Reviews

SUONO

Challenging program chosen by Vanessa Benelli Mosell for her début album. Works that require it remarkable technical skills beyond sensitivity of interpretation. Armed with a prestigious curriculum that places her among the most talented pianists of our age, the young Vanessa securely tackles this challenge by offering high-level performances. Prokofiev Sonata n. 7 has been written in 1940. Second of the three “war” Sonatas, it won a Stalin Prize which made it famous. The first movement Allegro inquieto, alternating between two contrasting elements, is followed by the Andante caloroso, lyrical and espressivo, and closes with the famous Precipitato with fast sequences of drum-beat chords. Rhapsodie Espagnole by Liszt is from 1863 and belongs to the Roman years of the Hungarian musician. Liszt inserts some Spanish themes as the Folie d’Espagne which, after a brief introduction, opens the work, and Jota Aragonesa with a distinctly virtuoso character. A third theme follows, which together with the previous themes triumphantly closes the composition. Trills, octave jumps, sprints and fast repeated notes makes the Rhapsody a real virtuoso challenge. Haydn and Scriabin follow. By the first we have the E minor Sonata Hob: XVI/34, composed by three movements with the Adagio between the fast movements. The Sonata is written in 1892 and about a hundred years separates it from Scriabin Sonata n. 1 op. 6. Haydn’s classical language is however not missing conflicting elements and rhythmic tensions that dominate the Sonata n. 1 op. 6. Composed in 1982 is in four movements with a long initial Allegro followed by a movement without indication , a Presto and a Funeral march which accentuates the dramatic nature of the work. 

MELOMANO

"Benelli Mosell has chosen a demanding program that shows her remarkable talents and exploits the potential of the piano to the fullest. Furthermore, a precision of high purity technique and a chamaleon ability to match each one of the different styles and moods of the programme."

Brilliant Classics presenta el álbum de debut de la joven virtuosa Vanessa Benelli Mosell. La italiana ha desarrollado de manera fulgurante su carrera tocando el piano por medio mundo, con orquestas, como la Filarmónica de Berlín, o en recital, como en el Wigmore Hall de Londres. Por lo que ha resultado verdaderamente conocida es por haber sido invitada por el ya fallecido Karlheinz Stockhausen para estudiar con él en Alemania, lo que le llevó a convertirse en toda una experta y reputada intérpretede la música de este autor. No obstante, para su disco de presentación, Benelli ha escogido un exigente programa que despliega sus notables talentos y explota el potencial expresivo del piano al máximo.A ello cabría añadir, a resultas, una precisión en la técnica de gran pureza y un amoldamiento camaleónico a cada uno de los estilos expuestos.El repertorio abarca siglo y medio de historia de la música, desde la dramática obra en tonalidad menor de Franz Joseph Haydn de 1784 hasta la segunda de las tres Sonatas de Guerra de Serguéi Prokofiev. La obra del soviético,la Sonata para piano nº 7 en si bemol,abre el fabuloso disco mientras que la Sonata para piano en mi menor Hob.XVI: 34 de Haydn sucede y antecede a otras dos piezas muy relevantes: la Rapsodia Espanola S254 de Franz Liszt del año 1863, y ySonata para piano nº 1 en fa menor opus 6,de Alexander Scriabin, compuesta en 1892.

INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW

“As she was described by Pascal Rogé as “…the most natural musical talent I have encountered in my entire life as a musician and teacher”, one naturally expects an intriguing listen from Italian Vanessa Benelli Mosell’s début disc. Acclaimed performances of Stockhausen’s Klavierstuecke (with whom she studied until his death) suggest she possesses a command of technical challenges, which indeed manifests itself in assured playing throughout this recital. She attacks the opening of Prokofiev’s Sonata n. 7 with a determined impetus and nervous energy. Passages of quieter reflection come across as somewhat detached rather than desolate, portraying as almost nonchalant passive-aggressiveness. This feeling continues throughout the second movement Andante Caloroso. While she does make the transition from the rather beautiful opening to the highly chromatic middle section and back again effectively, one senses a slight innocence to the underlying bitterness in this movement. She launches into the final Precipitato toccata with an electric energy, highlighting strands of counterpoint and hidden voices with a steely precision. The dizzying pace is maintained right up to the last bar, an impressive feat in itself…”

