sábado, 30 de enero de 2016

Hélène Grimaud WATER

Hélène Grimaud’s latest album for Deutsche Grammophon, produced by Nitin Sawhney, was inspired by her abiding fascination with Nature’s most precious gift. Water is set for worldwide release on January 29, 2016 and conveys imaginative responses to everything from mighty oceans and great lakes to raindrops and snowflakes as well as inviting listeners to contemplate the mounting threats to the safety, security and supply of this essential resource.
“What inspired the idea to record this album is really the fascination that so many composers of the 19th and 20th centuries seem to have had with the element of water,” Grimaud states. Not only did this sow the seed for a recording, it also grew into a collaboration between the pianist and Turner Prize-winning artist Douglas Gordon. Their site-specific installation tears become… streams become… was created for the Wade Thompson Drill Hall at New York’s Park Avenue Armory in December 2014. Described by the New York Times as a “compelling, boldly original work”, the project blended elements of art, music and architecture, with Grimaud’s water-themed programme located at its core. Gordon transformed the cavernous Drill Hall by slowly flooding its vast floor to create the impression of what he described as an endless “field of water,” entirely surrounding the grand piano at which Grimaud performed.
The album features works by nine composers: it opens with Berio’s Wasserklavier and includes Takemitsu’s Rain Tree Sketch II, Fauré’s Barcarolle No.5, Ravel’s Jeux d’eau, “Almería” from Albéniz’s Iberia, Liszt’s Les Jeux d’eau à la Villa d’Este and the first movement of Janáček’s In the Mists, before closing with Debussy’s La cathédrale engloutie. These myriad reflections on the qualities of water were recorded live at the Armory during the installation and then connected and woven into the album narrative by seven “Transitions” that were newly composed, recorded and produced by Sawhney. Grimaud was delighted to work with the award-winning composer, DJ and multi-instrumentalist, praising his ability to highlight “the universal human dependence on our planet’s most precious resource” and weave “contrasting poetic and philosophical perspectives into a single, cogent musical ecosystem.”
Each piece on this new album unfolds as part of an acoustic “stream”, carefully structured in its blend of classical and contemporary compositions, yet experimental in its overall aesthetic.
Hélène Grimaud is not only one of the world’s most celebrated pianists, but also a tireless champion of ecological causes, having founded the Wolf Conservation Center, which raises awareness of the importance and relationship of these top predators to our ecosystem. With Water, the insightful Grimaud has united her twin passions for music and the environment in unique fashion.

martes, 26 de enero de 2016


“Lijnen” is the first ECM album devoted to the music of Helena Tulve. Born in 1972, Tulve studied with Erkki-Sven Tüür at the Estonian Academy of Music, but is also amongst the first wave of Estonian composers to have completed her musical education beyond her country’s borders, a possibility unavailable to artists who grew up in the years of Soviet rule. Tulve headed for Paris where she took first prize in Jacques Charpentier’s composition class and also studied at Pierre Boulez’s IRCAM. There were also master classes with György Ligeti and Marco Stroppa, as well as studies of Gregorian chant and more.
Although Tulve has said that the Estonian landscape and language has influenced her work her musical universe has also absorbed influences from the French ‘Spectralist’ school and from electronic and electro-acoustic music, and is distinguished by a fresh and fluid approach to form, sound and sonority that also implies points of contact with the textures and timbres of non-idiomatic improvisation. Or as Wolfgang Sandner puts it in the liner notes, “Nothing is disqualified in her music, nothing substituted, nothing suppressed or supplanted. One of the fine qualities of her music is that much of it works as if it were not composed, as if it just happened, as if the instrument were playing itself rather than being played, as if the music were emanating from a set of wind chimes. In her music, forms do not jostle their way into the foreground. Their structures are like rocks or trees: everything is self-evident; much is gnarled, much is beautiful; some things are mysterious, others plain as day. It begins, it develops, and at the end it possesses consistency – in memory.” Recognised as a major composer in Estonia where she was voted Musician of the Year in 2005, her reputation is steadily spreading through the wider world, with awards including the International Rostrum of Composers Prize (1999) and the Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco Prize for Composition (2006).
Tulve’s ECM debut amounts to a summary of directions her music has taken in the last decade. “Lijnen”, the title piece, is a dedication to Luciano Berio. Written in 2003, the year of the Italian composer’s death, it sets poetry by Roland Jooris that is concerned with enduring and penetrating influence: “The reed suggests the absent wind.” Arianna Savall, in her second ECM appearance (the first was with Rolf Lislevand) is the singer. The ensemble – as on “à travers”, “abysses”, and “cendres”, is the NYDD Ensemble, the chamber ensemble dedicated to contemporary music, which took its name from the NYYD (“now” in Estonian) Festival. Conductor Olari Elts formed the NYYD Ensemble in 1993 and has been incorporating Tulve’s music in its repertoire throughout the group’s history. Elts and the NYYD Ensemble previously appeared on ECM New Series playing Erkki-Sven Tüür’s “Salve Regina” and “Oxymoron” (ECM 1919, released in 2007). (ECM Records)

