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Pianist Orli Shaham: Passionate about the Music and Influence of Johannes Brahms

Pianist Orli Shaham

What inspired composer and pianist Johannes Brahms to write great music? And was he preserving the past, or making way for the future?  As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, pianist OrliShaham has been exploring these questions, showcasing music by Brahms and composers who came before and after. 

Orli Shaham is performing works from her new CD set, Brahms Inspired, on Saturday evening May 16, 2015 at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park.

Radio script:

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Susan Lewis: Orli Shaham is passionate about the music of Brahms.

Orli Shaham: I think Brahms' music just cuts through everything and touches you directly on your soul.

SL: Curious about how great music comes into being, Shaham has put together a CD looking at Brahms’ late solo piano pieces and works of composers he knew, including Bach, Schubert, Schumann, and Chopin.

OS: A lot of times we forget about Brahms’ love for Chopin, because they had a very different approach to emotion. Chopin is right out there – heart on sleeve. And Brahms is always just bubbling beneath the surface somewhere. But Brahms, in his Romance for Piano, Op. 118 no. 5 – there’s a middle section, which takes its whole premise from Chopin’s Berceuse.

SL: Shaham also includes a new piece by Brett Dean, and work she commissioned from Avner Dorman and Bruce Adolphe, who wrote, My Inner Brahms.

OS: The three contemporary composers are so based on Brahms, but so different...

SL: Was Brahms looking back or forward?  Both, says Shaham.

OS: He was involved in making sure that everything that came before, lived in his music. And yet the way he put it together - the worlds he was opening up - stylistically were very much looking to the future.

SL: Orli Shaham’s new CD set, Brahms Inspired, will be out in early June, 2015.

Listen to pianist Orli Shaham talk with WRTI's Susan Lewis about her exploration of Brahms and how great music comes to be.

Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.