miércoles, 30 de abril de 2014

Dawn Upshaw / The Andalucian Dogs GOLIJOV Ayre - BERIO Folk Songs

Osvaldo Golijov has long felt a kinship with Berio's music, and he's created a song cycle, Ayre, to demonstrate Dawn Upshaw's vocal range, just as Berio did with Cathy Berberian's in his Folk Songs. Golijov says he “saw a rainbow" when he first realized the range of colour in Upshaw's voice. Upshaw says: “Ayre takes me vocally to places where I have never been before: in aesthetic terms, it's opened new doors." The cycle is scored for an ensemble similar to Berio's, but also including the accordion and ronroco (an Argentinian variant of the charango, a small South American fretted lute) and also the laptop, which Golijov regards as a 21st-century folk instrument. The klezmer-tinged clarinet solos were inspired by David Krakauer, the world's most celebrated klezmer innovator; two of the songs were written by Gustavo Santaolalla; Wa Habibi comes from the Arab superstar Fairouz; Miles Davis's Sketches of Spain is the inspiration for the final song. Golijov's texts are in Arabic, Hebrew, Sardinian, Spanish and Ladino (the lost language of Spanish Jews); his melodies are a meld of three cultures - Christian, Islamic and Jewish - which coexisted peaceably in the Iberian peninsula until the late 15th century.
Luciano Berio's Folk Songs for voice and seven instruments, composed 40 years ago for his wife Cathy Berberian, blazed the trail for composers wanting to blur the distinction between folk" and art" music. Not all of these eleven pieces are folk songs in the strict sense of the word: two are by the American composer John Jacob Niles and two are by Berio himself. But the others come from Armenia, France, Sicily and Sardinia, with one being an Azerbaijani love song recorded on an old 78 by a singer with a town band and aurally transcribed by Berio and Berberian themselves. Berio's scoring evokes a world beyond the concert hall: he uses the viola and cello to suggest the outdoor clarinet and folk fiddle, and he beefs up the flute and harp with tambourines and side drums.
For Osvaldo Golijov the music of Luciano Berio occupies a special place: “I always connected with it - he spoke to me with a directness, as Piazzolla had done when I was a child." (Michael Church

martes, 29 de abril de 2014

Kronos Quartet NUEVO

On Nuevo, a collection of music from Mexico spanning nearly 100 years, Kronos Quartet presents a kaleidoscopic view of a music as diverse as the culture of the country itself. On each track, the group’s sound is transformed, through the collaborative efforts of co-producers Gustavo Santaolalla, the noted Argentinean musician and Rock en Español producer, longtime Kronos producer Judith Sherman, and Kronos Artistic Director David Harrington, as well as through arrangements by composers Osvaldo Golijov, Stephen Prutsman, and Ricardo Gallardo, whose efforts serve to reflect the individual spirit and character of each song.
Harrington notes that walking through Mexico City inspired the record. “I became fascinated with this sense of the layering of things there—of time, of music, of culture, of art … And how you’d walk down the street and never know what you’re going to hear next.”
The sonic landscape of Nuevo suggests the vastness of Mexican culture, a diverse array of experiences and ideas—intellectual, spiritual, and cultural. From the boom-boxes on the street corners to the incessant blaring of television sets, from the traditions of Son huasteco and corrido singing to the influence of Cuba on the culture and music, the sounds of Mexico are the sounds of a place where elements of popular culture and traditional music share a lively coexistence.
The tracks from Nuevo are culled from seemingly disparate sources ranging from "Mini Skirt," by the late Juan Garcia Esquivel, whose early experimentation with stereo caused him to be dubbed the "King of Space-Age Bachelor Pad Music"; to Chavosuite, which features music from three wildly popular Mexican television programs, the original Chespirito and two spin-offs, El Chapulín Colorado and El Chavo del Ocho; to an explosive Prutsman arrangement of Silvestre Revueltas’s "Sensemaya"; to Golijov’s "K´in Sventa Ch´ul Me´tik Kwadulupe" (Festival for the Holy Mother Guadalupe), a composition based on David Lewiston’s 1970’s recording from the Mexican state of Chiapas.
Nuevo also highlights a variety of unusual instruments, like the musical leaf as played by Carlos Garcia on Alberto Domínguez’s "Perfidia" and the organillo performance featured on Belisario García de Jesús and José Elizondo’s "Cuatro Milpas."
The album also features rock en Español supergroup Café Tacuba’s "12/12," a five-part sonic portrait of contemporary Mexico, named for the celebration of the Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe observed throughout Mexico on December 12. The piece is an aural tapestry weaving together not only the sounds of electric and acoustic instruments, but also traditional Mexican music and street sounds. It fittingly reflects the spirit of Nuevo, in its merging of widely different sounds and textures to create a unified whole.
Closing the album is a remix of Severiano Briseño’s "Sinaloense" by the DJ Plankton Man, formerly of Tijuana’s Nortec Collective.

