Interview with Pina Napolitano


Interview. In the past 'Christmas Special' we recommended a cd: Elegy with Pina Napolitano and the Liepaja Symphony Orchestra with Atvars Lakstigala as conductor, published by Odradek Records. We talked to Pina about this work and this is what she told us:

1. Ruth Prieto: When did you decide to do this CD Elegy and why?

Pina Napolitano: I had wanted to record the Schoenberg Concerto for a long time. Meanwhile the Bartok third concerto has been part of my repertoire for a while. When the chance came up at the end of 2015 to collaborate with Liepaja Symphony Orchestra and Atvars Lakstigala, I was very happy that we agreed on this program.
2. R.P.: Do you remember the first time that you heard one of Schoenberg’s works?Which one was it and what impression did it leave you with?

Pina Napolitano: It was the piano concerto! It was on a disc together with another romantic concerto I wanted to get so I heard it by chance. I was rather young. It impressed me as something powerful, but also somehow sad and something I did not understand well. And in addition, I wanted to understand it more!
3. R.P.: This is a work with Atvars Lakstigala. Was this your first work together, how did it go?

Pina Napolitano: Yes, it was and it went exceptionally well. We immediately shared the same vision about the concerto and the entire CD. He was able to treat the orchestra as a group of soloists and was willing to spend time working on each detail, to make the music come alive exactly as we wanted it. We wanted this music to dance, which is quite challenging given the number of independent parts, but he managed to control and shape each line.
4. R.P.:
What is your main obsession when working?

Pina Napolitano: It is a double obsession. To try to interpret the score the right way, without leaving anything out, exactly as the composer wrote it, leveraging everything that is in the score to make the music live and dance. In addition, at the same time, to find my own freedom and space, where I can freely perform the score every time anew, as if I were almost improvising. It is a paradox but the maximum freedom could only be achieved within the strictest boundaries. Moreover, that freedom, if you can find it, is the “right” one, and is boundless.
5. R.P.: Elegy is released on Odradek and Odradek seems to have a specific way of working. What was it like recording with them?

Pina Napolitano: The Odradek team is a real community of artists, where everybody involved at each stage of the project gives his or her best to make it successful. The label is centered on music as an art and artists and not on market considerations.

"Artists are selected through an anonymous peer review process by the roster members themselves. The process assures the highest quality and complete impartiality in selection."

6. R.P.: What can you tell us about this CD? What does this CD sound like?

Pina Napolitano: It is a CD of modern music from the first half of the twentieth century, where innovation and echoes of the past merge into a powerful and emotionally charged mix. The works of three composers, Schoenberg, Bartok and Krenek, are included on the disc. Each of them had a distinct voice and musical language — Schoenberg and Krenek serial, Bartok mostly modal — but in my opinion these works share a common sense of nostalgia, of looking back to the past in different ways, and of incorporating memories, musical and personal, into the language of the present. Hence the title of the disc, Elegy.
7. R.P.: What project would you like to do in the future that you have not already done?

Pina Napolitano: There are many projects! One of them is starting this year, and is centered on Brahms and my next CD out this fall.
Then there are more projects with orchestra, and a couple of discs of American contemporary music, which is extremely fascinating. Plus lots of Ravel and Beethoven!
More information on Odradek Records

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