viernes, 31 de octubre de 2014


The Zehetmair Quartett, one of the most exciting and accomplished string quartets of our time, plays a programme of characteristically broad reach, extending from Beethoven to Holliger.
This 2-CD set is drawn from two recording sessions, both made at Zürich DRS studio. Beethoven’s F Major quartet, Bruckner’s C minor quartet and Holliger’s 2nd string quartet were recorded in April and May 2010. The Hartmann Nr. 2 was recorded in 2002 by an earlier quartet line-up, and this interpretation is previously unreleased. It was the last of the Zehetmair Quartett recordings to feature cellist and founding member Françoise Groben (1965–2011). “Her energy and creativity were crucial to our development and early successes, such as the Schumann CD. This new production is dedicated to her memory.”
The double album begins with Beethoven’s highly-concentrated opus 135. The last of Beethoven’s five quartets, written in 1826, it occupies a major position in what many feel to be a unified cycle. Wolfgang Sandner, in the liner notes: “Its traditional four-movement design, its moderate length, the absence of fugal writing and the classically Haydnesque or Mozartian sonata form of its opening movement all make it seem like a backward glance at the beginnings of the genre in Beethoven's music.” It is concentrated on the most essential elements, Thomas Zehetmair and Ruth Killius observe. But in its contrapuntal rigor, its thematic variety, its polyrhythms and energetic intervallic leaps it remains as challenging as any of Beethoven’s late quartets.
Bruckner’s C minor quartet, described by the performers as “touchingly warmhearted”, was written in 1862 as a student exercise when the composer was taking orchestration lessons from Otto Kitzler. The manuscript was rediscovered in 1950 in Munich and received its premiere there in 1951.
Hartmann’s second string quartet is in Zehetmair’s view, one of the 20th century’s most important quartets – “a large scale, nostalgic drama, full of wisdom”. Wolfgang Sandner: “The Second String Quartet is a piece of unmistakable consistency and rigour, a piece remarkable for its accuracy of statement, the weight it sets aside for each and every note, the balance it strikes between line and sonority, and especially its sense of formal architecture and awareness of a tradition stemming from Bach and convulsed by Beethoven. ... Above all it receives its ironclad structure from the Bachian counterpoint that Hartmann intensively studied, both in the original and in its impact on Anton Webern.”
Heinz Holliger’s Streichquartett Nr. 2 – described by Zehetmair as an “explosion of fantasy” – is at 24 minutes the longest work heard here, and it brings the Quartett’s programme to a powerful and event-packed conclusion. Commissioned for the Zehetmair group who premiered it in Cologne in 2008, the work is dedicated to Elliott Carter. The late US composer was fascinated by its texture, which treats the four instruments as a world of expressive sound in constant flux. Holliger admits that he returned to the string quartet format with considerable trepidation: “There is hardly another musical genre which is so burdened by its history as the string quartet. Whoever composes for this instrumentation inevitably senses the skeptical and critical stares of the great composers. This can have a paralyzing and intimidating effect. Perhaps this is the reason why I have only now dared to rise once more to the great challenge, 34 years after my much criticized 1st String Quartet.”

miércoles, 29 de octubre de 2014

Kim Kashkashian / Till Felner / Quatuor Diotima THOMAS LARCHER Madhares

The creative output of Austrian composer (and pianist) Thomas Larcher (born 1963) whom the London Times recently called “a musical talent of unbounded sensitivity and distinction bound for 21st- century glory” has been championed on ECM New Series since 2001. Last fall Larcher’s piano piece “What becomes” attracted wide-spread attention when premiered on Leif Ove Andsnes’ international tour with the project “Pictures, Reframed” in which musical performances were juxtaposed with video images by concept artist Robin Rhode. In the Daily Telegraph Ivan Hewett spoke of “a real 21st- century picture of childhood, rudely energetic and unsentimental”. “Madhares”, the third release dedicated exclusively to Larcher’s works, assembles some of the finest ECM musicians such as Kim Kashkashian, Till Fellner and the Munich Chamber Orchestra conducted by Dennis Russell Davies to present a gripping cross-section of Larcher’s recent orchestral output, enhanced by the third string quartet “Madhares” which is played by the youthful French Quatuor Diotima. Larcher’s recent pieces are marked by intense sonic imagination, great rhythmic energy and a virtuoso impact that makes for an immediately rewarding listening. In the upcoming months his music will be performed in musical centers such as Amsterdam, London, Heimbach chamber music festival (composer in residence) and many more.