sábado, 26 de abril de 2014

Pollini BEETHOVEN Sonatas Opp. 7 - 14 - 22

Maurizio Pollini began to record his cycle of Beethoven's piano sonatas for Deutsche Grammophon in 1975, and he's only now nearing its completion. This collection of early works is the penultimate instalment; like most of its predecessors, they are studio recordings made in Lucerne and Munich last year, and like many of Pollini's recent discs and live performances, a curious mix of the magisterial and the severe. The two tendencies co-exist in the biggest of the sonatas here, the E flat Op 7, where passages of fabulous clarity and poise are punctuated with explosive chords that seem out of scale in early Beethoven, while parts of Op 22 in B flat are curiously abrupt too. But sometimes the overbearing element can vanish altogether, as it does in Pollini's delicate, quicksilver account of the first of the Op 14 pair, in G major. No one who has followed this cycle will think twice about hearing this latest batch of performances; those who might want to explore Beethoven sonatas for the first time should look elsewhere. (Andrew Clements / The Guardian, Thursday 7 November 2013)

viernes, 25 de abril de 2014

Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin REBEL Les Éléments - VIVALDI Le Quattro Stagioni

Harmonia Mundi's Rebel: Elements -- Vivaldi: Four Seasons combines two of the Baroque's biggest instrumental barnburners as performed by one of the top period instrument groups in Europe, Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin, under the leadership of concertmasters  and featuring their star attraction, violinist Midori Seiler. Like Vivaldi's often derided as over-familiar Four Seasons, Jean-Féry Rebel's 1737 ballet Les Éléments does not want for good recordings, but it is nowhere near as famous as the Vivaldi; this is the first time the two have been combined on a recording, and these pieces are quite compatible given their shared, programmatic purposes. Inasmuch as the Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin is concerned, these recordings reflect a staged performance of the two works as prepared for a festival in Italy in the fall of 2009 in collaboration with choreographer Juan Kruz Diaz de Garaio Esnaola. Some might find that the staging of instrumental -- or at least non-dramatic -- classics borders on the faddish. Nevertheless, one of the best recordings ever made of Bach's B minor Mass -- that led by Thomas Hengelbrock for DHM in 1997 -- was based on a similar instance where the work was presented as a show rather than a "straight" public performance of Bach's never-intended-as-liturgical choral masterpiece. For a musical text like Les Éléments, of which the content is something of a matter of debate given the incomplete form in which it has come down to us, Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin's interpretation is remarkably fluid and evolutionary in keeping with Rebel's intentions of moving from Chaos through Creation. The performance evolves in a very patient and low-key way, from the crashing seven-note tone cluster that opens the work to the spring-like evocation of its final dances, and one can feel the sense of unfolding even down to the relative volume of the piece as it progresses through its various movements. This might not instantly become everyone's favorite recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, as it is meant to go with a performance and is tailored to fit to that; those familiar with the usual delivery of these four concerti might find this recording somewhat enigmatic and lacking in the usual fireworks. Nevertheless, it is an altogether original, daring, and completely valid reinterpretation of the piece; restrained, mysterious, and dramatically compelled, employing vibrant and occasionally violent contrasts. Seiler's interpretation of the solo violin in part is completely her own; in places where others linger, Seiler stabs through the passage like Hamlet stabbing Polonius through the curtain, whereas in passages that some violinists might perform on autopilot, Seiler finds a spot to indulge in an expressive figure or an ornament wholly unfamiliar, even to the seasoned Four Seasons listener. Listeners well-attuned to the established story arc of the Four Seasons may well dismiss this as perverse; difference for the sake of being different. Perhaps one might not want to make this the only version of the Four Seasons to own. Nevertheless, enjoying the album as a whole -- both the Rebel and Vivaldi taken together -- is the recommended option; it is very fast moving and interesting in addition to being edgy and assertively exceptional. The DVD of Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin's performance with Esnaola would probably be the best way to experience this radical and enterprising concept; nevertheless, Harmonia Mundi's CD is a riveting and revelatory experience that commends itself to listeners welcoming a second opinion on the Four Seasons and as an introduction to Les Éléments, a work that easily could withstand exposure beyond those expert in Baroque literature. (Uncle Dave Lewis)

