lunes, 31 de marzo de 2014

Yundi Li / Berliner Philharmonker / Daniel Harding BEETHOVEN Emperor - SCHUMANN Fantasy


Young Chinese pianist Li Yundi announced in London on Saturday that his new album would be released on Feb. 25, the day of his first concert of a European tour.
The new album, Emperor I Fantasy, includes Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 (Emperor) and Schumann's Fantasie in C. It is his second recording with conductor Daniel Harding and the Berlin Philharmonic.
Li will play these works as well as traditional Chinese pieces on a European tour that will take in 25 cities from February to April, including St Petersburg, Warsaw and Prague. The first concert will be hold at the Royal Festival Hall in London on Feb. 25.
"The Emperor Concerto is one of my favorite compositions, which not only expresses Beethoven's uniqueness and confidence but is also filled with romanticism," said the pianist.
Known as the "prince of piano" in China, Li said the core of his new album is to tell people that "everybody has an emperor inside themselves. To become one, people have to face challenges, make progress and break through barriers. One day, they will become their own emperor."
He added, "Playing the Beethoven concerto is a breakthrough for me. I hope I can achieve more and perfect my musical skills to become my own emperor. I hope I can bring more beautiful music to people in the future."
The young pianist rose to prominence after he took first place at the 14th International Chopin Competition in 2000 at the age of 18, making him both the youngest pianist and the first from China to win. (Xinhua and Staff Reporter / 2014-02-11)

sábado, 29 de marzo de 2014

Paavo Järvi / Frankfurt Symphony Orchestra ERKKI-SVEN TÜÜR Seventh Symphony - Piano Concerto

The sixth ECM New Series album by Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür presents two major works, commissioned by the Hessische Rundfunk and given their premieres by the Frankfurt Radio Symphony orchestra. Both works are powered by what Tüür calls his “vectorial writing method”, a means of developing pieces from “a source code – a gene which, as it mutates and grows, connects the dots in the fabric of the whole composition.” The process, already reflected in works including “Oxymoron”, “Strata” and “Noesis”, has led to a body of work quite distinct from Tüür’s earlier, discursive ‘metalinguistic’ music in which diverse idioms – from serialism to minimalism – were contrasted, interwoven, reconciled. Tüür’s 21st century music foregoes “unnecessary eclecticism”, and manifests instead an organic coherence. These are pieces of determined, individual temperament. As Paul Griffiths observes in the liner notes, Erkki Sven Tüür’s 7th Symphony, written in 2009 and dedicated to the Dalai Lama “and his lifelong endeavours”, is a unique choral symphony, “a work where the orchestra has its own purposes, among which that of framing and supporting the voices is by no means paramount.” The texts that the NDR Choir sings include words of the Buddha from the Dhammapada as well as utterances of more contemporary visionaries and sages, from Gandhi to Mother Theresa. Once a text is used, says Tüür, if only minimally, “it starts to create meanings for an otherwise abstract musical material.” The physical power of the symphony then appears to be influenced and mediated by words addressing the power of compassion.

In the Piano Concerto, Finnish pianist Laura Mikkola gives an exceptional performance, responding to the surging waves of the orchestra and the inspired direction of Paavo Järvi. The concerto is a work of explosive energies, orchestra and piano moving on inter-related and intersecting planes, “continuous and continually in the process of meeting.”

viernes, 28 de marzo de 2014

Kronos Quartet BRYCE DESSNER Aheym

 Bryce Dessner is a guitarist with the alternative-rock and Americana band the National, and this album with the Kronos Quartet appears not on its longtime label home of Nonesuch but on the rock-oriented Anti imprint. The sound, from the standpoint of classical music, is a bit overheated, but Dessner certainly fits with the quartet's long-term goals of commissioning music from younger composers and generally reaching out to music lovers of whatever genre. The four pieces here were written for a concert in Brooklyn, New York's Prospect Park. Each one has a fairly specific program; the title work, Aheym, denotes the concept "homeward" in Yiddish and is dedicated to the memory of Dessner's own Polish Jewish ancestors. It is questionable as to whether the listener would intuit the programs without knowing them in advance, for the music is written in what might be called a turbo-minimalist style that remains consistent, building as each work proceeds. The third piece, Tenebre, features triple-layered vocals at the end from new-folk singer Sufjan Stevens, as well as an octuple-layered Kronos Quartet, but certainly the most interesting piece is the last one, Tour Eiffel. Here Dessner modifies his minimalist language and forges a three-unit texture consisting of a children's choir, a small band led by his own guitar, and the quartet. These three play off each other in simple but original ways, each refracting a text by Chilean poet Vicente Huidobro about the Eiffel Tower. It's a novel conception, and it makes one want to hear more from its composer. Recommended for those interested in classical-rock fusions. (

jueves, 27 de marzo de 2014

Recomposed By MAX RICHTER Vivaldi - The Four Seasons

It starts with a shimmer of something strange and soft, an ambient mist of strings that's both electronic and acoustic. Then something weird happens. Out of these shifting sonic tides comes an ensemble of violins – playing fragments of the world's most overfamiliar concerto, the soundtrack to 1,000 adverts, an on-hold phone favourite that features on every classical compilation ever. Yes, it's Vivaldi's Four Seasons – but not as we know it. This is Vivaldi Recomposed, by genre-hopping, new-music maestro Max Richter. So the big, clanging question is: why? Why retouch, rework, and reimagine Vivaldi's evergreen pictorial masterpiece? "The Four Seasons is something we all carry around with us," says Richter, a German-born British composer. "It's just everywhere. In a way, we stop being able to hear it. So this project is about reclaiming this music for me personally, by getting inside it and rediscovering it for myself – and taking a new path through a well-known landscape." This involved "throwing molecules of the original Vivaldi into a test tube with a bunch of other things, and waiting for an explosion". You can hear this chemical reaction particularly well at the opening of Richter's reworked Summer concerto, which has become a weird collision of Arvo Pärt-likemelancholy in the solo violin and a minimalist workout for the rest of the strings. "There are times I depart completely from the original, yes, but there are moments when it pokes through. I was pleased to discover that Vivaldi's music is very modular. It's pattern music, in a way, so there's a connection with the whole post-minimalist aesthetic I'm part of." Part of the fun of the album is that your ears play tricks with your memory of the original: these familiar melodies do unexpected things, resulting in an experience that's both disturbing yet full of strange delights. And imagine how it felt for Recomposed's solo violinist Daniel Hope: having played the original for decades, he – and more importantly his fingers – faced a surreal task when he first picked his way through Richter's score. "It was incredibly thought-provoking," he says. "I had to deal with all the curveballs Max throws at you, the way he does things you don't expect." The experience clearly messed with Hope's mind. "What really threw me was the first movement of Autumn. He pulls the rhythm around, starts dropping quavers here and there. You end up with a rickety and slightly one-legged Vivaldi. It's incredibly funny. But even in poking fun at the original, there's always enormous respect." The slow movement of Winter is another standout moment for Hope. "It's really out of this world," he says. "It's as if an alien has picked it up and pulled it through a time warp. It's really eerie: Max has kept Vivaldi's melody, but it's pulled apart by the ethereal harmonics underneath it." Can it all work beyond the recording studio? Audiences at the Barbican in London will find out later this month, when Vivaldi Recomposed is given its debut performance, with Hope backed by the Britten Sinfonia under the baton of André de Ridder. If the work sends listeners back to the original with new ears, that's all part of the point, says Richter. "The original Four Seasons is a phenomenally innovative and creative piece of work. It's so dynamic, so full of amazing images. And it feels very contemporary. It's almost a kind of jump-cut aesthetic – all those extreme leaps between different kinds of material. Hats off to him. That's what I'm really pleased with: my aim was to fall in love with the original again – and I have." (Tom Service The Guardian, Sunday 21 October 2012)

miércoles, 26 de marzo de 2014

André de Ridder / Copenhagen Phil. BRYCE DESSNER St. Carolyn by the Sea - JONNY GREENWOOD Suite from "There Will Be Blood"


