Benyamin Nuss’s newest recording, Exotica (Deutsche Grammophon 476 4872), presents this young and extraordinarily talented pianist playing works by Debussy, Balakirew, Villa-Lobos, Ginastera, and other composers from exotic corners of the world. Nuss turns in a performance that is nuanced, passionate, elegant, and above all, emotionally settled. Nuss, in his early twenties, possesses the kind of expressive maturity rarely heard in a pianist of any age. His technique is razor sharp—he uses his skill to carve, shape, and paint sweeping musical landscapes, portraits, and murals, sometimes colorful, sometimes stark, sometimes dark, but always intimate, full of life, and with the confidence of an artist who has found his musical voice.
Each track on this aptly-titled recording—produced by Thilo Berg and recorded and mastered by Helmut C Burk—takes the listener on a journey. Benyamin Nuss’s performance explores foreign lands, foreign thoughts, exotic places, ideas, and concerns that reside in our hopes and fears. Stand out tracks can be found in the “Japan” section of Exotica: Nuss’s composition, Elegie für Fukushima; followed by Valtonen’s Fantasie interpretation of the same piece; and, finally, Hamauzu’s “Sanzui”—a suite that left me breathless and moved to tears.
This is beautiful music played by an artist with a beautiful soul.