Making her Warner Classics debut with an album of Beethoven and Liszt is pianist Sophie Pacini – 24 years old, German-Italian, a protegée of the great Martha Argerich and Newcomer of the Year at Germany’s high-profile Echo-Klassik Awardsin 2015.
Sophie Pacini is an artist with strong ideas and an acute sense of responsibility. As she said in an interview with the Rheinische Post: “I put the music, and my act of engagement with it, in the front line. The process is constantly about achieving the highest quality. By nature, I am a perfectionist, but I am also someone who tends to worry a lot.” When asked if the Echo-Klassik Prize changed things for her she said: “It doesn’t change anything about the way I play, but it gives me the feeling of sharing my joy in music-making with a still wider audience. It is a matter of sharing music and my conception of music, of giving people something to think about. Music is a vocation, not a career."
Born in Munich in 1991, Sophie Pacini has an Italian father and a German mother. When she started learning the piano at the age of six, her father, an academic, also began to take lessons. Just two years later she was way ahead of him. At the age of 10 she started attending the Salzburg Mozarteum, going on to join its newly-founded Institute for Highly Gifted Students and finally to graduate with honours in 2011.
Sophie Pacini first met Martha Argerich in 2010, when she visited the great Argentinian pianist after a concert, and went onto audition for her in Italy. “Everything changed for me,” says Pacini. From that day on Martha Argerich became my musical mentor, supported me generously and, above all, a close personal friendship started to grow between us.”
Thank you for the great experience of making music together. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to play with you. Your great artistry was my 70th birthday present. But since now you are celebrating yours, may I wish you a very very happy and healthy birthday and many happy returns.
See you soon,
My dearest Martula,
Meeting you has had a huge impact in my life – a personal, emotional and musical impact.
I was so immensely lucky to meet you – this great, fiery pianist; this living legend, this goddess of music and above all this extraordinary woman – free-spirited, passionate, curious and sensitive.
I was so excited to play with you for the first time – the Mendelssohn Piano Trio – and yet at the same time blown away, even intimidated; this young cellist fresh out of the Conservatoire suddenly face to face with a classical music giant. I will never forget the kindness with which you looked at me, and the trust you placed in me. You led me by the hand on stage with infectious energy and tenderness.
Everything I’ve experienced on stage with you and in life is invaluable. The first wild years at Lugano, the frenzy around the Gulda homage in Japan, the Beethoven Triple Concerto...
Today I’d like to tell you, once again, MERCI.
Thank you for who you are.
Thank you for your sincerity and fidelity.
Thank you for all the love you give your fellow musicians and friends.
Martha Argerich has in many ways been my teacher because I have conducted my debuts with her of the Schumann Piano Concerto, the Liszt E-Flat, Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto, Tchaikovsky No.1 and Beethoven No.1. Needless to say, once you have performed these concertos with her, it is almost impossible to imagine them played another way, such is her originality, fire, and sophistication.
May she continue to wow us all with her bewitching yet oh-so-natural way with music, and to continue offering her enormous wisdom to the younger generation of musicians...And to those of us who are not so young! -Sir Antonio Pappano
Since I listened to her playing for the very first time I immediately fell in love with her incomparable way of making music. The way she preformed evoked emotions in me that I had never felt before. I was so overwhelmed by her great naturalness, her unfailing musical instinct and her incredible virtuosity and strength that it became one of my biggest dreams to meet her in person some day and maybe even to be able to play for her.
After a couple of years, in 2010, this dream actually came true thanks to a great coincidence: at a small summer festival in Italy my great idol actually let me play for her in her practice room. Everything changed for me. From that day on Martha Argerich became my musical mentor, supported me generously and, above all, a close personal friendship started to grow between us.
Whenever she comes to visit me in Munich now and we sit together to talk and joke about music and life, these are the most inspiring and beautiful hours for me.
I am unbelievably thankful and happy to have her, for me she is the one and only; she is my 'piano mama'!
Thank you, Martula, for existing and for enriching our lives with your wonderful art. All the very best for your birthday from the bottom of my heart! Tantissimi auguroni!
Martha was always was my idol from childhood, and I still remember the moment I met her in Milan for the first time.
Since then I feel in love not only in her playing which is beyond any imagination, but also immense admiration for her warm, motherly and caring personality.
Sometimes I feel guilty that she does care for me so much and I have nothing to offer her...And I have to confess that getting to know her is the best thing ever happened in my life.
Happy birthday, Martha! I love you so much!
If I think to Martha Argerich one word comes immediately to my mind: immortality. Immortality because, with her overwhelming energy, she has been able to stop time and write incredible pages in the history of pianism. Best wishes, Martha! -Beatrice Rana
In concert, she scales the heights of the piano repertoire; she is hailed by critics as one of the most distinguished artists of her generation, and she was not yet twenty years old when Martha Argerich championed her as one of the most brilliant rising stars in the piano firmament. Now the award-winning German-Italian pianist Sophie Pacini has signed an exclusive recording contract with Warner Classics. Her label debut, recorded in March 2016 for release in the fall, is devoted to solo piano music by Beethoven and Liszt.
Jean-Philippe Roland, EVP of Artists & Repertoire at Warner Classics, said: "Sophie immediately put a spell on us through her munificent way of playing and her engaging personality."
Stephanie Haase, Director of Warner Classics Germany, added: "We are delighted to welcome Sophie Pacini into the Warner Classics family. We were immediately impressed not only by Sophie’s virtuosity and intelligent approach, but also by her sheer talent for communicating with her audiences. When she plays, she draws listeners into her unique and personal experience of the music, which becomes instantly accessible."
For her Warner Classics debut, the 24-year-old pianist will take on Beethoven’s masterful Waldstein Sonata Op.53, the central work on the album, around which she has built a dramatic and imaginative programme of Liszt piano works and transcriptions including Wagner’s Tannhäuser overture, Liebestraum No.3, the Réminiscences de Don Juan, Consolations Nos.1-3 and the Hungarian Rhapsody No.6.
"I am thrilled about this exclusive collaboration with Warner Classics," said Pacini. "We immediately embarked on a common musical direction in which I was able to express myself as a young artist, while being supported every step of the way. Our first project combines works by Beethoven and Liszt, two composers who have influenced me a great deal musically. They embody what has fascinated and captivated me about the piano from the beginning: the ability to transpose an entire orchestra onto the keyboard and trace the complexity of a score in fine detail, as well as the idea of the instrument as a powerhouse of musical evolution."
About Sophie Pacini
Born in Munich in 1991, Pacini began her studies at the age of ten as a pupil of Karl-Heinz Kämmerling at the Salzburg Mozarteum, where she was accepted two years later by the newly founded Institute for Highly Gifted Students. From 2007 she continued her studies in master classes given by Pavel Gililov, completing her diploma in 2011 with honours. In 2010 she became acquainted with Martha Argerich, who invited her the following year to give a recital as part of the Martha Argerich Project in Lugano, and who has since become an important figure in the young pianist’s career.
As a soloist she has performed with orchestras including Camerata Salzburg, Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Dresden Philharmonic, Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland Pfalz, Tokyo Philharmonic, Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg and Vienna Chamber Orchestra. Since 2013 Sophie Pacini has been supported by a scholarship from the Dortmund Mozart Society. In 2015 she received the ECHO Klassik Young Artist of the Year Award in the Piano category.