jueves, 24 de abril de 2014

Gil Shaham / Paul Meyer / Jian Wang / Myung-Whun Chung MESSIAEN Quatuor pour la fin du temps

How four solid musicians of international repute can produce so blemished a recording of Messiaen’s chamber music masterpiece is anyone’s guess, let alone approve it for release. The most glaring inaccuracies pockmark the serene final movement. Here Myung-Whun Chung misreads each 32nd note as a 16th. Did the composer really want this? Gil Shaham’s intonation is not what it should be, and neither is Paul Meyer’s. The latter’s long sustained E-sharps in the unaccompanied third movement, along with the low B-sharp at measure eight, will make sensitive ears wince. Long before this disc was released in the U.S., one of my European colleagues drew attention to cellist Jian Wang’s early start of the glissando in the fourth movement’s third-to-last measure, which throws the ensemble off. In the fifth movement, Wang prepares for high notes with pronounced left-hand shifts that often telegraph the pitch a split second before it’s supposed to be heard. Tashi’s Fred Sherry, by contrast, controls his instrument to the fullest degree, and achieves a more sustained, singing line. To my taste, the pronounced, unwritten ritard at the climax one measure before letter D robs the subsequent “ppp subito” effect of its hushed devastation. The fiery, unison sixth movement aggressively barnstorms when it should joyously dance, and Chung’s handling of Messiaen’s bird-like flourishes lacks sparkle and definition. Fortunately, Tashi’s infinitely more characterful, soul-searching, and accurate 1975 RCA recording is still available. Maybe RCA will even remaster it for its High Performance series: hint, hint, nudge, nudge. But if you happen upon an open copy of this DG release, remove the booklet and read the extraordinary interview with cellist Etienne Pasquier, one of the four musicians who gave the work’s first performance in a German prisoner-of-war camp. (Jed Distler)

jueves, 17 de abril de 2014

Julia Fischer / Milana Chernyavska SARASATE

These dazzling works . . . make great showstoppers and encores, but what's surprising is how satisfying they turn out to be in their own right. Beginning with a couple of Spanish dances, it's apparent from the get-go how effortlessly the 30-year-old masters the technical challenges of works designed to leave jaws on floor. She sounds like she's having fun, and why wouldn't she, especially in "Zigeunerweisen", whose czárdás rhythm allows Fischer and accompanist Milana Chernyavska to demonstrate how convincingly a German and a Ukrainian can perform Spanish music inspired by Hungarian gypsies . . . What a terrific, entertaining disc.

