A prodigy through-and-through, Milani seemed to have found the guitar as naturally as one walks since her conception into the world of music at age five.
When we speak of prodigies, we often attribute the skill of these persons to extraordinary powers: they are gifted by the muses, they are natural, outside our understanding. In a time when music has become less transmutative and more modular, it seems rare to find artists of this kind. Where are these prodigies now, we ask ourselves — have they stopped speaking to us?
Fortunately, Cinzia Milani answers this cynical question with a breath of beauty. A prodigy through-and-through, Milani seemed to have found the guitar as naturally as one walks since her conception into the world of music at age five. Her playing began garnering recognition by international competitions long before adolescence. By age 12, Milani was traveling the world with her music in tow, perking the attention of all her listeners, including major British and American media outlets. And it is no surprise that by her late teens she began teaching guitar in France, performing for wide audiences around the world, celebrating the classical guitar with her vibrant intuition.
Upon hearing her album Guitar, one might picture a guitarist of older age playing with the practice of a longtime performance career. But it doesn’t take long to feel that this kind of playing can only come from someone who performs from a more organic place, a playing that seems to be more gift than exchange. “Technique” here sounds too cumbersome a word to explain Milani’s playing; it is more colorful than that, a cadence that speaks through abstraction rather than linguistics. For such an album, metaphor might indeed be the only way to speak of Milani’s playing. The first song on the album, “Capriccio Diabolico Op. 85”, elevates gratuitously as the listener comes into the piece. Like entering a conversation, Milani’s playing becomes a familiarization between listener and musician. We find common ground to trod, a conversation to have, and the rest comes as natural as discourse.
And so unremitting is her playing that one cannot help but forget where one piece ends and the next begins; the voicing is natural, the tones consistent, the timing as seamless as the flow of the wind. The listener enters “Koyunbaba Suite” so readily that we cannot help to agree with every detail of the guitar-playing — that is, Milani’s playing is never called into question, never is a crescendo or diminuendo without purpose.
One listens to Guitar as one entire expression, an emotional narrative brought on by the fluidity of Milani’s right hand and the textures of her left. And the listener’s response is just as emotional. It fosters an intuitive kind of ear, one that follows the music without question. Perhaps it is not so much technical skill as much as artful guidance that the prodigies of times past have been able to deliver to their listeners; it is with this spirit that Milani’s playing is heard, and it is with this spirit that we follow her guitar’s voice.