domingo, 26 de octubre de 2014

Kim Kashkashian / Sivan Magen / Marina Piccinini TRE VOCI Takemitsu - Debussy - Gubaidulina

Kim Kashkashian, who won a Grammy last year with her solo viola Kurtág/Ligeti disc, returns with a new trio. Tre Voci includes Italian-American flutist Marina Piccinini and Israeli harpist Sivan Magen. All three musicians have been acknowledged for bringing a new voice to their instruments. Kashkashian, Piccinini and Magen first played together at the 2010 Marlboro Music Festival, and agreed that the potential of this combination was too great to limit it to a single season. Since then they have been developing their repertoire. On this compelling first release it revolves around Debussy’s 1915 “Sonata for flute, viola and harp” and its influence, most directly felt in Takemitsu’s shimmering “And then I knew ’twas Wind”. Debussy himself had been profoundly moved by his encounter with music of the East and in his last works was emphasizing tone-colour, texture and timbre and a different kind of temporal flow. 
In this music, the elasticity of Debussy’s feeling for time (as Heinz Holliger observed) pointed far into the future and to the works of Boulez. And indeed to the music of Sofia Gubaidulina, whose “Garten von Freuden und Traurigkeiten” (“Garden of Joys and Sorrows”) makes its own reckoning with orient and occident. Gubaidulina has said that she considers herself "a daughter of two worlds, whose soul lives in the music of the East and the West". As Jürg Stenzl points out in the liner notes, hardly any composer of his generation was more greatly affected by the discovery of Debussy's music than Tōru Takemitsu: “This largely self-taught composer had already studied a broad range of recent 'western' musics before he turned to the 'classical' traditions of his native Japan. The late work ‘And then I knew 'twas Wind’ scored for the same instruments as Debussy's second sonata, is especially characteristic of his understanding of music” ...
 … and emphasizes what Takemitsu called “the vibrant complexity of sound as it exists in the instrument”. His composition resembles Debussy's in its free and rhapsodic form, but unlike Debussy's 'musique pure', Takemitsu's title relates to a poem by Emily Dickinson:
“Like Rain it sounded till it curved / And then I knew ‘twas Wind – / It walked as wet as any Wave / But swept as dry as sand – / When it had pushed itself away / To some remotest Plain …” 
Sofia Gubaidulina’s “Garten von Freuden und Traurigkeiten” (“Garden of Joys and Sorrows”) also draws upon lyric poetry for inspiration. The work concludes with a recitation of a poem by Austrian-born writer Francisco Tanzer, but its title comes from a text by the Moscow poet Iv Oganov. The vivid imagery of Oganov’s poem makes itself forcefully felt in Gubaidulina’s work: “The lotus was set aflame by music / The white garden began to ring again with diamond borders.” 
The composer, in her words, was compelled to a concrete aural perception of this garden, explored at length in the music. As with Takemitsu the flow of the work retains an improvisational freshness, and the combined sound-colours of viola, harp and flute are as beguiling as in the Debussy sonata. 
Tre Voci’s album was recorded in April, 2013 at the Auditorio Radiotelevisione svizzera, Lugano, and produced by Manfred Eicher. It is released in time for a European tour with a programme including music of Debussy, Takemitsu and Gubaidulina.

