Federico Colli


"The new Michelangeli! The new Maurizio Pollini! Although his artistry is completely different, the comparison is appropriate because he really is extraordinary"

The Independent*****

"Colli takes care to seduce before sweeping the listener off his or her feet"

The Times

"Piano-playing of wonderful subtlety [...] Schumann's big, rarely played sonata suited the mixture of flamboyance and lyricism that characterises his playing"

The Guardian*****

"Seriously beautiful pianism with wonderful tone; very sensitive to nuances, voicing and atmosphere; intelligent, energetic and never heavy-handed."

The Independent

"He's a superb pianist, totally amazing. He was fresh, he completely reinvented the Emperor."

Kathryn Stott, BBC Radio 3

Italian pianist Federico Colli is internationally recognised for his intelligent, imaginative interpretations and impeccable technique, praised for his ‘crystalline brilliance and translucence that takes you to the heart of everything he plays’ (Gramophone).

Federico first came to prominence after winning the Salzburg Mozart Competition in 2011 and the Leeds International Piano Competition in 2012. Since then, he has been performing with orchestras including the Mariinsky Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, RAI National Symphony, BBC Symphony Royal Scottish National, RTÉ National Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Hallé Orchestra, Vienna Chamber, Camerata Salzburg, Polish Radio National Symphony, Philharmonie Zuidnederland, National Philharmonic of Ukraine, and Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira; at venues such as the Vienna Musikverein and Konzerthaus, Berlin Konzerthaus, Munich Herkulessaal,  Hamburg Laeiszhalle, Beethovenhalle Bonn, NDR Landesfunkhaus in Hannover, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Muziekgebouw Eindhoven,  Barbican Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Usher Hall in Edinburgh, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Dublin National Concert Hall, Salle Cortot in Paris, Rudolfinum Dvorak Hall in Prague, Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome, Teatro degli Arcimboldi in Milan, Lingotto in Turin, Philharmonic Concert Hall in Warsaw, Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro, Nikkei Hall, and the Mariinsky Concert Hall in St Petersburg.

Federico has worked with esteemed conductors including Valery Gergiev, Yuri Temirkanov, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Vasily Petrenko, Juraj Valčuha, Thomas Søndergård, Alan Buribayev, Joji Hattori, Jasper Kaspszyk, Ed Spanjaard, Roman Kofman, Sir Mark Elder, and Dennis Russel Davies.

To coincide with his debut at the Southbank Centre’s International Piano Series in April 2014, his debut solo CD produced by Champs Hill Records was released to great critical acclaim, featuring works by Beethoven, Scriabin and Mussorgsky.

Recent recitals include Rio de Janeiro City of Arts, Sociedad Filarmonica of Bilbao, Southampton Turner Sims, LSO St Luke’s, Harrogate Spring Series, Società dei Concerti in Milan, Ferrara Musica, and Musica Insieme Bologna; with festival appearances at the Ruhr Piano Festival, MiTo Settembre Musica, Brescia and Bergamo International Piano Festival, Hong Kong Joy of Music, Dvorak Prague, and Duszniki International Chopin Piano Festival.

Highlights in 2016/17 include debuts with the Philharmonia Orchestra under Alpesh Chauhan, performing Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2; with the Pomeriggi Musicali Orchestra performing Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto No. 2;  and at the Eilat Chamber Music Festival. He returns to the Southbank Centre’s International Piano Series for a solo recital. Further engagements in Italy include recitals in Rome, Florence, Naples, as well as concerto performances with the Orchestra della Toscana, performing Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3. Further ahead, Federico makes his debut at Wigmore Hall, London.

This biography is for information only and should not be reproduced.

Rachmaninov No. 3 / Accademia di Santa Cecilia / Juraj Valčuha - Parco della Musica, Rome

April 2016

Colli left the audience speechless with his flawless performance […] an excellent interpretation.

Guerrino Mattei, Avanti!

Mozart K488 / Thomas Søndergård / RSNO - Glasgow Royal Concert Hall & Usher Hall, Edinburg

10, 11 March 2016

On came Colli, with playing that was dry and pellucid, in a tremendous account of K488 that was super-articulate, where the immaculate pianist’s right foot seemed to eschew the use of the sustaining pedal as an expressive tool. His playing was consistently detached, but never mechanical. He was phenomenal, with his clarity of playing underlined by the cut-down band.

Herald Scotland****

Federico Colli [...] so apparently effortlessly showed us how Mozart should be played. His Bach Chorale encore won him every heart in the concert hall.

