Crossing Rachmaninoff DVD Reviewed by Cam Eagle


The Premise
Crossing Rachmaninoff is the story of one man’s journey to redemption through Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Italian-born Flavio Villani is preparing for a performance that will confirm his arrival as a concert pianist and vindicate his decision to be a musician. This film introduces Flavio in Auckland as he grapples daily with Rachmaninoff’s challenging work.

The Review
This documentary presents Flavio Villani at a juncture of his personal life and his calling. As a pianist, Flavio studies, persues and practices his instrument which takes him on a road that few travel. We join Flavio’s journey as he must ascend the pinnacle of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and then having scaled the heights, cross to the other side.

In Crossing Rachmaninoff, Flavio’s life is displayed for all to see; the low points, the triumphs and everything that makes up an Italian born kiwi as he travels to see his family and prepare for the defining performance. Exploring the single-minded commitment necessary to become a concert pianist, Crossing Rachmaninoff exposes the professional challenges he must overcome and reveals Flavio’s true commitment as he prepares the very piece that secured Rachmaninoff as a composer.

Like any passionate commitment, it is inspiring to see Flavio’s dedication to the piece. His brother comments, “he would probably prefer to not do something than do it superficially.”

Flavio learns that the hardest journey is the one we choose, as he heeds his mentor’s comments on the necessity to commit to the “golden prison” of being a concert pianist.

While this burden to carry Rachmaninoff’s Concerto is sometimes heavy, it does not seem overwhelming and I found myself rather than carrying an anxious weight, falling in love with Flavio.

The Verdict
The person, passion and people of Flavio warms to his audience in this vulnerable and intimate portrait of a young musician.

The Trailer

The Info
DVD Releases: 21st August 2016
Rating: Exempt
Duration: 79 minutes 
Genre:  Documentary
Starring: Flavio Villani
Director: Rebecca Tansley (Debut Feature Film)

The Extras
Crossing Rachmaninoff was filmed on location in three countries - New Zealand, Italy and the United States of America - from August 2014 to January 2015. A Minerva Productions film, the feature documentary has been officially selected as part of the 2015 New Zealand International Film Festival.

Flavio Villani’s rehearsals with the Orchestra Filarmonica della Calabria took place in the picturesque village of Nocera Terinese in southern Italy. This film would not have been possible without the cooperation of the orchestra and its director Filippo Arlia.

Flavio’s hometown, Nocera Superiore, is close to Napoli (Naples) and Mount Vesuvius. Much of the food featured in Crossing Rachmaninoff reflects this region, Campania, and its strong emphasis on seafood (especially spaghetti alle vongole) and Neapolitan dolci such as the struffule we see being prepared.


Fans of the song "All by Myself", the 1975 power ballad by American Eric Carmen from “Bridget Jones’s Diary” will hear some of the tune in this movie as the verse of "All by Myself" is based on the second movement (Adagio sostenuto) of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Opus 18.