Alessio Pianelli | ISA

ISA is either imperative or 3rd person indicative from the Sicilian verb ‘isàri’, which means to raise, to lift from the ground. This album, ‘ISA‘, is a response to the desire for freedom, for elevation. The music in this album expresses the transformational strain to rise upwards, which however (and therefore) can not avoid the contrast with resistance, rigour and gravity.

ISA” is the third album in Alessio Pianelli‘s exploration of the six solo cello Suites by J.S. Bach, which doubles as a voyage both of discovery and self-discovery, including lesser-known 20th-century works as well as Pianelli’s own works, reflecting on the emotional and intellectual challenges which Bach’s writing poses to musicians and listeners alike.
In each album of this project a single one of these milestones of human civilisation is paired with music from the last century and that of today.
The albums are designed and produced in different years.

It is a research, therefore, made and experienced all together, one that banishes the fear (i.e.: the responsibility, but also the arrogance) of producing an allegedly “definitive” version of the Suites, and instead definitely embraces that the music of Johann Sebastian, and especially his Suites for cello, is open to endless interpretations, not only as the outcome of appropriate and informed philological choices, but also due to one’s background, culture and feelings, and also to the way the different pieces of music shed light on each other.

After “Prélude” and “Sulla Quarta“, here is now “ISA” for you, in which Alessio shares with your sensitivity the third “Suite” by J. S. Bach, the rare and virtuosic “Sonata op. 28” by Eugène-Auguste Ysaÿe, the “Suite op. 76” by Alexander Tcherepnin, together with a new vision composed by Alessio himself, aptly bearing the title “Da BACo a FaRFalLa” (Italian for “From chrysalis to butterfly”)

Enjoy your music!


“From BACo to FaRFalLa” is a piece I notated in 2015, over a period of instrumental and intimate experimentation. Envisioning the developmental path of a butterfly from its own interior perspective, I experienced my instrument on a purely energetic journey, one in which I set to music the fragility and then the glory of the natural striving for transformation, for high-flying, whilst being fully aware of my body, of the ground beneath and of its attraction.

Among the six Suites for solo cello by Johann Sebastian Bach, the third is certainly the one that tends most upwards, through continuous involutions and evolutions of the harmonic discourse, admirably and constantly anchored and re-anchored to a strong centre of gravity. Right from the start, in the Prelude, a first scale of C major falls to a very low pitch, as low as the cello can go. Thus we immediately have the cello’s lowest note, the C on the fourth string, which gives the sense of gravity, and from which everything lifts in a complex and intimate search for aerial freedom.

More sombre is Ysaÿe’s Sonata, in C minor, characterised by a constant dark, terraceous colour. It is a deep lament, both desperately damned and at the same time illuminated by its own rigour.
With the Suite by Tcherepnin, a Russian composer who lived for years in China, we stay around C, now however the focal point of soaring and levity. His Suite is a journey between different cultures, a celebration of freedom and lightness.

[Alessio Pianelli]

Cello: Alessio Pianelli

Music by: Alessio Pianelli (‘Da BACo a FaRFalLa’, track 1), Johann Sebastian Bach (‘Cello Suite No. 3, BWV 1009’, tracks 10-15), Eugène Ysaÿe (‘Sonata for cello solo, op. 28’, tracks 2-5), Alexander Tcherepnin (‘Suite for cello solo, op. 76’, tracks 6-9).
Album produced by Gianluca Cangemi & Luca Rinaudo

Recorded Aril 2018 by Luca Rinaudo and Gianluca Cangemi at Zeit Studio, Palermo (Italy)
Mixed and mastered by Luca Rinaudo at Zeit Studio, Palermo (Italy)

Art direction and graphic design by Antonio Cusimano /