Francesco Mazzonetto

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As a teenager, Mazzonetto scored a series of competition victories over adults, drawing positive critical notice.
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One of several charismatic teen virtuosi signed by Sony's classical division in the mid-2010s, perhaps on the theory that you can attract young listeners by offering them young artists, Francesco Mazzonetto was born in Turin in 1997. He made his debut at the city's venerable Circolo della Stampa recreation hall at the age of 12 and soon began to give concerts around Turin and in other northern Italian cities. These gained critical notice, but the bulk of the high-school-aged pianist's energies were devoted to competitions, where he took home top prizes even outside Italy. As early as 2009 he won first prize at the Concours Musicale de France in Aix-en-Provence. He was a repeat winner at that event, and over the next five years he scored a series of competition victories over adult pianists; mostly he avoided youth events. Mazzonetto studied at the Piano Academy of Turin, where his teacher was Maria Golia.

The prizes led to bigger concert opportunities. An appearance at an international piano festival at Casa Verdi in Milan drew positive critical notice, and that year also saw Mazzonetto perform a Haydn keyboard concerto with the Chamber Orchestra of Florence. In Milan, Mazzonetto caught the attention of a Sony label executive, and he was signed to that label. Mazzonetto took master classes with Muriel Chemin, Alessio Cioni, Riccardo Risaliti, and Boris Petrushansky. In 2017, still not yet 20 years old, he released his debut album, Italian Piano Works. The album's contents, featuring keyboard works by composers from Baldassare Galuppi to Nino Rota, represented bold choices for an unknown pianist. "[They] have no reason to envy Mozart or Beethoven," Mazzonetto pointed out to the Italian newspaper La Stampa. "With this album I want to introduce Italian music to the world." His high-school classes finished, Mazzonetto devoted himself to practicing for up to eight hours a day. With a fearsome technical arsenal taking shape, Mazzonetto also was attempting to develop a new way of presenting classical piano music: his concerts included short talks about the lives and music of the composers whose works he performed.