lunes, 28 de diciembre de 2015

Los Angeles Master Chorale / Grant Gershon / Maya Beiser STEVE REICH You Are ( Variations)

Urban activity: buses moving; keypads clicking; bikers cutting off cabs; window washers scaling up a half completed skyscraper; the distant wail of an ambulance siren, and its sudden pitch modulation as it zooms past, carrying a rush of wind and a trail of receipts, wrappers, or the rare leaf; the clang of the subway; cash registers opening, closing, opening; everyone is counting something: time, money, appointments, each other; the whistle of a traffic cop and hundreds of half-heard conversations in the street. The flurry of the city isn't something best described as "beautiful" so much as alive, unstoppable, cruel, and complex.
American composer (and native New Yorker) Steve Reich has been writing the definitive city soundtrack for 40 years. From his early tape pieces "Come Out" and "It's Gonna Rain", to his now classic minimalist works-- though Reich would certainly scoff at the term-- Drumming and Music For 18 Musicians, to more recent works bother greater in scope and somehow conventionally attractive (Tehillim, Different Trains, The Desert Music), he's invented a sound that nails both the intricate detail and speed-ridden blur of some abstract "downtown." Where Philip Glass's music from the 1960s and 70s is vaguely futuristic and precise, Reich's is warm. Where Terry Riley, who never felt a particularly strong allegiance to the minimal aesthetic in the first place, is boundless and organic, Reich is brainy, propulsive, and hardened to the interiors of a metallic landscape. I read someone call him the "greatest living American composer," and though any all-encompassing title is debatable, you'd be hard pressed to find a more fitting example of individualism and stubborn will so often identified with this place.
You Are (Variations). is Reich's first CD of new material since the not altogether warmly received Three Tales (2002). If the composer has suffered complaints from critics of lacking ambition in recent years, he hasn't let that affect his writing: You Are is prime Reich, using choral and orchestral elements similarly to older pieces like Tehillim and The Desert Music, but seeming as rhythmically driven as anything he's done in years. Harmonically, he sticks to majors and relative minors (that is, a minor key that utilizes the same notes as a major one, but starts from a different point in the scale)-- a common Reich device-- thereby blurring the line between different tonalities. He uses a choir to impart text translated from Hasidic mystical verse: "You are wherever your thoughts are", "Explanations come to an end somewhere," and the idea of saying "little and do much". Words are repeated and spread out over great lengths, so the end effect is not one of narrative but of words as purely musical ingredients.
The "variations" in You Are take up most of the CD, but the closing track is Reich's Cello Counterpoint, featuring cellist Maya Beiser (Bang On a Can) overdubbed eight times to create a surprisingly dense string ensemble. As Reich points out in the CD insert, the cello is great because its capable of resonating clearly in a very wide range-- this piece was actually written for a full string octet, but its marked accents and interweaving melodies sound great all performed by one person. There is a slight similarity to Different Trains for string quartet, though Cello Counterpoint is nowhere near as "industrial," sounding more conventional, perhaps less confrontational, yet still unmistakably Reich. As with the You Are tracks, the constant rumble of motion fills up whatever mental space I have to drift away from the music. (Dominique Leone)

viernes, 25 de diciembre de 2015

Valentina Lisitsa SCRIABIN Nuances

Valentina Lisitsa is a remarkable pianist, with consistent YouTube video views reaching over 90 million total and with almost 200,000 subscribers.
Following her recent, well-received recordings of Glass, Nyman, and the Études of Chopin and Schumann, she now turns to the piano works of Scriabin.
For Scriabin’s 100th anniversary in 2015 – Valentina delves into his lesser-known works and finds some beautiful gems. Across a carefully selected range of works for piano, this album showcases Scriabin’s compositions through his lifetime.
Consistently a favourite composer among many legendary pianists, Scriabin has in recent years become admired as one of the early 20th century’s most innovative and influential composers. With a highly lyrical and idiosyncratic tonal language inspired by the music of Frédéric Chopin. Scriabin may be considered to be the primary figure among the Russian Symbolist composers.
All the works included are recorded for Decca for the very first time - these are revelatory performances from YouTube sensation, pianist Valentina Lisitsa; a wonderful artist with exceptional musicality and a stunning technique.
The digital version includes four extra tracks: three beautiful short piano pieces, and Scriabin’s Duet in d minor for two sopranos and piano in possibly its first recording.
Valentina Lisitsa’s web presence firmly establishes her as a classical musician of the modern age, with her videos – consistently viewed over 1m times - covering a vast number of works including the Beethoven Piano Sonatas and well-loved Lizst & Rachmaninov pieces though to music by Glass and Nyman.
An established musician, she has debuted with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, WDR Cologne and many other orchestras. In an innovative and exciting move, her London debut at the Royal Albert Hall (19th June 2012) was recorded & filmed by Decca. Broadcast live online, and released immediately after the event with a following DVD, this ground-breaking release was a bold statement of Valentina’s musical aims, and of Decca’s commitment to enhancing its digital presence worldwide. (Presto Classical)

