martes, 31 de marzo de 2015

American Festival of Microtonal Music Ensemble CARRILLO - PARTCH - IVES - SCELSI - XENAKIS - HARRISON Chamber

Want to stretch your ears? This disc is one of the best introductions to the world of microtonal music. The program consists of six works, each with its own approach to defining and using tones outside standard notation and keyboard configuration. To many listeners some of these pieces will seem simply out of tune, but others will find them merely strange-sounding. Just a touch of music theory to explain things: You can get microtones by slicing the equal half-step intervals of a piano scale into narrower equal fractions. Since the equal half-steps are really a slightly-out-of tune compromise to accommodate our modern system of equal temperament, such "quarter-tone music" exaggerates the out-of-tuneness but creates remarkably tangy harmonies.
This is best illustrated here by Julian Carrillo's Prelude to Columbus, a work for voice, flute, guitar, harp, and string quartet. Carrillo, one of the true pioneers of this kind of music, uses quarter-tone (and narrower) intervals both as ultra-expressive passing tones and to create fresh, dark harmonies.
Another approach to enlarging the palette of notes is to refuse to accept the compromise of equal half-steps and instead use scales whose notes coincide with "natural" overtones. Harry Partch was the pioneer of this approach and is represented by his Finnegan's Wake songs. Soprano Meredith Bordon is the able soloist in both Partch's and Carrillo's compositions. Her recital-style voice is accurate and strong. Lou Harrison, a follower of both Partch and Charles Ives, contributes a typically attractive Tombeau for Ives, using his own adaptation of Partch's ideas.
But the stand-out performance on the disc is Ives' own Second String Quartet. Harmony Ives once instructed a copyist not to "correct the spelling" of her husband's scores. (For instance, not to turn an E-flat into D-sharp, for these notes, identical pitches in standard notation, are different pitches in a "natural overtone" scale.) She went on to explain how Charles perceived the relationship of such putatively identical notes. AFMM leader Johnny Reinhard realized that she was describing a natural-overtone scale system of 21 notes, and this is billed as the first recording to play this great string quartet in this manner. A valuable alternative to great standard readings, this performance reveals a softer, dreamier, less satiric affect.
The music discussed so far is all tonal. In Anaktoria, Iannis Xenakis writes atonal music, so all the notes are equally valid and nothing sounds out of key; that is to say it is consistently dissonant. Xenakis' sound is bold, generally harsh, without melody or traditional rhythm, but conveys a sense of power and monumentality that is exhilarating (assuming it doesn't send you running for the door instead of listening!). This is an excellent performance, aided by the precise intonation of the experienced AFMM players. Along with the Ives, Anaktoria is a primary reason for my strong recommendation to daring listeners. Giacinto Scelsi's eight-minute piece also is atonal and uses micro-steps--but like most of Scelsi's work it fails to reveal anything of real musical value. Obviously producing a labor of love, Reinhard and his musicians give exciting, committed readings. Sound is slightly studio-bound, but clean. In sum: The disc is well worth acquiring, even if you decide to skip Scelsi on subsequent playings. (Joseph Stevenson, ClassicsToday.com)

lunes, 30 de marzo de 2015

La Cetra / Marcon CALDARA La concordia de' pianeti

This release marks the world-premiere recording and rediscovery of Antonio Caldara’s La Concordia de’ pianeti, a musical serenade of operatic magnitude composed for the court of Austrian Emperor Karl VI, featuring the creme de la creme of the day’s singers, including the legendary castrato Carestini (Franco Fagioli’s part).
Unearthed and edited by Andrea Marcon, the piece offers a series of virtuosic arias, breath-taking cantilenas and ethereal duets performed by some of the finest singers of today.
Franco Fagioli and Daniel Behle, two of today’s hottest vocalists, lead a distinctive cast of early music “shining stars”, including soprano Veronica Cangemi in a welcome return to Deutsche Grammophon / Archiv. The
dynamic La Cetra Barockorchester, one of the most coveted period ensembles active today, lends an idiomatic touch to the program.
This is a major new release under the Archiv imprint featuring a world-class cast of singers. The opera is new to the repertoire and the catalogue altogether and has been recorded both in studio conditions and live performances in Dortmund. (ArkivMusic)

sábado, 28 de marzo de 2015

Romina Basso / Latinitas Nostra LAMENTO

Romina Basso's new album examines the 17th-century Italian lamento, a chamber cantata on an ostensibly tragic subject that is capable of embracing wider territory than a formal outpouring of grief. The prototype was Monteverdi's psychological work Lamento d'Arianna, drawn from a now lost opera of 1608. For his successors, however, the form had political potential. Carìssimi's Lamento in Morte di Maria Stuarda makes Counter-Reformation hagiography out of Mary, Queen of Scots, while Rossi's Lamento della Regina di Svezia mourns the death of Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, killed in battle in 1632. The genre wasn't necessarily serious, either. Francesco Provenzale's Squarciato Appena Avea, for example, takes the Gustavus Adolphus story as point of departure for a scabrous study of his widow's sexuality. Among the greatest of all baroque interpreters, Basso is breathtakingly expressive and persuasive. The Greek period ensemble Latinitas Nostra is directed from the harpsichord by founder Markellos Chryssicos. Exceptional. (The Guardian.com)