viernes, 24 de octubre de 2014

Sol Gabetta PRAYER

On her new album "Prayer" Sol Gabetta takes the listener with her on a meditative musical journey. Accompanied by the Amsterdam Sinfonietta and the Orchestre National de Lyon, she has recorded a selection of Classical music inspired by Jewish melodies. It was Ernest Bloch's (1880-1959) piece "Prayer" that first gave Sol Gabetta the idea for this album: "I often played 'Prayer' as an encore in concert, and could feel that many people in the audience were greatly moved by it. This is music that is both sensual and reflective." In addition to the three-part cycle "From Jewish Life", of which "Prayer" is the first movement, Gabetta's CD recital includes Bloch's "Meditation hebräique", "Nigun", and the famous "Schelomo" for cello and orchestra. The programme is delightfully rounded off by four songs Gabetta has chosen from Dmitri Shostakovich's cycle "From Jewish Folk Poetry" and a Catalan folk song full of yearning by the famous cellist Pablo Casals.
Sol Gabetta recorded "Prayer" together with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta. In Bloch's "Schelomo" she is accompanied by the Orchestre National de Lyon under Leonard Slatkin; it was with this conductor that she originally played the work, which dates from 1916. Gabetta says: "This is a sweeping, large-scale cello concerto in which the cello takes the role of King Solomon".
The Jewish pieces by Bloch with their religious undertones contrast with folk songs from the pen of Shostakovich, which he published in 1948 under the title "From Jewish Folk Poetry". From the total of 11 songs, Sol Gabetta chose four for her recital which were then specially arranged for cello and string orchestra by Mikhail Bronner. The original poems that Shostakovich set to music tell of the hardships of Jewish life in tsarist Russian. The Catalan folk song "Song of the Birds" is a tale of human longing. The Spanish cellist Pablo Casals arranged it for his instrument, and from 1939 onwards he used it to open many of the concerts he gave in exile. Gabetta has recorded the piece together with the cello ensemble of the Amsterdam Sinfonietta.

Leif Ove Andsnes / Mahler Chamber Orchestra THE BEETHOVEN JOURNEY Piano Concerto No. 5 - Choral Fantasy

Four years in the making, the celebrated Beethoven Journey has now reached its crowning season. An intense collaborative project between Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the heart of the journey has been the recording of all five of Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Concerti and his Choral Fantasy, with the final album scheduled for release by Sony Classical on September 16. Over the four years Leif Ove Andsnes has also made Beethoven's concerti the focus of his attention on stage with over 150 performances in 55 cities and 22 countries. With the start of the 2014 / 15 season Andsnes and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra embark on a year of high-profile residencies that will see them perform the complete cycle of concerti in Hamburg, Bonn, Lucerne, Vienna, Paris, New York, Shanghai, Tokyo and London. A third and integral part of the Beethoven Journey is an ambitious education project series entitled Feel the Music that gives children with hearing impairment the chance to experience music both in personal workshops and on the concert platform together with Andsnes and the orchestra.
September 16 is the release of the third and final recording of the Beethoven Journey, featuring Piano Concerto No. 5 Emperor and the Choral Fantasy, recorded live in concert at the Prague Spring Festival in May with Andsnes performing and directing the orchestra from the keyboard. The complete Beethoven Journey will be released as a box set, available digitally and physically, on October 28, 2014. The Beethoven Journey has enjoyed worldwide acclaim from critics and audiences alike since its inception in 2011. Particular attention has been paid to the outstanding musical partnership between Leif Ove Andsnes and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra with the Guardian commenting : "You'd be hard put to find a pianist and orchestra better matched," whilst Gramophone Magazine wrote: "There's so much more to this partnership than just exceptional playing; there's a palpable sense of discovery, of living the music."

Leif Ove Andsnes / Mahler Chamber Orchestra THE BEETHOVEN JOURNEY Piano Concertos 2 & 4

"Some journeys are unpredictable" wrote Leif Ove Andsnes of the new album. "At the beginning of May 2013, I was all geared up to tour and record Beethoven's Second and Fourth Concertos with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. A couple of days before I was due to depart for the tour, our twins arrived in this world -- twelve weeks earlier than expected. With the insecurity that followed over the next few days, there was no way around it: I had to cancel the recording and stay at home with my family. Now, seven months later, our twins are fine and healthy, and I am so happy that the MCO and I found another period to record the concertos, which we did in the beautiful St. Jude's Church in London in December 2013. Working with this group is always an incredibly gratifying experience, and I continue to be grateful to them for the enormous commitment and passion they bring to our performances together. To live with these two concertos is, for me, emotionally similar to thatof spending time with my children: this is music that feeds me constantly with joy, surprise and discovery. There is of course much drama and intensity in this music, qualities we often associate with Beethoven, but there is also so much childlike beauty and innocence in these concertos, and a constant sense of wonder. I want to dedicate this recording to my three wonderful children , Sigrid, Ingvild and Erlend."

jueves, 23 de octubre de 2014

Leif Ove Andsnes / Mahler Chamber Orchestra THE BEETHOVEN JOURNEY Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 3