Bryce Dessner – who composes “gorgeous, full-hearted music” according to National Public Radio – seamlessly blends aspects of the classical and the popular in his concert works, the compositions simultaneously alive to past and present and the potential of the future. Dessner’s scores, described as “deft” and “vibrant” by The New York Times, draw on elements from Baroque and folk music, late Romanticism and modernism, minimalism and the blues, as well as the inspiration of iconic figures from Béla Bartók, Benjamin Britten and Henryk Górecki to Morton Feldman, Terry Riley, Philip Glass and Steve Reich. Such disparate American iconoclasts as John Fahey, La Monte Young and Glenn Branca also figure into this young composer’s sonic world. All these influences – not to mention his globetrotting experiences as a keenly collaborative musician across genres – wind together to inform Dessner’s organic and individual voice as a composer.
The most impressive document to date of Dessner’s art is the Deutsche Grammophon album St. Carolyn by the Sea, which features his debut recordings for the storied Yellow Label. To be released March 3, 2014, St. Carolyn by the Sea includes three luminous Dessner compositions – the title work, Lachrimae and Raphael – performed by the Copenhagen Philharmonic under conductor André de Ridder. The recordings also feature performances on guitar by Dessner and his twin brother, Aaron. Born in 1976 in Ohio and now based in New York City, Dessner first earned wide renown as a co-founding guitarist (along with Aaron) of the Grammy Award-nominated rock band The National. Yet, as WQXR New York has pointed out: “ ‘… Of The National’ is a phrase that often follows Bryce Dessner’s name. It’s not too shabby a suffix, but… listeners may find that title to be inadequate for his talents, if they haven’t already.”
The stage was set for the release of Dessner’s DG debut by the enthusiastic reception for Aheym, a 2013 album by the ever-trailblazing Kronos Quartet devoted to his compositions. In the cross-cultural arts magazine Bomb, veteran avant-garde composer-guitarist Elliot Sharp wrote about Dessner’s compositional method in the title work: “a dramatic opening, dark and insistent, then a breath, then an emerging melodic seed… The seed ultimately grows… to a rousing climax.” The U.K’s Independent singled out the title work, describing it as “an elegant braiding of interlaced lines that pushes the music forward in waves.” WQXR’s contemporary music site Q2 made Aheym an Album of the Week, praising the music as “stunning, nostalgic and beautifully hypnotic.” Pitchfork declared Dessner’s compositions to be “fierce, vivid music.”
St. Carolyn by the Sea presents Dessner’s works alongside a suite by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, one of Dessner’s peers as a rock guitarist and genre-bounding composer. For all his rock success, Dessner was trained as a classical musician. He graduated with a master’s degree in music from Yale University, having studied classical guitar, flute and composition. Settling in New York City, he performed with such contemporary-music ensembles as the Bang on a Can All-Stars, along with co-founding the improvisatory instrumental group Clogs, which was influenced by contemporary takes on early music. He worked with the likes of Pulitzer Prize-winning composers Steve Reich and David Lang, as well as with Philip Glass, Michael Gordon and Nico Muhly. In 2006, Dessner founded the MusicNOW Festival, a celebration of contemporary music that he curates annually to acclaim in his native Cincinnati. He is currently composer-in-residence at Muziekgebouw Frits Philips in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.

martes, 25 de marzo de 2014

Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic JOHN ADAMS The Gospel According to the Other Mary

In December 2000, the premiere of El Niño signaled a landmark in John Adams’ artistic evolution. This Nativity oratorio, premiered over the weeks of Christmas at Paris’ Châtelet Theater, conveyed a message of rebirth and hope attuned to what the composer sensed as the mood of the new millennium.
Yet the very simplicity of this story of birth and renewal allowed Adams to evoke unsuspected undercurrents of darknessbeneath its reassuring light. Already in that score, juxtaposed against musical imagesof joy and the miraculous, one could hear a threatening note of violence, especiallyin the work’s climactic episode of Herod’s slaughter of the innocents.This strategy of weaving together multiple, at times contradictory, layers of emotionalresonance is even more central to Adams’ new work, The Gospel According to the Other Mary. It is a key to his treatmentof that most archetypal story of Western music and art: the Passion of Jesus. For several years Adams and hislongtime collaborator Peter Sellars contemplated a companion piece to El Niño.
Their goal, explains Sellars, was to set the Passion story “in the tradition of sacredart, in the eternal present.” Violence and suffering and transformation are theimportant components of this story, and by drawing on his entire repertoire of experienceas a dramatic composer Adams depicts these with searing humanity.
But his unflinching portrayal of the human condition is only part of The Other Mary’s vast spectrum. Operating on twosimultaneous planes – the biblical and the contemporary – his score goes to the heartof its often disturbing subject matter with a keen psychological intuition, particularly in the portrait of the work’s title character.“Of all the arts music is by far the mostpsychologically precise,” Adams has saidabout his work as a composer.
“The subtlestharmonic shading or melodic twistcan completely color and influence howthe listener feels about and perceives aperson or event. Music being above andbeyond all things the art of feeling, it is thecomposer’s role to give emotional and psychologicaldepth to a character or a scene.No other art form provides such potenttools.”This is a Passion not only of Jesus, butof a family who loved and were loved byhim: Mary Magdalene, her sister Martha,and their brother Lazarus. Its creatorsreject the conventional “reformed prostitute”version of Mary Magdalene, consideringit a baseless identity foisted onher centuries after the fact. They presentinstead a woman of rich emotional complexity,a psychically damaged womanwhose turbulent inner life and hard pastgo hand in hand with her deep powers of intuition and volatile sensuality.

lunes, 24 de marzo de 2014

Thomas Zehetmair / Thomas Demenga BERND ALOIS ZIMMERMANN Canto di Speranza


Three keyfigures from ECM’s contemporary music roster – Heinz Holliger, Thomas Zehetmair, and Thomas Demenga – team up for an exceptional recording of three works by German post-war composer Bernd Alois Zimmermann. Zimmermann, almost half a generation older than the serialists such as Boulez and Stockhausen, integrated state-of-the-art compositional methods in his writing while constantly following his own independent, highly expressive musical language. The rhythmically energetic violin concerto (1950) which is partially based on twelve-tone models and cast in three movements, was soon hailed as a model for a post-war solo concerto, while “Canto di Speranza” (1953/57), a one-movement cello concerto, acccording to Zimmermann, emphasizes monologue and introvert meditation. “Ich wandte mich…” on the other hand is Zimmermann’s last work, finished only a few days before his suicide in 1970. Labelled by the composer as an “ecclesiastical action”, the 35-minute oratorio on biblical verse and the famous parable "The Grand Inquisitor" from Dostoevsky’s “Brothers Karamazov” is a deeply pessimistic “performance art” work - of the kind that flourished in Germany’s ‘Fluxus’ scene around 1970 - involving recitation, singing, and both gestural and acrobatic action.