The dazzling showpieces of violin legend Pablo Sarasate meet their match in Julia Fischer, one of the most sought-after musicians of her generation, delivering virtuoso pyrotechnics in a stunning recital disc.
The key track is Sarasate’s most celebrated composition: Zigeunerweisen (‘Gypsy Airs’). With its heady czardas rhythms and folk flavour, it is best known as a showpiece for violin and orchestra, but Fischer and her long-standing accompanist Milana Chernyavska present it here as it was originally written, for violin and piano.
Fischer’s programme also includes the popular Danzas espanolas. Designed to show off technique, these captivating pieces soon became a top choice for violin encores.
Fischer’s recording will help shine a new light on Sarasate’s music, which she wants to restore to the concert platform. She feels that each of the pieces is a little gem with a mood and story all its own, and says that she wants to communicate the joy and enthusiasm of pieces that make people want to dance or sing.
Sarasate’s contemporaries held him in extremely high regard, with Camille Saint-Saens, Max Bruch and Edouard Lalo all dedicating works to him. He was one of the first violinists to leave acoustic recordings in the pioneering years of the 20th century, recording his Zigeunerweisen in 1904, and his extraordinary writing remains a supreme challenge to violinists over a century after his death in 1908.

miércoles, 16 de abril de 2014

Kim Kashkashian KURTÁG / LIGETI Music for Viola

György Kurtág (b. 1926) and György Ligeti (1923-2006) were friends, for more than sixty years. “For a long time, a lifetime, Ligeti led me onward,” said Kurtág. “I followed him—sometimes right behind him and other times years or even decades later. I call it my ‘Imitatio Christi’ syndrome. The first years of our friendship were marked not only by his intellectual leadership. I oriented my taste according to his example.”
Yet how different are their respective oeuvres: Ligeti vastly prolific, Kurtág parsimonious in his productions, strongly self-critical, determined to justify every note (“Every tone has to be deserved”). For parallel artistic allies one might have to look beyond music: to literature perhaps, to Joyce’s cascading riverrun of language and Beckett grimly squeezing drops of inspiration from a dry sponge. Kurtág and Ligeti had a similar aesthetic relationship: sharing a nationality – and a “mother tongue” in Bartók – their contrasting temperaments took them to different places. Ligeti’s frame of reference can be encyclopaedic, in the space of a single composition alluding to higher mathematics and folk dance and welcoming any resultant “strangeness”, Kurtág always more aphoristic, cryptic, terse, has built a halting language out of miniatures, works which seem to take on a new intensity when sequenced. His works can be quietly eruptive: Peter Eötvös once referred to Kurtág as “a very shy volcano”, a characterization that catches both the charm and force of his work. 
György Ligeti appreciated the dark sounds of the viola, in his introduction to the Sonata he wrote, “The viola is seemingly just a big violin but tuned a fifth lower. In reality the two instruments are worlds apart. They both have three strings in common, the A, D and G string. The high E-string lends the violin a powerful luminosity and metallic penetrating tone which is missing in the viola. The violin leads, the viola remains in the shadow. In return the low C-string gives the viola a unique acerbity, compact, somewhat hoarse, with an aftertaste of wood, earth and tannic acid.”
The present album, recorded at the Propstei St Gerold in May 2011, finds Kashkashian exploring and contrasting the solo viola works of Kurtág and Ligeti. Kaskashian and producer Manfred Eicher determined the dramaturgical sequence of the present version of “Signs, Games and Messages” which leads naturally toward the Ligeti Sonata. Sandner: “In Kashkashian’s scrupulous reading, the Kurtág pieces and the movements of Ligeti’s Viola Sonata seem like the work of a single visionary artist”.

