Brahms / Hindemith / Rokni - With A Little Expression | RECORD STORE DAY

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Sn'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 it's 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. It's 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.