Now this is something very special, and it marks an exciting debut for Leif Ove Andsnes on Sony after his long relationship with EMI. The label has struck musical gold with this particular signing and the pairing of Andsnes with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra makes this a thrilling start to what is termed "The Beethoven Journey". (While that might sound like another Beethoven piano concerto cycle to you or me, it is, to Andsnes, “a multi-season project that will make the composer’s music the centerpiece of my life as a performer and recording artist”.) And this is the first time we get to hear Andsnes in Beethoven on disc. He has waited a long time but, on the basis of this CD, was right to do so. He offers a personal but never idiosyncratic view of the First and Third Concertos and it augurs very well for the remainder of the series.
Except that it isn’t just another Beethoven cycle-in-the-making, and the achievement is as much down to the Mahler CO’s youthful players as to Andsnes’ peerless pianism. He directs from the keyboard and this makes for exactly the kind of chamber-musical, hyper-reactive performances that you might expect. But there’s so much more to this partnership than just exceptional playing (though there’s that in abundance): there’s a palpable sense of discovery, of living the music; he and the MCO players are already finishing one another’s musical sentences like an old married couple, but with an ebullience and mutual fascination that is anything but world-weary.
You know you’re in remarkable musical company before the piano has sounded a note. Just listen to the long exposition of the First Concerto: highly responsive, lean strings, pungent horns and wonderfully characterful wind soloists (especially the first bassoon, both alone and in duet with the first oboe). Of course, this isn’t just down to the players: it’s Andsnes’ conception right from the start. Even if we can’t actually see him directing, we can sense his musical presence.
The chamber dimensions of the ensemble mean that these are essentially less ‘public’ readings than those of, for example, Lewis and the BBC SO or Brendel and the VPO (to mention just two other front-runners). But that’s not to suggest that the playing in any way lacks impact. The smaller forces mean that the wind and brass are naturally more prominent in the mix and I found myself hearing details – a flute phrase here, a bassoon response there – that I’d never consciously registered previously. However, these are never pushed at you in a Harnoncourt y manner (as he can do in his cycle with Aimard). And there are little touches here and there – reducing the violin line to a single player just over two minutes into the opening movement of the Third Concerto – that demonstrate the detail of the thinking behind these interpretations.
What’s also very striking is that these performances are not simply about élan and energy: they have a sense of gravitas, too, of rightness that you find in the greatest Beethoven interpreters, from Edwin Fischer and Emil Gilels to Alfred Brendel. This isn’t something that is achieved by big, ballsy playing but rather by a sense of balance, of musicality, of understanding not only the notes themselves but the wider context – where these pieces stand within Beethoven’s output and a broader historical perspective, too.
The sign of a really fine orchestra is its adaptability, and it’s fascinating to compare the playing of the MCO here with their disc with Argerich, who recorded the Third Concerto with Abbado in 2004. In the Largo Andsnes and the orchestra hold you rapt at a slow but never stilted tempo; the players have to contend with a still more spacious approach from Argerich, which they do superbly, while in the finale they’re immediately responsive to her swerves of tempo and phrasing (and the first oboe is heroic in both performances). There’s no disputing the greatness of Argerich as a pianist but it’s Andsnes’ more selfless approach that I find more compelling. He writes in the booklet-notes about finding Beethoven simultaneously the most human and the most deeply spiritual of composers, and this is conveyed vividly in these performances.
The pleasure is completed by the wonderfully warm and natural ambience of Prague’s Rudolfinum, beautifully caught by Sony’s engineers. I, for one, can’t wait for the next installment. (Harriet Smith)