lunes, 25 de enero de 2016

Arianna Savall / Petter Udland Johansen HIRUNDO MARIS: CHANTS DU SUD ET DU NORD

Arianna Savall’s leader debut for the New Series follows her distinguished contributions to Rolf Lislevand’s “Nuove musiche” and to Helena Tulve’s “Lijnen”, – sensuous early music on the one hand, bracingly contemporary composition on the other. In both genres she has proven to be a charismatic singer. Now comes “Hirundo Maris” which, with its very fresh instrumental textures, follows another trajectory.
Savall and band co-leader Petter Udland Johansen describe their project as a journey linking the Mediterranean and the North Sea. Hirundo Maris is Latin for “sea swallow” and, like that bird’s flight, the quintet – part early music ensemble, part folk group – drifts on musical currents between Norway and Catalonia, adds its own songs, created on the wing, and swoops down to dive beneath the surface of things. Near the centre of the sound are Arianna’s sparkling harps and the drones of Johansen’s Hardanger fiddle; when the colours of the mandolin and more unexpectedly the Dobro (not often heard outside bluegrass contexts) are added, a message is sent about the universality of song as well as of the transatlantic travels of old ballads…
Savall and Johansen have shaped a band with a bright, glistening timbral blend, capped by Arianna’s ice-clear voice, eminently well-equipped to address songs of the north and the south. It is a voice already familiar to many who have followed the outstanding work of her parents, Catalan viol master Jordi Savall and singer Montserrat Figueras: until 2008 Arianna played and sang as a member of her father’s ensembles, including Hespèrion XXI. Since then, she has been devoting much of her time to the Hirundo Maris project.
Of their “Chants du Sud et du Nord” Arianna and Petter Udland Johansen write, “From remote times, north and south have been linked by waterways navigated by the Vikings of Norway. Catalans and the Sephardic Jews have also shared this love of the sea, which through a common melancholy at some deep level connects peoples seemingly poles apart. We discover subtle bridges of song, where a Catalan song and a Norwegian tune are linked by common rhythms and modes, or a Norwegian ballad and a Sephardic song share the same key... The origin of this project is the emblematic Catalan song ‘El Mariner’, which is very popular in the coastal regions of Catalonia and recounts the story of the love between a Mediterranean maiden and a knight from northern lands. This typical European sea shanty in the form of a dialogue is also sung to a very similar tune on the coast of Scotland. Could these intangible bridges have been forged by the numerous voyages of Vikings, Catalans, Scots and Sephardic Jews?” “Hirundo Maris” sets off in search of the answer.  
“Hirundo Maris: Chants du Sud et du Nord” was recorded in January 2011 in the Austrian monastery of St Gerold, with Manfred Eicher producing. Arianna has dedicated the recording to the memory of her mother, Montserrat Figuerras. (ECM Records)