miércoles, 23 de diciembre de 2015

Elisso Bolkvadze PROKOFIEV Piano Sonata No. 2 - SCHUBERT Impromptus D 899

Until now, the Georgian pianist Elisso Bolkvadze has recorded primarily for the Sony Classical Infinity Digital and Cascavelle labels. On her latest release, for Audite, she makes a number of highly original interpretative choices. Her approach to the opening of Prokofiev’s 1912 Second Sonata is redolent of Scriabin – plush, full - sounding and rife with detail. The rhythmic vitality of the Scherzo becomes waylaid by explorations of colouristic ornament and the misty haze enveloping the slow movement feels more French than Russian. The moto perpetuo of the finale rattles along at a splendid clip until it too is bogged down in an expressively overgrown contrasting section. In place of Prokofiev’s brightly unambiguous colours and rhythmic élan vital , we encounter over - stuffed decor and aching expressivity. The Schubert Impromptus are prevailingly lyrical, though the rhetorical eloquence and emotional urgency of each is diminished by indecisive rhythmic underpinning. For all its admirably vivid contrasts, the C minor Impromptu seems to wander, uncertain of its ultimate goal. The E flat Impromptu comes off as more notey than fleet, while the abandon of its contrasting section is impeded by undue focus on inner voices. The golden melody of the beloved G flat major threatens to come untethered and float into the ether for lack of an adequately anchoring bass. Throughout the disc, Bolkvadze’s undeniably sensitive playing moves note to note. We are invited to admire each tree, if not each individual leaf, heedless of the magnificent forest surrounding us. Combined with a certain stylistic ambiguity with regard to both composers, the result lacks a strong personal stamp, prompting the question of just how fully Bolkvadze inhabits the music she plays. (Gramophone)

martes, 22 de diciembre de 2015

Artemis Quartet BRAHMS String Quartets Nos. 1 & 3

The Artemis Quartet pairs Brahms’ intense first quartet with his lighter-spirited third quartet, both works that the Artemis’ cellist, Eckart Runge, describes as “remarkable and multi-faceted”. He says that “Brahms marries a Romantic spirit with the structure and forms of Classicism. There is an almost symphonic approach in the writing, but at the same time the quartets are imbued with a sense of warmth, immediacy, friendship and love that is interwoven with a more spiritual, timeless beauty”.
Ever aware of the shadow of Beethoven, Brahms was 40 years old by the time he completed the first of his three published string quartets (op 51, No 1) in 1873; he is thought to have destroyed the 20 or so quartets that he had written previously. The third quartet (op 67) followed in 1875, the year before the premiere of the composer’s Symphony No 1, and a decade after the publication of his piano quintet, which the Artemis Quartet has recorded with Leif Ove Andsnes.
“Brahms wrote three remarkable, multi-faceted quartets and we have recorded the first and third here,” continues Runge. “They were long considered to be quite conservative because their structure and thematic workings are in the tradition of Beethoven, but no less an innovator than Schoenberg called Brahms a ‘revolutionary traditionalist’ and saw these quartets as modern in their conception.
“These quartets are fantastic – full of ideas, contrasts and emotion. They are challenging to play – especially No 1 – because there is so much thematic material ... there is nothing in there that is not important. As players, you have to work out all the material, and the musical structure is deep and complex, while the textures can become dense with Brahms’ characteristic use of polyrhythms ... But at the same time you need to maintain transparency so that the audience can readily appreciate what it is hearing. This might be intellectual music, but its beauty should still give you goose bumps!
“The quartet No 3 doesn’t have the same dramatic weight as No 1 – it is characterised by a certain lightness and playfulness and is perhaps less ambitiously conceived than quartets No 1 and No 2 ... maybe, by this point, Brahms was less preoccupied with showing the world that he could cope with Beethoven! It’s gentler and more easy-going. Perhaps you could say that it feels more like a late composition. But there are some astonishing things going on ... the Mozartian opening theme; the way the first movement is quoted in the last movement; the prominence given to the viola in the third movement. The work’s basic character is friendly, but it has lots of interesting, audacious ideas.
“In all this, Brahms marries a Romantic spirit with the structure and forms of Classicism. There is an almost symphonic approach in the writing, but at the same time the quartets remain concise ... and imbued with a sense of warmth, immediacy, friendship and love – a feeling of Gemütlichkeit – that is interwoven and combined with a more spiritual, timeless beauty. There’s an eternity of line in the slow movements. It is music that embraces you, but it also music that has a higher perspective and which feels very complete.” (Presto Classical)

