1994 – Galleria “Salon Privè”, Roma
cm 26 x 425

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di Roberto Cotroneo

In that period, I mean during the period in which I wrote those few pages for piano, inspired by Fiorenzo Zaffina’s works (if one can put it that way), my own work with the piano was still ‘in progress’. This was in 1994. I had written neither “If on a summer’s morning a little boy” – published at the end of that year – nor, and even more important still, the “Soon with Fire”, my first novel, a strongly desired monument on my part to the pianoforte as an object. And yet during that period the idea of spotlighting my attention on an instrument which had accompanied me for many years before continued to insinuate itself in an almost unconscious way. I don’t remember whether the idea was mine or had instead been given to me by Fiorenzo. Perhaps, as often happens, it was a dovetailing.
I thought about it and he encouraged me. Although above all I was attracted by a fact: the possibility of making a piano play by itself, like a mechanical machine, like one of those instruments which a year later I was to describe down to the smallest detail in the fifth chapter of “Soon with Fire”. If Fiorenzo’s work has been an incessant going back to the depths, the profundity of things, a long work and at times incomprehensible even for him, then my work has been a less material return, more oneiric than his although equally profound. I’ve dreamt of being a pianist but, and above all, I’ve lived with this possibility for a long time. Then personal stories take different paths. A way to detach oneself from this was to write a book in which I gave the ‘stage’ to the greatest pianist alive. Another way was to accompany an exhibition – which not by chance was entitled “DENTRO” – with a composition for pianoforte. And yet the paradox was the following: in order to really go into the things of my life I had to remain separated, separated from myself. In short, that I should play the written notes but without my being there.
The prodigy was a Yamaha piano, vertical and acoustic but with the hammers connected to electronic sensors, which was capable of being played. And then, by way of a computer disk capable of exactly reperforming what had been played. At the inauguration in that February of 1994 I remember the effect was a curious one. Besides the installations by Zaffina, the works of excavation/digging out which showed usual and refound objects (small toys, monitors and still other things), there was that instrument whose white and black keys went up and down by themselves, as if operated by an ineffable breeze. They were two parallel ways of getting to the bottom of things. A further work which completed and multiplied the perspective of that work.

di Roberto Cotroneo