viernes, 27 de marzo de 2015

Andreas Ottensamer PORTRAITS The Clarinet Album


In February 2013 Andreas Ottensamer entered an exclusive recording partnership with Deutsche Grammophon/Mercury Classics, making him the first ever solo clarinettist to sign an exclusive agreement with the Yellow Label. His first album, Portraits – The Clarinet Album, has been released in June 2013 and features concertos by Copland, Spohr and Cimarosa, plus arrangements of short pieces. His partners are the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra under Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
He said of the recording: “This album poses the challenge of jumping between different styles and ways of playing, but at the same time I set a high priority on maintaining my personal interpretation and sound.”
For a man who is so dedicated to music, Andreas Ottensamer is also passionate about sport. For many years he was a tennis tournament player, and together with his brother he founded his own football club, the Wiener Virtuosen, in 2007. The team plays successfully in the Wiener DSG league and Ottensamer still travels to Vienna for matches whenever his schedule permits.
Apart from his extensive activities within the world of classical music, Andreas Ottensamer has widened his horizon to other musical fields, resulting in a collaboration and recording with Tori Amos on her album Night of Hunters.
Andreas Ottensamer is very passionate about chamber music. He is artistic director of the "Buergenstock Momente" - Festival in Switzerland together with pianist José Gallardo. Artists such as Nils Mönkemeyer, Clemens & Veronika Hagen, Albrecht Mayer, Linus Roth, Danjulo Ishizaka, Benjamin Schmid and the Szymanovksi Quartet have been part of the festival.
The beauty of tone and distinct musicality over a wide range of styles have won extensive critical plaudits for Andreas Ottensamer. Sybill Mahlke wrote in Der Tagesspiegel of his “limitless dynamic range . . . he plays with a vitality that pushes boundaries.” NRC Handelsblad said: “Andreas Ottensamer melts with his clarinet . . . he is an ‘übersolist’ and a phenomenon.” Rebecca Schmid wrote for MusicalAmerica.com: “Solo clarinettist Andreas Ottensamer played with particular finesse . . . and a touch of melancholy.”

jueves, 26 de marzo de 2015

STEFANO SCODANIBBIO Six Duos

Stefano Scodanibbio, contrabass soloist and composer (Macerata, Italy, June 18th 1956 / Cuernavaca, Mexico, January 8th 2012).
In the 1980s and 1990s his name has been prominently linked to the renaissance of the double bass, playing in the major festivals throughout the world dozens of works written especially for him by such composers as Bussotti, Donatoni, Estrada, Ferneyhough, Frith, Globokar, Sciarrino, Xenakis.
He has created new techniques extending the colours and range of the double bass heretofore thought impossible on this instrument. In 1987 , in Rome , he performed a four hours non-stop marathon playing 28 pieces by 25 composers.
He collaborated for a long time with Luigi Nono ("arco mobile à la Stefano Scodanibbio" is written on Prometeo's score) and with Giacinto Scelsi.
He regularly plays in Duo with Rohan de Saram and, furthermore, with Markus Stockhausen.
Since the 1990's, Stefano Scodanibbio has taught Master Classes and Seminars at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, Universityof California Berkeley, Stanford University, Oberlin Conservatory, Musikhochschule Stuttgart, Conservatoire de Paris, Conservatorio di Milano, etc. In 1996 he taught Contrabass at Darmstadt Ferienkurse.
Active as a composer his catalogue consists of more than 50 works principally written for strings (Sei Studi for solo contrabass, Three String Quartets, Concertale for contrabass, strings and percussions, Six Duos for all possible combinations of the four strings, etc.) and he was chosen four times for the ISCM, International Society of Contemporary Music (Oslo 1990, Mexico City 1993, Hong Kong 2002, Stuttgart 2006).
In June 2004 he premiered the Sequenza XIVb by Luciano Berio in his own version for contrabass, from the original for cello.
His Music Theatre work Il cielo sulla terra has been premiered in Stuttgart (June 2006) and Tolentino , Italy (July 2006) and will be performed again in Mexico City in the fall of 2008.
He has recorded for Montaigne Auvidis, col legno, Mode, New Albion, Dischi di Angelica, Ricordi, Stradivarius, Wergo.
Active in theatre and dance, he has worked with authors, choreographers and dancers including Rodrigo García, Virgilio Sieni, Hervé Diasnas and Patricia Kuypers.
Of particular importance is his collaboration with Terry Riley and with Edoardo Sanguineti. In 1983 he founded the "Rassegna di Nuova Musica", New Music Festival held every year in Macerata, Italy.

miércoles, 25 de marzo de 2015

Maximiano Valdes / Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela CARAMELOS LATINOS

This is a charming disc of popular Latin American music. The disc opens with a suite of dances by the Brazilian composer Mozart Camargo Guarnieri. They are characteristic dances bearing the titles Brazilian Dance, Savage Dance and Negro Dance, which sounds like it could have been written by Elmer Bernstein.
They were composed over a twenty-year period and were originally written for piano. The orchestral textures are rich and colorful. Guarnieri studied in Paris with Charles Koechlin and was a guest conductor at the Boston Symphony. Guarnieri composed Encantamento in 1941. The music comes close to his the evocative music teacher Koechlin. It begins with an atmospheric melody evocative of nature, but the music quickly builds into languid dance and then to the percussive rhythms of Brazilian folk music. The first hypnotic melody returns and the work ends quietly.
The short piece by Alberto Ginastera - Overture to the creole Faust - was based on the story by Estanislao del Campo and dates from 1943. The overture has begins with a sinister melody that quickly turns into a dance, somewhat reminiscent of Estancia. The music settles into a reflective melody, developing into a more dramatic melody to close the work. 
The short piece, The Wandering Tadpole of Silvestre Revueltas, is not well known. This is a dance from a larger ballet for children. The music has a nice sense of humor with various instruments darting back and forth with bits of melody, and there are echoes of a mariachi band.
Venezuelan composer Inocente Carreno's Margaritena receives a spirited performance. The music is centered on a folk song Margarita es una lagrima, which Carreno skillfully weaves into a rhapsody. Juan Bautista Plaza, also born in Venezuela, was considered one of the founders of Venezuelan national music. The fuga romantica for strings, from 1950, was written as homage to Bach. 
The selection closes with a work by Jose Pablo Mocayo - Hupango. Hupango is a corruption of fandango and is a dance performed on wooden planks. A brilliant score captures the essence of the dance.
This is a great selection of Latin American music nicely performed by the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra under Maximiano Valdes. Highly recommended. (Amazon.com)

martes, 24 de marzo de 2015

Alexander Melnikov / Isabelle Faust / Jean-Guihen Queyras LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN Piano Trios Op. 70 No. 2 & Op. 97