sábado, 12 de abril de 2014

Swedish Chamber Orchestra / HK Gruber BRETT DEAN Water Music

Water is one of the most fundamental elements of our physical world and of life on earth. It also has enormous symbolic significance in many cultures as the source and transmitter of life. We humans are indeed made up largely of water. Such is the value of water that disputes arise over its availability. Where previous wars have been fought primarily over territory, economic gain and the securing of mined resources such as oil, many predict that water itself will be at the heart of future conflict. Water has also been much on the mind of many of my compatriots in recent times.
The past few years of history-breaking drought in Australia have brought much devastation and despair across the country. It is impossible to ignore the seriousness of the scenarios that may await us, be they through war, or simply through the effects of drought and fire. Even my new home town of Melbourne, a coastal city and traditionally, even notoriously, well serviced by rainfall, has spent much of the past year employing water restrictions, with television adverts and billboards serving as constant community reminders about wise water use. Neighbourly chats about the weather have changed from that of passing curiosity to genuine concern. 
Water is the inspiration for my concertante music for saxophones and chamber orchestra, jointly commissioned by a group of European ensembles to perform with the Rascher Saxophone Quartet. It was the extremely "fluid" playing style and extraordinary tonal blend of this wonderful group that initially turned my thoughts to the sounds and images of liquid as a possible starting point for this three movement work. Hearing recordings of their performances, with their unanimity of sound and virtuosity, led me to a strong desire to treat the quartet as a form of single "super-soloist", hurtling through an orchestral landscape in a series of "rapids" and "waves" of fast, flowing passage work. This then became the genesis of the second movement, Coursing. It is in fact different aspects of water that provide the origin for each of the three movements in turn. 
The first movement, Bubbling, takes as its initial inspiration the sound of water. Emerging initially from the live sounds of bubbling water bowls, it finds an instrumental commentary in the toneless key sounds and pattering staccato passages of the soloists. As the movement progresses, counterparts of a more lyrical-musical nature start to surface, firstly in the orchestral strings, later via a prominent single trumpet and ultimately from the saxophone soloists themselves. One of the most striking aspects of water is its enormous potential of different purposes, be it to clean and purify, to sustain, to carry, to energise. 
This first movement, starting from the mere sound of bubbling water, becomes a journey into these different states and their significance. Coursing, as previously described, is inspired by the image of rushing water, aswell as by the energetic surge of current and power that invariably lies just beneath its surface. Furthermore, on rehearsing this movement, the tenor saxophonist of the Raschers, Bruce Weinberger, wrote to me that he saw, in the suddenly quiet chorale section played by the soloists towards the end of this movement, a form of prayer for the continuation of the earth¹s future water resources, a sentiment that appeals to me strongly, while not necessarily being a conscious intention. 
The final section, Parched Earth, is about the absence of water, of aridity and drought, and the fact that it dominates our lives and thoughts even more when confronted by a dangerous lack of it. This final movement then, with its stark multiphonic chords and extended trills in the solo quartet, slow string glissandi and sampled sounds of metallic eeriness, adds a deliberate question mark to the work as a whole, transforming it from a sonic celebration of one of life¹s most vital forces into a lonely soundscape of dry desert winds and bleak abandonment. (© Brett Dean, February 2004)

martes, 8 de abril de 2014

Magdalena Kožená / Christian Schmitt PRAYER Voice & Organ

“If we live on this planet, we must surely believe in a higher power, whatever that may be. That is something I feel when I perform this music.”-- Magdalena Kozena