Andrey Boreyko / London Philharmonic Orchestra HENRYK GÓRECKI Symphony No. 4

The recording was made during the 2014 world premiere performance at Royal Festival Hall with co-commissioner London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Andrey Boreyko. The piece, which pays homage to Górecki’s fellow Polish composer Alexsander Tansman, was incomplete at the time of Górecki’s 2010 death and thus missed its previously scheduled premiere. However the score had precise indications for orchestration, which Górecki’s son Mikolaj, also a composer, used to complete it. The Daily Telegraph said the piece "caps Górecki's reputation as an orchestral composer, but it also contains some surprises. The music … features some brutal juxtapositions of massively powerful music with slow, intimate passages for solo instruments, including prominent parts for piano and organ."
Symphony No. 4 will be released individually and as part of Henryk Górecki: A Nonesuch Retrospective, a seven-disc box set containing all Nonesuch recordings of Górecki works—Lerchenmusik; Symphony No. 3; String Quartets Nos. 1, 2, and 3; Miserere; Kleines Requiem für eine Polka; Harpsichord Concerto; and Good Night.
Born in 1933, Henryk Górecki spent most of his life in southern Poland. He was a leading composer of the Polish avant-garde in the 1950s and later reached a worldwide audience in the 1990s thanks to the success of his Symphony No. 3. The work was composed in 1976, and was at that time shocking in its tonality and simplicity, but it was with the release of the 1992 Nonesuch recording of the piece, featuring Dawn Upshaw and the London Sinfonietta, that it attracted international attention, selling more than a million copies and climbing to the top of the classical music charts in both the US and the UK. On the unexpected popularity of the piece, the composer remarked, "Perhaps people find something they need in this piece of music ... somehow I hit the right note, something they were missing. Something somewhere had been lost to them. I feel that I instinctively knew what they needed."
The London Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1932 by Sir Thomas Beecham. Since then, its principal conductors have included Sir Adrian Boult, Sir Georg Solti, Klaus Tennstedt, and Kurt Masur. In 2007, Vladimir Jurowski became the Orchestra’s principal conductor. The London Philharmonic Orchestra has been performing at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall since it opened in 1951, becoming resident orchestra in 1992. It also has residencies in Brighton and Eastbourne, and performs regularly around the UK. The Orchestra frequently tours abroad: highlights of the 2014–15 season included appearances across Europe, including Iceland, and tours to the USA (West and East Coasts), Canada, and China. The Orchestra broadcasts regularly on television and radio, and has recorded soundtracks for numerous films including The Lord of the Rings. In 2005 it began releasing live, studio, and archive recordings on its own CD label.
Symphony No. 4 received its US premiere in January of this year, by co-commissioner Los Angeles Philharmonic, and was performed in February by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra at the Concertgebouw (which is home to the piece’s third co-commissioner, the ZaterdagMatinee concert series). This recording was supported by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of the Polska Music program. (Nonesuch)


domingo, 17 de enero de 2016


Grigory Sokolov is recognised as a titan among classical musicians. The Russian pianist’s interpretative insights and visionary musicianship arise from absolute dedication to his art and total immersion in every piece he performs. His Deutsche Grammophon debut album of works by Mozart and Chopin, The Salzburg Recital, ended an extended period during which he issued no new recordings. It drew worldwide critical acclaim, received a coveted ECHO Klassik Award, and became one of the Yellow Label’s best-selling core classical titles of 2015. Sokolov’s new album, to be issued a year after the first, is poised to join its predecessor as a major landmark of the piano catalogue. Sokolov: Schubert/Beethoven, scheduled for release on 15 January 2016, confirms why audiences are prepared to queue overnight for a chance to hear the maestro’s peerless artistry.
Sokolov’s new two-disc set comprises interpretations of such late masterworks by Schubert as the Four Impromptus D899 (including a spellbinding account of the Impromptu No. 3 in G flat major) and Beethoven’s monumental “Hammerklavier” Sonata. It also presents beguiling readings of a generous selection of encores: five sparkling miniatures by Jean-Philippe Rameau and Brahms’s Intermezzo in B flat minor Op. 117 No. 2. The Beethoven and the encore pieces, recorded live at the 2013 Salzburg Festival, were greeted with ecstatic press reviews. The Salzburger Nachrichten described Sokolov’s music-making as “a miracle of pictorial pianism”, while Seen and Heard International was convinced that “no one alive, and perhaps ever, on whatever instrument, has played Rameau with such distinction”.
Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” makes extreme technical and musical demands on the artist, as it probes the limits of the keyboard and piano writing. The four-movement work, written in 1817–18 and lasting 52 minutes in Sokolov’s interpretation, was completed at a time of great emotional turmoil in the composer’s life. Sokolov’s approach to the piece counterbalances its heroic striving with rare glimpses into the score’s underlying lyricism and intense poetic spirit. In its review of Sokolov’s Salzburg recital, Der Tagespiegel noted that the pianist “possesses not only a superior technique and a more refined sense of style than others, but also a whole added dimension. In the last movement of the ‘Hammerklavier’ one usually hears the conversation of different voices, but he also creates the space in which that dialogue is taking place.”
Sokolov’s Schubert was recorded live at Warsaw’s Philharmonic Concert Hall in May 2013. It opens with the Four Impromptus D899 and is crowned by readings of the Three Piano Pieces D946, sublime works completed not long before the composer’s death in 1828.
Next April Deutsche Grammophon will release a concert film by award-winning director and documentary-maker Bruno Monsaingeon – Live from the Berlin Philharmonie – featuring the same repertoire as Sokolov’s new album.
Grigory Sokolov will perform all over Europe in the first half of 2016 including 12 recitals in Germany and concerts in Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Hungary, Austria, France, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Poland and The Netherlands. (Deutsche Grammophon)

