Stefano Battaglia

Stefano Battaglia plays both piano and prepared piano (sometimes simultaneously) in a highly attractive double-album programme that includes his own compositions and spontaneous improvisations as well as two versions of the Arabic traditional song “Lamma Bada Yatathanna”. The melodic and texturally-inventive pieces, some of almost hypnotic allure, were recorded both in concert and in “closed doors” sessions at the Fazioli Concert Hall in Sacile, Italy, in May 2016, and subsequently arranged into what Battaglia describes as “a wonderful new shape with a completely new dramaturgy” by producer Manfred Eicher.
Stefano Battaglia spielt unpräpariertes und präpariertes Klavier (teils sogar simultan) – in einem hoch attraktiven Doppelalbum-Programm, das sowohl Eigenkompositionen und Spontanimprovisationen als auch zwei Versionen der traditionellen arabischen Weise “Lamma Bada Yatathanna” enthält. Die melodisch und von der Textur her einfallsreichen Stücke, einige von geradezu hypnotischer Anmutung, wurden im Mai 2016 sowohl im Konzert als auch in „closed doors-Sessions“ in der Fazioli Concert Hall im italienischen Sacile aufgenommen und später von Produzent Manfred Eicher zu einer, wie Battaglia sich ausdrückt, „wunderbaren neuen Form mit einer komplett neuen Dramaturgie“ arrangiert.
Featured Artists Recorded

May 2016, Fazoli Concert Hall, Sacile

Original Release Date


  • CD 1
  • 1Destino
    (Stefano Battaglia)
  • 2Pelagos
    (Stefano Battaglia)
  • 3Migralia
    (Stefano Battaglia)
  • 4Lamma Bada Yatathanna
  • 5Processional
    (Stefano Battaglia)
  • 6Halap
    (Stefano Battaglia)
  • 7Dogon
    (Stefano Battaglia)
  • 8Life
    (Stefano Battaglia)
  • CD 2
  • 1Lampedusa
    (Stefano Battaglia)
  • 2Hora Mundi
    (Stefano Battaglia)
  • 3Lamma Bada Yatathanna (var.)
  • 4Exilium
    (Stefano Battaglia)
  • 5Migration Mantra
    (Stefano Battaglia)
  • 6Horgos e Roszke
    (Stefano Battaglia)
  • 7Ufratu
    (Stefano Battaglia)
  • 8Heron
    (Stefano Battaglia)
  • 9Brenner Toccata
    (Stefano Battaglia)
‘Pelagos’, Stefano Battaglia’s seventh recording for ECM, is his best. That is a bold claim, given that Battaglia’s ECM discography is one of the permanent bodies of piano work in the new millennium. But ‘Pelagos’ is an achievement of extraordinary depth, realized through an extraordinary range of artistic means. It wsa made in two solo sessions on the same day at the Fazioli Concert hall in Sacile, Italy, one ‘behind closed doors’ and one live in concert. There are five Battaglia compositions, 11 improvisations and an Arabic traditional song. Tracks from the sessions are intermixed on two CDs. Applause at the live concert has been cut out. It sounds like one seamless performance. ‘Pelagos’ has a theme: ‘the suffering countries of the Mediterranean and Balkan areas.’ […] Battaglia’s music transcends it’s theme. Its universality creates its power. We are all exiles from something or somewhere. We are all asylum seekers.
Thomas Conrad, Jazz Times
Trauer und Entsetzen sind in Battaglias Pianoreflexionen mit Händen zu greifen, diesem Ziel ordnet Battaglia Spielweise und Spieltechnik radikal unter. Es ist ihm nicht um pianistische Extravaganz zu tun, vielmehr um eine empathische Musik, die ihre Trauer um Tod und Verlust von Zehntausenden leise und eindringlich ins Herz des Hörers trägt.
Heribert Ickerott, Jazz Podium
Without exception, he approaches each piece reverentially, coaxing out its harmonies with classical precision. His is an undemonstrative style of playing, with rarely any flourish or excess but with considerable hypnotic allure, and in places, great beauty.
Simon Adams, Jazz Journal
To date, Stefano Battaglia’s ECM discography has taken the listener to many different places. The Italian pianist has reinterpreted art songs of Alec Wilder on In The Morning, set a dedication to Pina Bausch amid improvised duets on Pastorale, created new structures in the moment with Dominique Pifarély on Raccolto, drawn inspiration from mythical and legendary locations on The River of Anyder and Songways as well as from diverse way stations in the biography of a great Italian polymath on Re: Pasolini. Cultural and other influences flow into his music from very many directions.
Pelagos, Battaglia’s new double album of solo piano – recorded at the Fazioli Concert Hall in Sacile, Italy, last year – can be heard as an extended meditation on themes of exile and migration. “Reality sometimes suggests or implies improvisations and even repertoires,” he notes. Titles of individual pieces provide some directional clues and cues to the matter at hand.
Apart from the Arabic traditional song “Lamma Bada Yatathanna”, a tune with historical roots in Moorish Andalusia, which is heard in two variations, all the music here is by Battaglia. “Pelagos”, “Halap”, “Exilium”, “Migration Mantra”, and “Ufratu” are compositions by the pianist. All other pieces were spontaneously improvised, though Battaglia’s feeling for form makes also the extemporaneous pieces seem robust. The album derives from two sources: a live concert and a “closed doors” session at the Faziola Hall earlier the same day. The tracks “Destino”, “Migralia”, Processional”, “Halap”, “Life”, “Hora Mundi”, “Exilium”, “Migration Mantra”, “Heron”, and the version of “Lamma Bada Yatathanna” heard on CD 1 are all drawn from the concert performance.
Stefano Battaglia plays both piano and prepared piano here, sometimes simultaneously, exploring a remarkable range of sound colours in melodic and texturally-inventive pieces. Some, of almost hypnotic allure, seem to have an associative frame of reference spanning the distance between ritual music, traditional song, contemporary composition, and modal jazz, although Battaglia himself is wary of style definitions. As he once said, “For years I have tended to simplify, to aspire to a ‘de-idiomisation’ of the musical universe, and particularly to imagine music as a universal metalanguage, a place which is genuinely without boundaries, not just in words but in fact.”
In the original notes for the Sacile concert, given within the context of a Piano Jazz 2016 festival, Battaglia spoke of the conceptual themes running through his programme. These included “songs and dances of the suffering countries of the Mediterranean and Balkan areas”, and the practice of improvisation as a means of embracing the unknown, as “a manifesto for those who, like me, see it as a path of revelation, through all of its mysteries.”
Born in Milan in 1965, Stefano Battaglia originally trained as a classical pianist. He first attracted attention on the European festival scene, playing mainly baroque and 20th century music, before making the transition to music that incorporated improvisation, inspired initially by Paul Bley and Keith Jarrett. By the late 1980s he was winning jazz awards. Subsequently he played with Lee Konitz, Dewey Redman, Marc Johnson, Barre Phillips, Steve Swallow, Kenny Wheeler, Pierre Favre and Tony Oxley, among many others.
Battaglia has given master-classes at Siena Jazz each summer since 1988, and since 1996 he has led Siena’s Laboratorio Permanente di Ricerca Musicale, a musical research workshop, where he has been able to explore his interests in improvisation, composition and experimentation, in particular the improvisational practices of diverse musical languages.
He has been an ECM artist 2003, when the double album Raccolto (Harvest) was recorded.