lunes, 21 de diciembre de 2015

Dresdner Philharmonie / Dennis Russell Davies ALFRED SCHNITTKE Symphony No. 9 - ALEXANDER RASKATOV Nunc dimittis

Composed shortly before his death in 1998, Schnittke’s ultimate symphony – actually his very last work – is a “Ninth” in a most unusual sense: Put down with a shaky left hand by an artist who had survived four strokes and was laterally debilitated, it is an impressive triumph of spiritual energy over physical constraints.
The composer’s widow Irina treated the barely-legible manuscript as a testament and was long doubtful whom to entrust with the difficult task of deciphering and reconstructing the highly expressive three movements for large orchestra (some 38 minutes of music). She finally settled on Moscow-born Alexander Raskatov, who not only provided a thorough score but, convinced that Schnittke had intended to write a fourth movement, also developed the idea to add an independent epilogue, the “Nunc Dimitis” (“Lord, let thy servant now depart into thy promis'd rest”) for mezzo soprano, vocal quartet and orchestra. 
It is based on the famous text by orthodox monk Starets Siluan and on verses by Joseph Brodsky, Schnittke’s favourite poet. Both pieces were given their first performances in the Dresden Frauenkirche in summer 2007 by the musicians of this world première recording which feautures long-standing ECM protagonists the Hilliard Ensemble and conductor Dennis Russell Davies. (ECM Records)

viernes, 18 de diciembre de 2015

Stephanie D'Oustrac / Amarillis / Héloïse Gaillard / Violaine Cochard FERVEUR & EXTASE

Stéphanie d'Oustrac (born 1974 in Rennes) in is a French mezzo-soprano. Before she had even won a prize a the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Lyon, William Christie offered her the leading role - Medea - in ‘Lully's Thésée’, at the Académie d'Ambronay in 1998. Her carrier leads her to the Opéra Bastille were she performs ‘Carmen, Bizet’. In 2012, Stéphanie d’Oustrac sung in ‘Roméo & Juliette, Berlioz’ at the Opéra Bastille.Her talent leads her to many great mezzo roles of baroque and classical opera. She also worked with great directors such Laurent Pelly , Robert Carsen , Vincent Vittoz , and famous conductors as Myung Wung Chung, John Eliot Gardiner and René Jacobs.
raised for her sensitivity as a musician and for her talents as a virtuoso, Héloïse Gaillard soon made a name for herself as a soloist. She plays with several excellent ensembles: first oboe with Le Concert Spirituel (Hervé Niquet), first recorder with Les Talens Lyriques (Christophe Rousset), recorder and oboe with Le Concert d'Astrée (Emmanuelle Haïm), as well as regular appearances with Les Arts florissants (William Christie).

Héloïse Gaillard studied at the Conservatoire (CNR) in Tours, where she was awarded first prizes for recorder and modern oboe, before going on to the Rotterdam academy, where she gained her soloist's diploma (recorder) with distinction, the Lemmensinstitut in Louvain, where she obtained a first-prize with distinction, and the Paris Conservatoire (CNSM), where she was awarded her higher diploma (Baroque oboe). She has worked with Jean-Pierre Nicolas, Han Tol, Paul Dombrecht and Marcel Ponseele. And she also has a degree in musicology from the Sorbonne and was awarded in 2005 the Certificate d'Aptitude to be a director of an early music department. She teaches baroque oboe at the Aix en Provence academy in the baroque department since 2009.
Baroque music is a passion in which she indulges above all as a member of Amarillis, with which she performs the solo recorder and oboe repertoires, as well as chamber works. The international press has praised the precision, dynamism and subtlety of her playing. France Musiques, the BBC and Mezzo have broadcast several of her concerts.
Héloïse Gaillard appears as a soloist or with orchestras in France and other countries: in Paris (Salle Gaveau, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Cité de la musique), Metz (Arsenal), Nantes (Palais des Congrès), at numerous festivals (including Folle journée in Nantes, Sablé-sur-Sarthe, Beaune and Ambronay...), London (Barbican), Madrid, Seville, Granada, Amsterdam (Opera House, Concertgebouw), Dresden and Leipzig (Opera), Berlin (Philharmonic hall), Stockholm (Konzerthuis), Boston, New York (Lincoln Center), Latin America, Russia, India, China, Japan...

