The Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society presents Italian pianist Pina Napolitano, who attracted international attention in 2012 with the release of her debut recording featuring complete piano works by Arnold Schönberg (Odradek Records). Her other striking album (Brahms the Progressive) was released in 2016. In this recording, the pianist offered a very original juxtaposition of the late works of romanticist Brahms and dodecaphonic works of the representatives of the Second Viennese School (Schönberg, Webern, Berg). It is the works of the latter composers that the pianist focuses mainly on in her repertoire, and this allows a completely different, new look at the piano music of previous epochs, such as Romanticism or Classicism. It is no coincidence that Napolitano will offer the Lithuanian audience the Second Piano Concerto of one of her coryphées, Brahms, which later intends to make a recording with Lithuanian musicians (next to Webern Concerto Op. 24).
Regarding this disc on the horizon, Napolitano says: At first glance, nothing is further from the broad and majestic Brahms second piano concerto than the short and sparse Webern Concerto Op. 24. But if we look more closely, we start to discover hidden similarities, following the path suggested by Schoenberg’s famous essay Brahms the Progressive. Schoenberg argued that Brahms, often at that time regarded as an academic and retrò composer, was in fact a precursor to the modernistic movement in music. This idea is particularly evident in Brahms’ late works, and was the thread of one of my previous albums, entitled Brahms the Progressive, featuring Brahms Opp. 118 and 119 alongside pieces by Webern and Berg. In my next album, Brahms the Progressive vol. 2, I would like to show how the same affinity is present also in earlier works by Brahms, such as the piano concerto no. 2. If we leave aside the dimensions and the musical languages (clearly tonal in Brahms and dodecaphonic in Webern), we discover that similar structures underlie both works, and that they share a common musical way of thinking, addressing the same problems of musical construction: the perfectly economic use of classical forms, the absolute conciseness (by which I do not mean brevity), the presentation of the musical material in crystal-like formations, the material’s development through almost geometrical treatments (reversing, inverting, rotating, recombining), all of which leading to a spatial and synchronic sense of music.
The Webern concerto will be featured before the Brahms on the album, because it is inevitably from the most recent and closest to the present that we look back at the past, and it is only through this reciprocal mirroring of present and past that we are able to interpret both and prepare the future.