Beethoven’s first published works—his Opus No.1—were three trios for piano, violin and cello and already they show a marked advance on Haydn’s trios in the comparative interdependence of the three parts. Their freedom from Haydn’s oppressive formality looks forward to the first mature trios, the pair that comprises Opus 70, displaying all sorts of harmonic twists, thematic innovations and structural idiosyncrasies, these trios make much of the piano part and contain plenty of dramatic outbursts that are typical of Beethoven’s middle period. Even more arresting is the first of the Opus 70 trios (1808) nicknamed ”The Ghost” because of its mysterious and haunting Largo. Its sibling boasts a cheerful bombastic finale that is the most entertaining music that Beethoven composed for this combination of instruments. 
The “Archduke” Trio Opus 97 (1811) was Beethoven’s last full – scale work for piano trio and is typically conclusive. The third movement is its centre of gravity, a highly moving set of variations with the cello dominating the thematic content. It opens with a hymn-like theme and progresses to a coda which magnificently sums up the movements ideas. The finale might be less powerful than that of Opus 70 No. 2, but it nevertheless has a sweeping rhythmic power. Again, it is beyond the shadow of a doubt that Beethoven defined the piano trio form that it retained throughout the 19th century by allowing the string instruments the status of genuinely equal partners in this superlative performance. This is clear from the performances of pianist Alexander Melnikov, violinist Isabelle Faust and cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras present Beethoven’s last two works in the genre—Opus 70, No. 2, dedicated to Countess Marie Erdödy and the celebrated ”Archduke” that also marked the final public appearance of its composer. 
 Ms. Faust and Mr. Queyras as well as Mr. Melnikov reach into the depths of their individual and collective souls to find the spectacular tone textures that Beethoven had intended. They bring these forth with breathtaking motifs and heart-stopping melismas once again showing that interpretation requires genius enough to inhabit the skin of the composer in order to find the right balance between a perfect reading of the score and emotion that is over and beyond that the text might even suggest despite specific diacritical remarks by the composer. This is a wonderful recording indeed. (WMR)

lunes, 23 de marzo de 2015

Valentina Lisitsa MICHAEL NYMAN Chasing Pianos

Ukrainian pianist Valentina Lisitsa has taken an unusual path toward career development: she posted her Chopin performances to YouTube, gained a strong following there, and then hired the London Symphony Orchestra for a set of Rachmaninov concerto performances. The gambit seems to be working: Lisitsa's performances of late Romantic repertoire have been reasonably well received, and now she's earned the right to implement what one imagines was the point of the whole exercise in the first place: the pursuit of the crossover audience centered above all in Britain. There is no denying that Chasing Pianos works well. British composer Michael Nyman has made a long specialty out of minimalist music that shades in the direction of melodic pop. Although Nyman has stated that opera is his favored genre, the style is ideally suited to film scores, and his music for The Piano (1993) is a classic of the genre. That score, adapted for solo piano, is heavily featured here, along with music from other scores that is artfully chosen to give just enough contrast to avoid sheer repetitiveness without disturbing the basic calm surface. Lisitsa's style, flawlessly precise and slightly mechanical, fits this music in a rather eerie way, and fans of Nyman's music will doubtless find a fresh and exciting take on it here. Those coming to the music from the film The Piano or from one of the other soundtracks represented should also be pleased. The sound, from the concert hall at Britain's Wyastone Estate, is unusually well suited to the project: dreamy and soft without being overly gauzy.(

domingo, 22 de marzo de 2015

Isabelle Faust ROBERT SCHUMANN

Isabelle Faust, Jean-Guihen Queyras and Alexander Melnikov begin their project to record all of Schumann’s concertos and piano trios using gut strings and a piano of Schumann’s time (a Streicher of 1847) with the most challenging two works of all. The tangled performance history of the Violin Concerto is well enough known by now – written in 1853 for Joseph Joachim to play, it was suppressed after Schumann’s death and not performed in public until the 1930s. Performances have remained sporadic though, and as Faust’s shows, even the finest violinists (and she is one of the very best around today) still struggle to make convincing sense of some passages, especially in the rather stop-start opening movement; there are moments here when the usually nimble Freiburg Baroque Orchestra sounds as if it is having to wade through musical treacle. Composed two years before, the G minor Piano Trio isn’t top-drawer Schumann either, especially when compared with the two earlier trios, but Faust and her colleagues have the knack of teasing out its lyrical beauties and giving all the music real lightness and transparency.

"The idea for this CD project arose during a tour on which we performed Robert Schumann’s Trio Op.80. As passionate admirers of the composer, we conceived the desire to place his works for piano, violin and cello in a broader context and to illuminate them mutually in order to allow listeners to gain a deeper understanding of his music. We soon agreed to play the pieces for this recording on a historical piano and stringed instruments with gut strings, using orchestral forces to match. Pablo Heras-Casado and the Freiburger Barockorchester sprang spontaneously to mind as the ideal partners for a project of this kind. Our shared journey into the magical world of this incomparable composer will remain with us as an exceptionally intense, happy, and fulfilling experience." Isabelle Faust, Alexander Melnikov, Jean-Guihen Queyras.

sábado, 21 de marzo de 2015

Angela Hewitt / National Arts Centre Orchestra MOZART Piano Concertos No. 22 - No. 24

