For Eleonora Spina and Michele Benignetti, the spirit of music courses through their veins. Coming from a strong musical lineage with backgrounds as soloist and chamber musicians, the duo have appeared as soloists with orchestras across Italy, France and The Netherlands.
Their success hardly comes as a surprise, having been mentored and taught by renowned professors Gil Garburg, Sivan Silver, Igor Roma Enrico Pace, Franco Scala, Aquiles Delle Vigne, Chantal De Buchy and Roberto Plano.
Eleonora and Michele’s partnership as a piano duo came to fruition in 2013, and was met with positive critical acclaim. In June 2014, they were awarded the prestigious ‘Diplôme Supérieur d’Exécution’ at the Ecole Normale De Musique ‘Alfred Cortot’ in Paris, with mentions “à l’unanimité” under the guide of Chantal De Buchy. As lifelong learners, 2019 saw them graduate with masters degrees with honours at the Maastricht Conservatorium Of Music in The Netherlands under the guidance of professors Igor Roma, Henk Guittart and Enrico Pace. They also studied at the Universität für Musik in Graz (Austria) with Gil Garburg and Sivan Silver.
Their acclaimed recording of Brahms’s complete works for two pianos for Brilliant Classics Records (2015) has been praised by audiences and critics alike. Many high-profile music magazines in Italy and France (Amadeus, Musica, Suonare News, Le Pianiste) regard the recording as some of their most notable work to date, subsequently awarding it with the highest possible score in 2015. The American Record Guide writes: "...Their ensemble is spot on, and there is a wonderful flow to the music under their fingers..."(James Harrington for American Record Guide, 2015).
Italian critic Luca Segalla commented that "...Eleonora Spina and Michele Benignetti, with utmost care and attention to sound, precisely execute the contrapuntal game of variation no. 4, carving out a finale which makes one feel as if he’s listening to an orchestra..." (Luca Segalla for “Musica ” Magazine, September 2015).
Their album ‘Lifetime’ was followed up their former work on January 2017. Released on Sheva Collection, it went on to win Gold Medals for Best Album, Best Duo and Best Emerging Artists at the 2017 Global Music Awards in California (La Jolla - USA).
The new album “Visions” is also released on Sheva Collection, the London-based label, on July 2021 and it contains the worldwide premiere of César Franck's Prelude, Fugue and Variation op.18, transcribed for piano four hands by Abel Marie Decaux.
Theirs recordings were presented by Radio France, Rai Radio3, Radio Vaticana, Rete Toscana Classica, Radio Popolare Milano, SBS Australia and Radio Suisse.
They won several international prizes in music competition for both chamber music and piano duo, including First Prize at the Pietro Argento Competition (Italy, 2013),Best Chamber Music Performance Award at the London Piano Masters (UK, 2013),First Prize at the European Music Competition of Moncalieri (Italy, 2014), First Prize & Brahms Special Prize at the Virtuoso Grand Prize Competition (France, 2015), First Prize at the A.M.A. Calabria Music Competition (Italy, 2015), Most Distinguished Artist Award at the IBLA Grand Prize (Italy, 2015), First Prize at the Concours Musical de France (France, 2016).
The duo performs regularly throughout Europe: Salle Cortot and Auditorium Opera Bastille in Paris, Auditorium Cité de la Musique in Soissons, Royal College of Music in London, Grosser Konzertsaal of the Hochschule fur Musik of Munich, Palais Acropolis in Nice, Hijstekzaal in Maastricht, Ravello Concert Society, to name a few.
Recent highlights include the recital for the live show “Génération Jeunes Interprètes” at the Auditorium of the Maison de la Radio in Paris, broadcasts by the famed France Musique National Radio, a recital for “Jeunes Talents” concert series in Paris, a debut recital at the Osaka Izumi Hall in Japan, a concert tour in South Africa, and also performing for the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival. They have also collaborated recently with Ms Deborah Nemtanu, the Solo Violinist of the Orchestra de Chambre de Paris.
Their last tour in South Africa was a resounding success and received praise by critics and audiences. The tour saw them pack out venues across Johannesburg, Grahamstown, Hermanus, Potchefstroom, Pretoria, and many other cities. To quote Potchefstroom Herald (South African newspaper), “their two pianos recital will be long-remembered…”.
In 2019, Eleonora and Michele performed in Australia with numerous recitals in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, and Bateman’s Bay. In New Zealand, they performed at the Turner Center Kerikeri, Globe Theater Palmerston North, Wanganui Royal Opera House, and St Andrews on The Terrace Wellington. Their Oceanic tour also saw them perform in China, notably the Guangzhou Royal Opera House, Tianjin Grand Theater, Shandong Grand Theater, Nankai University, La Plantation Beijing, and Dalian Grand Theater to name just a few. 2019 has been one of their busiest years to date, with over 50 concerts played in 6 months.
They are also professors themselves, and currently teach at the Cité de la Musique et de la Danse in Soissons in France. Additionally, they are often invited to give masterclasses in Italy and at the Summer International Academy of Colombes in Paris and at the Summer Music Academy of Flaine (France). They also provide masterclasses for the International Music Institute of Beijing and at the Tianjin School of Music in China.
The piano duo are Official Yamaha Artists and have been proudly sponsored by them since December 2017.