Musical Notes // An Interview with Alex Raineri
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MUSICAL NOTES  // an interview with Alex Raineri

The Southern Cross Soloists recently sat down with our youngest associate member and star of the upcoming Salon concert to find out just what makes this talented and dedicated, Brisbane-born pianist tick.

A.    What music are you listening to at the moment?

Currently I’m soaking up the repertoire that I’m due to perform very soon! Pieces such as Gaspra by Beat Furrer, Mozart Piano Concerto No. 21, Messiaen Poems Pour Mi, Boulez Sur Incises, Ravel Le Tombeau de Couperin, Grisey Vortex Temporum, Scriabin â€˜White Mass’ Sonata, among others.  
B.    Is there a particular song or a musical passage that never fails to move you emotionally?

A few instantly pop to mind:
  • I saw a totally mind-blowing rendition last year by Imogen Cooper at the Melbourne Recital Centre of the Schubert D960 Sonata - Incredible piano playing;
  • I’m always affected by Magdalena Kozena’s rendition of Ich bin der welt Abhanden Gekommen from Mahler’s Ruckert Lieder;
  • The Brahms Op. 117 Three Intermezzi are in my desert island list, the Radu Lupu performance is profoundly beautiful;
  • Strauss’ Elektra. The whole opera is amazing, the recording with Birgit Nilsson and Regina Resnik is out of this world;
  • Isabelle Faust’s rendition of the famous Bach D minor Violin Partita;
  • The Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde, again with Birgit Nilsson;
  • and lastly… I find Ashkenazy’s rendition of the Rachmaninoff b minor Prelude (Op. 32 No. 10) is particularly powerful.
C.    What is it that draws you to your instrument?

Firstly, the unbelievable amount of keyboard music that there is to explore. As pianists we get our solo repertoire, a huge amount of wonderful concertos, a never-ending supply of chamber works, lieder and art-song repertoire, and I find that contemporary composers are forever finding new ways to approach writing for our instrument and exploring the limitless possibilities that the piano has to offer, despite it’s constructional limitations. 

Secondly, I quite enjoy that unlike most other instrumentalists, pianists are unable to form a close bond with a specific instrument. Yes this is a setback and can sometimes be rather annoying, but for me it’s very exciting to sit down at a new piano and part of the practice or performance is discovering what this unfamiliar instrument has to offer. I view this is as part of my keyboard technique, the ability to explore possibilities of unfamiliar pianos and adapt to their weaknesses and strengths. 

Thirdly, despite our absence from most orchestral contexts, pianists have by far the most active and consistent role in the bulk of the chamber repertory. This opens up all kinds of possibilities for collaborations that, whilst taking into account my solo playing, is fundamentally what drives and stimulates my musical practice. 

D.    Describe your perfect day?

I’m afraid I’m a bit of a musician cliché, my perfect day includes over-eating, stress and guilt free practice, several coffees and a glass or two of wine in the evening! 

E.    What is your most valued possession?

Cheesy answer – my piano, diary, computer and phone. 

F.    Who would you be or have you been nervous to meet?

I remember feeling being full of nervous excitement prior to working with Andreas Ottensamer, Sara Macliver, Imogen Cooper, Paul Lewis, Brett Dean, TSO, WASO, QSO…the list goes on and on!  But, I find that once the first nervous meeting/rehearsal is underway, things start to calm down – at the end of the day we’re all colleagues! 

It’s particularly wonderful when this blossoms into ongoing collaborations, such as my relationship with the Southern Cross Soloists that started last October with a nervous Till Eulenspiegels rehearsal at the Sydney Con (a particularly terrifying induction!).

Some musical heroes that I would absolutely love to meet include Mitsuko Uchida, Radu Lupu, Magdalena Kozena, Jessye Norman, Beat Furrer… and there are many more.

G.    Where would you like to be in 10 years?

Very difficult to say! I’ve been very fortunate here in Australia to have had the opportunity to explore all kinds of work as a freelance musician whilst also undertaking studies at the Australian National Academy of Music and Doctoral studies at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music (Griffith University). 

There is a common misconception (especially within my generation of colleagues) that the grass is greener on the other side, and a move to Europe or America is the logical progression for any serious young musician. 

Personally I’m not so sold on this given the sheer amount (and incredible quality) of music making that happens in this country. I’m not in a position to comment comparatively however I do feel that at this point I would very much like for Australia to remain my base whilst also exploring possibilities that distant shores have to offer. 

SXS - We hope Australia remains your base too Alex! Thanks for your time.


Alex will next be performing with the Soloists in 


Friday 24 July, 7pm 
Ian Hanger Recital Hall
Queensland Conservatorium

Tracing the evolution of the piano's rise to fame in the 18th century, the concert features music from Bach through to the Oscar-winning film composer Dario Marianelli.

Repertoire includes:

J.S. Bach      
Piano Concerto in D minor
Piano Concerto No. 21 in C
Piano Trio No. 4 in D Ghost
Première rhapsodie for Clarinet & Piano
Jane Eyre

 The concert will be hosted by Damien Beaumont (ABC Classic FM).

Purchase an exclusive VIP ticket and start the evening with a glass of bubbles, white or red matched with aselection of artisanal cheeses. The pre-show function starts at 6:00pm.

$45 - VIP Package
$25 - Show Only or qtix 136246