great masters of violin making, changing the attitude towards the instrument. The violin in Italy was the most important instrument of the Baroque period and there are many remarkably famous baroque Italian composers who have created a lot of repertoire for violin, the violinists performed so far – A. Vivaldi, T. Albinoni, G. Tartini, etc. True, it should be mentioned that later, during the Romantic period, the violin withdrew and gave up the most important place in the country’s music life to singing and opera. It is very disappointing that we do not have any strong violin composers during Romanticism, as the Germans had J. Brahms or the Russians P. Tchaikovsky. True, there was Paganini, but he was the only exception. Italy was dominated by opera and not much new Italian repertoire was created for the violin. Of course, wars broke out in the 20th century and the Baroque Italian violin school was not revived. In my opinion, after a very long break and abandonment, country is recovering at the moment. However, it is clear that these are only the first steps, and it will take several decades for us to have a strong and distinctive Italian violin school again. However, there are a lot of promising musicians in this country and I feel that the violin culture is recovering after all the ordeals.

That’s why I’m excited to be an Italian violinist and appreciate Italian music. True, it should be mentioned that even today in Italy there is no best condition for studying the art of violin and I myself studied with teachers in France and Switzerland. I hope the situation will change in the future.

Could you name that you have a connection to the violin repertoire of Italian composers?

Of course. It is extremely important to me to revive the work of 20th century Italian composers who have created really very strong and great works for violin, but so far they have not been discovered and are not performed for political reasons. For example, there are many composers – Giuseppe Barzizza, Marco Enrico Bossi, Bruno Bartolozzi, etc. – who have developed a really strong violin repertoire in the interwar period. I’m sure he’d be interested in more than one modern artist. It is true that since Italy was a fascist state during World War II and it lost the war, their work was forgotten – no one did it and did not care about the musical legacy of these composers. In fact, their music was discovered quite recently. And right now, I’m trying to resurrect it to a new life, because it’s really worth it. So I’m currently recording and doing their work. All of this is very important to me and I believe that more Italian composers of the last century deserve to have their music performed and live on.

I read that after each concert you feel dissatisfied with your performance and find it difficult to forgive yourself for various flaws and imperfections. What would be the perfect concert experience for you?

There is definitely no perfect concert. We need to come to terms with that. During each performance, you get nervous, make mistakes, and don’t deliver the perfect performance option you might have expected from yourself. All performers face this and such troubles should be accepted as the norm. There are bad and good orchestras, good and bad audiences. I have had all kinds of concerts.

Also, as I mentioned, every concert is different. Every time it’s a new space, a new audience, a new program, a new mood and a new self. As a result, what may be perfect one day may not fit at all the next. Or whatever sounds perfect to one listener will dislike another. So I have no idea for a perfect concert.

The most important thing in a concert is to sincerely convey the desired musical message to the listeners. That it would actually reach them, despite mistakes and glitches. The message must be conveyed in such a way that it is clear to the listener, even during a failed performance. This is a successful concert in my opinion.

Thank you for the interview!

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