Alisa Weilerstein / Inon Barnatan RACHMANINOV - CHOPIN Cello Sonatas

There is no shortage of recordings of Rachmaninov's Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 19, and Chopin's Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 65, but there aren't so many that put the two works together. Doing so reveals the degree to which Rachmaninov took Chopin as his model in his 1901 work: the big, contrapuntal opening movement with fascinating harmonic tipping points, the brisk scherzo and relatively short, songful slow movement, followed only by a more sweeping finale from Rachmaninov. Cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianist Inon Barnatan offer something other than the rafter-ringing approach that is so often brought to Rachmaninov: the power is held in reserve for the climaxes. These two artists are not an ad hoc team, but are closely attuned to one another, and their restrained way with these works is especially effective in the Chopin: they tease out the contrapuntal details and respect the intricacy and relative intimacy of this work in a way that few other pairs do. The virtuoso display is left for the two Chopin encores that are often paired with the Cello Sonata: the arrangement of the Etude in C sharp minor, Op. 25, No. 7, by the sonata's original player, August Franchomme, and the early Introduction et Polonaise brillante for cello and piano. Op. 3. With superb sound from Berlin's Teldex studio, this is a Chopin recording that will reward many listens. (James Manheim)

sábado, 12 de diciembre de 2015

Keller Quartett J.S. BACH Die Kunst der Fuge

In the end, we self-perceiving, self-inventing, locked-in mirages are little miracles of self-reference.
–Douglas R. Hofstadter, I Am a Strange Loop

One is tempted, perhaps, to experience the fugue as a puzzle. In that puzzle are strings of numbers unraveling from a central rope, even as they spin into one. Yet when listening to Bach’s Art thereof, and especially in the Keller Quartett’s sensitive hands, we find that even our best similes are weak and arbitrary, for this music, this expression of internal power, is alive. By no means universal, it takes a different form every time to every listener. We in turn can take comfort in knowing that the final triple fugue was never finished, for into it the composer wove his signature B-A-C-H (B-flat-A-C-B) theme, as if signing off on a lifelong document. Thus is The Art of Fugue an “emancipatory work” in the estimation of Hans-Klaus Jungheinrich, who in his accompanying essay goes to great lengths to demythologize the unrealistic pedestals upon which the work has been placed. The instrumentation was never resolutely determined, though it was likely intended for the nascent pianoforte. The string quartet presents a compelling solution. In this respect the Kellers push the envelope, varying tempi considerably and in doing so point us to a humbling truth: namely, that if this was to be Bach’s most lasting statement, it had to be invisible.
One with a deeper background may train a musicological magnifying glass to every weaving line, but these ears are more interested in the effect than the cause. And of that effect, I am at pains to say anything worthwhile. Although its movements comprise a moving target of speeds and densities, a constant hum runs through them. It is something we feel rather than hear. Cellist Ottó Kertész is particularly well suited, evoking the slightly metallic continuo of yore with a tinge of intangibility. (This, I think, explains the curious production, which favors distance and cavernousness—it is not historically informed, but seeks to inform history.) That being said, the music is nothing if not expressible. It might very well be Bach’s swan song, and therefore the culmination of his craft, but I prefer to hear it as a homecoming, a clearing of clouds to let fall the darkness that nourishes all artists, paling into the light that embraces them once they’re gone.
One day, we encounter this music and it sings to us. But then the voices stop mid-phrase, as the Kellers have preserved them, and suddenly the galaxy unravels, leaving us floating in the stagnant pool of all silence. Listen, and you know there is truth in the number:
One. (ECM Reviews)

