Brilliant Classics

With . Without a Little Expression by Schumann, Hindemith, Mosolov, Brahms

With . Without a Little Expression by Schumann, Hindemith, Mosolov, Brahms
Composer Alexander Mosolov, Johannes Brahms, Paul Hindemith, Robert Schumann
Artist Arash Rokni piano
Format 1 CD
Cat. number PCL10303
EAN code 5029365103039
Release April 2024

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About this release

Isn't the will not to be expressive already an expression? This is the rhetorical question which the Iranian pianist Arash Rokni wanted to answer, in a unique recital on record coupling high-Romantic and early-Modernist works. ‘Perhaps Paul Hindemith asked himself the same question, Rokni muses in his introduction to the album, when he wrote the instructions for the player in his Nachtstück 'not to play without expression, not with expression, but only with a little expression!’

Born in Tehran in 1993, Rokni grew to love classical music through his parents, and he gained a place at the Tehran Music School before pursuing further specialist studies in Germany, at the conservatoires in Leipzig and Cologne, and he now holds teaching posts in both Cologne and Hannover. He won second prize and audience prize in the Bach Competition in Leipzig in 2018.

Arash Rokni has played and studied with Andreas Staier, having a particular interest in Classical and Romantic performance practice. This release marks his debut on Piano Classics, and establishes him as a thoughtful and accomplished musician with individual ideas about repertoire both familiar and lesser known. He plays two contrasting instruments, each chosen to complement the soundworld of their repertoire: an 1890 Bluthner for the Schumann and Brahms pieces, and a modern Paulello for Mosolov and Hindemith.
Mosolov is known for a single brief piece, the Iron Foundry for orchestra which won a kind of infamy for its naturalistic brutality. There is of course a good deal more to him than unrelenting dissonance, and his piano music shares with his contemporary Alexander Scriabin a mystical character, floating between and in and out of key signatures. Its specifically ‘expressive’ character is not straightforward, any more than the Suite 1922 where Hindemith plays with pop styles of the time such as jazz and ragtime. The expression of Schumann’s Bunte Blätter is not necessarily more straightforward, and Brahms made his own interpretation of it with a set of Variations which he wrote on the first piece in Schumann’s cycle.

- "Isn't the will not to be expressive already an expression? Perhaps Paul Hindemith asked himself the same question when he wrote the instructions for the player in his "Nachtstück" not to play without expression, not with expression, but only with a little expression!"
- This fascinating concept album juxtaposes piano works which are highly expressive and works which are (on purpose) without or with little expression. The Schumann Variations by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) and the Bunte Blätter by Robert Schumann (1810-1856) are firmly embedded in the 19th century romantic idiom, expressing highly personal emotions. The Dances and Nocturnes by Alexander Mosolov 1900-1973, a Russian experimentalist) and the Suite 1922 by Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) are written in a fundamentally different style. The music of the «new objectivity», of which Hindemith was regarded as the protagonist, is unsentimental, sober, solidly made in terms of form, transparent and concise. It disdains what is «expressive», without being inexpressive.
- Arash Rokni was born in Tehran, Iran. His mother’s attempts to learn the traditional Iranian instrument “setar” and his father’s interest in Western classical music sparked his interest in music. After his education in his home country he went to Germany to study in Leipzig and Köln. He was mentored by Nina Tichman (piano) and Anthony Spiri (chamber music). Arash has also had the privilege of working frequently with Andreas Staier and also with Ferenc Rados, Rita Wagner, Andreas Kemenes, Mahan Esfahani, and Robert Levin. He gained international attention by winning 2nd prize and audience award at the “21st Johann Sebastian Bach Competition” in Leipzig, Germany in 2018.

Listening

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Alexander Mosolov: 2 Dances, Op. 23/b: I. Allegro molto, sempre marcato
  2. Alexander Mosolov: 2 Dances, Op. 23/b: II. Allegretto
  3. Johannes Brahms: 3 Variationen über ein Thema von R. Schumann, Op .9
  4. Paul Hindemith: Suite 1922, Op. 26: I. March
  5. Paul Hindemith: Suite 1922, Op. 26: II. Shimmy
  6. Paul Hindemith: Suite 1922, Op. 26: III. Nachtstück
  7. Paul Hindemith: Suite 1922, Op. 26: IV. Boston
  8. Paul Hindemith: Suite 1922, Op. 26: V. Ragtime
  9. Robert Schumann: 5 Albumblätter from Bünte Blätter, Op. 99: I. Ziemlich langsam
  10. Robert Schumann: 5 Albumblätter from Bünte Blätter, Op. 99: II. Schnell
  11. Robert Schumann: 5 Albumblätter from Bünte Blätter, Op. 99: III. Ziemlich langsam, sehr gesang-voll
  12. Robert Schumann: 5 Albumblätter from Bünte Blätter, Op. 99: IV. Sehr langsam
  13. Robert Schumann: 5 Albumblätter from Bünte Blätter, Op. 99: V. Langsam
  14. Alexander Mosolov: 2 Nocturnes, Op. 15: I. Elegiaco, poco stentato
  15. Alexander Mosolov: 2 Nocturnes, Op. 15: II. Adagio