Schumann and Mendelssohn
I must admit, the core of my listening when I was younger was the Romantic period.
Brahms really was my first love, but also Bruckner, Schumann, and later increasingly Mendelssohn.
I have written previously about Mendelssohn’s solo piano works, e.g. the beautiful recordings of the Lieder ohne Worte (Song without Words) by Ronald Brautigam here and Xavier Perianes here.
But I’ve been a bit too silent about Schumann’s beautiful piano works. I was just recently reminded of Schumann’s tragic life when I saw a re-run of the 2008 German TV production Beloved Clara (Geliebte Clara) that is set in the last years of Schumann’s life when Brahms suddenly shows up, and witnesses Schumann’s increasing mental degradation. The movie isn’t the best ever, but the true story is really fascinating. And actress Martina Gedeck as Clara is good as ever.
So when I quite recently discovered a new release of a young Italian pianist, that of all possible mentors was endorsed and encouraged by none other than the magnificent Martha Argerich, I was curious.
Sophie Pacini – In Between (Warner Classics 2018)
Sophie Pacini is 26 years old, but has already had a quite impressive career, and winning several prices. Somehow she wasn’t yet on my radar screen yet. What a miss. She’s a truly passionate pianist.
This entire album is split between Schumann and Mendelssohn. We really get the full level of energy throughout, I’m really not suprised that Matha endorses her, in many way she reminds me of her.
My favorite piece is already the starting piece. Here we’re getting the Liszt translation of the beautiful love song Widmung.
This piece really is already fully putting you into the mood, virtuosity, energy, but also a lot of nuance.
When in the second half we get to Mendelssohn, we see that Pacini also is very powerful in the less virtuoso passages, she plays e.g. the beautiful Lieder ohne Worte with a lot of intimacy.
The only thing you could criticize on this album, if you really wanted to, is the occasional moment of “power over precision”, and a lot of use of rubato. But this really is nitpicking.
Sophie Pacini is a promising artist to watch (well, don’t believe me, but Martha apparently after initially hearing her play called her Veramente Bravisssima), and I can recommend this album very highly.
My rating: 4 stars
You can find it here (Qobuz) or here (HDtracks)