miércoles, 22 de octubre de 2014

Emerson String Quartet MOZART The Prussian Quartets

The three string quartets on this album, Mozart's swan songs in the genre, have been recorded many times, but this version ranks near the very top of the collection. Start with the recorded sound, for which Sony chose the unheralded LeFrak Hall at Queens College in New York. It's a superb example of chamber music engineering, with the instruments miked in such a way that the listener hears them coming from slightly different directions, just one would in a live concert at which one was seated 10 or 15 feet away. That in turn highlights the remarkable balance and ensemble of the Emerson Quartet, which is displayed beautifully in these quartets. The "Prussian" designation comes from the original commissioner, King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Berlin, who employed a top cellist at court and wanted quartets that would show off his abilities. Mozart complied with a group of works (only three of the requested six were completed) that use an active cello part to achieve the dense contrapuntal textures characteristic of the music of the last few years of Mozart's life. The Emerson Quartet gives a very fine, sensitive account in which the effects of this feature on the overall texture are quite subtly conveyed. The tempos are quick, and the group generally favors emotional intensity over formal balance (hear for example the grinding cello half-steps in the Trio of the Minuet of the String Quartet in F major, K. 590, and the rather magical resolution of this passage to a conventional Classical cadence). But the musicians maintain perfect control. It's a very exciting performance throughout, with an engineering team fully on board with the musicians' aims, and Mozart doesn't get any better than this. (James Manheim)

martes, 21 de octubre de 2014

Ensemble Meme GABRIELA LENA FRANK Compadrazgo

Born in Berkeley to a mother of Peruvian/Chinese ancestry and a father of Lithuanian/Jewish descent, Gabriela Lena Frank explores her multicultural heritage most ardently through her compositions. Franks has traveled extensively throughout South American and her pieces reflect and refract her studies of Latin-American folklore, incorporating poetry, mythology and native musical styles into a western classical framework. Winner of a Latin Grammy and nominated for Grammys as both composer and pianist, Ms. Frank holds a Guggenheim Fellowship and a USA Artist Fellowship. This disc includes four works composed over a seven-year period and all feature the piano — one for solo piano; one for flute and piano; another for flute, clarinet and piano; and one for piano quintet, beautifully performed by Ensemble MEME and pianist Molly Morkoski.

domingo, 19 de octubre de 2014

Lorenda Ramou KONSTANTIA GOURZI Music for Piano and String Quartet

Already in Antiquity rhetoricians knew about the wisdom of silence, the necessity of pauses, caesuras and ellipses. They assigned a wide range of meanings to silence as the antithesis of speech. They acknowledged it to be a semantic, or semiotic, space in which speech can be articulated without speaking. Yet it was only in the modern age, with its deep-seated scepticism toward language, that silence was defined as a central place of reflection. Still, nonverbal communication has long been a permanent part of cultural and artistic presentation and expression. In music, on the other hand, pauses, rests, caesuras, fermatas – interruptions of varying quality – are essential. They have belonged to the temporal scaffolding of musical dramaturgy since time immemorial. When Gourzi speaks of a sense of temporal dramaturgy in her pieces, she touches on the art of eloquent brevity. Their melodic gestures are determined by the way she deals with pauses for breath. Often her music exhaustively presents a gesture, a moment, a feeling on a slender basis of material. Much of it distantly recalls Schumann’s Legendenton or the shimmering sound-surfaces of Debussy. Here and there we seem to descry glimpses of Schubert, Bartók or Scriabin. Again and again isolated lines surge forth like solitary flourishes in the handwriting of bygone days. By leaving behind her own traces she preserves traces of her forebears. Sometimes in music, sometimes in literature, sometimes in the form of a dedication, a direct reference to teachers, companions, patrons or spiritual guides. Gourzi’s first piano piece, dated 1993, is a dialogue with an early poem by Ingeborg Bachmann. The recipients of her musical miniatures of 2010 are Helmut Lachenmann, György Kurtág, Peter Raue, Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim and Dieter Rexroth. Assembled beneath the title Aiolos Wind are six personal encomiums in the form of a musical diary, six responses to encounters with the persons named. Her personal resonances vary widely, from gratitude (Raue) to a sort of belated reckoning with a received slight (Lachenmann). Now they focus on a question_and_answer situation in concentrated form (Kurtág), now on an almost infinite expansiveness in constantly changing metre (Barenboim). Sometimes the foreground falls on a transcendent sound of messianic force (Abbado), sometimes on a circuitous search of uncertain outcome (Rexroth). Glancing up from her musical diary in this piano piece, op. 41, Gourzi looks upon her evolution, her influences, the paths that have led her to become a composer, conductor, professor, a founder of ensembles and an initiator of many projects for the communication of contemporary music. Her encounters are multifaceted, their consequences far-reaching. In 2007 she founded the network and ensemble ‘opus21musikplus’ to place contemporary music in the context of other art forms. In 2002 she established the ‘ensemble oktopus für musik der moderne’ at Munich University of Music and Theatre. Until 2007 she headed such ensembles as ‘attacca berlin’ and ‘ensemble echo’ in Berlin, both of which she founded. Recently she has approached the culture of her native land from a different perspective – a land she left in 1988 to study conducting and composition in Berlin. She wanders between cultures, observing how differently they function. The things she encounters on her wanderings, things both big and small, turn into musical ideas and compositions. It thus comes as no surprise that her pieces often have extra-musical titles. In this way she provides clues, offering her listeners an antechamber before they enter the sonic space of the work itself. Each title points to the little story of an encounter, a feeling, a mood. Each piece can be heard as a resonance, a response to a moment. Gourzi responds with notes to the sensuality of the experience of an instant. The aim of her music is to allow it – the fugitive moment – to resound in a new, sensual space.