viernes, 21 de marzo de 2014

MEREDITH MONK Facing North

Composed while working on the Atlas opera, "Facing North" was composed at the Leighton Artist's Colony in Banff, Alberta, and inspired by the sights and sounds of rural Canada in the winter months. The "Northern Lights" movements are atmospheric and gentle, while "Arctic Bar" represents the sounds of humanity congregating in a warm tavern -- dissonant, happy, and uncomfortable. "Keeping Warm" is an agitated staccato-punctuated vocal pattern that instills the mind with the notion of resorting to movement to keep one's self warm. This is a multi-faceted view of "north" as a state of mind -- what Monk calls "the awareness of the fragility of human life in relation to the forces of nature and in turn the vulnerability of nature itself to the indifference of human beings." Two other pieces are included on this release: the dramatic "Vessel: An Opera Epic" (a composition from 1971 based loosely on the life of Joan of Arc) and "Boat Song" (a movement from Monk's 1979 "Recent Ruins" composition). "Vessel" is an emotional piece; the "Fire Dance" movement is very slow and passionate with drones and throat singing, and the "Epic" portion is very shrill and agitated. "Boat Song" is short and esoteric; it leaves the listener wishing there were more of the whole piece included on this recording. (

jueves, 20 de marzo de 2014

ARVO PÄRT Kanon Pokajanen


World premiere recordings of music for choir by Arvo Pärt, made in Tallinn with the participation of the composer. "Music," as writer Uwe Schweikert notes, "full of austere, painful beauty. Particularly impressive is the subtle, often breathtaking transition from full to divided choral music, from the sound of high women's to deep men's voices, which often provide the music with a sonorous bourdon-like foundation. The amplitude of the composition which in the final prayer gradually rises above the calm only to disappear in silence, will be remembered by everyone who hears Kanon pokajanen as sung by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir."
Arvo Pärt has been fascinated by the canon of repentance of the Russian Orthodox Church since first becoming involved in the Church's traditions many years ago, and has returned often to the texts. Authorship of the canon is credited to St Andrew of Crete (c 660 - 740 AD). "It is a song of change and transformation. In the symbolism of the church, it invokes the border between day and night, Old and New Testament, old Adam and new Adam (Christ), prophecy and fulfilment, the here and the hereafter. Applied to a person, it recalls the border between human and divine, weakness and strength, suffering and salvation. In the canon of repentance, the text is devoted to the theme of personal transformation. Repentance appears as a necessary threshold, as a kind of purification on the way to salvation in paradise. The difficulty of following the way is shown by the inner tension between the respective eirmos and the following stanzas, that is, between the praise of the Lord and the lamentation of one's own weakness." [from booklet notes by Marina Bobrik-Frömke].
Previous Pärt choral compositions Nun eile (1990) and Memento (1994) were earlier attempts to approach the canon. Finally, in response to a commission to write music for the 750th anniversary of Cologne Cathedral, the composer determined to set it in its entirety. "This allowed me to stay with it, to devote myself to it...its hold on me did not abate until I had finished the score....It took over two years to compose the Kanon pokajanen ...That may explain why this music means so much to me. In this composition, as in many of my vocal works, I tried to use language as a point of departure. I wanted the word to be able to find its own sound, to draw its own melodic line. Somewhat to my surprise, the resulting music is entirely immersed in the particular character of Church Slavonic, a language used exclusively in ecclesiastical texts." In his liner notes - this is, incidentally, the first occasion on which the composer has provided a programme text for one of his albums - Pärt goes on to say that work with the Kanon demonstrated to him the extent to which the language of a given vocal work can shape its form. "The same musical structure, the same treatment of the word, leads to different results depending on the choice of language, as seen on comparing Litany (English) with Kanon pokajanen (Church Slavonic). I used identical, strictly defined rules of composition and yet the outcome is very different in each case."
Kaljuste and his choir have a long history together. In 1971, at the age of 18, Tõnu Kaljuste became conductor of the chamber choir Ellerhein, a vocal ensemble founded by his father. Ten years later, the Ellerhein choir became the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir. The EPCC's repertoire includes Gregorian chants, music of the baroque era and 20th century works, emphasizing Estonian composers - Tormis, Tüür, and above all, Pärt, of whose vocal music they are the foremost interpreters.

miércoles, 19 de marzo de 2014

STEVE REICH Music for 18 Musicians


Music for 18 Musicians is approximately 55 minutes long. The first sketches were made for it in May 1974 and it was completed in March 1976. Although its steady pulse and rhythmic energy relate to many of my earlier works, its instrumentation, structure and harmony are new. 
As to instrumentation, Music for 18 Musicians is new in the number and distribution of instruments: violin, cello, 2 clarinets doubling bass clarinet, 4 women's voices, 4 pianos, 3 marimbas, 2 xylophones and metallophone (vibraphone with no motor). All instruments are acoustical. The use of electronics is limited to microphones for voices and some of the instruments. 
There is more harmonic movement in the first 5 minutes of Music for 18 Musicians than in any other complete work of mine to date. Though the movement from chord to chord is often just a re-voicing, inversion or relative minor or major of a previous chord, usually staying within the key signature of three shapes at all times, nevertheless, within these limits harmonic movement plays a more important role in this piece than in any other I have written.
Rhythmically, there are two basically different kinds of time occurring simultaneously in Music for 18 Musicians. The first is that of a regular rhythmic pulse in the pianos and mallet instruments that continues throughout the piece. The second is the rhythm of the human breath in the voices and wind instruments. The entire opening and closing sections plus part of all sections in between contain pulses by the voice and winds. They take a full breath and sing or play pulses of particular notes for as long as their breath will comfortably sustain them. The breath is the measure of the duration of their pulsing. This combination of one breath after another gradually washing up like waves against the constant rhythm of the pianos and mallet instruments is something I have not heard before and would like to investigate further.
The structure of Music for 18 Musicians is based on a cycle of eleven chords played at the very beginning of the piece and repeated at the end. All the instruments and voices play or sing the pulsating notes with each chord. Instruments like the strings which to not have to breath nevertheless follow the rise and fall of the breath by following the breathing patterns of the bass clarinet. Each chord is held for the duration of two breaths, and the next chord is gradually introduced, and so on, until all eleven are played and the ensemble returns to the first chord. The first pulsing chord is then maintained by two pianos and two marimbas. While this pulsing chord is held for about five minutes a small piece is constructed on it. When this piece is completed there is a sudden change to the second chord, and a second small piece or section is constructed. This means that each chord that might have taken fifteen or twenty seconds to play in the opening section is then stretched out as the basic pulsing melody for a five minute piece very much as a single note in a cantus firmus, or chant melody of a 12th century Organum by Perotin might be stretched out for several minutes as the harmonic centre for a section of the Organum. The opening eleven chord cycle of Music for 18 Musicians is a kind of pulsing cantus for the entire piece.
On each pulsing chord one or, on the third chord, two small pieces are built. These pieces or sections are basically either in form of an arch (ABCDCBA), or in the form of a musical process, like that of substituting beats for rests, working itself out from beginning to end. Elements appearing in one section will appear in another but surrounded by different harmony and instrumentation. For instance the pulse in pianos and marimbas in sections 1 and 2 changes to marimbas and xylophones in section 3A, and to xylophones and maracas in sections 6 and 7. The low piano pulsing harmonies of section 3A reappear in section 6 supporting a different melody played by different instruments. The process of building up a canon, or phase relation, between two xylophones and two pianos which first occurs in section 2, occurs again in section 9 but building up to another overall pattern in a different harmonic context. The relationship between the different sections is thus best understood in terms of resemblances between members of a family. Certain characteristics will be shared, but others will be unique.
Changes from one section to the next, as well as changes within each section are cued by the metallophone (vibraphone with no motor) whose patterns are played once only to call for movements to the next bar, much as in Balinese Gamelan a drummer will audibly call for changes of pattern in West African Music. This is in contrast to the visual nods of the head used in earlier pieces of mine to call for changes and in contrast also to the general Western practice of having a non-performing conductor for large ensembles. Audible cures become part of the music and allow the musicians to keep listening. (Steve Reich)