Edinburgh Guide

Società dei Concerti di Trieste - Solo Recital: Mozart/Scriabin

January 2016

Federico Colli wins the audience of the Società dei Concerti di Trieste. [...] The young pianist from Brescia shows refined virtuosity and interpretative acuity.

Circuito Musica

Mozart K.488 / Federico Ferri / Orchestra dell’Arena di Verona - Teatro Filarmonico, Verona

January 2016

an amazing concert for technical quality and interpretation. [...] Colli's talent leaves the listener in awe.

Il Corriere Musicale

The expressive tension, the tonal variety and the rich phrasing are irresistible to the listener's ears. [...] Federico Colli is a performer of extraordinary freshness, elegance and originality.


Beethoven No. 2 / RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra / Alan Buribayev / National Concert Hall

Dublin, November 2015

Colli is a player with a sophisticated tonal palette, and his approach to early Beethoven was crisp, clearly sculpted and always musically well-mannered. Colli’s performance was in the best virtuoso tradition, tonally resourceful and wickedly witty.

Michael Dervan, The Irish Times

the dazzling 27-year-old took it [Beethoven’s second piano concerto] in his stride, and it was not difficult to scent the styles of Mozart and Haydn here. Colli is a supremely talented technician and well capable of keyboard histrionics, but he impressed with maturity and common sense. Colli allowed it to flow naturally, with admirable elegance and lashings of panache.

Dick O'Riordan, Sunday Business Post

Rachmaninov No 3 / Philharmonia Zuidnederland / Ed Spanjaard / Amsterdam Concertgebouw

July 2015

Throughout the opening Allegro ma non tanto, Colli energized in some technically outstanding passages. His big hands sprawled over the keyboard, seemingly without effort, tackling Rachmaninov's high concentration of notes. In the Finale: Alla breve, Colli presented a stimulating, virtuosic cadenza, followed by the orchestra’s impressive interplay between the flute, clarinet and horn, producing another highlight. Colli clearly possesses the technical mastery for this extremely challenging work, so it will be interesting to see how this work will grow with him over time.

David Pinedo, Bachtrack

The Italian Federico Colli is in many ways an old fashioned romantic piano virtuoso. Colli impressed with extremely vibrant and fantastic playing.

Mischa Spel, NRC Handelsblad

Brescia Bergamo International Piano Festival - Solo Recital: Bach/Busoni/Hess/Frank/Brahms/Schumann

May 2015

Very long applauses and two encores for the young pianist[who played] Brahms and Schumann, impressing with freedom of expression and musical insights. The beautiful sound, extremely rare, is one of the particularities of the pianism of Federico Colli.

Fulvia Conter, Giornale di Brescia

Sala Verdi, Milan - Solo Recital: Mozart/Schubert/Scriabin/Ravel

February 2015

Colli mesmerises with his excellent technique and timbre. Federico Colli is a young musician with extraordinary qualities, and an outstanding communicative approach. We are in front of a musician of exceptional level and gifted with an extraordinary technique that allows him to show an uncommon timbric palette, with calibrated sounds, extreme clarity in the articulation of the notes and very refined research of orchestral sonorities. It is easy to imagine an international career at the highest levels for this artist, justified by qualities of real excellence.

Luca Chierici, Il Corriere Musicale

Turner Sims, Southampton - Solo Recital: Mozart/Schubert/Scriabin/Ravel

February 2015

Staggering musicianship and maturity from Federico Colli...his intelligent musicianship and mature approach was a joy to hear and watch...Colli breathed new life into Paisiello’s original vocal lines [of Mozart’s Six Variations on “Salve tu Domine”]...Colli added his own individual stamp [to Schubert’s Four Impromptus, D935]...The five variations of the third Impromptu (B flat) were spell-binding, particularly in the second and last which, under Colli’s fingers, sounded freshly minted in its delicacy and playfulness...Colli managed to illuminate [Scriabin's Sonata No 10's] taut single movement structure across 12 minutes that traversed graceful to grandiose. It was Gaspard de la nuit that most clearly demonstrated Colli’s staggering technical facility. Ravel claimed that the challenges in this triptych were of “transcendental difficulty”, but if so they were more than met by Colli in a near flawless performance...it was Colli’s towering virtuosity in the mercurial “Scarbo” that dazzled. Intelligence, imagination and immaculate technique made for a truly rewarding evening in performances that will have consolidated his elevated standing.