Replete with all the Angela Hewitt virtues—among them, unfailing clarity, innate elegance, an unerring sense of proportion, a finely honed mastery of style, melodic finesse and an unobtrusive grasp of harmonic rhythm—these are exemplary performances. Stylistically, they are very much of their time, falling midway between the 'Beethovenian', 'revisionist' tendency of the mid-20th century, repudiating the earlier essentially miniaturist 'Dresden China' tradition, and the sometimes rather antiseptic, musicologically-'enlightened' approach of the century's final third. The prevailing tonal palette, from soloist and orchestra alike, is appropriately lean but always beautifully focused and elegantly applied. Operatic in the best sense, Hewitt is more concerned with dialogue, not only between the two hands but within all levels of the texture, than with conventional notions of 'vocal' cantabile.
But what finally renders Mozart's operas supreme (and I maintain, loosely, that he never wrote anything but opera) is not the matchless subtlety and characterisation of the dialogue, but the continuous development of the individual characters and the relationships between them. What I most miss here, and I recognise that I may be in a small minority, is precisely that feeling of development, which necessarily relies on vivid and varied characterisation in the first palce. I feel this throughout, though never more so than in the C minor Concerto, especially the slow movement, where the uniquely Mozartian tension between harmonically loaded melody and the essentially neutral, often near-static nature of metre is spoiled by an excessive sense of symmetry. (BBC Music Magazine)

viernes, 20 de marzo de 2015

Kronos Quartet / Aki Takahashi MORTON FELDMAN Piano and String Quartet

New York native and avant-garde composer Morton Feldman composed this work just two years before his death in 1987, and it haunts the listener into a prism of melancholy. Shifting, unsettling, and yet every bit hypnotic, pianist Aki Takahashi and the world-renowned Kronos Quartet conjure up the ghost of Feldman to wander the streets of New York as if they were abandoned. This single piece, over 79 minutes in length, is like an icy flower that blooms almost undetected. Takahashi is so delicate on the piano as to whisper quiet clusters of notes, reverberated by the Kronos Quartet for further contemplation. Feldman often preferred his performances and recordings to be very quiet, almost inaudible at times. Truly, it would make no sense to play a Feldman piece at volume ten on the stereo -- it would be like shining huge spotlights on a Rothko painting. The beauty is in the shadows, and the chill of "Piano and String Quartet" opens it's vast arms and pulls the listener in alongside the darkness. Breathtaking. (

jueves, 19 de marzo de 2015

Anne-Sophie Mutter / Lambert Orkis PROKOFIEV - CRUMB - WEBERN - RESPIGHI Recital 2000 (CD 23 / ASM35)

This is a live recording, made at a pair of concerts in May, and ‘live’ is undoubtedly the word for it. All the performances have an improvisatory quality, interpretative decisions seemingly made before your very ears. At the beginning of the Prokofiev it is as though Mutter and Orkis, realising that the audience in the Beethovensaal are already uncommonly silent and attentive, had decided after a quick glance at each other to begin the Sonata almost confidingly, with quiet tenderness and muted colour. Once or twice they take risks: the third and most epigrammatic of the Webern pieces is played with a mere thread of tone; in the hall it must have approached the limits of audibility. But this approach powerfully distils the intimate but intense emotions of these pieces; there is something close to pain in the second of them.
Once in a while the risks show. Not long after the opening of the Prokofiev there is an abrupt, stabbed accent that you suspect Mutter would have had second thoughts about in a studio recording, and an equally sudden expressive scoop in the slow movement – hauntingly poignant as she phrases and colours it – robs her intonation of its purity for a moment. There are similar but less hazardous extremes in the big gestures and expansive palette of the Respighi; fewer in George Crumb’s evocative, post-Bartokian Nocturnes, with their striking use of plucked, brushed or drummed piano strings. Throughout the recital Mutter’s playing is nervously intense, emotionally searching, and you are bound to refer this to the fact that she dedicates the disc to the memory of her husband, who died five years ago. It is vulnerable music-making, not always comfortable, but deeply expressive and often moving. The recording is spacious, the audience hushed.' (Gramophone)

miércoles, 18 de marzo de 2015

Valentina Lisitsa plays PHILIP GLASS The Hours - Metamorphosis - Mad Rush

With her multi-faceted playing described as “dazzling”, Valentina Lisitsa is at ease in a vast repertoire ranging from Bach and Mozart to Shostakovich and Bernstein. Her orchestral repertoire alone includes more than 40 concertos. She admits to having a special affinity for the music of Rachmaninov and Beethoven and continues to add to her vast repertoire each season.
Born in Kiev, Ukraine, in 1973, Valentina Lisitsa began playing the piano at the age of three, giving her first solo recital a year later. She gained a place at the Lysenko Music School for Gifted Children and later studied at the Kiev Conservatory under Ludmilla Tsvierko. In 1991 she won the first prize in the Murray Dranoff Two Piano Competition together with Alexei Kuznetsoff. She now resides in the USA.
Lisitsa has performed at such leading international venues as New York’s Carnegie and Avery Fisher halls and the Vienna Musikverein. In May 2010, she made her debut with the Rotterdam Philharmonic playing the Dutch premiere of Rachmaninov’s “New 5th” Concerto and in August 2011 made her debut with the Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira under Lorin Maazel.
With more than 50 million YouTube views, Valentina Lisitsa is one of the most watched classical musicians on the internet, using digital innovation to champion classical music and performance. Impressed by her YouTube success, the Royal Albert Hall, in an unprecedented step, opened its doors for the young musician’s London debut on 19 June 2012. Further 2012-13 season engagements include concerto appearances in Rotterdam, Munich, Mexico City, Italy and across the USA, as well as recitals in Europe, North and South America.
In 2012 Valentina Lisitsa signed an exclusive agreement with Decca Classics. Her first Decca release was her June 2012 Albert Hall recital, immediately available for pre-order on the night of the concert, digital only, followed by the CD release on 3 July. Further Decca releases include the complete concertos of Rachmaninov and Paganini Rhapsody with the London Symphony Orchestra under Michael Francis. Other recordings from Valentina include the four Ives Violin Sonatas with Hilary Hahn, released by Deutsche Grammophon in January 2012.