martes, 18 de marzo de 2014

The Dowland Project / John Potter NIGHT SESSIONS


From its inception, John Potter’s Dowland Project has drawn upon different musical traditions, including those of ‘early music’ and improvisation. The Night Sessions album emphasizes the Project’s improvisational flexibility, as the players create new music, sometimes with poetry as inspirational reference and guide. There are also a number of ‘daytime’ pieces worked up, Potter says, from small amounts of notation: ‘Menino Jesus à Lappa’ is based on Portuguese pilgrim song fragments and ‘Theoleptus 22’ built around a Byzantine chant. Lute fantasias are taken from Dalza’s Intabolatura de Lauto (Venice, 1508) and Attaignant’s Tres breve et familiere introduction…a jouer toutes chansons (Paris, 1529). The oldest compositions are ‘Can vei la lauzeta mover’ – a love song by the 12th century troubadour Bernart de Ventadorn, and Fumeux fume by the 14th century avant-gardist Solage. Two incarnations of the Dowland Project are heard here, the original band with Potter, Stephen Stubbs and John Surman joined by Barry Guy and Maya Homburger, and the revised line-up with Miloš Valent on violin and viola. Yet the music, recorded at St. Gerold sessions in 2001 and 2008, reflects a unified sense of purpose.
“The day music is how the Dowland Project usually works” John Potter explains in a liner note. “The night music came about through rather special circumstances. We’d finished recording and were celebrating a very creative couple of days working on the album that became Care-charming sleep. Sometime after midnight, after a very convivial evening, Manfred Eicher suddenly said, ‘let’s go back into the church and record some more...’. Manfred has been the group’s moving spirit since first getting us all together and has been an inspirational participant in all our musical dialogues, so we could hardly say no... but we had run out of music, having already recorded more than would fit onto one album. The moment provided the music: as it happened, I had some medieval poems with me, so we decided to see what we could do with those.”
Potter told some more of the story in his essay in Horizons Touched (Granta, 2007): “What followed was, for me, the most remarkable hour’s music-making I have every experienced. With all inhibitions gone, and the sense that we were creating something absolutely in the moment, we set about realizing some of the poems. I read them out first, to give the players something to go on, then we set off... We did each poem once only, and they ranged from a lullaby improvised over a lilting bass clarinet riff to a loud and violent number with the full band summoning up a fourteenth-century blacksmith at his forge.” Throughout, the resourcefulness of the musicians is extraordinary.

lunes, 17 de marzo de 2014

Paul Hillier PROENSA


The title of this fascinating project from Paul Hillier refers to the southern French region of Provence, where the lyric poets of the troubadour tradition from which the album culls its music once flourished. Utilizing extant fragments of Provençal texts and melodies, Hillier and his musicians reconstruct a visceral program of songs.
If any single word could be applied to this album, it would be “haunting.” This is not to imply that it is a particularly “dark” album, but one that seems to occupy a space uninhabitable by the living. This music breathes at the very edges of our consciousness, which is perhaps why it is so vocally driven, for only through the frailty of the voice can its strengths be expressed. The language is similarly peripheral, with its shades of cognates and other etymological minutae. The arrangements get under the listener’s skin, evoking an atmosphere at once so antiquated as to be unrecoverable while also so modern that it could exist at no other time but the (recorded) present. The spirit of the music is easy to see, if difficult to place, for it is something felt on a physiological level, residing in our sense of collective history. The music unfolds in a way that is always aware of its origins, leaving us to question our own.

sábado, 15 de marzo de 2014

Christoph Poppen / Deutsche Radio Philharmonie JÖRG WIDMANN Elegie

Jörg Widmann (born 1973 in Munich), is widely acclaimed as both a composer of fierce originality and a soloist of great resourcefulness. As a chamber musician he frequently performs with artists including Tabea Zimmermann, András Schiff, Kim Kashkashian, Helene Grimaud and Heinz Holliger. A number of fellow composers – including Holliger, Wolfgang Rihm and Aribert Reimann – have dedicated works to him. Meanwhile his own works have been premiered by distinguished interpreters: Pierre Boulez, for instance, gave the first performance of Widmann’s orchestral work “Armonica” with the Vienna Philharmonic, and Mariss Jansons directed the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks in a first performance of his Beethoven tribute “Con brio”.
Widmann, who studied composition with Kay Westermann from the age of 11, subsequently making further studies with Wilfried Hiller, Hans Werner Henze, Heiner Goebbels and Wolfgang Rihm, has an expansive understanding of the structural and sound-colour possibilities of the music of our time. It has served him well both in his own writing and in his responses to the music of others.
After a well-received ECM debut as soloist last year on Erkki-Sven Tüür’s concerto “Noēsis” (where he was heard alongside his violinist sister Carolin Widmann) now comes a portrait album that addresses Widmann’s creativity as composer and player.
Christoph Poppen conducts the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie in two major works of broad scope: “Messe” for large orchestra and “Elegie” for clarinet and orchestra. In between are the Fünf Bruchstücke from 1997, fascinating miniatures that find Widmann the clarinettist in speeding dialogues with Heinz Holliger, the latter making his recording debut as pianist. The Fünf Bruchstücke belong among Widmann’s first published works and also among several he has written to explore and extend the potentialities of his own instrument.
With small or large instrumental forces, Widmann’s work retains its power. As Markus Fein has written, “Whoever encounters the music of Jörg Widmann for the first time is astonished at its directness and intensity…The music breaks like a raging torrent over the listener.”
Jörg Widmann has received many awards for his work including the Arnold Schoenberg Prize of the Vienna Schoenberg Centre, the Claudio Abbado Composition Award, the SWR Composition Award, the Elise L. Stoeger Prize of the Lincoln Center Chamber music Society, New York, and more.
Concerts with Widmann’s music in 2011 include a programme of his works with the Collegium Novum Zürich at the Luxemburg Philharmonie on April 8. His music was chosen to open the Brahms Tage in Baden-Baden in May. Also in May, Franz Welser-Möst conducts the Cleveland Orchestra on a US tour playing Widmann’s Flute Concerto, with Joshua Smith as soloist.

