Sophie Pacini / Radoslaw Szulc / Rheinland-Pfalz Staatsphilharmonie

Schumann, Mozart: Piano Concertos

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German pianist Sophie Pacini (she was born in 1991) was given the opportunity to record this album as a result of winning a prize sponsored by the Edmond de Rothschild Group; she has won several others as well. She's quite a phenomenon, and this release will certainly fill its role of stirring up general interest. Working with the little-heralded Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz under Radoslaw Szulc, she earns the black belt of young pianism: a genuinely fresh interpretation of a heavily recorded repertory work. Sample the opening of the well-trodden Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54, of Schumann. Pacini takes it at a fearsome clip but breaks the material down into little individual gestures, with a wholly novel effect. The opening upbeat stroke seems less part of its surrounding material than a single, problematical dramatic outburst, and the energy of this innovation carries all the way through the movement's exposition. There are points later on where the energy flags, and the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 9 in E flat major, K. 271 ("Jeunehomme"), is not quite on the same level, but there is nowhere anything less than clean, controlled playing. Pacini is definitely an exciting new talent.

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