The Cherubini Orchestra and Giovanni Sollima: reharsals and tour in Ravenna, Salerno and Jesi

Thursday, 03 March 2022

“A unique ensemble,’ says Giovanni Sollima of the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra, for its intense and continuous activity that makes it an Italian excellence. In the dual role of soloist and conductor, the cellist and composer once again meets the Cherubini on stage – or rather, on three stages. After rehearsing from 11 to 13 March in the San Romualdo auditorium, the Orchestra and Sollima will be in Salerno and Jesi on 15 and 17 March respectively. The first concert shall follow the reopening of the Teatro Verdi after a forced two-month break due to the pandemic, while at the Teatro Pergolesi the proceeds will be donated to the Lega del filo d’oro, the Italian Foundation for the Deafblind. On 18 March, we return instead to Ravenna, where the concert at San Romualdo is promoted by the International RBD Study Group, the medical conference that will be held in the Classense Library from 17 to 19 March. One of the most prestigious appointments of the international scientific community, the conference will see neurologists and scientists from all over the world discuss REM sleep behaviour disorder, which is also an early marker of neurodegenerative diseases with great social impact, including Parkinson’s disease. The event will also be live-streamed for free on ravennafestival.live. The programme features, alongside Haydn’s celebrated Concerto No. 2 for cello, Sollima’s Fecit Neap 17, dedicated to Naples where his musical ancestors and the musicians in his family were trained, and Gaetano Ciandelli’s Cello Concerto, a true musical discovery and an absolute novelty for today’s audience. 

Giovanni Sollima’s most recent visit to Ravenna was last summer, when he entrusted the Cherubini with his Six Studies on Dante’s Inferno, commissioned by the Festival for the seventh centenary of the poet’s death, but he has been visiting the city for over twenty years. It is therefore unsurprising that the musician sums up his relationship with Ravenna by describing it as a “home”: over the years, the relationship with the Festival and Cherubini has offered many extraordinary opportunities to see him on the Ravenna stage with his trusty companion – that Ruggieri cello which may have never been so reckless as in Sollima’s hands. A musician who can travel back and forth between the empyrean of classical music, where he has played with the greats, from Yo-Yo Ma to Riccardo Muti, from Sinopoli to Argerich, and the most irreverent eclecticism, crossing all layers of music, from grunge and rock anthems to the sunny landscapes of his Sicily and the Mediterranean. On this occasion Sollima will perform for the first time in San Romualdo, the Orchestra’s new home in Ravenna, inaugurated in December with Riccardo Muti’s rehearsals open to the public.

At the heart of the programme, which revolves around the ancient cultural centrality of Naples, is the mystery of Gaetano Ciandelli, a name that belongs to a Neapolitan cellist who was a pupil of Paganini but also to at least two other musicians between the 18th and 19th centuries. On the trail of Ciandelli for more than ten years, Sollima rediscovered a Concerto in the Fondo Noseda of the Library in Milan’s Conservatoire: “I brought it back in modern notation and studied the little information present, while the rest could be deduced from a certain practice. What emerges is a slow movement framed by two short recitatives and a beautiful Rondo in 6/8 with a central section in minor (exactly as in Haydn’s Concerto), and also a slower one with pizzicato strings followed by a final accelerando – it almost seems an open door to Beethoven or Rossini…’.