David Truslove, Bachtrack

Rachmaninov No 3 / BBC Symphony Orchestra / Sakari Oramo

Barbican - January 2015

Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto, played with formidable delicacy by Federico Colli [...] limpid tone and calligraphic phrasing [...] Colli takes care to seduce before sweeping the listener off his or her feet.

Anna Picard, The Times

The concert’s centrepiece, meanwhile, was Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto, with Federico Colli as soloist, a late replacement for Yevgeny Sudbin. Winner of the 2012 Leeds piano competition, Colli has had the concerto in his repertory for some time, though its notorious difficulty makes any performance at short notice an immense challenge. Colli’s technical prowess proved awesome from the outset [...] stupendous, exploring the grandest of passions in the intermezzo, and closing with one of the most electrifying accounts of the finale I can remember.

Tim Ashley, The Guardian

[...] we were lucky in the replacement for an indisposed Yevgeny Subdin, young Leeds and Salzburg prizewinner Federico Colli, making his London concerto debut. An inspired one, to say the least. This is an artist who not only plays all the notes but also brings an absolutely individual imagination to what lies behind them. [...] transcendental pianist with bags of imagination [...] he handled his first big meditation in the slow movement with a boldness that nevertheless brought tears to the eyes, and he managed the cavalcade that leads to the finale’s big tune, so often fudged, with perfect impetus towards a winged poem.

David Nice, The Arts Desk

[...] imaginative phrasing and impressive technical dexterity [...] This was an impressive performance, especially given the late notice (he received the call on Wednesday lunchtime) and I doubt it will be long before Colli becomes a regular concerto performer here in London.

Mark Pullinger, Bachtrack

That's absolutely thrilling! [...] huge applause from the members of the orchestra and of course from the public here in the Barbican, lots of whom are giving him a standing ovation.

Martin Handley, Radio 3 Live in Concert

Beethoven/Mussorgky/Scriabin Debut CD

Champs Hill CHRCD079

Entirely individual, [Colli] takes you back to the days of Lupu and Perahia when Leeds struck gold. [...] I can only celebrate a crystalline brilliance and translucence that takes you to the very heart of everything he plays [...] His [Colli's] Scriabin is a marvel of clarity and refinement [...] There is naturalness combined with the strongest personal projection. This is a finely recorded album.

Bryce Morrison, Gramophone

[Colli's] special brand of poetic intensity [...] ingenious fluctuations of texture and revelatory harmonic tectonics [...] reveals felicities and subtleties that often pass unacknowledged. [...] Colli's captivating ability to illuminate even the most densely packed musical terrain [...] A highly accomplished debut disc that bodes well for the future.

Julian Haylock, BBC Music Magazine ****

Beethoven’s ‘Appassionata’ Sonata is full of youthful fire in this performance by the recent Leeds winner (and last issue’s cover artist) Federico Colli. In short, it comprises the storm, the calm and the fury: I can almost imagine this is how Beethoven would have played it. Colli shows his beautiful shades of colour in the wildly demanding Scriabin Tenth Sonata, where the trills and abrupt rhythms are given their full worth by the performer. With Mussorgsky’s Pictures, it can often be the case that pianists tend to overdo the drama. Colli, however, is not out to score cheap points. The ‘Promenade’ binds the sections together without coming across as repetitive, and the big chords on the final pages are never harsh or banging. This is an impressive recording – the whole release is proof that the Leeds judges made the right decision in selecting Colli as their number one.

Pianist Magazine *****

From the first moments [...] one realizes that a substantial pianistic talent is on display. [...] This is a well-recorded recital by an impressive young artist. [...] you should give this disc a listen just to become acquainted with what a worthy member of the younger generation of pianists has to say about these seminal masterpieces of Western music. [...] Colli handles all of these elements skillfully [...] draw[ing] the listener along in compelling fashion [...] The considerable virtuosic demands of the piece would seem pose no challenges to this pianist.


Festival Pianistico Internazionale di Brescia e Bergamo / Rachmaninov Concerto No. 3

with the Filarmonica del Festival under Pier Carlo Orizio

thrilling performance from Federico Colli of Rachmaninov’s Third Concerto [...] the exceptional pianist Federico Colli [...] not only was Colli able to rise to the challenging Finale, but his personality also shined throughout the first two movements, proving that interpretative research of this fascinating score is far from over

Marco Bizzarini, Giornale di Brescia

Festival Pianistico Internazionale di Brescia e Bergamo / Solo Recital

Beethoven, Scriabin, Mussorgsky

Federico Colli mesmerises with his interpretative research and virtuosism. Exciting concert by the young pianist from Brescia [who delivered] new interpretations of Beethoven and the Russian composers.

