Crossing Rachmaninoff

Directed by Rebecca Tansley

A winning portrait of Italian-born Auckland concert pianist Flavio Villani as he returns like the prodigal son to Italy for his concert debut, scaling one of the summits of the Romantic repertoire.


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  • ★★★★ review by Sarah McMullan on Letterboxd

    Flavio Villani decided that moving to NZ would be a test, his one chance to give his all to music and see if he was good enough to be a professional musician.

    It was a big move, literally as well as figuratively. Having grown up in Southern Italy part of a traditional family, his choice of career was not welcomed as a viable option by his traditional family. Nor was his lifestyle. So he left; and at the age of 26 began studying music at Auckland University.

    In 2014 he was presented with the opportunity to return to Italy and, with an orchestra, play one of his favourite pieces of music - Rachmaninoff's Second Concerto.

    A notoriously difficult piece for a pianist to play, the film follows Villani's preparation for the trip, and for a reunion with his family.

    Will they accept who he is now? How much will it matter if they don't?

    Rachmaninoff wrote his Second Concerto as a triumphant return to form after a fall from grace. Will it be the same for Flavio?

    An elegant, graceful documentary that illustrates the power in intimate storytelling; Crossing Rachmaninoff honors both the music and the musician, as well as the audience - a rare balance in films of this ilk.

    For lovers of classical music.

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