Chiaroscuro Quartet BEETHOVEN - MOZART

The multinational Chiaroscuro Quartet promises performances of music of the Classical era "on period instruments informed by a historical approach." This tells you less than it would if applied to Baroque music, but the features of Classical-period historical string performance are in evidence here: vibrato is kept to a minimum, and the scooping accents possible on later instruments are scrupulously weeded out. The biggest surprise, however, would have been possible even played on contemporary instruments: the String Quartet No. 11 in F minor, Op. 95, of Beethoven, designated by Beethoven as "Serioso," is given an interpretation with the seriousness radically scaled down. The group seems to be after a revisionist interpretation that holds that the violent qualities in this quartet were placed there by Romantic after-the-fact thinking and even later by psychoanalysis of Beethoven's difficult life around this time. The music is tense but light, with the really startling harmonic developments in the opening movement treated not as utterances of emotional torture but as little flashes of psychedelic light. The slow movements of all three works on the album are marvelous, with the players perfectly coordinated and the music seeming to breathe like some living creature, the lack of vibrato making the individual instruments difficult to pick out. And the Mozart Adagio and Fugue in C minor for string quartet, K. 546, and String Quartet in E flat major, K. 428 (a work also often given post-facto Romantic intensity) are less startling on first hearing. The Beethoven is one of those performances far enough outside the norm that it's safe to say some will think it's brilliant, some will hate it. But neither group will be able to claim it's not well thought out. (James Manheim)

sábado, 16 de enero de 2016

Gustavo Dudamel / Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 1

Paris, December 2nd , 1804. In a grand ceremony at Notre-Dame-Cathedral, Napoleon Bonaparte crowns himself Emperor of France. Among the thousands in attendance at the coronation that day was a young man named Simon Bolivar. At once impressed and reviled, the young South American’s mind was gripped by a new vision for the future of his homeland. Meanwhile, as news of Napoleon’s coronation reached Vienna, an enraged Ludwig van Beethoven dashed the hand-written dedication to Bonaparte from the manuscript of his latest symphony. The work would be known as the “Eroica”, and the history of music would never be the same. 
With this recording project, my brothers and sisters of the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra and I pay homage to two of our greatest inspirations: Beethoven and Bolivar. Two bold, passionate visionaries whose parallel lives straddled the transition from the Enlightenment to the revolutionary Romantic eras, who came of age in the shadow of Napoleon, and went on to dominate the cultural consciousness of their time. Bolivar led millions of South Americans to freedom and became the spiritual father of nations; Beethoven championed the emancipation of art from the sphere of the aristocracy and, in his symphonies, established the compositional and philosophical vocabulary for all music thereafter. 
To realise their goals, both Bolivar and Beethoven overcame tremendous challenges. Bolivar faced colonial armies, survived political intrigues, and suffered personal tragedy, but never lost faith in his vision. Beethoven lost his hearing – perhaps the most cruel fate to befall a musician. And yet, he was able to compose music of such extraordinary humanity and compassion, he is living proof of the ability of musical expression to transcend circumstance. 
This belief, in the transcendent, transformative power of music, is fundamental to the philosophy of El Sistema. As Venezuelans, we feel the living spirit of Bolivar all around us every day. And for us, especially in the Simon Bolivar orchestra, we identify with Beethoven’s spirit and with his music because the two contemporaries, Beethoven and Bolivar, shared the same ideals of freedom and sacri ce. We stand on the shoulders of giants. Just as Bolivar’s words and deeds inspired his countrymen and women to strive for greater causes, Beethoven’s symphonies lead us on a journey to discover our deepest human emotions – and aspire to our highest ideals. It is our great honour and pleasure to share in this journey with you. (Gustavo Dudamel)