viernes, 14 de marzo de 2014

Gidon Kremer / Kremerata Baltica FRANZ SCHUBERT String Quartet G major


“Openness”, Gidon Kremer once said, is his life’s guiding principle, “openness towards everything new“. The great violinist was speaking not only of contemporary composition for which he has tirelessly proselytized, but also of a willingness to explore unfamiliar settings and new contexts for well-known works. Reevaluating standard repertoire has been one of the themes of his work with Kremerata Baltica, the ensemble of gifted young musicians he founded in 1997. The ensemble’s interpretative skills are well-displayed in this recording of Franz Schubert’s String Quartet in G major in the arrangement for string orchestra by Victor Kissine. Recorded at the church at Lockenhaus, where Kremer has directed his annual chamber music festival since 1981, the spatial dimension of the sound seems like an aural analogy to the violinist’s credo of openness.
Of course open-mindedness does not rule out fidelity: for many years Kremer has shown a special affinity for Schubert. Few other contemporary violinists have paid such close attention to the work of the Viennese master. Alongside the central violin works, Kremer has previously recorded (for Deutsche Grammophon) the three Sonatinas and a host of smaller pieces in exemplary interpretations, drawn to the fragile beauty of Schubert’s music as well as to its frequent fractures and ruptures. Kremer’s fine-nerved musicianship addresses both aspects, while the immense technical challenges appeal to the virtuoso in him. He has also returned frequently to Schubert’s chamber music, in the case of the quartet literature working intensively on Schubert’s final contribution to this genre, the 1826 G major String Quartet.
In bringing Kissine’s orchestration of this work into the repertoire of Kremerata Baltica, Kremer combined a quasi didactical aspect – the intention to introduce the players to profound compositions – with a personal wish to illumine these works in new ways by interpreting them with young partners. In the course of close collaboration with Kremer, Kissine’s orchestration of Schubert’s G major quartet met with vital modifications and refinements. The correspondence between interpreter and arranger, reproduced in part in the CD booklet, indicates how scrupulously they have endeavoured to meet the spirit of Schubert’s score.
Victor Kissine, born in St Petersburg in 1953 and a Belgian resident since 1990, has created an extensive compositional œuvre that covers a wide range of genres and instrumentation. His orchestration of Schubert addresses the evident orchestral qualities of this piece, but furthermore creates a precisely graded spectrum, from intimate solo quartet to voluminous tutti – a perfect example can be heard right at the beginning of the first movement. Every pizzicato of the contrabass, every voicing of a chord, but mostly the extremely differentiated orchestral forces between solo und tutti are meticulously embedded in the formal context.
Schubert’s last quartet – the work of a 29-year-old – is, alongside Beethoven’s contemporaneous quartet in B flat major opus 130, one of the most comprehensive quartets of the era. The technical skills that this score requires are also extreme. A characteristic of this opus 161 is the alternation between major and minor that is inscribed already in the opening bars. Unlike the “Rosamunde” Quartet and “Death and the Maiden”, the great G major quartet makes no allusions to Schubert’s Lieder, which may in part account for its comparative neglect. The quartet was not premiered until 1850, by the Hellmesberger Quartett. While “Der Tod und das Mädchen” was orchestrated by Gustav Mahler, and frequently performed since then, the quartet in G major had not been previously orchestrated

jueves, 13 de marzo de 2014

Gidon Kremer / Giedré Dirvanauskaité / Khatia Buniatishvili PETER I. TCHAIKOVSKY - VICTOR KISSINE Piano Trios


It's a paradoxical situation: Mozart and Beethoven, Schubert and Mendelssohn, Schumann and Brahms all honoured the genre of the piano trio by writing works which should not rightly be called "piano trios". Rather than accepting the supremacy of the keyboard over the string instruments explicit in the very term 'piano trio', the composers instead wanted a three-way conversation among equals in which the highly contrasting instrumental timbres coalesced at a higher level. And they achieved that by liberating the cello from its ancient function as a continuo instrument and giving the violin the brilliance that had earned it pride of place among solo instruments ever since the 18th century, even in the concerto.
Another member of this company of great composers who granted instrumental parity to the trio with piano, violin and cello was Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky in his only piece of chamber music for this combination of instruments: the Trio in A minor, op. 50. This scrupulous composer, who was never convinced of his compositional prowess despite having already achieved huge acclaim with quite different musical difficulties (symphonies, piano concertos, operas and ballets), hesitated for a long time before venturing onto this terrain. To the hyper-sensitive Tchaikovsky, the combination of piano and string instruments was, as he once put it in a letter to his lifelong benefactress Nadezhda von Meck, something unnatural, for each instrument had to sacrifice its distinctive charm.
Nevertheless, Tchaikovsky convincingly surmounted this compositional problem. More than that, in his op. 50 he found a different way to resolve the paradox that composers from Mozart to Brahms had ferreted out and overcome – namely, he gave his work an almost orchestral garb. The mastery he had gained in the symphony served him in good stead in his chamber music, where the orchestral richness of the piano is offset by the wealth of colours and dynamic extremes of the string instruments. To be sure, this sort of timbral emancipation comes off especially well when played by musicians of the stature of Gidon Kremer (violin), Giedrė Dirvanauskaitė (cello) and Khatia Buniatishvili (piano), who impressively employ all the exuberance and verve of their respective instruments while staying finely attuned to their fellow performers. Here they do this in a work that bursts the boundaries of its form, with the wistful first movement augmented by a huge set of variations split into two large sections.
Such liberating and yet poised ensemble playing also redounds to the benefit of Zerkalo (Mirror), a trio composed by Victor Kissine in 2009 for the same combination of instruments. Kissine hails from St Petersburg and first came to notice with a scandalous operatic setting of Peter Weiss's play Marat-Sade before acquiring a reputation for chamber music. His trio, interpreted with consummate mastery by Kremer and his colleagues Dirvanauskaitė and Buniatishvili, is a sensitively balanced, almost intimate, yet technically demanding amalgam of the instruments' iridescent timbres – an amalgam which, however, can soar to dynamic escalations on a gigantic scale and is very close to the emotional universe of that Russian man of sorrows, Tchaikovsky. Kissine, a longstanding friend of Gidon Kremer, was inspired by two lines from Anna Akhmatova's "Poem without a Hero", though the resultant piece of music does not depend on external programmes. It turned into one of his most tight-knit and timbrally resplendent creations, pressing forward into barely perceptible acoustical realms that demand precisely the quality these three musicians have in common: telepathic empathy.