Pianist Valentina Lisitsa presents a double album's worth of pieces for solo piano by Philip Glass, one of the most influential composers of our time. As her previous album of music by Michael Nyman shows, Lisitsa is in her element in the sound world of minimalism.

lunes, 16 de marzo de 2015

Ólafur Arnalds / Alice Sara Ott THE CHOPIN PROJECT

Classical music has always been very much about performance and interpretation - about that moment, in concert, when the performer interprets the composer s music in his own way. Then recording technology came along, and in classical it was all about capturing the live performance in the most accurate way. But I believe that when music has been channeled through all the machinery and processes that are part of making a recording, it is no longer all about that moment. It can t be. The act of recording becomes a ghost performer in itself, reflecting on the result in a way that is often unaccounted for or ignored.
While The Beatles dragged pop music along by starting to use the recording technology as a part of the composition and performance, classical music was left to still somehow aim for the impossible. And the idea of what is considered an accurate and true sound became an unbreakable norm in itself.
This norm never made much sense to me. Why not use the technology we have as not only a tool, but a part of the actual interpretation? Why can t the microphones, the room - the sound - also be a performer? Why would all of these factors need to stay invisible behind the norm of a true recording sound? And why would a good classical piano sound naturally have to be the silvery, brilliant concert grand sound that we have on classical recordings today, while we know that the pianos of the 19th century sounded so very different?
All these are norms that I was interested to test. Alice was the perfect partner in this project. Her recording of Chopin s Waltzes has been a true inspiration for me. We spent a week exploring different microphones, pianos and venues all over Reykjavik, trying to find the perfect constellation for each of her interpretations. And then I tried to put them in a new context with my own recompositions, based on themes from Chopin s pieces. I wanted to make a dynamic and modern album with the originals and recompositions melting together to create one arc, one coherent storyline.
Chopin's music has a very special meaning for me. When I was younger I was playing drums in various metal bands and all I wanted to listen to was punk and heavy metal music. But whenever I visited my grandmother, which I did frequently, she would always make me listen to Chopin. If it had been my parents forcing classical music down my throat at that time of my life I probably would have puked on their face. But I guess out of respect for my grandmother I always listened with her and slowly it started to grow on me.
My last moment with my grandmother was on her deathbed, she was just lying there, old and sick, but very happy and proud. And I sat with her and we listened to a Chopin sonata. Then I kissed her goodbye and left. She passed away a few hours later.
At that point I was already studying classical composition and experimenting, releasing and touring with all kinds of classically inspired music. But Chopin always kept this special place in my heart and I wanted to express that by making his music the center of this project. By looking at his music in a different way, through the prism of recording technique in its different facets and through my own compositions, I didn't intend to question the integrity of Chopin's music. I wanted to find my very personal interpretation, like so many other great musicians have done before me. (Ólafur Arnalds)

domingo, 15 de marzo de 2015

Valentina Lisitsa CHOPIN - SCHUMANN Études

Ukraine-to-North Carolina transplant Valentina Lisitsa has gained tremendous popularity by using YouTube (75 million views and counting) to market her music. No one should say that Lisitsa is merely an Internet phenomenon; more like her, taking the music directly to potential listeners through contemporary media, are sorely needed. The Internet has propelled her to a spot on the roster of the major Decca label, and she has played mostly mainstream Romantic repertory with a diversion, on her last release prior to this one, into the piano music of Michael Nyman. Here she takes on some real standards, the 24 Chopin Etudes, Op. 10 and Op. 25, and the technically even more perilous Symphonic Etudes, Op. 13, of Schumann, rendered with five extra variations in the middle excised by Schumann from the work and published posthumously (the work is essentially a set of variations that spills over its boundaries, something like the Diabelli Variations, Op. 120, of Beethoven). The Schumann fits Lisitsa's strengths; she has formidable technique in passagework and is exceptionally skilled at bringing out the kind of inner counterpoint that the Symphonic Etudes are all about. The same strengths apply in the Chopin, where her left hand doesn't flag in the workout it receives. According to the booklet notes, the Chopin etude performances of Alfred Cortot served Lisitsa as a reference point. Her performances don't really sound like Cortot's beyond a somewhat idiosyncratic quality; Cortot's readings apparently caused Rachmaninov to laugh so hard that his false teeth fell out, and it's hard to imagine that happening here. There's nothing terribly poetic about Lisitsa's performance, but there's no denying that she's on top of the music and that the physicality she has brought to it on the Internet is present. An interesting chapter in a unique contemporary pianistic career. (James Manheim)

sábado, 14 de marzo de 2015

Goldner String Quartet / Piers Lane BRIDGE Piano Quintet - String Quartet No. 4 - Three Idylls

'[Fourth Quartet] is arguably Bridge's most rivetingly cogent and harmonically bracing statement, evincing a deftness, compassion, and unerring intellectual scope that beg comparison with the greatest 20th-century examples in the medium … these unfailingly sympathetic, flexible and exhilaratingly assured performances (that of the Quartet, on balance, the finest to date) have been most truthfully captured by the microphones; Bridge's cataloguer Paul Hindmarsh provides the scholarly annotation … this is clearly a release to investigate, as well as a distinguished addition to the steadily growing Bridge discography' (Gramophone)

'Bridge's musical personality shines through in the sweeping phrases, tinged with a certain brooding quality … the performance by Piers Lane and the Goldner Quartet is very fine, with a particularly strong sense of musical line … this newcomer on Hyperion is especially welcome' (International Record Review)