Pierre Boulez WEBERN Complete Works

The complete recording of Anton Webern's output just released by Deutsche Grammophon does very much more than refute old and sterile arguments against serialism. But that it does, and overwhelmingly. Webern -- always a close observer of his teacher Schoenberg, though, as an essentially lyrical composer, thoroughly independent -- took up Schoenberg's new serial technique in 1924 and never looked back. For the rest of his life, 21 years, he went on delighting in the opportunities serialism presented for making patterns: patterns like those of the snowflakes, flowers and crystals he admired in the Austrian mountains, patterns that would support his music's exquisite strains of melody and be supported by them.
He was making patterns with the past, too. Serialism reinvigorated for him the standard forms, especially variations and canon. And it brought him closer to the old masters. Starting with his Symphony (1927-28), most of his movements are canons of one kind or another, often allowing an expressive gesture to be answered, balanced and pinpointed by a copy moving in the other direction, a lift by a sigh, along the course of a regularly waving rhythm.
Canonic and variation forms were also outcomes of a quest for integration, for creating music in which a motif of three or four notes would be constantly present in different colorings, registrations and rhythmic placements. Hence the paradox that the music feels, expressively, so fragile that it might fall apart if one put a finger on it and yet, structurally, it is tightly made and reinforced in every direction. It is at once tender and tough.
As for links with predecessors, that same symphony, although it has just two movements, is scored for chamber orchestra and lasts less than 10 minutes, has something of the grand melodic sweep Webern admired in Bruckner. The concerto that came soon after is a modern ''Brandenburg,'' and Bach is invoked again in the two cantatas on spiritual themes that came near the end of Webern's life.
At the same time, Webern outfaced his nostalgia by resolute adherence to the new means he had devised for himself, with cues from Schoenberg, and by steady exploration of their possibilities. He never worried that his music, in essential respects, sounded quite unlike anything that had come before or was being written around him. He just went on, with exemplary persistence. He had no way of knowing that the vacuum in which he worked would rapidly be filled after his death, not least by Stravinsky, who learned a lot from his music in the 1950's, but also by many younger composers.
Among the eager Webernians then was Pierre Boulez, who returns to be the mastermind of the new recordings, just as he was 30 years ago for a set made by CBS, now available on CD from Sony Classical. But there are differences. One is that the new box (Deutsche Grammophon 457 637-2; six CD's) is twice as large, including many works Webern withheld from publication.
Some of these are juvenilia, imparting the unsurprising news that the composer at 16 was a talented, hopeful, somewhat incompetent beginner. His later rejects, though, include wonderful pieces, especially among the songs and instrumental movements he wrote in 1913 and 1914. During that period he gave thought to a sequence of orchestral pieces, some with solo soprano, rather in the manner of a distilled Mahler symphony. There might have been a similar string quartet with voice. Much later, though, Webern decided to issue sets of purely instrumental movements: the Six Bagatelles (Op. 9) for string quartet and the Five Pieces (Op. 10) for orchestra.
This left out of account not only the song movements -- two with orchestra and the one with quartet are breathtaking -- but also quite a number of orchestral movements. Mr. Boulez includes five, and two extra bagatelles.
A CD player can be programmed to present, say, Opus 9 followed by the two unselected bagatelles and, to end, the song with quartet, which not only provides a passionate slow finale but also leaves a clue to the music's expressive core, in a sense of grief and loss. Similarly, one can reconstruct a vocal symphony, which would have to include an alarming brassy piece (No. 3 among the additional orchestral movements) and the magical setting of a Stefan George poem, with its delicious spot for voice and percussion, and its penultimate gesture of a huge rise from the singer on the word ''holy.''
These and many other pieces sound, here, marvelous to perform. All the string quartets and trios are played by the Emerson String Quartet, which, strong and expressive, makes every little miniature sound big. Nearly all the songs, and the soprano parts in the cantatas, are sung by Christiane Oelze, for whom the music seems to have been waiting. Defying gravity, Ms. Oelze moves with ease through the enormous pitch intervals Webern loved and makes them beautiful and true, keen points in the continuing phrase and markers of exaltation or anguish.
Her contributions include, happily, all the songs with piano, which again embrace remarkable items Webern did not publish: the Five Dehmel Lieder of 1906-8, right on the bright moonlit borders of atonality; and 4 George songs from the next year, in addition to the 10 published as Opuses 3 and 4. Webern changed his mind about the planning of these cycles, eventually deciding that each should have an introduction followed by four songs in which the singing persona's feelings are reflected in nature (Op. 3) or in a tragic relationship (Op. 4). The numbers thus omitted are well worth hearing, especially when sung so well -- and played so well, by Eric Schneider.
Among other exceptional pianists at work here are Pierre-Laurent Aimard, in the quartet with saxophone and the concerto, and Krystian Zimerman, in the Variations (Op. 27) and two other pieces. Mr. Zimerman gives a beautiful account of the variations: the finale, highly effective, has wide-spanning melodies, often violent and gentle in the same breath, searching in a musical space that comes to be defined by chord resonances in the background.
But of course the performer who figures most prominently and comprehensively is Mr. Boulez, as conductor. To an astonishing degree, his tempos are close to those of his earlier recordings. Yet consistency of timing is deceptive, for within identical spans a lot has changed. Mr. Boulez is working here with the Berlin Philharmonic and the Ensemble Intercontemporain: musicians who have a much fuller appreciation than anyone did three decades ago of Webern's flow, dependent on subtle phrasing and a chamber-musical responsiveness of one player or section to another.
Where, for instance, the arrangement Webern made of the six-part ricercar from Bach's ''Musical Offering'' almost fell apart in the 1969 London Symphony recording, the new version is secure and even imposing. The earlier performances of the original works often sound scrappy and preliminary, and though the first clarinet in the symphony achieves some suavity in rather torn textures, the same part emerges in the later recording far more gorgeous and sensitive.
Inevitably, there are losses as well. The spikiness Mr. Boulez found in this repertory when he was in his mid-40's was not just a result of unconsidered playing: it came from a conviction that the music was fierce and that it mattered. Witness, for example, the swing between aggressiveness and recuperation in the second movement of the symphony, or the way the choral women in the third movement of the Second Cantata seem to sing with teeth bared, like Valkyries. These moments are more beautiful in the later recordings but not necessarily more exciting.
There are also performances in the earlier set that will not be supplanted, like the account of the two Rilke poems, with Heather Harper, or the many appearances of another soprano, Halina Lukomska, whose flaming voice is so different from Ms. Oelze's but equally apt.
Something else has happened to Webern during the last three decades: we know far more about his life, and about his opinions, which were not all edifying. His pursuit of purity in his music -- of complete homogeneity and integration, of absolute precision in the minutest detail -- and the high value he placed on German culture led him, crazily and dismayingly, to consider that his ideals were shared by the Third Reich.
He was not an anti-Semite. Indeed, he helped conceal Jews in Vienna. But he seems to have thought that Hitler was some kind of agent of spiritual regeneration, and that the spreading Nazi conquests of 1939 to 1941 were all to the benefit of the nations overcome: this even though the annexation of Austria in 1938 had put an end to his activity as a conductor and to any hopes he had of hearing his music again, other than in neutral Switzerland. The Nazis closed his public career. And yet, privately, he applauded them.
Knowing this, we might want to listen to the Variations for orchestra of 1940 a little more carefully and a little more critically: to pay less attention, perhaps, to the coherence and symmetry the music so ostentatiously exhibits than to the delicacy, strangeness and variety of its component parts, and even to insist, contra Webern, on multiplicity and ambiguity as essential elements in his art.
More useful, too, than dismissing him for his foolish views would be to learn from his example of magnificent but, in crucial respects, misaligned idealism. Snowflakes and flowers are all very well, and we need them, but their rules arCDe not those of politics. (Paul Griffiths / The New York Times)

