Classical Music: Interview with the pianist Federico Albanese

We sit down with the composer pianist and producer Federico Albanese. How classical music is changing artistically because of the digital market.

Last week we discussed about the new ways to listen to classical music, with a focus on main actors such as Classical:NEXT, IDAGIO, Qobuz and Yellow Lounge. This week, we sit down with composer and pianist Federico Albanese for an interview. His new album ‘By the Deep Sea‘ was released in February 2018 with the label Berlin Classics Neue Meister/Edel and has been garnering much acclaim.

Which do you think is the best streaming service for classical music?

Difficult, I would say Tidal for the quality as you can stream lossless music, so the sound quality is pretty high. Nowadays, Spotify and Apple Music are very good platforms too, not only for streaming, but also to promote your stuff. I would say though, the best way to enjoy a classical record is on vinyl. Not only because of the support itself, but also because of the gesture, taking some time to take out a record, place it on the player, and listen to it. Sometimes streaming can be a bit superficial as everything goes very fast and you can easily skip and skip without really focusing on the content.

Do you find that classical music streaming is beneficial to the artists and listeners of classical music, and why?

Marketwise it’s beneficial, for sure. Overall it’s a technology that allows people to discover an infinite catalogue of music for a very fair price. And for the artist, I would say it’s also beneficial, as it allows your music to be spread out worldwide with some ease.

How do you think most people listen to classical music?

Hard to say. I believe that the very passionate people still prefer to use physical products, either LP or CDs. But generally I really can't say, I personally listen via both systems, I have a decent record collection but often use Tidal or Spotify as well. It’s also a matter of fact that the music fruition has changed. If you think about all the development of bluetooth speakers – SONOS for example – which are now sounding better and better, and are easily linkable with phones and laptops, then of course streaming becomes the main system.

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Do you think that classical music is changing artistically because of the digital market?

Partly yes. The big development and growth of the streaming services is helpful on one hand but also superficial on the other. People are now listening to classical / contemporary music mainly for focusing, concentrating, studying, and relaxing. So it became a background music in a way, something you put on when you have to do something else.

Ok, generally speaking, music is also background. You can put a record while cooking, chatting with friends, reading, but the difference is that you choose which music suits best for that peculiar occasion. With streaming, quite often platforms algorithms are deciding for you, and you’re not entirely in control of what’s up next. And in the end you’re fine with it because it’s pleasant and you don’t have to think about it. With a system like this, it’s obvious that some of the music you end up streaming is very superficial, not interesting or derivative of something else. Sometimes, you can even find artists that only exist on streaming platforms, but they don’t have history or background at all.

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How do you go about making an album? Do you go into a studio, or do you record yourself and produce it, or both?

It’s a combination of both. Usually I keep the recording process very open and spontaneous, and I do it by myself with my tape recorders and pianos. Sometimes also while I’m traveling, I might take some time after a soundcheck if there is a good instrument and room, and record something. I also produced the music myself. Studio time comes when we start mixing. I think that’s an essential part of the process that also requires and external ear which can help to see things from another prospective, and let the music flow better in the end.

Listen to Federico Albanese and buy his new album ‘By the Deep Sea’ at https://www.federicoalbanese.com/ and listen to his playlist:

To go a bit further, check out our guide “How to distribute a classical music release?“.