'The tremendous sweep of Frank Bridge's chamber music is beautifully captured in this revelatory CD … the Goldner Quartet really understand this music and with masterly pianist Piers Lane throw welcome light on a neglected page of British music' (The Observer)

viernes, 13 de marzo de 2015

Elizabeth Joy Roe / London Symphony Orchestra / Emil Tabakov BRITTEN - BARBER Piano Concertos - Nocturnes

“Her playing of Britten’s powerful 1938 concerto has an allure that is anything but sexy; it’s urgent and occasionally darkly sinister, a perfect reflection of the nervous year in which it was written. And Roe is more than a match for the demands of Samuel Barber’s exuberantly difficult 1962 concerto.” (The Observer, 8th March 2015)

This solo release, a unique coupling of two of the 20th Century’s greatest piano concertos marks Decca’s first-ever recording of the Barber concerto and the first of the Britten since the classic Richter account conducted by the composer in 1970.
Elizabeth Joy Roe has been performing both works since a student at Julliard and has written extensive booklet notes which detail the intriguing parallels between the two composers. Her New York concerto debut was in the Britten conducted by James Conlon at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center and in 2003 she was invited to replace the Barber concerto’s dedicatee, John Browning, at a performance with the Delaware Symphony shortly after Browning’s death.
The album is completed with two solo piano nocturnes by each composer: Britten’s ‘Night Piece’ and Barber’s ‘Nocturne - Homage to John Field’, widely-considered the father of the nocturne. (PRESTO Calssical)

miércoles, 11 de marzo de 2015

Cathy Krier RAMEAU - LIGETI

Born in Luxembourg in 1985, Cathy Krier began taking piano lessons at the Luxembourg Conservatoire at the age of five. In 1999 she was admitted to Pavel Gililov’s masterclass at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz in Cologne. In 2000 she recorded Beethoven’s Piano Concerto in G major with the Latvian Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra conducted by Carlo Jans. In 2003 the Prix Norbert Stelmes was awarded to her by the Jeunesses Musicales du Luxembourg and, in the following year, the IKB International Foundation Prize. In 2005 Cathy joined Cyprien Katsaris for a four-hand performance at the inauguration of the Philharmonie Luxembourg. In 2006 she played at the Ruhr Piano Festival following an invitation by Robert Levin to join his masterclass. Further stepping stones in Cathy’s training as a professional pianist were an invitation to the Académie musicale de Villecroze and her participation in masterclasses with Dominique Merlet, Homero Francesch and Andrea Lucchesini under whom she undertook further study at the Scuola di Musica di Fiesole. In 2007 Cathy performed at the «Luxembourg and Greater Region – European Capital of Culture» opening ceremony. Besides her concerts at the Philharmonie, she also makes regular appearances at the Bourglinster, Echternach International and «Musek am Syrdall» Festivals in Luxembourg.
Cathy’s international concert engagements included performances in the United States (Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, Washington, D.C.) and the Netherlands where she played at Rolduc Abbey in response to an invitation by the Euriade Foundation. She also performed at venues across Austria, Spain, Germany, Latvia, Andorra, Italy, France and Belgium and was subsequently invited to play at the Summerclassics Festival and at Pianoplus Bonn, and to perform recitals at the K20/K21 Museum in Düsseldorf, the Luxembourg House in Berlin as well as at the Grand Théâtre and the Philharmonie Luxembourg. During 2012 and 2013, Cathy performed at the Liepaja Piano Stars Festival, the Midi-Minimes Festival in Brussels, the Sint-Peter Festival in Louvain, the Spaziomusica Festival in Cagliari, at Schloss Elmau, the Hôtel d’Albret in Paris, the Leipziger Klaviersommer and the Mendelssohn-Haus. Further, she has been invited to be Artist in Residence at the Biermans-Lapôtre Foundation in Paris and was on tour in China. During the 2013/14 season, Cathy Krier plays at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, the Philharmonie Luxembourg, the Körber-Stiftung in Hambourg, the Festival International Echternach, the festival “Nuits d’été à Pausilippe” in Naples and the festival “1001 notes” in Limoges. Furthermore she will play on several occasions with The Berlin Philharmonic String Quintet and be on tour in Colombia.
In addition to her work as a recitalist, Cathy has performed as a soloist with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, the Solistes Européens Luxembourg, L’Estro Armonico, the Liepaja Symphony Amber Sound Orchestra and the Latvian Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra under various conductors including Bramwell Tovey, Garry Walker, Pierre Cao, Yoon K. Lee and Atvars Laktsigala.