viernes, 17 de octubre de 2014

Saskia Lankhoorn KATE MOORE Dances and Canons

Dances and Canons is the debut ECM recording of both composer Kate Moore and pianist Saskia Lankhoorn. Moore was born in England in 1979 and lives now in the Netherlands (where she studied with Louis Andriessen, among others). However, it is Australia, where she grew up, which has left the strongest impression on her creative imagination, its teeming natural soundscapes transmuted in her music of swirling pulse patterns and shifting, layered planes of sound. In Dutch pianist Lankhoorn (also born 1979), Moore has a dedicated and resourceful interpreter. “It’s impossible to listen to this music,” writes George Miller in the liner note, “and not wonder about the enormous technical demands it makes of the performer.” Lankhoorn, no stranger to demanding music, made her first broadcast performance on Dutch radio at the age of 16, playing Schoenberg; she met Moore in 2003 when both were at the Royal Conservatorium in The Hague. When Lankhoorn co-founded the new music group Ensemble Klang, Moore was one of the first composers the ensemble programmed. Since then they have worked together on numerous occasions and in contexts including concerts, dance, theatre, film and installations. The pieces on this album, produced by Manfred Eicher, span over a decade of Moore’s development as a composer, from "Stories for Ocean Shells", written in 2000 (in response to a commission from the Australian Society for the Contemporary Arts) to the 16-minute Canon, for four pianos, which was completed shortly before the recording session in Lugano’s Auditorio Radiotelevisione svizzera. Moore describes "Canon" as an exploration of the character of cadences: “Different progressions of chords have different emotional impacts … It’s about the question of tempo and perceiving time and the way a performer translates and interprets the structuring of time over the piece.” Four pieces here, “Stories for Ocean Shells”, “Spin Bird” (2008), “Zomer” (2006) and “Joy” (2003) are for solo piano, with “Spin Bird” (2008) appearing in two variations, to open and close the programme. “The Body Is An Ear” (2010), for two pianos, is inspired by the writings of Sufi philosopher (and singer and vina player) Hazrat Inyat Khan. “Sensitive Spot” (2006), for multiple pianos, was written for Dutch new music group Ensemble Modelo 62. In the present version, Lankhoorn has recorded the piece over and over, and the recordings have been layered to produce “a rippling pointillist sound world” as George Miller notes. The aim is to “create ‘a human sense of delays’ in contrast to mathematically precise electronic reverb … Human tempo is always changing and the resultant layered recording produces shimmering sheets of sound that vibrates with the iridescence of hummingbird wings.”

martes, 14 de octubre de 2014

Gustavo Dudamel /Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela MAHLER Symphony No. 7

The Seventh Symphony falls into Mahler’s second compositional phase and is the last of the three, purely instrumental, symphonies he wrote during those years (from which the Rückert-Lieder and Kindertotenlieder also date). Unlike his first four works in the genre (influenced by the Wunderhorn cycle), the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Symphonies are not programmatic, nor do they draw on folk music or fairy tales, recycle material from his earlier Lieder or involve solo or choral voices – they take us instead into the realm of “pure music”. The two symphonies that frame No. 7 represent two extremes in terms of content: the Sixth is the darkest and most pessimistic of all Mahler’s works, the Eighth a kind of 20th-century “Ode to Joy”. The Seventh, meanwhile, might be said to combine these two extremes within itself, travelling as it does from the darkness of night into the bright light of day (an effect underlined by his use of progressive tonality, from a sombre B minor to a radiant C major).
As with his previous symphonies, Mahler composed No. 7 over the course of two summers – the only time he had free to devote to composition – in this case those of 1904 and 1905. During the first, at his summer home near Maiernigg, on the Wörthersee, in a strikingly feverish burst of creativity, he not only completed the Kindertotenlieder and wrote the entire Finale of the Sixth Symphony (one of the longest, most complex and most intense movements he ever produced), but he also managed to go straight on (most unusually for him, given that he had never worked on two different symphonies so closely together) to compose two pieces entitled Nachtmusik (Night Music) which were to be used as movements (2 and 4) of a new symphony, the Seventh. The other movements were written one after another the following year, although only after Mahler had overcome one of the creative blocks he often suffered at the start of the summer. (Gastón Fournier-Facio)