jueves, 14 de enero de 2016

Hilary Hahn / Esa-Pekka Salonen / Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra SCHOENBERG - SIBELIUS Violin Concertos

Some years ago RCA's ace producer Jack Pfeiffer told me how, every now and again, Jascha Heifetz would open the score of Schoenberg's Concerto only to close it again with a perplexed shrug. Years earlier Schoenberg had personally sent Heifetz the score and the reaction was much the same. Heifetz just didn't get it, but he did at least try. What I wonder would he have made of this magnificent recording by Hilary Hahn? When the last chord sounds its full stop, the sense of satisfied finality is exhilarating. Hahn has the full of measure of the piece, its gawky lyricism, ethereal filigree and cripplingly difficult cadenzas (awkward chords galore), all rendered seemingly effortless. Wisps of old-world Vienna echo from the Andante, whereas in a performance of this calibre the finale's complex acrobatics suddenly have musical meaning. Of course having a first-rate orchestra and conductor helps: Esa-Pekka Salonen's direction is in the very best sense of the term “slick”, a perfect example of musical badinage, alert, crystal-clear and superbly recorded. Which makes the CD mandatory listening both for lovers of the work who crave an appreciative performance and for doubters who still await conversion.
The Sibelius performance is fascinating but less wholly convincing although as with the Schoenberg Hahn weaves a seductive, evenly deployed tone and her technique is impeccable. But while in the Schoenberg you sense a palpable level of emotional engagement Hahn's approach to Sibelius is cool, sphinx-like one might say, the first movement's many solo passages broadly drawn but somehow remote. No violinist currently performing makes a lovelier sound and although time and again I would note some illuminating phrase (not to mention Salonen's immaculately groomed accompaniment) the sum effect is of a strangely cold beauty. But the Schoenberg performance is, as I say, magnificent. (Rob Cowan / Gramophone)

The Young Danish String Quartet CARL NIELSEN String Quartets Vol. 2

This admirable coupling by the Young Danish String Quartet of Carl Nielsen's string quartets in F minor and E flat major bolsters the notion that Danish performers are still best suited to represent Nielsen's uniquely Danish compositional voice. Both works here are youthful compositions written in a style fusing those of Grieg and Brahms. The Young Danish String Quartet rips into the big theme of the F minor quartet's opening Allegro non troppo ma energico with rhythmic power yet still express the following Un poco adagio's warm heart with yearning lines and lushly balanced sonorities. With lucidly articulated lines and effervescently buoyant rhythms, the young Danish players' interpretation of the E flat quartet's unique combination of a pastoral tone with learned counterpoint is wonderfully poised between the natural and the intellectual. If your shelf can hold only one disc of Nielsen's F minor and E flat major quartets, this disc will securely fill the spot. Dacapo's super audio digital sound is all enveloping with the four players of the quartet sitting comfortably around the listener in an otherwise empty hall. (James Leonard)