martes, 10 de marzo de 2015

Hilary Hahn MOZART 5 - VIEUXTEMPS 4 Violin Concertos


Hilary Hahn’s newest album, Mozart 5, Vieuxtemps 4 – Violin Concertos, is her first recording with The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and Paavo Järvi, after performing and touring with the ensemble and conductor for many years. The disc releases on March 31, and is Hahn’s first orchestral offering since her 2010 pairing of Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto and Jennifer Higdon’s Pulitzer-prize winning violin concerto, which was written for Hahn. With this new album, she returns to core violin repertoire, hot on the heels of her critically-acclaimed, Grammy-winning album of 27 commissioned short pieces, In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores, and an improvised recording with prepared pianist Hauschka, titled Silfra.
Mozart 5, Vieuxtemps 4 also brings Hahn full circle, after more than three decades of violin playing, to two concertos that have been part of her repertoire since she was ten years old. Vieuxtemps’s Violin Concerto No. 4 was the last large piece she learned with Klara Berkovich, her teacher from ages five to ten. Several months later, Mozart 5 was the first concerto that Jascha Brodsky taught her at the Curtis Institute of Music. Berkovich began her violin studies in Odessa and went on to teach in St. Petersburg (then Leningrad) before emigrating to the States. Brodsky was one of the last pupils of the legendary Eugène Ysaÿe, who, coincidentally, was a star student of Vieuxtemps, making Vieuxtemps Hahn’s musical great-grandfather in the violinist family tree.
Both concertos are part of Hahn’s active performance repertoire, and both were written by composers who were violin virtuosos in their own right. Hahn writes, “It’s fun to delve into [Mozart’s] ingenuity and emotional directness, his writing speaking directly to listeners while performers delight in his myriad clever phrases. As a result, Mozart improves moods; when I look around the stage at people playing his works, I always see smiles.” On this recording, Hahn plays the cadenzas by Hungarian violinist Joseph Joachim.
Like Mozart, Vieuxtemps initially learned violin from his father and toured Europe as a prodigy. When he wrote Concerto No. 4, he was living in St. Petersburg, where he was a court violinist to Tsar Nicholas I and taught violin at the Conservatory. “This concerto is operatically lyrical and demands flexibility, panache, focus, a flair for drama, and chamber-music-style unity even in its most symphonic dimensions,” Hahn explains.
Of the collaboration for this album, Hahn writes, “One of my favorite things about working on a piece over many years is the chance to experiment broadly with expression, concepts, and technique — on my own and with my colleagues. When those colleagues have been musical partners for a long time, as is the case with Paavo Järvi and The Deutsche KammerphilharmonieBremen, our shared access to the imaginative aspects of music is immediate and honest. Trying a new idea is as natural as breathing, and challenging each other’s musical inclinations is like conversing with your oldest and closest friends.”

lunes, 9 de marzo de 2015

CHAYA CZERNOWIN Afatsim

Born in Israel, composer Chaya Czernowin has lived in Germany, Japan and the U.S. Her teachers included Dieter Schnebel, Joan Tower, Brian Ferneyhough and Roger Reynolds.
Czernowin's sound occupies a unique world. Often many instruments are used to become one "composite" instrument. Time is slowed down, so that the slow flow of sound enables one to perceive the smallest details of a texture or a sound. The resulting music can feel fluid, dense or agitated, at times echoing that of Xenakis and Ferneyhough.
She has been awarded numerous international prizes including: Gaudeamus Composer's Workshop, DAAD Scholarship (Berlin), Stipendium Preis and Kranichsteiner Musikpreis (Darmstadt), Asahi Shimbum Fellowship (Tokyo), NEA Composition Commission Grant, ISCM and IRCAM commissions.
Czernowin is on the composition faculty of the University of California at San Diego. This is the debut recording of her works.
A special opportunity to hear an exciting voice in New Music. (Mode Records)

jueves, 5 de marzo de 2015

GYÖRGY KURTÁG Signs, Games and Messages

Years have passed since György Kurtág’s last ECM recording, which incorporated his “Jatékok (Games)” and “Bach Transcriptions”, made with Kurtág and wife Márta playing piano together.
The birth of this newest album has been an arduous one, with the composer intensely and meticulously involved at every step of the way. And if “Games” are at the centre of this recording, too, they are often life-and-death games - echoing the endgame humours of Samuel Beckett’s universe and the anguish of Hölderlin - in a programme in which two song cycles are bridged by the “Signs, Games and Messages” for strings. (As England’s The Independent has observed, “György Kurtág never writes a note lacking musical intent, and never writes a note with which he has not lived and suffered.”) “Kurtág’s described all three cycles as “Works In Progress” and their formal boundaries are particularly fluid, even within the context of an oeuvre in which labyrinths of connecting threads (musical, literary, philosophical, epistolary) have become the norm.
Kurtág has consistently revised these works, reordered the movements, added new movements, set others aside, both for concert performances and in the realization of this album. Although “Signs, Games and Messages” includes among its numerous dedicatees an “Hommage à John Cage”, the tight control that Kurtág exerts over every grain of sound, every gesture, sigh and silence, makes his work the converse of “indeterminate”. And yet the way the pieces move, as chains of interlinked miniatures (only one of the 59 tracks here has a duration of more than three minutes), conveys a sense of living tissue as well as an “improvisational” freshness. “A whole world of expression and suggestion” is indeed “packed into these exquisite, crystalline forms” (The Guardian). (ECM Records)

miércoles, 4 de marzo de 2015

Amy Williams / Helena Bugallo CONLON NANCARROW Studies and Solos

One aspect of the polymorphously polyrhythmic music of Conlon Nancarrow is its lack of practicality in live performance. Nancarrow didn't have, in his time, access to electronics, and as his interest in hearing multiple levels of rhythmic activity increased he turned to the only medium capable of delivering the goods -- the pneumatic technology of the player piano, driven by the "digital software" of a paper roll punched by hand. About the time his work began to gain attention, Nancarrow started to receive commissions for works from real, flesh-and-blood players. One of them, the late pianist Yvar Mikhashoff, created a number of arrangements of Nancarrow's studies for various live ensembles, including a four-hand version of Study No. 15. Duo pianists Helena Bugallo and Amy Williams have taken Mikhashoff's work as the point of departure, resulting in this disc, Conlon Nancarrow: Studies and Solos
Ten of Nancarrow's studies are heard combined with six other works written for human players. Three Two-Part Studies, Prelude, Blues, and Sonatina are early works from the 1930s and '40s, and the Three Canons for Ursula and Tango are late works. The obvious benefit that human intervention brings to the table in these pieces is a sense of touch and expression. Nancarrow's modified player pianos were capable of delivering discretion between soft and loud, but there was little they could achieve in terms of any gradations in between. The Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo demonstrates that there is a lot to experience in Nancarrow's music outside the realm of its pneumatic context. Wergo's recorded sound is excellent, and Bugallo and Williams make Nancarrow's horrendously difficult rhythmic textures seem both natural and non-mechanical. Particularly impressive is their handling of three movements from the "Boogie Woogie Suite," namely Studies No. 3B in C and D; although the original player piano version is very exciting, Bugallo and Williams make it sound like a fractured duet between Art Tatum and Meade Lux Lewis. (Uncle Dave Lewis)