The new recording from Magdalena Kozena features deeply-felt interpretations of sacred songs from the Baroque to the 20th Century In a rare recording collaboration, she is joined by virtuoso Christian Schmitt, in music for voice and organ from the sacred traditions of Germany, Austria, France and England, as well as her native Czechoslovakia.
Of course, the album includes music by J.S. Bach – a composer with whom Magdalena Kozena has long been associated - with sacred aspects of German song represented by Hugo Wolf and Schubert The French tradition
is heard in the music of Bizet, Ravel and the great Parisian organist Maurice Durufle.
Bizet’s Agnus Dei and Verdi’s Ave Maria reveal less familiar aspects of composers more often associated with opera houses than churches, whilst Henry Purcell’s setting of The Blessed Virgin’s Expostulation showcases Magdalena Kozena’s extraordinary ability to inhabit musical drama Her continuing commitment to the music of her Czech homeland sees the inclusion of music by both Dvorak and Janacek.
‘The Czech mezzo . . . produces one of the loveliest sounds to be heard on the world’s stages – a flowing, spring-water-like tone that evokes the term ‘luminous’.’ - Opera News For this recording, Christian Schmitt plays the 2009 Goll organ of the University for Catholic Music & Teaching, Regensburg.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin / Lisa Batiashvili / Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra TCHAIKOVSKY Pathétique

Yannick Nézet-Séguin's first symphonic recording with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra on Deutsche Grammophon is of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 in B minor, "Pathétique," which the conductor has known intimately throughout c, this is a solid reading that holds its own against the large number of recordings of this symphony, so listeners who need a first-rate version can be assured of the interpretation and the performance. Yet because this is one of the most frequently recorded classical pieces of all time, one may wonder what Nézet-Séguin brings to it that makes his rendition necessary. Perhaps his sense of pacing and calculated use of rubato for dramatic effect make it feel more organic than most, and his sudden shifts of tempo and emphasis on heightened dynamics make this one of the most interesting versions to follow. But in the end, there's not enough to distinguish it from the competition, so listeners should not expect a major revelation. It's still the same warhorse. To fill out the CD, Nézet-Séguin accompanies violinist Lisa Batiashvili in a selection of Tchaikovsky's Romances, Op. 6 and Op. 73, of which the most famous is None but the lonely heart (track 8). These pieces serve as a welcome palate cleanser after the rich but not overly ripe performance of the "Pathétique," and it's interesting to hear Nézet-Séguin's piano playing, which is quite restrained and poetic in feeling. Batiashvili carries the melodic lines with passionate expression and a warm singing tone, so the most compelling music making can be found in these filler tracks.

lunes, 7 de abril de 2014

Ingrid Fliter / Jun Märkl / Scottish Chamber Orchestra FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN Piano Concertos

The Argentinian-born pianist Ingrid Fliter, a winner of the prestigious 2006 Gilmore Artist Award and a former BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist has already made three recordings for the EMI label - one of Beethoven and two of Chopin - that have garnered much critical acclaim, but this new coupling of the two Chopin Piano Concertos is her first to appear on the Linn label.
As a former silver medal winner in the 2000 Frederic Chopin in Warsaw in it is clear that the music of this composer is not only at the centre of Ingrid Fliter's repertoire, but from an early age has occupied a special place in her psyche. In both concertos the fluency of Fliter's playing is matched by especially clean articulation and a welcome forward momentum. Her use of rubato is finely controlled, yet in both slow movements there is no lack of poetry, thanks especially to her limpid cantabile playing. The scintillating performances of the outer movements of these two concertos exemplify this pianist's immaculate technique and excellent musicianship.
The orchestral accompaniments from Jun Märkl and the forty players of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra are both elegant and supportive to the soloist, with Peter Whelan's expressive bassoon solos a particular pleasure, whilst Chopin's often unfairly maligned orchestration here sounds beautifully transparent.
The multi-channel recording made in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh (7-9 June 2013) by Philip Hobbs possesses a crystalline clarity, albeit with a touch of hardness that is probably more an artefact of the hall's bright acoustic than the engineering. However, it is good to hear the timpani reproduced so crisply, and the balance between piano and orchestra could hardly be bettered.
In spite of considerable competition on record in these two concertos Ingrid Fliter's spellbinding and refreshing accounts of both works can be confidently recommended. Future recordings by this absorbing pianist are eagerly awaited. (SA-CD.net)

domingo, 6 de abril de 2014

Trevor Pinnock / Rachel Podger J.S. BACH The Complete Sonatas for Violin and Obbligato Harpsichord