The Young Danish String Quartet / Tim Frederiksen CARL NIELSEN String Quartets Vol. 1

I’m not sure what the members of the Danish Quartet, who recorded the Nielsen quartets more than effectively in 1992 (Kontrapunkt, 10/93), think about a “young” incarnation appearing 15 years later. But I hope they would doff their caps in admiration, because these new recordings are top-notch, and I’m happy to echo and endorse the enthusiasm they have already generated in Denmark.
The benchmark recording has been that of the Kontra Quartet, sympathetic interpretations of works which do not enshrine the absolute finest of Nielsen, for all that he was an orchestral violinist and an experienced and enthusiastic performer of string quartets. But the new Quartet, all in their early twenties, bring a freshness and energy plus a level of sheer accomplishment that I don’t ever remember hearing in these works. Far from defensiveness or special pleading, they simply assume that they are playing high quality music and that their job is therefore to give it their all. The results are joyous, effervescent.
The First Quartet is the most striking beneficiary, since it can too easily sound texturally over-written and structurally effortful, as in the finale’s contrived “Résumé”. Such reservations are hard to entertain while listening to this thoroughly infectious account. Nielsen asks for energy in the first movement, and that is what the Young Danish Quartet give him, along with large-scale sweep and mellifluous tone throughout. The Fourth Quartet, a tough-minded cousin to the comic opera Maskarade, is interpretatively more challenging, and the Young Danish Quartet may in future find more subtly shaded routes through it; in the meantime their expressive candour and passion are entirely to the good. They are joined in the Quintet by Tim Frederiksen, under whom they studied at the Royal Conservatory in Copenhagen, and without quite transmuting base metal into gold, they display the various facets of what was a breakthrough piece for the young Nielsen to their best advantage. (David Fanning / Gramophone)

miércoles, 13 de enero de 2016

Chiaroscuro Quartet MOZART - SCHUBERT

Formed in 2005, the Chiaroscuro Quartet consists of the violinists Alina Ibragimova (Russia) and Pablo Hernán Benedí (Spain), the Swedish violist Emilie Hörnlund and cellist Claire Thirion from France. Dubbed ‘a trailblazer for the authentic performance of High Classical chamber music’ in Gramophone, this highly international ensemble performs music of the Classical period on gut strings. The quartet’s unique sound – described in The Observer as ‘a shock to the ears of the best kind’ – is highly acclaimed by audiences and critics all over Europe, and is the fruit of its lithe and gracious playing combined with an extraordinarily committed ensemble mentality.  An acclaimed and growing discography includes recordings of music by Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Mendelssohn.
The Chiaroscuro Quartet was a prize-winner of the German Förderpreis Deutschlandfunk/Musikfest Bremen in 2013 and received Germany’s most prestigious CD award, the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik in 2015 for its latest recording of Mozart’s quartet in d-minor K421 and Mendelssohn’s 2nd string quartet in a-minor opus 13.
Among the ensemble’s chamber music partners are renowned artists such as Kristian Bezuidenhout, Nicolas Baldeyrou, Chen Halevi, Trevor Pinnock, Malcolm Bilson and Christophe Coin.
Recent engagements included their enthusiastically received debut concert at Vienna Konzerthaus and Philharmonie Warsaw. Other highlights in the past took the ensemble to the Edinburgh International Festival, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, London’s Wigmore Hall, Auditorio Nacional de Música Madrid, Music Festival Grafenegg, The Sage Gateshead (recorded for BBC Radio 3), Auditorium du Louvre Paris, Théâtre du Jeu-de-Paume in Aix-en-Provence, Grand Théâtre de Dijon, Gulbenkian Foundation Lisbon, West Cork Festival and for a residency to Aldeburgh.
In the season 2015/2016, the Chiaroscuro Quartet will appear on stage at Gulbenkian Foundation Lisbon, Amsterdam Concertgebouw or Sendesaal Bremen amongst others. The ensemble will also continue to perform Mozart's masterworks for piano and string quartet together with Kristian Bezuidenhout in leading concert halls such as Laeiszhalle Hamburg, Palau de la Música Barcelona, BR Munich, Meisterkonzerte Dresden, Kartause Ittingen and Bern. In April 2016 the quartet will embark on its first concert tour to Japan playing concerts in Tokyo and Hyogo.
Since 2009, the Chiaroscuro Quartet has been artist-in-residence in Port-Royal-des-Champs giving a concert series dedicated to Mozart’s string quartets.