martes, 3 de marzo de 2015

PHACE / ensemble recherche ARTURO FUENTES Space Factory

The Mexican composer Arturo Fuentes (born in 1975) arrived in Europe in 1997; his musical path led him from Milan, Paris and Vienna to his current home in Innsbruck. He has studied with Franco Donatoni in Milan and Horacio Vaggione in Paris. Arturo Fuentes composes instrumental music, electronic music and conceives new musical theater projects that combine dance, video and electronics. His music is characterized as a meticulously organized kaleidoscopic chaos that explores the frontiers of dynamics, color, texture and virtuosity. This music unveils a constantly evolving sculptural design; you perceive a sonic space occupied by constant agitation – it’s research into an aerial tonality.
Regardless of the form, the creative process for the piece is always “ongoing”. Arturo Fuentes likes to define his work as an “emerging form”. In a paraphrase of the painter Paul Klee who claimed to “take a walk with a line”, Fuentes writes: “I select a sonorous line and walk with it. The breaks in the line, changes in speed, suspended moments, etc. – all of these things lead to the emergence of a sonorous form and musical context.”
His reference to painting is no coincidence. Arturo Fuentes proposes that you listen to his music like a “fusion of colors within a dome full of grain”. The sonorous texture and the instrumental synthesis are the elements that correspond to this idea of color in his music. For him, you rediscover another form of emergence in his work; as in a tableau, the forms emerge from the mix of colors.
However, even if Arturo Fuentes sees the form of his works like a labyrinthine path in which he loses the discursive musical line in order to regain it after several detours, it seems very important to him that a logical dramaturgy appears in the work – a veritable guideline that steers the listener to a discovery of a sonorous world. Textures, colors and labyrinths are all abstract ideas that enable you to grasp his music.

Neos presents a collection of music from Mexican composer Arturo Fuentes, performed by the PHACE Ensemble and Ensemble Recherche. "I ran into Arturo Fuentes for the first time at IRCAM, in the late '90s. He talked to me for a long time about his passion for logic and analytic philosophy, quoting Quine and Wittgenstein. His music, which I discovered later on, did surprisingly contradict the expectations that were arisen from those discussions. Instead of the crystal-clear development and the rational see-throughness I was waiting for, I got lost in a charmingly chaotic and obsessive sound world, whose rich, frenetic textures seemed to dwell in the shadow cast by language, in the 'ineffable' evoked by Wittgenstein, that region, quoting Giorgio Agamben, where 'the language stops and the matter of words begins.'" (Mauro Lanza)

lunes, 2 de marzo de 2015

Martin Stadtfeld / Hallé Otchestra / Sir Mark Elder SCHUMANN Kinerszenen - Klavierkonzert

“Stadtfeld brings his trenchant and clearly structured approach to both the Baroque and the Romantic works. His music-making is playfully light in touch, without lapsing into frivolity, while the range of expression extends from dance-like elegance to arioso intimacy, but always with the necessary drive and, where need be, with a forward-thrusting impetus.” (Frankfurter Neue Presse)

Students of the piano occasionally struggle through Bach’s preludes in strict sequence, their only solution being to discover some personal element in them by romantically transfiguring them. But it is clear from Martin Stadtfeld that the freedom and vitality of this music are to be found precisely in the strict observance of lucid form. With his responsiveness to detail, the pianist uses structure as a means of providing the listener with a sense of orientation. Ornaments and changes of rhythm seem all the more surprising and full of life. In his unorthodox way Stadtfeld unobtrusively yet unmistakably throws open the score so that every listener can follow it and sees what lies inside it. Bach’s architectural form and delight in mathematical proportions become a fascinating background, and the individual details stand out like a diagram that one contemplates, its precise details becoming increasingly fascinating, the longer one looks. What a difference in character when we turn to Schumann! We hear what Romanticism in music really means, mellifluous without being saccharine. We stop, almost afraid to breathe, so delicate is the touch. Whether fast or resolute, whether serenade or scherzo, Schumann’s Bunte Blätter are turned into character studies, into brief yet delightful sketches. (Rondo, February 2006)

domingo, 1 de marzo de 2015

DOBRINKA TABAKOVA String Paths

ECM New Series presents the first full album devoted to the music of Dobrinka Tabakova, a composer born in Bulgaria in 1980 but raised from a young age in London and educated there. In Tabakova’s music – richly melodic, texturally sensuous, often emotionally radiant – there resides the new and the familiar, or rather the familiar within the new, and vice versa; there are the spirits of East and West coursing through the pieces, usually hand in hand; and just as the composer’s technical virtuosity is apparent, she possesses a desire, and a talent, for direct communication that can be heard in virtually every measure. The recording features Tabakova’s Concerto for Cello and Strings, plus the Rameau-channelling Suite in Old Style for viola and chamber orchestra. Then there are three chamber works: the string trio Insight, the string septet Such Different Paths and a trio for violin, accordion and double-bass, Frozen River Flows. The performers include violinist Janine Jansen and several of Tabakova’s former conservatory colleagues: violinist Roman Mints, violist-conductor Maxim Rysanov and cellist Kristina Blaumane, principal with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Tabakova’s music has a particularly 21st-century feel for its broad palette – its free mix of tonality and modality, of folk-music influence and the example of past masters. Her ECM debut came about after a happenstance meeting of the composer with label founder-producer Manfred Eicher at the Lockenhaus Festival in Austria, where Rysanov was performing Tabakova’s Suite in Old Style (part of a triptych of suites she has written for him, along with a concerto). The resulting album presents Tabakova works from 2002 through 2008. (ECM Records)