jueves, 10 de diciembre de 2015

Sarah Nemtanu GYPSIC

"Purist friends, please don't read the following" is the defiant opening salvo in Romanian-French violinist Sarah Nemtanu's notes for this release, and she might have added that purists should avoid listening to the album as well. The remainder of the listening public, however, should be very intrigued. Buyers coming to the album online might guess that the program is a conventional set of Eastern European and gypsy-oriented pieces that might have been played half a century ago. But sample well, focusing especially on tracks 3 and 8, so that you know what you're getting into. Nemtanu's album also attempts to add modern crossover elements to the traditional, not to say hoary, form, of the gypsy-classical concert, and she makes several unusual moves and one radical one. Some of the album, however, is played straight, and there's an unusual continuum from traditional to experimental at work. In the former category is the Violin Sonata No. 3 in A minor, Op. 25, "On Popular Romanian Themes," of Georges Enescu, played by Nemtanu and pianist Romain Descharmes in a straightforward way that doesn't exaggerate the gypsy elements; Ravel's Tzigane is also done as written. Then the fun starts; Sarasate's Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20, has an added part for cimbalom. Moving into left field, you come to four performances that employ the talents of Canadian-born French keyboardist Chilly Gonzales, who adds elements of electronica to Vittorio Monti's well-worn Czárdás, Ravel's Berceuse sur le nom de Gabriel Fauré, Georges Boulanger's Avant de mourir, track 9, is given its more familiar U.S. title of My Prayer, and, most unusually, the "Blues" movement from Ravel's Sonata for violin and piano of 1927. This piece gets from Gonzales what Nemtanu rather unfortunately terms "ethno-percussion"; the melody is recast as a piece of Ethiopian pop. This is a risky move, for it seems not to go with the rest of the music on the album, but Nemtanu swings for the fences and succeeds; the piece in this form is a natural expansion on the basic energies radiating from the meeting point between France and Romania that has animated all the music up to that point. Nemtanu here hatches and works out in some detail an absolutely original concept of how classical music and internationally flavored electronics might cross-fertilize, and her efforts are well worth hearing.  (James Manheim)

martes, 8 de diciembre de 2015

Anna Christiane Neumann BACH WITHOUT WORDS Transcriptions of Bach Chorales and Chorale Preludes

Anna Christiane Neumann is a freelance pianist, répétiteur and music teacher. Her musical career began at the Music School in Berlin-Köpenick. After working for several years with Manfred Schmitz, she developed a passion for piano accompaniment which is still keenly felt today. At the University of Music and Theatre “Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy” Leipzig she studied piano with Ulrich Urban and instrumental accompaniment with Hanns-Martin Schreiber. After additional studies in chamber music with Karl-Peter Kammerlander and Philipp Moll, she passed her music performance examination “with distinction” in 2005. In addition to concert appearances as a soloist, she performs as an accompanist in chamber music recitals and at international competitions. She is also an adjunct professor at the University of Music and Theatre “Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy” Leipzig. In 2011 she took part in Das Liederprojekt (The Song Project) of German broadcaster SWR2 as a piano accompanist for children’s songs.

Soft, warm, full: this is the sound of the piano in the hands of Christiane Neumann, who dedicated her debut GENUIN CD to transcriptions of Bach chorales, choruses and arias. Through the modern grand piano, lines, colors and counterpoints that one has never heard before all merge together, giving a rounded character to the timeless pieces of the cantor of the Thomas Church in Leipzig. An unprecedented compilation for a new listening experience – absolutely worth listening to!

Angela Hewitt BEETHOVEN Piano Sonatas Op. 2 No. 2 - Op. 10 No. 1 - Op. 78 - Op. 110

Angela Hewitt has been much praised in her earlier recordings of Beethoven’s piano sonatas—displaying ‘exquisite taste’—and now turns her ‘uncluttered clarity of thought and inspired structural pacing’ to four more works spanning the composer’s career. As ever, Angela’s accompanying notes provide fascinating insights into both the music and her performances.

As with previous instalments in Angela Hewitt’s near-complete Beethoven cycle, this fifth volume, for the most part, offers interpretations characterised by intelligent virtuosity and cultivated artistry. No detail in Op 2 No 2’s Allegro vivace transpires unnoticed. The broken octaves and rapid up beat flourishes couldn’t be clearer, although the movement’s brash undercurrents best reveal themselves when Hewitt points up the development section’s witty motivic repartee. Her elegantly unfolding Scherzo and grazioso Rondo movements (the latter contains just a hint of the ‘traditional’ swan-dive most pianists impose upon the opening measure’s three high E naturals) splits the difference between Pollini’s stylish understatement and Kovacevich’s genial inflections. The Largo appassionato stands out for Hewitt’s superb clarification of Beethoven’s part-writing and her ability to differentiate the composer’s tenuto and staccato markings while consistently maintaining a full-bodied sonority with little help from the sustain pedal—obviously her long experience with Bach is an asset here!
Similar qualities distinguish Hewitt’s eloquently sustained Op 10 No 1 Adagio molto, while her astute (if ever-so-slightly studied) observance of the first movement’s sharp dynamic contrasts and rarely heeded rests illuminates the music’s intense profile. As much as I admire pianists who grab on to the finale’s Prestissimo directive and run away with it (Glenn Gould, for example), Hewitt’s relatively reined-in yet resolutely steady pace allows for shapely fast scales and dynamic shading of the repeated notes. In the little Op 78, Hewitt doesn’t quite catch fire in the opening movement, mainly because she tends to telegraph the subito pianos with small pauses, while the Allegro vivace ambles rather than sprints, and the fast major/minor shifts lack a sense of surprise.
Happily, everything comes together for Hewitt in a most inspired Op 110. It abounds with long-lined breadth, careful dynamic scaling, assiduously worked-out tempo relationships and heartfelt poetry. In particular, the finale’s fugal textures convey uncommon vocal distinction and a sense of air between the notes (thanks, again, to Hewitt’s Bachian expertise). I’d go so far as to say that Hewitt’s Op 110 alone is worth the price of this disc, and easily takes its place alongside great versions by Hess, Arrau, Petri, Hungerford and a curiously underrated EMI release with Awadagin Pratt. (Gramophone)