This recording has it all: some of the most marvelous music ever written for the violin; beautiful, lively sound-take; refreshingly intimate program notes; but more important than any of that, two truly first-class performers. The double CD is a real treasure. Rachel Podger is that rare find, a violinist with the sweetest sound, a flawless intonation, technique so good that it just disappears in the background, a musical instinct that is always awake, and a sense of style that permeates every musical gesture. She can convey exuberant joy or thoughtful sadness, and it all sounds round and luscious and exciting. The first movement of BWV 1023, for example, with its startling beginning, full of cumulative tension leading to a lyrical reflection, is a feat of simultaneous intellectual understanding and concentrated emotion.
Trevor Pinnock proves here that he deserves the high reputation he enjoys. His accompaniment is always sensible and sensitive, providing a solid ground for Podger's imaginative castle-building. Jonathan Manson has the almost impossible task of adding to this duo. He not only survives but actually contributes to the final result, with some very refined and unobtrusive gamba-playing. This is chamber music at is best. The dynamic contrasts are surprisingly varied, and these performances are the greatest advocates not only for period instruments but also for a whole trend in performance, which calls for poignant leanings on harmonically important notes, freedom within a chosen tempo, carefully suspenseful cadences, more frequent rhythmic inflections, and ornamentation that sounds improvised. All of this is done with good taste and wisdom, and the result is that the music sounds moving where it should, energetic where it demands it, without the slightest hint of mustiness or restraint. If you are only going to buy one recording this year, this might be the place to spend your money. (Laura Ronai, FANFARE 5/2001)

jueves, 3 de abril de 2014

Carolyn Sampson / Britten Sinfonia / Stephen Layton EŠENVALDS Passion and Resurrection

Australian concert-goers have sampled the mesmerising choral sound of the Baltic as championed by Stephen Layton in 2010. Now Layton and his British group Polyphony introduce the young Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds, whose a cappella and accompanied choral works are accessible for their heartfelt expressions of suffering and joy.
The Latvian struggle for independence from the Soviet Union has been dubbed the “Singing Revolution”, in which freedom fighters raised their voices in a chorus of forbidden songs.
His Passion draws on sacred texts in English and Latin, and the impossibly pure Polyphony tone wrings devastating emotional impact from every syllable. The warm plainchant opening is gradually submerged in glassy string dissonance from the Britten Sinfonia. Extreme changes of mood and atmosphere fade seamlessly into one another so that the climax’s stormy repetitions of “crucify!” lull themselves into the gentlest of prayers.
Carolyn Sampson’s haunting, at times visceral soprano solos place Passion and Resurrection alongside other contemporary classics like Górecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. The works on the album pay tribute to womankind, from soaring soprano lines to texts by American women poets and Mother Teresa, as well as depictions of Mary Magdalene and the stabat mater.
The Sara Teasdale setting Evening describes a “chorus of shimmering sound”, a phrase that equally applies to the disc as a whole. Two decades have passed since Latvia achieved independence but we are still hearing a “singing revolution”, with Esenvalds leading the charge. (Copyright © Limelight Magazine).

miércoles, 2 de abril de 2014

Isabelle van Keulen / City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra / Paavo Järvi ERKKI-SVEN TÜÜR Exodus