lunes, 13 de octubre de 2014

Alisa Weilerstein SOLO

The long-awaited solo album from Decca’s star cellist sees Weilerstein revealing and revelling in her technique. The American cellist has attracted widespread attention worldwide for her combination of natural virtuosic command and technical precision with impassioned musicianship. The intensity of her playing has regularly been lauded, as has the spontaneity and sensitivity of her interpretations. Committed to expanding the cello repertoire, Alisa is a fervent champion of new music and this release is her first solo album.
Calling for left hand pizzicato as well an alternative tuning of the cello’s lower strings, Kodaly’s Sonata was far ahead of the time in which it was written and explored every facet of the cello, revealing what could be done with this instrument.
Many of Kodaly’s works are based upon Hungarian folksongs & dances, and this theme inspires the rest of the album, with works from the in-vogue Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov, across the world to the Chinese composer Bright Sheng.
Sheng’s work is based on seven tunes from China (Seasons, Guessing Song, The Little Cabbage, The Drunken Fisherman, Diu Diu Dong, Pastoral Ballade, Tibetan Dance). Golijov’s Omaramor is a musically playful fantasia inspired by Carols Gardel (the Argentine tango specialist); and Gaspar Cassado’s Suite, consisting of three dance movements, quotes the Kodaly work.

viernes, 10 de octubre de 2014

Anu Komsi / Avanti! / Hannu Lintu KAIJA SAARIAHO From the Grammar of Dreams

Grammaire des Rêves (Grammar of Dreams, 1988-89) was born from my curiosity about the relationship between human voice and instruments, a subject which I had put aside for many years. As the title of the piece indicates, another source of interest was the structural life of dreams.
Different ideas concerning the research of dreams (for example, how our moving body affects our dreams, changing their directions or interrupting them; in this piece the harp is imagined as a collection of restless limbs, which by their movements direct the musical flow), are drawn to the background during the compositional work, or are transformed into purely musical form.
Another interest was to search for a fusion in this rather heterogeneous ensemble. For this reason the musical texture is maybe more simple than in some other of my recent pieces, and the more radical textural changes have been replaced by vibratos, trills, glissandi, dynamic evolutions and other gestures, used here as imaginary matrices, through which the instrumental parts are ‘filtered’.
The major part of the text is a collage from the texts of Paul Eluard. Some longer fragments have been used from his poem ‘Premierèment’ (‘L’Amour la Poésie’).
Grammaire des Rêves is dedicated to Jean-Baptiste Barrière; the first performance was in Paris on the 23rd March 1989 by Ensemble l’Itineraire with Esa-Pekka Salonen. (Kaija Saariaho)

martes, 7 de octubre de 2014

Wu Man / Yuri Bashmet / Moscow Soloists TAN DUN Pipa Concerto - HAYASHI Viola Concerto - TAKEMITSU Nostalghia

Tan Dun's Concerto for String Orchestra and Pipa (1999) is a reworking of one of his most popular works, Ghost Opera, written for and recorded by the Kronos Quartet. In this version, the composer's characteristic polystylism -- which here includes Chinese folk song, Copland-esque Big Sky music, quotations from Bach, and vocalizations by the orchestra -- comes across as a jumble, without much of a strong vision holding the disparate elements together. Pipa virtuoso Wu Man, who appeared on the Kronos recording, plays the concerto with energy and delicacy. She's ably accompanied by the Moscow Soloists, led by Yuri Bashmet. The concerto is followed by Takemitsu's Nostalghia (1987) for violin and string orchestra. Its compositional assurance, clarity, subtly nuanced orchestration, and emotional directness make it all the more striking in contrast to the Tan Dun. Here Bashmet is the impassioned soloist, with Roman Balashov conducting with great sensitivity. The three brief excerpts from Takemitsu's film scores are a pleasant stylistic diversion -- light, strongly differentiated character pieces. Hikaru Hayashi's Concert-elegia for viola and strings is a substantial contribution to the small repertoire of successful viola concertos. As its title suggests, its tone is essentially one of gentle melancholy, but it's also characterized by an optimistic serenity. It's elegantly and beautifully conceived and constructed, with a transparent emotional appeal. The versatile Bashmet plays with warmth and deep feeling. Onyx's sound is clean, clear, and warmly atmospheric. (Stephen Eddins)

