Get to know Francesco Tristano

Francesco-032 by Marie Staggat.jpg

Elliot Leavy

What do you know about Luxembourger musicians? Not a lot I would guess. Me neither. But I do know of one, and his ability to crisscross genres, experiment with sound and mix up music makes him worth at least ten.

His name is Francesco Tristano, and his broad range of musical talents make him suitable to play at what seem like paradoxical locations: the concert hall of the 19th century, which wouldn't go amiss in a Dostoevsky, and the Boiler Room of the 21st, which you would probably want to miss without an eckie. 

Francesco Tristano - Pacific FM (Original Mix), 2016

35 year old Tristano first debuted with the Russian National Orchestra in 2000. Since then, he has grown momentously into a highly regarded classical pianist with a repertoire half way between baroque (mainly Bach and before) and 20th and 21st-century music. His last album Surface Tension (2016) however, took a deep dive into techno. Created alongside techno pioneer Derrick May, the album signals yet another success of Tristano's musical endeavours, which in the past have lead to him working some of techno's earliest stars: Carl Craig, Jeff Mills, Mortiz Von Oswald and classical musician Alice Sara Ott.

If I could change one thing about the format of a classical concert it would probably be; the lighting, the seating, the programming, the pricing, the repertoire, the locations – wait, that’s six things already. The point is, the format of the classical concert is essentially the same today as it was in 1816. We can change it. Let us.
— Tristano, speaking to the Guardian before the 2016 London Jazz Festival

His juggling of genres, and exploration of piano house, minimal techno and trance music makes him one of the only artists to bridge the divide between the past and the present – his understanding of both worlds also puts him in the best position to do so.

Tristano's latest album Piano Circle Songs (2017), takes him back to his classical roots, exploring the softer side of his creative personality through simple, fugue-inducing melodies. Partly inspired after becoming a father, the album still capitalises on the complexities of Tristano's talents but does not signal an end to the artist's exploration of the electronic.

Francesco Tristano, Grey Light (2017)

Two sides of the same coin, Tristano's music champions the beauty of both ends of the musical spectrum –encompassing the therapeutic and cathartic energies of both classical and techno music. Next week, the artist will be performing the classical side of his coin with his UK debut of Piano Circle Songs at Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall, it would be a shame to miss out.

Get your tickets here.