Angela Hewitt BEETHOVEN Piano Sonatas Op. 22 -Op. 31 No. 3 - Op. 101

Angela Hewitt presents a fourth volume in her acclaimed series of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, which has delighted her fans worldwide.
The little-known Sonata in B flat major, Op 22, the last of Beethoven’s ‘early’ sonatas, is recorded alongside Op 31 No 3 (sometimes known as ‘La chasse’, or ‘The Hunt’, because of its tumultuous Presto con fuoco finale). The album is concluded with Op 101, of which the journalist for the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung in Leipzig wrote: ‘Truly, here in his 101st composition admiration and renewed respect take hold of us, when we wander along strange, never trodden paths with the great painter of the soul’, going on to enthuse about the most beautiful colours and pictures in Beethoven’s new Piano Sonata.

Hewitt’s uncluttered clarity of thought and inspired structural pacing pay even greater dividends in the glorious A major Sonata Op 101 (No 28). Hewitt captures its mood of glowing contentment to perfection, climaxing in a fugally inflected finale of exultant profundity. Hewitt’s approach recaptures the sense of wonderment experienced by the composer’s contemporaries. Not since the great Hans Richter-Haaser has a pianist produced Beethoven playing of such trance-like purity and vision. It’s been three years since we had the last instalment in this series (this is volume four)—let's hope we don’t have to wait as long for the next' (

lunes, 7 de diciembre de 2015

Apkalna BACH - GLASS

For her 2015 double-CD release on Oehms Classics, organist Iveta Apkalna has selected works by Johann Sebastian Bach and Philip Glass that make an interesting, if not wholly successful, pairing. Superficially, Bach's motoric polyphony and Glass' cycling patterns share a mechanical quality that might make them seem well-matched, especially on the organ. Yet Bach's works were composed specifically for the organ, with its differentiated voicings giving clarity to his counterpoint, while the Glass transcriptions were written for ensembles with rather uniform instrumental textures, creating an altogther different effect. That said, Apkalna demonstrates a technical brilliance in the Glass pieces that is comparable in speed and precision to the original versions, but she shows a deeper affinity for Bach, and her playing in this part of the program is dynamic, energetic, and personally expressive. While one may listen to the Glass CD once to see how well his music sounds on the organ, the Bach disc shows Apkalna at her best and invites repeated listening. The recording in the Himmerod Abbey captures the full resonance of the church acoustics, which seem to be well-suited to the bright sonorities of the Klais Organ. (

domingo, 6 de diciembre de 2015


The Piano Quintet of Alfred Schnittke (1934-1998) begins where many chamber works might end: with the closing of eyes. It is behind these lids, the shadowy backdrops of which form the projection screen of our deepest mortalities, that the music remains. Even the Waltz of the second movement is a doppelgänger, its higher strings haunting the periphery like an epidemic. Such profound banalities are what make this a harrowing, if somnambulate, work. The piano’s role is very much subdued, providing regularity where there is none to be had. Rarely proclamatory, it reveals its deepest secrets when, at the end of the Andante, the sustain pedal is depressed merely for its metronomic effect in want of note value. The album takes its title from the fourth movement, a viscous, writhing creature that never shows its face. After enduring so many scars, the final Moderato tiptoes ever so gracefully around the fallen shards, gathering from each a snatch of light—just enough for a handful.
Schnittke very much admired the late works of Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975), of which the String Quartet No. 15, op. 144 cuts deepest. Completed in 1974, two years before Schnittke’s quintet, Shostakovich’s last quartet of a planned 24 consists of six almost seamless Adagios. At 37 minutes, it is the longest of his quartets, if not also the most ponderous. A few shocks interrupt us, as the forced pizzicati of the Serenade, but otherwise we are lulled in the deepening shade of a wilted tree that sways as it ever did at the hands of an unseen breeze. Ironically, the Nocturne provides the earliest intimations of sunrise, throughout which the cello smiles through its tears. A bitter smile, to be sure, but an unforgettable change of expression in the music’s otherwise tense physiognomy. We are allowed a single breath before the Funeral March that follows. A tough lyricism pervades, as in cello’s repeat soliloquies, all of which primes us for the cathartic Epilogue, in which is to be had a forgotten treasure, a time capsule buried in childhood and only now unearthed.
Although this is an album drawn in morbidity—Schnittke’s quintet finds its genesis in the death of the composer’s mother, while Shostakovich’s quartet premiered months before his own—it is supremely life-affirming, each work a breathing testament to indomitable creativities. The Keller Quartett, joined by Alexei Lubimov for the Schnittke, lay themselves bare at every turn, wrenching out by far the most selfless performances thus far recorded of this complementary pair.