“Mosell’s handling of Haydn’s E minor Keyboard Sonata, Hob. XVI/34 is particularly deft. Tempos are promisingly brisk, supplemented by a clarity in rapid passages throughout…”

“Unsurprisingly, Mosell launches headlong into Scriabin's unfairly neglected Sonata No. 1. Think for a moment what impact over-practicing Balakiriev's Islamey can have on the hands. It is said Scriabin damaged his right hand considerably doing just this, penning this Sonata as an outcry against what he believed was his fate. With this in mind, Mosell is appropriately melancholic in the Adagio second movement, allowing it to pass by as if it were an introspective stream of consciousness, as well as in the closing Funebre. The third movement Presto is well handled, showcasing her apparent ease with rapid octaves…”, “…This is a promising début recital, showing flashes of inspiration and virtuosity. Young female contemporaries might just have a contender waiting in the wings.”

MUSIC WEB INTERNATIONAL

After her excellent recent debut CD entitled 'Virtuoso Piano Music' (see review), young Italian pianist Vanessa Benelli Mosell has returned almost immediately to the studio for Brilliant Classics for this all-Liszt follow-up.

Pianistically, this recording is every bit as thrilling as the first. Benelli Mosell's sculptured programme - styled after a Liszt recital - surrounds four of the Hungarian Rhapsodies with a miscellany of other pieces, both 'light' and virtuosic. What is particularly interesting about the works Benelli Mosell has chosen is, on the one hand, the fact that they all come from Liszt's earlier years, and on the other, that none of the four Rhapsodies is the Second! The point is that Benelli Mosell could easily have followed the route favoured by every big-label 'superstar', which is to play Liszt's original No.2 and include a meretricious cadenza, or more usually to play the over-the-top arrangement vulgarised - in more senses than one - by Vladimir Horowitz. Instead she has elected not to spotlight directly her own personal brilliance, but rather to be a conduit for Liszt. In an online interview in Italian last year she explained how she had come to understand - from her study with Stockhausen of his Klavierstücke, no less - that the pianist's role is to communicate the composer's ideas to audiences, not his or her own.

Benelli Mosell has already demonstrated, in her debut disc, that Liszt is bread and butter to her, making astonishingly light work of his electric Rhapsodie Espagnole. Here she picks up where she left off, dazzling with her technique and surprising with her emotional maturity. There is no call for much in the way of pathos in her programme, to be sure, although Benelli Mosell's Liebestraum in A flat is markedly poetic. But when it comes to virtuosity, sensibility, panache, however, she has what it takes. Her articulation in particular is outstanding, with every note - Liszt permitting! - clean and precise.

According to Brilliant's own blurb, Pascal Rogé has described Benelli Mosell as "the most natural musical talent I have encountered in my entire life as a musician and teacher". Substantial praise indeed, but not necessarily helpful - in a market of virtuosos, such words, however accurate, tend to ring insincere. Rather surprisingly perhaps, given her instantly obvious talent, Benelli Mosell's own website seems to emphasise not her pianistic ability, but her nubililty - all pages are divided in two, one side providing a carousel of photos of her in various costumes posing sultrily for the camera. 

There is more hyperbole to be found in Gerald Larner's booklet notes, which strike a provocative note from the first line: "It is no exaggeration to claim Liszt as the greatest of all 19th-century musicians." Has he forgotten Beethoven? Mendelssohn? Schubert? 

Engineering quality is very high - an improvement on the first album in every regard. At Brilliant's bargain price - now considerably cheaper than Naxos - this is a recital worthy of wider attention.

CLASSICAL NET

Maurizio Pollini – move over! Italian pianist Vanessa Benelli Mosell (b. 1987), although a prizewinner in a few important competitions, apparently hasn't won a major competition outright. That's rather amazing because she possesses a rare talent, but this kind of talent doesn't need a first prize in Moscow or Warsaw or Texas to ride to fame! This is her second recording. I missed her first, which contained sonatas by Prokofiev, Haydn and Scriabin, and Liszt's Rhapsodie Espagnole (Brilliant Classics 94209). I did manage to hear excerpts from that recital disc and was greatly impressed.