Marco Bizzarini, Giornale di Brescia

International Piano Series, Queen Elizabeth Hall

April 2014

Whenever Italy throws up a brilliant young pianist, hopeful comparisons are made. The new Michelangeli! the new Maurizio Pollini! [...] although his artistry is completely different from that of either of his great predecessors, the comparison is appropriate because he really is extraordinary [...] Colli’s greatest gift: absolute clarity of intention.

Michael Church, The Independent *****

Schumann’s big, rarely played sonata [No 1 in F sharp minor] suited the mixture of flamboyance and lyricism that characterises his playing [...] tangible glee [...] wonderful subtlety [...] moody, rapt and gloriously poetic. Colli’s Mozart [Sonata No 5 in G major, K283] is very direct and admirably free from frills and preciosity; the finale was tremendous in its elan and wit. The Appassionata [Beethoven], meanwhile, was a thing of self-conscious extremes that blended extraordinary stillness – the central andante was breathtaking – with ferocious turbulence.

Tim Ashley, The Guardian *****

The playing was stylish and elegant in the opening Allegro [of Mozart's G Major Sonata] and the phrasing immaculate while the passagework was very clean and even. [...] Colli brought out the wit and humour and the elements of harmonic surprise [...] His playing was technically very impressive in the opening movement [of Beethoven's Appassionata]. The finale was a dazzling piece of playing with Colli doing a fabulous job whipping up the dark whirling turbulence of the movement while the coda was a pure adrenaline rush. he is clearly a very fine Schumann exponent. The opening of the piece [First Piano Sonata] was arresting with Colli capturing perfectly the schizophrenic shifts between the dreamy and impetuous sides of Schumann’s personality. he finale of this sonata is technically very demanding and Colli rose to the challenge with aplomb. He succeeded in creating a shifting vista of highly coloured tableau and some of the passagework was played with a ravishing tenderness and warmth and was full of feeling. As an encore, Colli gave a deft and highly accomplished account of Pletnev’s transcription of Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. This was a great debut from Colli and he is clearly a rising star of the keyboard.

Seen and Heard International

Hindemith, Beethoven and Brahms, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Vasily Petrenko, Preston Guild Hall

January 2014

An exhilarating performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 ‘The Emperor’. Captivating the audience Colli’s delightfully spirited and invigorating playing swept through the hall like a breath of fresh air. I especially enjoyed Colli’s sense of youthful urgency in the opening movement Allegro and his glorious playing of the Adagio generated an intense yet delicate poetry.

Michael Cookson, Seen and Heard International

The slightly-built Italian, whose trademark appears to be a mop of curly hair and a neatly-tied cravat, has an impeccable pedigree having carried off first prize at both Salzburg in 2011 and the Leeds International Piano Festival in 2012. And he’s a prodigious young talent, making effortless work of Beethoven’s masterful but technically demanding ‘Emperor’ piano concerto. Visually, the cravat is the most flamboyant thing about Colli – his playing style is composed, with all his internal energy being channelled through long, elegant fingers and into a fluidly graceful, but technically impeccable, performance. The flourish of the opening movement was impressive, but the central allegro, with its gossamer soft piano and delicate accompaniment by the Phil – including Fiona Fulton’s delightful flute playing – was a thing of beauty.

Catherine Jones, The Liverpool Echo

Leeds International Piano Competition 2012 – Final – Beethoven Piano Concerto ‘Em

September 2012

Colli, flamboyant in a scarlet cravat and cummerbund, aspired to high drama, launching the concerto with a thrilling majesty that never let up, even in the slow movement where his playing was remarkable in its lyrical beauty.

Tim Ashley, The Guardian

Seriously beautiful pianism with wonderful tone; very sensitive to nuances, voicing and atmosphere; intelligent, energetic and never heavy-handed: the sort of playing, indeed, that you don't really associate with the final of a piano competition.

Jessica Duchen, The Independent

It was a winning performance. It was masterly.

Benjamin Frith, BBC Radio 3

He's a superb pianist, totally amazing. He was fresh, he completely reinvented the Emperor.

Kathryn Stott, BBC Radio 3

This year’s competition was deservedly won by the Italian Federico Colli. His exuberant, sharp-witted traversal of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto.

Graham Rickson, TheArtsDesk.com

Federico Colli gave a performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto that had a wonderfully sprung lightness and an underlying tension that brought out a real Beethovenian feel. His was a performance that was beautifully poised and shaped.

The Classical Reviewer

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