“There’s something almost physical about the way in which Tüür moves and shapes the sound masses that his textures generate, so that the music offers a variety of perspectives – on one level the intricate construction offers constantly changing patterns and arrays, on another the sheer weight of sound is sculpted into large-scale gestures, so that the ear switches from one to the other.” Andrew Clements’s description, in The Guardian, of Tüür’s “Exodus” can be applied, with no less justification, to the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra and “Aditus”. There is a new physicality to Tüür’s music, the Estonian composer concurs: “This development started with the Cello Concerto (refer to the ECM album Flux, recorded 1998), and one of the main issues now is dealing with the energetic forces in music. All the different compositional tools employed – the different rhythmic patterns, and chord structures and harmonic progressions – are not aims in themselves but ways of forming and focussing the energetic development. I pay very much attention to moving between the different levels of energy – how the energy flows, how the inner drama is building. It’s something I’m working with very consciously for five or six years now.”
All three pieces on the present album are premiere recordings, made with the participation of the composer. Of the genesis of the Violin Concerto, Tüür says, “The very first idea was to build up a continuously changing relationship between the soloist and the orchestra. In the first movement the soloist makes a statement that the orchestra picks up, and changes it in a rather unexpected direction. Then the violin starts again, and again the orchestra picks up the material and transforms it in a different way. It’s always a kind of surrealistic treatment and this was the conceptual basis. And having made my choices about material – scales, rows and harmonic progressions – I almost always followed my spontaneous imagination in the writing I never had a wish to write a concerto for virtuoso soloist where the orchestra is providing accompaniment. The music is always filtered through the orchestra when it returns to the soloist. It’s always developed at a different level.”

martes, 1 de abril de 2014


“Oxymoron” – contradictory terms in conjunction – seems to be a perfectly appropriate metaphor for a music which continues to be characterised by juxtapositions of seemingly heterogeneous musical idioms, by sudden contrasts and simultaneous movements in different speeds and which thus opens wide and adventurous spaces that are conceived with a rare sense of architecture and musical dramaturgy. As Hans-Klaus Jungheinrich points out in his liner notes, “each musical quality gives rise intrinsically to its opposite…dramatic vitality thus derives from rigour itself.”
Tüür’s fourth ECM-album, consisting entirely of premier recordings of recent works, offers the opportunity to follow the stylistic development the Estonian has taken since the early nineties. His intense work with the performers who have championed his work for many years results in particularly fine and careful interpretations. “Dedication” is the earliest piece recorded here. “It was started in 1990 as a three-movement cello sonata, but working on it I realised that it was complete the way it was”, says Tüür. “I consider it one of my best chamber pieces from that period although it was never recorded then. I dedicated it to the memory of Kuldar Sink who was one of the most influential figures of the Estonian avant-garde in the sixties.” “Dedication”, like “Salve Regina” the newest piece on this album, acts as a calm and relaxed counterbalance against the two larger and more dramatic works.
“Ardor”, the expansive concerto for marimba and orchestra which was written in response to a request from the soloist of the present recording and the joint commission from the Gulbenkian foundation and the BBC, according to Tüür’s composer’s note “presents my pursuit of a harmonically richer language and is a transitional work towards my present style.” This new compositional method which appears fully-fledged in “Oxymoron” (2003) is marked by the search for harmonic unity by means of a “certain numeric code which acts genetically to form the whole composition including all its mutations and transformations.” Tüür speaks of “vectorial writing” as the voice-leading “in the wider sense follows projections of vectors in different directions.” “Salve Regina” which opens the album is another quite different example of this new method which has become compulsory for Tüür in recent years.
There is little room for coincidence in this conscientious and very precise compositional work, yet he himself, while listening to the first edit of the present recording, was startled to find out that all four pieces he had chosen – pieces of very different sonic character – are revolving around the same axis pitch “C”. The dominance of this pitch is not only evident from looking at the scores it is very clearly audible especially in the beginning of the four pieces recorded here. “It’s interesting to watch how my musical thinking has changed since 1990 when I wrote ‘Dedication’ for cello and piano although this thinking is still drawing on very similar inspirations”, says Tüür.
While rigour is never employed in a dogmatic or neo-serialist way the new technique has triggered a new flight of productiveness: Tüür is currently working on his sixth symphony and on commissions from the Australian chamber orchestra, the Münchener Kammerorchester and the Hilliard Ensemble. “The instrument I can express myself best on is the orchestra”, says Tüür, who sees the further development of large scores as his main task in the years to come.