Brahms Museum, Hamburg Johannes Brahms Association, Brahms Studien publications, Germany

For explorers and dreamers

 We know all of Beethoven, we’ve heard it so many times. But how many people have heard the first piano sonata or the second by Brahms? Not many” (Nada in Fanfare Magazine). The Beirut-born pianist Nada liked something about that. Already as a child she felt the urge to play the piano and took her first lessons. Her parents supported her from the beginning and bought her an old piano at the flea market. The Lebanese Civil War forced Nada and her family to flee. She continued to develop her piano knowledge and skills on her own, until at the age of 17 she was accepted at the Paris Conservatory, where she won first prize in the piano category. Nada also studied at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Canada and at Indiana University. When she is not touring, she lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where she performs regularly on the radio show Nada’s Classical Hour and actively participates in its programming.

In her previously released CDs Nada in Hamburg with Johannes Brahms,

Vienna: Brahms & Nada and Nada Meets Johannes Brahms, the pianist has already dealt intensively with Brahms and his work. Her album Capriccios and Intermezzos Nada and Brahms is now <las fourth in this series of Brahms albums dedicated to <lessen solo piano styles. The series of recordings, by virtue of its incredible variety, combines what is already known with what is rarely heard, and sends the recipient on a voyage of discovery <l through the Brahmsian cosmos. The fourth CD in particular covers a wide temporal span in Brahms’ oeuvre, ranging from the 2nd Piano Sonata op. 2 to an arrangement for piano of two of the Eleven Choral Preludes op. 122 (Herzlich thut mich erfreuen and Herzliebster Jesu). Nada’s own arrangement shows that the chorale preludes can be transferred well to the piano without compromising too much. Her playing style captures the various shades of the music with great skill. In particular, Nada’s skillful oscillation between a delicate piano and an energetic sublime forte sound stands out positively. The intimacy of the piano makes one feel Brahms’ grief all the more, as he had to cope with the loss of people close to him during the period in which the Choral Preludes were written. Also <las arrangement of the Un garische Tanze for piano <l by the composer himself leaves nothing missing.

Nada pragmatically brings the symphonic sound dimension of the piano to the listener’s ears and thereby reinforces the symphonic character that is already inherent in Brahms’s piano sonatas, as for example in the variation in the second movement of the Piano Sonata op. 2 (m. 371f.), which is notated in three systems.

No instrument was more closely associated with Brahms’ own playing than the piano, and his demands on the pianist are correspondingly high. A multi-layered, contrapuntally and chordally oriented compositional style and the resulting wide range of the hands pose technical challenges for the performer. Not least because of the contrasting handplay (e.g. in the Piano Styles op. 76) and the complicated voice-leading, the works demand a controlled, structured approach mixed with athletic dexterity and an emotional approach. The pianist Nada fulfills all these requirements to the fullest extent and combines them into a melodious, eventful package. Even complicated rhythms (e.g. in the Hungarian Tiinzen) sound natural and playful with her. Creatively placed rubati and pauses (e.g. in the Intermezzo op. 117 No. 1), always in the spirit of the style, as well as the coherent interpretation of the tempo indications are just one example of Nada’s profound understanding of Brahms and her sensitivity for his work, which she has developed through years of intensive study of the composer and now shares with the audience. I see through the music, I kind of almost feel through the music, how the composition process went, how the persona is, how the feelings are, what kind of a person he is. (Nada in Fanfare Magazine). Another special feature of the albums is that the sound editing is kept to a minimum. This results in a naturally intimate overall sound that gives the listener the impression of sitting right next to the piano. The CD’s program is a cleverly conceived compilation of art-musical and folkloric popular compositions as well as lyrical variations. Quite rightly, <las album was honored with a silver medal at the 2018 Global Music Awards. Anyone who has already listened to one of the albums should be even more pleased to hear that <lass Nada has released a triple CD of Brahms’ complete CEuvre for solo piano in 2020. The pianist’s recording reflects the richness, complexity and innovative sonic dimensions of Brahms’s piano works. True to her motto “I speak music”, Nada invites the listener to engage in a musical dialogue with Brahms.

Andrea Zeh

CD Capriccios & Intermezzos- Nada and Brahms, MEII Enterprises (707129224088), 2018

Performer: Nada (Piano)


Johannes Brahms/arr. Nada, Herzlich thut mich erfreuen, Herzliebster Jesu, from: Eleven chorale preludes op. 122

Johannes Brahms, Piano Pieces op. 76, Intermezzi op. 117, Etude No. 1 after Chopin, No. 3 after Bach, Hungarian Tiinze fiir Piano, Variations in d minor (after the String Sextet op. 18), Variations on a Theme by Robert Schumann op. 9, Piano Sonata op. 2 No. 2