Rocco Filippini is considered one of the greatest contemporary cellists. Son of the man of letters and painter Felice Filippini and of the pianist Dafne Salati, he started music practice at a very early age. The meeting with Pierre Fournier was decisive: he took care of his music education and training, together with professor Franz Walter from Geneva conservatoire, where Filippini got his diploma at the age of 17 and, at the same time, was awarded of the first prize for virtuosity (“Premier Prix de Virtuosité”) which hadn’t been given for 36 years. I had the opportunity of interviewing the great maestro thanks to Cremonese cellist Fausto Solci, who was one of his students at Stauffer Foundation and who is considered an excellent musician by Filippini himself. We met on a beautiful September afternoon; the Maestro was extremely kind, a real gentleman! These are the most relevant extracts of our long conversation: GENZINI: During your extraordinary career you used several instruments; what are the qualities of a good cello, in your opinion? FILIPPINI: It has to play like a cello, neither too treble nor too guttural; neither too lively nor too mild; neither too powerful nor too tense. The essential thing is not to alter the instrument's original features too radically. Very often especially young people, tend to stand out and, in so doing, they make some mistakes, as they fit the instrument too forcedly. GENZINI: To what extent are the musician's qualities important for the instrument to reach its maximum potential? FILIPPINI: They are very important: a musician modifies the instrument he/she plays. I remember that at the beginning of my career , my maestro Fournier sold me one of his own instruments: on that occasion, I realized that it is definetely positive if the cello is played by a great musician, as it acquires – almost miracously- some peculiar and unique sound qualities. GENZINI: What have your most important instruments been? FILIPPINI: The first really great instrument I had was a cello made by Pietro Giacomo Rogeri from Brescia and it had belonged to the La Scala first cello player Gilberto Crepax. It was a very famous instrument and everyone praised its excellent qualities. When Crepax died, I visited his widow with the intention of purchasing the cello. The lady told me she would never sell it and added should she change her mind, the price would be 15,000,000 Lira, which was unaffordable for me at the time. Anyway, I went to Milan to see the instrument; after testing it I thought: “ This is the perfect instrument for me”. At the end, I managed to convince the lady to rent it to me, thus becoming the forerunner of a habit which has become so widespread these days. However, I also realized that borrowing an instrument may be dangerous: anyone can take it any time, leaving you in a mess. Then, I found a beautiful Goffredo Cappa cello at Max Moller's and it became my first outstanding instrument. Nonetheless, it was only when I found the Stradivari cello that my expectations were really fulfilled. I remember I played it in London during a concert and I was with Bruno Canino. Its sound was so astounding that I thought it was unrivalled. To cut it short, I have always looked for instruments which could meet my taste and “wear my own personality”. Whenever I play the bow on the strings and pull it, I ask myself. “Is that me or not?” Furthermore, on some occasions, I felt ashamed to play instruments which were not mine, it seemed they had another musician's voice. GENZINI: What are your feelings while you are playing the Stradivari? FILIPPINI: I feel an exaltation which no other instrument has ever conveyed to me; but I also feel some awe at the same time. This is the Stradivari's only “flaw”: as it is the maximum you can imagine, one plays it with some sort of shyness. The instrument does not accept to be assailed or mistreated; it must be played delicately if you want to get the most out of it. Luckily, I finally got used to the Stradivari as well. GENZINI: What bow do you use? FILIPPINI: I have a very precious Peccatte bow, together with a together with a Larry, a Sartory, a Tubbes and a Retford one. Though not very well-known,Retford is considered one of the greatest bowmakers of the XX century, Recently, we have had an acoustic test in a recording studio with Giulio Cesare Ricci, a great sound expert. I made him hear some music played using three precious bows and in the end he admitted his astonishment at their sound differences. GENZINI: And what about strings? FILIPPINI: Both with antique instruments and modern ones, I use strings made of coated guts. These strings are essential especially for anitque instruments , which are lighter and therefore they need less pressure. A string made of guts is much more elastic and tense, it has a bigger spindle and sounds more. GENZINI. Would you like to gove some advice to young musicians? FILIPPINI: My advice is to respect the instrument, accept its conditions and bring it to the maximum level through appropriate fitting.