On this new disc Benelli Mosell plays with an all-encompassing technique and has the interpretive acumen of a seasoned master, the latter quality showing through despite her choice of mostly lighter and virtuosic repertory here. Iconic French pianist Pascal Rogé, with whom Benelli Mosell debuted in duo-piano repertory at age eleven, described her as the "most natural talent I have ever encountered in my entire life..." Listening to this disc, it's easy to see why he heaped such lavish praise on her.

Benelli Mosell captures the charm and elegance of the Chopinesque Valse Impromptu, giving the piece a lightness and infectious effervescence in her phrasing and well-judged dynamics. The Capriccio alla Turca is a virtuosic takeoff on themes from Beethoven's Ruins of Athens. It's a colorful piece, full of high spirits and colorful dazzle, and Benelli Mosell shortchanges no aspect of the work's glitter and virtuosity, while showing that such light music can actually offer substantive enjoyment.

La Leggierezza is another work that, while sounding like Liszt, has much of the sound world of Chopin about it. Benelli Mosell deftly points up the kinship between the two composers' styles, while storming the heights in the middle section. The four Hungarian Rhapsodies here sound far less episodic than is often the case, and more like the delightful and well-crafted folk-inspired showpieces that Liszt intended. For sheer thrills try the final section of #6, where Benelli Mosell plays those rapid-fire repeating octaves with such precision, lightness and awesome speed.

She delivers Liebestraum #3 with utter conviction, not in any way spurning the obviously sentimental character of the music. The last three pieces are light and lively works, with the Rossini-sourced La Danza and the Grand Galop Chromatique showcasing Benelli Mosell's considerable technical skills. While this Liszt recital features little music of depth, those interested in the composer's lighter and more colorful works will find this disc a real delight. True, the fare offered here is just the kind that Liszt detractors cite to make their case against the composer, but the music is unpretentious, imaginative and brimming with energy and brilliant color. The sound reproduction is clear and powerful.

LA SCENA MUSICALE

“She’s 24 and not afraid of Pokofiev’s sonata or Scriabins 1st. What's more the technique seems to match the ambition. These are very convincing readings, with some Liszt and Haydn in between.” - Norman Lebrecht

CHINA DAILY

"Vanessa Benelli Mosell thrills National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing with improvisations"

IL MATTINO

"Vanessa Benelli Mosell virtuosa in Liszt"

"Il biglietto da visita della giovane Vanessa Benelli Mosell è un intero disco dedicato a Liszt (il secondo per Brilliant Classics), col Valse impromptu, il Capriccio alla turca dalle Rovine di Atene di Beethoven. La leggerezza, le danze ungheresi n.6, 10, 11, 12, il Liebestraum, il Galop russe, La danza (da Rossini), il Grand galop chromatique. La venticinquenne di Prato, allieva a Imola, poi al Conservatorio di Mosca e al Royal College di Londra, si presenta come sincero virtuoso in pagine interessanti che non danno tregua, ma che richiamano anche sensibilità toccanti."

BRESCIA OGGI

Il «Valse Impromptu» non è che il primo brano di questo ampio programma tutto dedicato a Franz Liszt e che vede questa giovane pianista, originaria di Prato e già nota al pubblico per aver interpretato i «Klavierstücke» di Karlheinz Stockhausen, impegnata nell'interpretazione del «Capriccio alla turca» su temi delle Rovine di Atene di Beethoven, nel celebre Studio da concerto «La Leggerezza» e soprattutto in quattro delle sue Rapsodie Ungheresi. Il tema della danza non poteva mancare, con il «Grand Gaolp cromatique» e il «Galop russe» come il notissimo e struggente Liebestraum, il «Sogno d'amore». Interprete: Vanessa Benelli Mosell. 

LA REPUBBLICA

"Stockhausen is enlivened by bright and enthusiastic reading by Vanessa Benelli Mosell"
"The energy of Vanessa and the visionary of Stockhausen" 

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