viernes, 3 de octubre de 2014

Angèle Dubeau et La Pietà JEAN FRANÇAIX Gargantua et autres plaisirs

Jean Françaix (1912-1997) was something of a chronological anomaly. He came of age in the era when neo-Classicism was in vogue and the influence of Les Six was ascendant, and those trends came to inform the musical style that he continued to practice with little fluctuation throughout his long life. His Gargantua, for speaker and string orchestra, dates from 1971, the same year Elliott Carter wrote his Third String Quartet, but it could easily have been written in the 1930s, as could the other works recorded here, L'heure du Berger (1972) and Sérénade B E A (1955). The friendly harmonic language, melodic invention, formal clarity, and pervading tone of whimsicality set them far apart from just about any aspect of the prevailing modernism. The 40-minute Gargantua uses as its basis an absurd fable by Rabelais, and the music offers a pleasant, unobtrusive background to the narration. The text is in French, and no translation is provided so, it's likely to have limited impact on non-French speakers. The two purely instrumental works have a higher musical profile and are more immediately appealing. Without the constraint of keeping from covering the text, Françaix is less inhibited in his invention, and many of the movements are unabashedly dancelike, with a playful wit. Canadian violinist Angèle Dubeau and her string ensemble La Pietà play with an appropriate elegance and delicacy. The sound is crisp and present. The album should appeal to fans of light, well-crafted music, particularly of the Gallic variety. (Stephen Eddins)

miércoles, 1 de octubre de 2014

Tõnu Kaljuste / Tallinn Chamber ERKKI-SVEN TÜÜR Crystallisatio

"Erkki-Sven Tüür's music," writes Wolfgang Sander, "sounds as if it had strolled through the history of music assimilating theoretical inspiration and practical experience along the way. Then it seems to have wrapped itself up in a cocoon, immune to the outside world, there to develop its own contours, as indicated by the abrupt contrasts. Tüür's music is realistic; it has confidence in its historical references, but it is removed." One could add that Tüür's "removal" from the international new music community was hardly his own choice: his compositional approach was established in an enforced political and geographical isolation. The same, of course, can be said for many of the composers from the former Soviet Union who, between them, have created music of enormous diversity. Tüür is impatient with the Western journalistic habit of bracketing together all post-Soviet composers as if they represented a recognizable "genre", while, at the same time, he acknowledges that every artist, whether he wishes it to be the case or not, is inevitably a product of his environment. Is his work, then, intrinsically "Estonian?" "Maybe there is something, related to the general 'Nordic' way of seeing the world, influenced by the specific geographical area, by how dark and short the days are in winter, and how light and short the nights are in summer." Tüür's New Series debut opens with Archtectonics VI, written in 1992, a characteristically "rhetorical" work that pits quasi-minimal writing for strings against serial parts for flute, clarinet and vibraphone; serialism ultimately gains the upper hand in this particular debate. Passion (1993) for strings, which follows, builds from the slow filling of space with double bass and cellos in the lowest register to sound-clusters for violins in the high register. Illusion, a partner-piece for Passion and composed the same year, deconstructs a baroque motif. Wolfgang Sander describes it as a "disrupted litany... one hundred and eleven measures composed as if in rapture." Crystallisatio (1995) for three flutes, campanelli, strings and live electronics, is particularly mysterious and beguiling. The sound potential of the flutes is subtly expanded by electronic processing and digital delay. Requiem (1994) was written in tribute to Peeter Lilje, chief conductor of the Estonian State Orchestra, a close friend of the composer who died in 1993 at the age of 43. Tüür sets the text of the Catholic mass for the dead.