sábado, 5 de diciembre de 2015

London Philharmonic Orchestra RAVI SHANKAR Symphony

This is one of those CDs you almost feel lucky to have in existence, as it preserves a moment in time and a work that may be a game-changer for future composers wishing to coalesce Western and Indian music. Ravi Shankar, one of the world’s music legends—partly for the right reasons, and partly for the wrong reasons—composed this work in which he united his two lifelong passions, Western classical music (his early idols included Enescu, Toscanini, Heifetz, Paderewski, Casals, Kreisler, and Chaliapin) and Indian ragas. What’s significant about this work is that he waited until he was 90 years old to write it.
One might think that an Eastern classical musician schooled in a different discipline would have difficulty, at 90 or any age, in fusing the two types of music, but Shankar has always been able to understand and intellectualize the differences between them. He has known for decades that the Western ear is attuned to harmony, modulation, and counterpoint, thus when he gave his sitar concerts—even way back in the 1960s—he patiently explained the differences to his Western audiences before playing.
This recording is the actual premiere, given at London’s Royal Festival Hall in July 2010. The demanding and highly virtuosic sitar solos are played by his daughter, Anoushka, who by contrast with her father had celebrated her 29th birthday less than a month earlier.
“This was conceived entirely for the Western symphony orchestra, so I had to eliminate the traditional Indian instruments but transfer some of their spirit onto the Western instruments,” Shankar told BBC radio on the day of the premiere. “I wrote it in Indian notation, which David Murphy, who is a student of mine and a wonderful conductor, has interpreted very well.” (Lynn René Bayley)

jueves, 3 de diciembre de 2015

Michel Dalberto CLAUDE DEBUSSY

A disciple of Vlado Perlemuter and Jean Hubeau, Michel Dalberto distinguished himself at a very early age as the great heir of French piano music, becoming a master and ardent defender of it, from recital to master class, over the course of a career spanning thirty years.
Although his recordings had heretofore been devoted in particular to the Viennese Classical and German Romantic eras (to the present day, he remains the only living pianist to have recorded Schubert's complete piano works), his much-awaited return to disc will leave Michel Dalberto's mark on the French music discography.
In the documentary Michel Dalberto: images…, he confided, regarding Debussy: 'I always thought I had time and that the longer I waited, the more my approach to the French repertoire would be enriched'.
And it is the Aparté label that Michel Dalberto at last chose to record, in an ideal balance between heritage and transmission, a series of discs devoted to Debussy, Fauré, Ravel, and Franck. This collection of the greatest French composers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries is the embodiment of French musical elegance, that unique combination of grace, mastery and high standards that are synonymous with the pianist's genius.
Each 'episode' of the collection will be recorded and filmed live in a different hall and on a different piano, which Michel Dalberto will have chosen to conform as closely as possible to the colours that he wishes for the composer in question.
This first volume, honouring Claude Debussy, was recorded on 30 May 2015 on a Fazioli piano at the Teatro Bibiena, in the framework of the Mantua chamber music festival.
‘Two years ago, near Venice, I played pieces by Debussy on a Fazioli piano, and it seemed obvious to me that this piano provided the ideal sonority for this music made of light and shadow. The idea of recording a recital in a beautiful Italian theatre came as a logical continuation. The « Bibiena » (from the name of its architect, Antonio Bibiena) in Mantua was inaugurated in December 1769 – Mozart gave a concert there a month later. It is, with the San Carlo in Naples, my finest memory of an Italian theatre where I played.’