miércoles, 12 de marzo de 2014

The Hilliard Ensemble IN PARADISUM Music of Victoria and Palestrina

The music of Tomás Luis de Victoria and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina has been a cornerstone of the Hilliard Ensemble’s repertoire almost from the beginning of the group’s long history. In recent seasons they have frequently performed a programme they call “In Paradisum”, which incorporates motets by Victoria and Palestrina, framed by a roughly contemporary plainsong Requiem Mass. The antiphon “In Paradisum deducant te angeli” – may the angels conduct you to Paradise – gives the album its title, this being the sequence which concludes the Latin rite of the Roman Catholic liturgy for the dead, before the funeral procession leaves the church to escort the body to its final resting place.
Composer Ivan Moody, contributing to “In Paradisum” as an essayist, points out that while our awareness of the musical achievement of the great composers of liturgical polyphony has grown in this century, we have also lost our perspective of the fact that they were first and foremost men of the spirit (Palestrina’s social connections and more worldly ambitions notwithstanding) whose greatest works were written for the glory of God. Here, the Hilliard singers restore an appropriate sense of context, their performance reminding us that Palestrina and Victoria would have been closely involved with the plainsong and mass for daily offices; at the same time they are emphasising that the sung Catholic Mass was once also an extraordinary musical event. Nor were its musical forms immutable; this was a period when the traditions were in flux, “performance practise” in chant was changing, influenced by developments in polyphony.
Of the repertoire on the present disc, The Hilliard Ensemble’s Gordon Jones explains: “Of the four pieces by Palestrina included in this programme, three are settings of Responsory texts from either the Office for the Dead or the Burial Service. Two, Heu mihi Domine and Domine quando veneris are both from the Matins for the Dead and are set in two sections. The third, Libera me Domine, is the only one to retain its full responsorial structure. The plainsong Dum veneris acts as a response to the polyphonic verses, which are for three voices, and there is a repeat of the whole opening section at the end. To the Responsory proper Palestrina has added a setting of the Kyrie which would have been sung at this point in the service. The fourth piece, Ad Dominum cum tribularer clamavi, Psalm 119 (120), is set as a motet, in two sections. This psalm would have been sung at Vespers from the Office for the Dead.”

martes, 11 de marzo de 2014

Juliane Banse / Aleksandar Madža ALBAN BERG - KARL AMADEUS HARTMANN Tief in der Nacht


A programme of Lieder by Alban Berg and a cantata by K.A. Hartmann, tender, powerful and haunting pieces from a turbulent era in which not only the landscape of song was transformed.. If Alban Berg’s earliest songs found him deeply indebted to Richard Strauss and Debussy, under Arnold Schoenberg’s tutelage he was on the way to becoming a modern master in his own right. The “Sieben frühe Lieder” were subsequently chosen for publication by Berg from around thirty written under Schoenberg’s critical supervision. Nine other “Jugendlieder” also appear in this album, variously setting older poets and Berg’s contemporaries, taking up the language of new music with increasing confidence. “Fully tonal pasages set off others where the harmony slips from one ambiguity to another”, as Paul Griffiths notes in the liner text. Two fascinatingly-contrasting versions of “Schließe mir die Augen beide” - from 1900 and 1925 – illustrate the vast distance travelled by Berg in these two decades. “The 1925 setting is excitingly, invitingly strange, particularly as a response to a late Romantic lyric. But does it render obsolete the warmth and fluency of the earlier version? Does now eliminate then, or does it, rather enlarge the sphere of the possible?”
In authorizing the publication of his early songs, Berg obviously found an artistic value in going back. Karl Amadeus Hartmann had other grounds for returning to older material. His Lamento of 1955 was constructed from solo passages in a 1936/7 score for soprano, choir and piano, and was in the original form dedicated to Berg. Lamento was one of many works for which Hartmann had sought no outlet during the Nazi years and which he then felt the need to revise, while maintaining the music’s qualities of protest and mourning. “Lamento is a big piece”,Paul Griffiths writes, “one that thoroughly engages the two formidable musicians who present it here. Juliane Banse is the kind of singer Hartmann must have imagined, one who can maintain ease, power and warmth under difficult circumstances, whose singing conveys at once authority and vulnerability, and whose musical experience runs from Bach to the present day. Aleksandar Madžar similarly brings out the depth of history and the immediacy of feeling written into this work. Yet these artists also convey the desperate silence from which the piece started, when, living through unspeakable times, its composer could only lay down strong shadows for the future.”

lunes, 10 de marzo de 2014

The Hilliard Ensemble JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH Motetten


With just one singer assigned to each part, the Hilliard Ensemble take a minimalist approach to these extraordinary works. Seven of Bach's motets are included - all but one (the four-part Lobet Den Herrn, for which the continuo is supplied by an organ) are given unaccompanied, and the instrumental parts that survive for the double-choir Der Geist Hilft Unser Schwachheit Auf are omitted. The results may seem small-scale, especially to those who regard these works as the summit of the polyphonic choral repertory and favour a monumental approach. There are certainly moments when a greater weight of choral sound might set the contrasts between the different section of each motet, the antiphonal choruses, chorales and arias, into sharper relief. But every member of this remarkable group knows exactly how they fit into the musical scheme - it is likely, too, that the performances of Bach's own time were on this scale. So this disc is a natural successor to the Hilliard's previous excursions into pre-baroque music, supremely musical and overflowing with food for thought. (Andrew Clements / The Guardian)

domingo, 9 de marzo de 2014

Pablo Márquez LUYS DE NARVÁEZ Musica del Delphin

Recording the “Seis libros del Delphín” has been a long-held wish of the Argentine guitarist Pablo Márquez, who came to Europe almost twenty years ago to study renaissance repertoire and to delve into contemporary treatises on performance practice. “Troughout my artistic development, Luys de Narváez has remained a passion of mine, never failing to move me with the mystical nature of his music and the crystal clarity of his discourse”, he writes in his performer’s note to the present album which marks his debut on ECM New Series.
Today Márquez is one of the most accomplished and versatile virtuosi of his instrument, an outstanding interpreter of contemporary music who collaborates regularly with groups such as the Ensemble Intercontemporain, and is equally at home in the Argentine traditional music he has studied in depth with his mentor and fellow countryman Dino Saluzzi. It was through Dino that ECM producer Manfred Eicher met Márquez and offered him the opportunity to present his selection of 17 out of the more than forty pieces included in the “Seys libros”.
Like many historically informed performers today, Márquez has long learned that “authentic” instruments don’t provide a guarantee for insightful and adequate interpretations. Just the contrary: “My main goal with this album is to show that you can play this renaissance music convincingly even if you don’t use the original vihuela. There is a considerable performance history, especially with some of the more popular pieces out of this compendium such as the ‘Mille Regretz’, but most often the tempi have been much too slow, so that the ornamentation tended to become too heavy and demonstrative and couldn’t be discerned from the pure vocal line any more. That’s why it is so important to understand the grammar of these compositions, a grammar which reveals many parallels with contemporary vocal polyphony.”
Luys de Narváez lived in the age of Josquin and Nicolas Gombert, whose music he arranged for the vihuela. Born in Granada in about 1500, he served the Commander de León (the dedicatee of the “Seys Libros”) as a musician before transferring to the service of the future king Philip II with whom he travelled extensively between Flanders and Italy. As an outstanding improviser on the vihuela – a predecessor of the modern guitar – he was famed for his extemporization of complicated polyphonic structures in a style often reminiscent of Josquin Desprez. In his "Seys Libros", his most important work which was first published in Valladolid in 1538 and subsequently widely reprinted in Europe, Narváez assembles fantasias, pieces based on vocal settings by contemporary composers, music for voice and vihuela and, historically most important, two groups of “Diferencias” which are the first printed sets of variations in European music.
Although Pablo Márquez’ carefully composed programme covers less than half of the pieces contained in the “Seys Libros”, his selection offers a representative overview of the compendium as a whole. “It was most important to me to include all the highly-accomplished fantasias in the eight different modes from the first book. They have never been a central component of the guitarist’s repertoire, that’s why I wanted to show how rewarding they can be if you find the right style even on the modern instrument. The main challenge for the modern interpreter with this music is creating the natural flow and a clear design of the polyphony, allowing the listener to follow all the parts. Obviously, another important aspect is the ornamentation. You have to add things, as any graphic symbol meant extra work and extra expenses when these extremely costly tablatures were prepared. There is an aspect of freedom and improvisation even in this carefully notated music.”

