"A pianist rare in his generation. He does not hold back in his use of the expression pedal, shining above all in the art of singing on the keyboard with an inventiveness of phrasing that demonstrates his exquisite musical intelligence": Costantino Catena was defined in these words by the musicologist Carlo Vitali in the magazine Amadeus.
He has performed in Europe, Australia, U.S.A., Russia and Japan at the invitation of important musical and cultural associations and institutes, including the St. Petersburg Philharmonia, the Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna, the Kennedy Center and Georgetown University of Washington, Amici del Teatro Regio of Torino, Associazione Scarlatti of Napoli, Amici della Musica of Trapani, the Yasar Concert Hall of Izmir, the Winchester University, the Auditorium Parco della Musica of Rome, the Gasteig of Munich, the Dante Alighieri Society, the Teatro Goldoni of Livorno, the Liszt Memorial Museum of Budapest, the Ravello International Festival, the Alghero International Festival, the Filarmonica De Stat Transilvania of Cluj-Napoca, the Liszt Institute of Bologna, the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, the Kusatsu International Festival, the Ohrid Summer Festival.
Costantino Catena has an intense recording activity, mainly with the Japanese label Camerata Tokyo, with which he began working recording Franz Liszt's complete works for violin and piano, as well as a double CD featuring all of his piano works dedicated to Venezia and Napoli, a blu-ray dedicated to Debussy and Schumann and other solo CDs. Recently the CD "Hidden Orchestra", including the Concerto op. 54 by Schumann for Piano and Orchestra transcripted for piano and organ by Claudio Brizi, was included into the programming board by the All Nippon Airway and the CD with the Quartet and the Quintet of Schumann, recorded with the Quartetto Savinio was awarded with 5 stars by the magazine Musica. He has recorded for Phoenix Classics and Nuova Era International labels, too.
His recordings were often broadcasted in Italy and abroad (RAI Radiotelevisione Italiana, NHK Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai, RSI Radio della Svizzera Italiana, MR Magyar Rádió) and received excellent reviews from leading magazines and important music critics: «In Nuits d'été à Pausilippe and Soirées Musicales de Rossini Costantino Catena strikes the perfect balance of sentiment and relaxed charm in readings that could scarcely be more idiomatic. In Carnaval de Venise Catena revels in the droll humor and far-fetched technical demands of Liszt's setting, creating a listening experience that's great fun. In Venezia e Napoli, the supplement to Book 2 of the Années de pèlerinage, Catena exhibits his natural, unaffected feeling toward the music's popular source materials. The extended trio of the famous Tarantella is almost ethereal in its beauty. This triptych, recorded so frequently over the past couple of years, is here as deliciously atmospheric and echt-Italian as one could wish.» (Patrick Rucker, Fanfare Magazine - USA); «Catena jumps through the many circus hoops of Liszt's "Tarantella di bravura sulla Muette di Portici" with grace and fluency. He is finely sensitive in RW – Venezia, capturing all of Liszt's desolation as he watched Wagner's funeral procession of gondolas glide down the Grand Canal» (Bryce Morrison, Gramophone UK); «He is able to exploit the delicious mechanics of the Yamaha piano as only Richter, in my memory, was successful before: the result is a performance in which every note is given meaning, an interpretation in which nothing is left to chance and yet nothing seems studied, the music running elastic, airy, full of vitality» (Bernardo Pieri, Musica); «Interpretations full of grace and sensitivity» (Paolo Isotta). «It was only natural that Liszt sought creative inspirations in Italy and produced a good number of music works related to Italy. These are performed by the Italian-born Catena, who makes excellent use of diverse sense of colours and liberated tones unique to those who were born and brought up in Italy. When one listens to Catena's interpretations, one is made aware that in fact, in music works by Liszt, who is prone to being labelled as a ‘German musician' or ‘Hungarian musician,' more charm lies hidden. As well as the fact that Italy was still one of the greatest centres of music during his era» (Masayasu Komiya); «Catena has a wonderful technique and his pure and simple interpretation draws the world of Liszt. His music is sometimes sweet and wonderful, sometimes majestic and serene» (Jiro Hamada, Geijutsu Record); «The sounds he brings out of the piano and the breaks between are beautiful. The deep sound with the rich tone and elegant phrasing bring music to a very pure level, transcending the level of physical emotion» (Tsutomi Nasuda, Geijutsu Record).
Recent reviews include: "Costantino Catena has again confirmed his quality as a great pianist. His Liszt is never superficial, and rather than succumbing to the temptation of an overblown and predictable virtuosity imposed on the pianist by a somewhat treacherous and devilish composer, he draws out the nuances as only a great and intelligent artist can. A recital of the highest caliber, an artist of international stature." (Marco del Vaglio) "In Schumann Piano Concerto Costantino Catena gives insights into some original phrasing, particularly in his articulation of the main themes, which attest to a mature pianist capable of reconciling the balance between structural and emotional emphasis." (Santi Calabrò, Amadeus). "Costantino Catena is a lisztian at international level" (Andrea Bedetti, Audiophile Sound). Active in the field of chamber music, Costantino Catena has collaborated with leading artists such as Alessandro Carbonare, Michele Lomuto, Franco Maggio Ormezowski, Gabriele Geminiani, Saschko Gawriloff, Sabrina-Vivian Hopker, Claudio Casadei, Massimo Quarta, Lynne Dawson, Maja Bogdanovich, Claudio Brizi, Quartetto Savinio. In collaboration with the musicologist Paolo Scarnecchia launched an exploration of the repertoire of "turcherie", and more generally of orientalist inspiration, consists of fantasies, variations, paraphrases, reductions and rêveries, and presented as a conversation-concert.
After graduating from the "G. Martucci" Salerno State Conservatoire with top marks and cum laude under the guidance of Luigi D'Ascoli, Costantino Catena continued and completed his piano studies with Konstantin Bogino, Bruno Mezzena and Boris Bechterev. Encounters with Aldo Ciccolini, Michele Campanella and Joaquin Achucarro have also been important landmarks in his musical education. Costantino Catena is actively involved in teaching at several Academies and Universities including The Ignacy Jan Paderewski Academy of Music (Poznań, Poland), the Tromsø University College (Tromsø, Norway), the Music College of the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory (Moscow, Russia), the Winchester University, the Babes-Bloyai University (Cluj-Napoca, Romania) and the Yasar University (Izmir, Turkey) and teaches regularly in Avellino, where he chairs the piano professorship in the "D. Cimarosa" State Conservatoire.
Alongside his performing activities he graduated in Philosophy at the Salerno University and in Psychology at the Naples University, with a particular focus on issues concerning the management of psychological and physiological aspects during musical performance.
Costantino Catena is official Yamaha Ar