THERE is a feast of the music of Maurice Ravel at the start of the new season by the RSNO. After new music director Thomas Sondergard’s second concert of the season, reuniting him with Catriona Morison, whose Cardiff Singer of the World-winning performance he conducted, for Scheherazade, the first visiting conductor, Mexican Carlos Miguel Prieto, is on the podium for the famous Bolero and Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major.

For the latter, the soloist is Italian Vanessa Benelli Mosell, and the work might at first sight look like bold new territory for the 30-year-old. It is not a piece she is known for – she has not played it for an audience since her student days, she told me – and the concerts in Edinburgh and Glasgow, on October 19 and 20, are actually her debut performances with an orchestra in the UK. London will not hear her play a concerto until February, when she plays Chopin with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall.

In fact those engagements look more like a step into the comparatively safe environment of the mainstream after over a decade building a reputation across the globe for music that is more demanding both to play and to listen to. With solo piano by Debussy out recently, she will be recording the Ravel concerto with the RSNO while she is in Glasgow, as her second orchestral disc, following Rachmaninov’s Second Concerto with the LPO and Kirill Karabits. But it was playing the Klavierstucke of Karlheinz Stockhausen that brought the remarkable young pianist to wider attention, and particularly that of the composer himself.

“The music of the 20th century has a central role in my repertoire,” she says, “because it is the music that I love.”

Alongside Ravel and Stockhausen, that means Scriabin and Stravinsky, and Mosell has nailed her colours to the mast. “If people work with me, they know that is what they are going to get. I want to show how rich the 20th century is to people who only know the Romantic period.”

Mosell was born in Prato in Tuscany and studied first at the Accademia Pianistica in Imola, where she discovered the music of Stockhausen as a teenager. It was not an enthusiasm encouraged by her teachers.

“They said ‘you need to know the sonatas of Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn first of all, but then if you want to do it, go ahead.’”

Of her own volition and listening to existing recordings alongside studying the fiendish scores, Mosell learned the complete, demanding cycle of Klavierstucke, the last of which, XII, is part of the composer’s week-long composition, Licht.

“Of course you can be a great musician without doing contemporary music,” she acknowledges. “The notation is very difficult and I understand why it is not done”

He determination to learn the work led to an invitation to perform it on Italian radio when she was just 17, and she sent a recording of that to the composer himself, more in hope than expectation. Stockhausen replied immediately, inviting her to study with him in Germany, a process she describes as rigorous and demanding, but which gave her invaluable insights into the rhythm and dynamics of the pieces.

Following two albums for Brilliant Classics, Mosell signed to the Decca label, with whom she has released five albums in the space of two years, the first of which made use of those invaluable lessons. Stockhausen died in 2007, only a couple of years after she worked with him.

Mosell’s studies subsequently took her to the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, where late Romantics like Rachmaninov and Scriabin were added to her enthusiasms. The latter is paired with Stockhausen on her second disc.

“Both composers had a singular vision and were revolutionaries who believed in ‘total works of art’,” she says. Performing, and hearing, their compositions can be a “mystical experience” in her view, and comes from an era when music was moving forward. She has little enthusiasm for the “neo-classical” movement of more recent times.

Her most recent recording is a duo with French cellist Henri Demarquette which alternates the music of Rachmaninov with that of Philip Glass.

Pointing out that Glass’s family are of Lithuanian origin while the Russian composer took his family to the USA after the 1917 revolution, she sees a link in the composers finding a welcome there, “although nowadays it is not the land of the immigrant.”

“I was always resistant to Minimalism because I thought it was too simple, so the solution, for me, has been to play Glass’s music like I do Rachmaninov. That works because they are both very much the popular music of their time. Rachmaninov was derided for that, because his music was not The Rite of Spring, or Schoenberg, and now Glass is extremely popular and sometimes thought ‘light’ because of his film music.”

As her conversation on the telephone makes abundantly clear, Mosell is not short of opinions and explanations about her musical direction, and in fact her only previous visit to Glasgow was to give a TED talk at Tramway as part of an event in June 2015, when her message was about the necessity of listening to contemporary music.

She now lives in Paris with her partner, Italian composer Marco Stroppo, but tours very widely as a soloist, and in the duo with Demarquette. As well as Italy, France and England, her recent solo recitals have included visits to China, and – this month – her debut in Korea.

She says that audiences there often seem much more open to her more “difficult” 20th century repertoire, and her “personal projects”.

“For Stockhausen and Scriabin, it is often a blank slate for the audience, and they don’t have any of the prejudices you find here. If you are free of those, you are able to learn.”

She admits that some of the music she plays is not immediately “accessible”, but adds that it is also, for some listeners, hampered by its political background in the avant-garde of the 1960s. By contrast, she sees in the audiences she plays to in China some of the openness of herself as an 11-year-old when she was fortunate enough to be taken to concerts given by pianist Maurizio Pollini and conductor Claudio Abbado.

That young enthusiast had also declared a wish to live in Paris, where Mosell now has her home, after time in Florence, Rome, Moscow, and London (at the Royal College of Music, from where she graduated in 2012). “It has been a grand decision; it a wonderful city and I have many friends here,” she says, but it also looks like another example of the single-mindedness that has driven her career.

In another recent interview, with International Piano magazine, she was more dismissive of artists who choose not to play the music of today.

“We don’t play music because it’s nice,” she said. “We play it because we’re sensitive human beings and we need music and art to make our life meaningful.”

Vanessa Benelli Mosell plays Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major with the RSNO at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh on October 19 and Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on October 20.;