sábado, 8 de marzo de 2014

Tõnu Kaljuste / Tallinn Chamber Orchestra / Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir ARVO PÄRT Te Deum


A richly realized collection of prayers that brings deep, resounding enlightenment to the ears. Everything about this compact disc feels like Arvo Pärt's master work, right down to the gorgeous photos in the accompanying booklet. "Te Deum" opens patiently and ominously, then proceeds to run the spectrum between overflowing swells and hushed contemplation. The Tallinn Chamber Orchestra and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir breathe as one under the magnificent direction of Tönu Kaljuste for this and "Berliner Messe," the closing mass that parts the clouds with its stark beauty and pious rejoicing (the third passage within the mass, "Erster Alleluiavers," is a brief teardrop of reverence that even atheists would ponder). Elsewhere, the a cappella chorus of "Magnificat" shines with vocals that embrace the church walls with chills and crispness, like a beam of moonlight through winter. One of the composer's strengths has always been to find the depth in simplicity. To this end, ever-present ECM producer Manfred Eicher's sparse and beautiful sensibilities fit Arvo Pärt like a glove, especially with "Silouans Song," which blossoms in stoic waves of strings. Such bittersweet longing resides here ("My soul yearns after the Lord") that a little sadness seems to slip out through all the reverence. This is uniformly his finest album, but by no means does it encompass all he has to offer. The compositions in Te Deum may not reveal Pärt's more eclectic and thunderous side, but few other albums carry such a consistent theme. 

Te Deum stands as one of ECM’s most enduring testaments to the powerful symbiosis between sound and silence. With this recording, label and composer transformed the aural landscape of this one faithful listener. This is a recording to change lives and one that will forever stand the test of time, for it is time incarnate.

viernes, 7 de marzo de 2014

Paul Giger / Marie-Louise Dähler TOWARDS SILENCE


For his sixth album for ECM, violinist Paul Giger joins harpsichordist Marie-Louise Dähler for a centuries-spanning program of improvisations, complemented by arrangements of Bach and Giger’s own passionate music. The title of the opening improvisation, From Silence to Silence, would seem to be a meta-statement for ECM, the ultimate asymptotic relationship between the musical utterance and its inevitable cessation. The opening bass note of the harpsichord speaks with the quiet force of the earth as Giger’s violin skips above it. Such growls from the harpsichord are typically relegated to continuo status, anchor rather than all-consuming statement. But here they emerge with a grand narrative all their own. The lovingly rendered Aria from Bach’s Goldberg Variations that follows is yet another grand narrative, the urtext over which all variations are laid. This flow by contrasts continues throughout the album, juxtaposing the extended techniques of Cemb a quattro (which sounds for all like the soundtrack to a Brothers Quay film) and the crystalline highs of Halfwhole with the Vivace from Bach’s Sonata V in F minor for violin and obligato harpsichord, BWV 1018. The brilliance of this program is that its Baroque touches come across as the more esoteric against the status quo established by Giger and Dähler’s enticing musical language, such that the Allegro from the selfsame sonata seems almost avant-garde in the wake of Dorian Horizon. Giger’s solo pieces also nourish, as does the overtonal nectar of Gliss a uno, which is played in that mystic liminal range where the string gives up its inner secrets. Two further movements from the Bach sonata frame Bombay II, which expands beautifully on Giger’s original as it appeared on Schattenwelt. Spurred along by his footbells, it mourns with the cry of a bird in whose talons the final thread is taken, pulled from our hearts until it breaks into the silence toward which the album professes to travel. This one-of-a-kind session is a most fortuitous meeting point, one sure to yield wonders with every listen. I’ve always felt that Giger is best heard alone, but of the collaborations on record this one ranks with Alpstein as being among the most intuitive.

jueves, 6 de marzo de 2014

Meredith Monk SONGS OF ASCENSION


“Songs of Ascension” is a major new work from Meredith Monk. Written in 2008, and recorded in 2009 at New York’s Academy of Art and Letters, it is conceived as a continuous composition, a departure from Monk’s recent collaged or episodic works.
As Kyle Gann writes in the liner notes: “Meredith Monk’s been expanding into the worlds of orchestra and string quartet, which she likes to write for as though the instruments were, themselves, voices. ‘Songs of Ascension’ developed partly from her work with strings, and she teams up here with a string quartet of New York players who are well versed in new music. Add in winds, percussion and two vocal groups to her already extraordinary singers, and this becomes one of Monk’s most musically ambitious ventures. It is also one in which voices and instruments are paired and balanced against each other to an extent rare in her music.” Western and eastern instruments have a role to play, with Asian drone instrument the shruti box appearing in juxtaposition with string quartet at key points in the work’s development.
Inspiration for the piece included an encounter with poet and Zen Buddhist priest Norman Fischer, who mentioned to Monk that Paul Celan had written about the “Song of Ascents”, a title given to fifteen of the Psalms sung on pilgrimages going up to Jerusalem. "This idea of worship, walking up something and singing, even using instruments fascinated me.” Monk told the New Scotsman newspaper. “I thought, 'why is up sacred and down not sacred?'”
As Monk was pondering this theme and its musical and sonic implications she received a serendipitous call from visual artist Ann Hamilton, inviting her to perform in an eight-story tower designed for a site in Sonoma County, California: “The tower was created in the form of a double helix, two staircases each spiraling up the interior of the structure opposite each other, only intersecting at the top. Not only did the performance space ascend, but the double helix suggested the shape of DNA, the blueprint of life itself. The staircases placed limits on the type of instrumentation – there could be no keyboards or mallet percussion, only instruments that could be carried up the stairs – and thus ‘Songs of Ascension’ had a rather site-specific origin.”
Nonetheless the piece has toured, to exceptional reviews: “The music is glorious”, wrote Mark Swed in the Los Angeles Times. “Monk’s most significant growth over the past decade or two has been as a composer. She is a great master of utterance (…) A listener feels somehow in communication with another, perhaps wiser, species.” In the New Yorker Alex Ross suggested that “If Monk is seeking a place in the classical firmament, classical music has much to learn from her. She conveys a fundamental humanity and humility that is rare in new-music circles. She is a brainy artist but never a cerebral one; she shapes her ideas to the grain of the voice and the contours of the body.” Donald Hutera, writing for The Times of London, visited the work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where “Songs of Ascension” received a Herald Angel Award: “No matter what category you put it in, or by what criteria you judge it, this is a special experience. I left it feeling unexpectedly moved, deeply grateful and with a sense of privilege for having been there (…).”

