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On-demand interviews with local and national classical music artists.

Orli Shaham is Inspired by Brahms

The latest release by pianist Orli Shaham is called " Brahms Inspired," and it’s a WCLV Choice CD of the month. It includes music that inspired Brahms, music that Brahms wrote under that inspiration, and music that he in turn inspired. Orli Shaham spoke with WCLV's Angela Mitchell from a studio in Aspen, Colorado.


From orlishaham.com:

Johannes Brahms is one of those composers whom you can't imagine the world without. He has exerted an influence on seemingly every major composer who came after him, including some whose music sounds hardly anything like Brahms's — Schoenberg and Hindemith, for example.

And like all great artists, Brahms was influenced in turn by his own predecessors and contemporaries. American pianist Orli Shaham's new album, Brahms Inspired, explores the patterns of influence that formed around Brahms: how the music he studied influenced the music that he wrote, and how the music he wrote influences music being written today.

The two-disc set is anchored by Brahms's three final sets of solo piano pieces, Opuses 117, 118 and 119. Shaham pairs them with music that Brahms is known to have loved: pieces by Bach, Schubert, Schumann and Chopin.

From there, Shaham traces Brahms's impact forward in time to Schoenberg — one of Brahms's most vocal admirers — and then to the present day. Brahms Inspired contains three premiere recordings of new works inspired by Brahms by composers from three different countries. America's Bruce Adolphe provides My Inner Brahms, an intermezzo that channels the elegiac moods of many of Brahms's late pieces. Avner Dorman, hailing from Israel, also takes Brahms's intermezzi as a starting point in After Brahms. Both of these works were commissioned by Shaham for this recording.

The third new work is by Australia's Brett Dean, and was written for the great pianist Emmanuel Ax. Dean's Hommage a Brahms is a set of three short pieces written to be interspersed with Brahms's own Opus 119 piano pieces. The resulting collection is nearly a half-hour long, and closes out this album.

"Like works of art grouped in the same room, I find the works on this album speak to and illuminate each other," writes Shaham in the liner notes of the album. "I hope this juxtaposition helps further our understanding of the magnitude of Brahms's genius."


CD 1

Klavierstücke, Op. 118 (Johannes Brahms)

1. Intermezzo in A minor 
2. Intermezzo in A major 
3. Ballade in G minor 
4. Intermezzo in F minor 
5. Romanze in F major 
6. Intermezzo in E-flat minor

7. My Inner Brahms: an intermezzo (Bruce Adolphe)

8. Impromptu, Op. 9, No. 3 in G-flat major (Franz Schubert)

9. Romanze, Op. 28, No. 2 in F-sharp minor (Robert Schumann)

10. Berceuse, Op. 57 in D-flat major (Frederic Chopin)

Drei Intermezzi, Op. 117 (Johannes Brahms)

11. Andante moderato 
12. Andante non troppo e con molto espressione 
13. Andante con moto

CD 2

After Brahms: Three intermezzos for piano (Avner Dorman)

1. Allegro con moto appassionato 
2. Delicatamente con molto espressione 
3. Adagio espressivo

Partita No. 1 in B-flat major, BVW 825 (Johann Sebastian Bach)

4. Praeludium 
5. Allemande 
6. Corrente 
7. Sarabande 
8. Menuet I, Menuet II 
9. Gigue

10. Sechs kleine Klavierstücke, Op. 19 (Arnold Schoenberg)

Klavierstücke Op. 119 (Johannes Brahms)/Hommage a Brahms für Klavier (Brett Dean)

11. Intermezzo in B minor (Brahms) 
12. Engelsflügel 1 (Dean) 
13. Intermezzo in E minor (Brahms) 
14. Hafenkneipenmusik (Dean) 
15. Intermezzo in C major (Brahms) 
16. Engelsflügel 2 (Dean) 
17. Rhapsodie in E-flat major (Brahms)