“A masterful disc... where the fullness of timbres is matched only by the mastery of musical conception.” — Thierry Vagne
The greatest challenge for me in playing Brahms, and the thing which makes his music an inexhaustible source of wonder and stimulates continuous research, is trying to do justice to all of these aspects: the excruciating romantic beauty of melodic and timbral invention, the never-deformed classical proportions, the omnipresent counterpoint, and finally the elusively modern aspects.
For Pina Napolitano there are romantic echoes in the works of the Second Viennese School; an enormous expressive force distilled and compressed, all the way up to Webern’s rarefied language where even the silences are charged with music and significance. And on the other hand she has always perceived Brahms’ music as a magic prism, in which an entire musical past (encompassing Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann…) merges together, before breaking off into rivulets that will give birth to 20th-century music.
If Webern’s Op. 27 looks back to Brahms in its sense of motivic connectedness, it is perhaps possible to see the opening Intermezzo of Brahms’ Op. 119 looking forward to Webern. Both Opp. 118 and 119 were written in 1893 and are among Brahms’ final works. Brahms gives the sets the title of Klavierstücke – which Schoenberg would use later for his own works for solo piano.
Italian pianist Pina Napolitano made a splash with her debut CD in 2012: Norman Lebrecht featured her recording of Arnold Schoenberg’s complete piano works as his CD of the Week, shortlisting it for his Sinfini Music Album of the Year; Guy Rickards in International Piano Magazine called the CD “outstanding”, citing the “tensile strength to her playing that is distinctly hers”, and Calum MacDonald in BBC Music Magazine gave it five stars for its “rare penetration, understanding, grace and elegance.”