miércoles, 5 de marzo de 2014

Kim Kashkashian BETTY OLIVERO / TIGRAN MANSURIAN / EITAN STEINBERG Neharót

 Kim Kashkashian’s new album following her Spanish and Argentinian songs on "Asturiana"olç is a carefully composed prgramme addressing fascinating connections between three contemporary composers from Israel and Armenia. With five pieces respectively based on traditional laments of the Near East, Armenian chant and Hasidic melody, the focus is again on essentially vocal expressivenss. “What we hear in this music touches off resonances below the level of our acquired experience”, writes Paul Griffiths in his liner notes. “Singing these songs, in a hybrid register that embraces male and female, Kashkashian’s viola sings for us all.” Betty Olivero started work on “Neharót Neharót” under the impression of the suffering and pain caused by the war in Lebanon in 2006. Olivero’s hypnotic lament for viola, accordion, percussion, two string ensembles and tape draws on allusions to Kurdish and north African songs, traditional oriental music and Monteverdi. The instrument’s singing abilities come even more to the fore in Tigran Mansurian’s “Three Arias (Sung out the window facing Mount Ararat)” which articulate the Armenian people’s longing for the holy mountain beyond the border. “Rava Deravin” by Israeli Eitan Steinberg is based on a melody for a poem by one of the greatest traditional kabbalists and was first conceived in a version for voice and instrumental ensemble. According to the composer, Kashkashian “manages to cry the prayer from within the strings, to murmur the sacred text with no words”.

martes, 4 de marzo de 2014

Zsófia Boros EN OTRA PARTE


The evocative ECM debut of the highly-talented Hungarian guitarist Zsófia Boros (born 1980) addresses a broad range of composition for her instrument, on this recording drawing primarily on music of the Americas. At the centre of En otra parte is music of Leo Brouwer (b. 1939), the Cuban composer who viewed the guitar as an orchestra and once declared that it has “no limits”. Brouwer’s work has been a major reference for Boros from the beginning of her musical journey. “Often I think I am holding the choice of music in my own hands,” she writes, “but later I wonder if the music has chosen me as a medium. My approach is always very intuitive; when a piece of music grips or touches me, I want to reflect it – to become a mirror and convey it.”
Boros first heard Brouwer’s “Un dia de noviembre” at a concert when she was around fifteen. Playing the piece changed, she says, the nature of her relationship to music. She studied at the Bratislava Music Conservatory, the Bela Bartok Conservatory in Budapest, and the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, but gained her most important insights less through analysis than through “building up a direct relationship with every single note, every individual pitch” in a composition, through the experience of playing. “For me, pitches are like people; they have their own voices, their own durations, and yet their true character only comes to the fore in relation to other tones.”
Zsòfia Boros is the recipient of numerous awards, taking First Prizes at the North London Music Festival, the Concorso Internationale Val Tidone, the Paganini Competition in Parma, and the Premio Enrico Mercatali in Gorizia.
Boros’ choice of material uncovers affinities between music of diverse sources and intention. Her CD booklet quotes Roberto Jarroz’s “Todo comienza en otra parte” (engl.: “Everything begins somewhere else”)… From contrasts and juxtapositions a compelling album is shaped. Boros: “The stories of this album connect with one another in that they touched me with all their protagonists from the first encounter from beginning to end. I came to know them and now we are almost like old friends.”
Notes on a few of them: The programme opens with “Canción triste”, long a favourite amongst guitarists, by Francisco Calleja (1891-1950), the Spanish guitarist and composer who spent the last part of his life in Uruguay and Argentina.
“Callejón de la luna” by Spanish guitarist-composer Vicente Amigo (b. 1967) pays tribute to the spirit of flamenco: “The organization of the musical tale is less important than the feeling of it,“ says Amigo. “I can start at the end or the beginning and explore and insert many themes upon the main theme, adding little messages along the way.”
“Se ela perguntar”, a waltz by prolific guitarist-composer Dilermando Reis (1916-1977) counts now as a Brazilian standard.
Music from Argentinean sources includes “Cielo abierto” is by Quique Sinesi (b. 1960), a guitarist who has combined tango with elements of folk music, and drawn on the rhythms of candombe and milonga. In the 1980s he played extensively with Dino Saluzzi. “Te vas milongas” is from Abel Fleury (1903-1958), the composer-guitarist who loved the regional music of Buenos Aires and helped to propagate it. “Eclipse”, meanwhile, is from Argentine-born English guitarist Dominic Miller. Initially inspired by Jimi Hendrix, his studies in classical music and jazz also inform his work.
And Ralph Towner (born 1940), the North American composer of “Green and Golden”, needs little introduction here. His unique body of work, conventionally filed under ‘jazz’ has been greatly influenced by baroque music, contemporary composition, Brazilian music.
The composers whose work has been selected by Boros have been wanderers between worlds, musically, philosophically and geographically.
En otra parte was recorded in Lugano in 2012 and produced by Manfred Eicher.

sábado, 1 de marzo de 2014

Anu Tali / Nordic Symphony Orchestra ERKKI-SVEN TÜÜR Strata


“My pieces are abstract dramas in sound, with individual characters and an extremely dynamic chain of events; unfolding in a space that is constantly shifting, expanding and contracting.” Thus Erkki-Sven Tüür, characterising his highly energetic recent works. The fifth New Series release dedicated exclusively to music by the Estonian composer presents world premiere recordings of two large-scale pieces for orchestral forces. “Strata” and “Noёsis” are played by the Tallinn-based Nordic Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Estonian conductor Anu Tali. Both orchestra and conductor make their New Series debuts here.
“Strata”, Tüür’s sixth symphony, which was commissioned and premiered by the Nordic Symphony, consists of one massive 32-minute movement which, in accordance with the geological metaphor of the title, explores the gradual movements and shifting relationship of different musical layers. In the liner notes, fellow composer and musicologist Kerri Kotta emphasizes that for Tüür, who in his earlier work has played with contrasting and contradictory methods and styles, “the symphony is not a post-modern re-enactment of well-known models. Although Tüür carefully avoids direct musical quotations, the traditional aspects of his works become manifest through distinctive rhythmic, melodic, dynamic and affective qualities. These topics articulate the changing surface, where a key or a code gives rise to numerous voices which in their turn make up different textural layers.” Tüür’s compositions since 2002, indeed, follow a new path: “I have invented a method I call "vectorial writing", as the principle of voice-leading in the wider sense follows projections of vectors in different directions. At the same time, the basic material is given by a certain numerical code which acts like a gene in forming the whole composition with all possible mutations and transformations. This technique allows me to achieve much more harmonic variety.”
“Noēsis” was written in response to a commission from Neeme Järvi and premiered by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The solo parts of this concerto for clarinet, violin and orchestra are played on the present recording by Jörg and Carolin Widmann. While Carolin has won unanimous critical acclaim for her renderings of Robert Schumann’s violin sonatas and for her 20th-century music recital “Phantasy of spring”, Jörg Widmann counts among the pre-eminent young composers of our time, as well as one the finest contemporary clarinettists.