Frederieke Saeijs EUGÈNE YSAŸE Six Sonatas For Solo Violin, Op. 27

The magical world of sound created by Eugène Ysaÿe draws me like an irresistible magnet. In these solo sonatas, inspired by a broad palette of colours and an infinite imagination, Ysaÿe challenges the violinist to transcend technical boundaries. I have attempted, in the light of the numerous instructions in the score, to translate Ysaÿe’s abstract language into a natural and coherent story for the listener.
Each sonata reflects the playing of the great violin master to whom it is dedicated. I feel blessed to have received lessons from a living violin legend: Mauricio Fuks. He tirelessly encouraged me to reach into the deepest corners of my soul in order to connect to my inner voice, and to use the timelessly beautiful sounds of the earlier masters as a source of inspiration. I therefore dedicate this album to him, with great love and gratitude.
The violin I play was once played by the renowned Belgian violinist Carlo Van Neste. In friendship and appreciation, Queen Elisabeth of Belgium provided him with the financial means to buy the instrument, whence the sobriquet ‘Ex Reine Elisabeth’. (In due course the violin passed to the Dutch National Foundation for Musical Instruments and thence, on loan, to me.) Queen Elisabeth was herself an accomplished violinist and received lessons from Ysaÿe: things have come full circle.
Furthermore, there is a coincidental resonance between my name, (Frederieke) Eugenie Saeijs, and that of Eugène Ysaÿe; and in fact my late uncle was called Eugène Saeijs. The interwovenness of our names surely – even tongue in cheek – draws me yet further towards Ysaÿe’s music. And there is a parallel of place: Ysaÿe composed these sonatas at his seaside house in Knokke-le-Zoute, a popular Belgian bathing resort near the Dutch border; I grew up in The Hague, very near the popular bathing resort of Scheveningen. How well I can imagine the inspiration that must have visited Ysaÿe as he surveyed the surrounding dunes and breathed in the fresh wind of the North Sea.
I have worked on this project with all my heart and, though the quest for the perfect interpretation is without end, I am very happy to share the results with you. I wish you an inspiring and adventurous journey through the extraordinary landscapes of ‘Mount Ysaÿe’. (Frederieke Saeijs)

miércoles, 2 de diciembre de 2015

Matthias Pintscher / Ensemble Intercontemporain BARTÓK - LIGETI

Matthias Pintscher is the Music Director of the Ensemble Intercontemporain, entering his third season in 2015/16. Beginning in 2016/17 he also takes up post as Principal Conductor of the Lucerne Festival Academy. He continues his partnerships with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra as its Artist-in-Association, and with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra as Artist-in-Residence. Equally accomplished as conductor and composer, Pintscher sees his two main spheres of activity as entirely complementary; he has created significant works for the world’s leading orchestras, and his intrinsic understanding of the score from the composer’s perspective informs his ability to communicate on the podium. 

Alpha is launching a collaboration with the Ensemble Intercontemporain and its new artistic director, composer-conductor Matthias Pintscher.
This new series will alternate 20th-century landmarks and new works, providing an opportunity to show to advantage the great quality of the EIC musicians in the major masterpieces of the last century and to discover scores by composers of the 21st century.

martes, 1 de diciembre de 2015

Marija Vidovic ANMUT My Favorite Arias

“I am especially pleased to introduce to you a young singer, Marija Vidovic. In describing her voice, the words that come spontaneously to me are qualities like grace, sweetness and mellowness, and when it comes to her personality, I think of authenticity, charisma and above all elegance. All of those qualities amount to something special, something which anyone who loves music and the vocal art is always looking for but seldom finds: magic. I have often been witness to the spell she casts on her audience when performing. Allow yourself to be enchanted!” Francisco Araiza 

Marija Vidovic has performed regularly in concerts and song recitals in Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Croatia, Italy, China and Mexico. Her Opera Arias CD will premiere in September 2015, with the Baden-Baden Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Francisco Araiza.

Sarah & Deborah Nemtanu BACH / SCHNITTKE

French sisters Sarah and Deborah Nemtanu are leaders of the Orchestre National de France and the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, respectively.
And they are also characterful soloists who play Bach’s three violin concertos with what sounds like intuitive freedom – just sample the flicked-in embellishments.
These recordings also combine period- instruments style spareness of vibrato with moments of almost old-style fullness of orchestral sound.
The couplings are fascinating, two of Bach’s Two-Part Inventions played on violin and gutteral viola, and Schnittke’s Third Concerto Grosso of 1985, a work that moves from faux Bach into pure Schnittke as if by way of musical hallucination.