Anna Vinnitskaya / Kremerata Baltica SHOSTAKOVICH Piano Concertos

This is a remarkable debut disc from Russian-German pianist Anna Vinnitskaya. The two Shostakovich piano concertos are brilliant and entertaining, parodic and pensive in turn. In the Concerto in C Minor for Piano, Trumpet and Strings, Op.35 (1933) soloist-director Vinnitskaya maintains tight ensemble and clear articulation with the Kremerata Baltica string orchestra and trumpeter Tobias Willner. The first movement illustrates Shostakovich’s method of assembling triads, scales and popular songs or classical themes into an ironic crazy-quilt whole, featuring harmonic sidesteps into new keys. In the second movement strings play a wide-ranging lyrical melody with poise, as a muted trumpet in dialogue with the piano does later. The virtuosic finale features Vinnitskaya’s still more rapid-fire piano and Willner’s matching double-tonguing. 
In the Piano Concerto No.2 in F Major, Op.102 (1957), Omer Meir Wellber conducts the Winds of Staatskapelle Dresden together with Kremerata Baltica. The first and third major-key movements are tuneful in accordance with Soviet expectations, with military band-style flourishes and plenty of piano scales. The third however has sufficient contrast: it is largely in 7/4 metre, woodwinds are brilliant and French horns a standout, and there is even a quoted Hanon piano finger exercise! Best of all for me is Anna Vinnitskaya’s sensitive high-register playing in the the middle movement, which seems like a reminiscence of childhood. In the disc’s last two works pianist Ivan Rudin joins Vinnitskaya in idiomatic playing of Shostakovich’s Concertino (1954) and Tarantella (1955) for two pianos. Recommended for Shostakovich lovers. (Roger Knox)

martes, 12 de enero de 2016

Alexej Gorlatch / Rundfunk- Sinfonieorchester Berlin / Alondra de la Parra STRAVINSKY Works for Piano and Orchestra

The piano seem so central to the sound-world of much of Stravinsky's music that is seems surprising that he didn't write more music for the solo instrument. This disc, on Sony Classical, from the young German-based Ukrainian pianist Alexej Gorlatch and the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin conducted by the Mexican conductor Alondra de la Parra, brings together the Concerto for piano and wind instruments, the Capriccio for piano and orchestra and the early piano sonata. 
 We open with the Concerto for piano and wind instruments (in fact the ensemble includes double basses and timpani too), written in 1924 at the height of Stravinsky's neo-classical period. This is Stravinsky at his most hieratic, in Symphony of Psalms vein, and using the piano to maximum percussive effect.
After a slow, strikingly monolithic wind introduction, we are struck by the attack, brilliance and intensity of the piano entry. This is a full focus, high energy performance with Gorlatch and the orchestra giving maximum brilliance to Stravinsky's music. Attack and articulation are coordinated between soloist and orchestra to a superb degree, and the music is vividly involving too. The second movement, Largo, is full of contrasts, quiet intensity against very hard edged moments, and whilst percussive attack is prominent in the piano there is lyricism too. The last movement, Allegro, starts out rather fugal with a love sense of tone colours. Never a grim piece, this performance explodes in youthful energy and a great feeling of percussive joy.
Dating from a few years later (1928), Stravinsky also wrote the Capriccio for himself to play. Still neo-classical, there is a greater florid feel to the writing for piano. The opening movement, Presto, i perky and full of contrasts but with the percussive edge less to the fore in the piano. Here there is lyricism combined with rhythmic attack, but still a sense of that discipline which comes with Stravinsky's music of the period. In the second movement, Andante rapsodico, you notice the contrast between the disciplined rhapsodies of the piano and the lyrical lines of the instruments, with the piano writing quite florid. Finally, the Allegro capriccioso ma tempo giusto, is nicely perky and up-tempo with some brilliant jazzy moments.
There is a lovely unity to the playing of soloist and orchestra, this really is a performance which makes you sit up and take note. Throughout the orchestra under Alondra de la Parra is on brilliant form, matching the young soloist.
The final work on the disc is Stravinsky's early piano sonata, a work which he started when he was just 21 (in 1903) and finished a year later having got rather bogged down and needing to approach Rimsky Korsakov which was the beginning of their relationship. When Stravinsky finished the piece he gave it to Nicolas Richter who premiered it and kept the manuscript, which ended up in the State Public Library in St Petersburg on Richter's death, thus preserving a work which Stravinsky would have far preferred to disappear.
Gorlatch gives a fine performance, but you would be hard pressed to guess that this large scale (28 minutes) romantic work was by Stravinsky, Full of chromatic harmonies which reminded me of his contemporaries such as Rachmaninov, the piece is conventional but remarkable for one barely into his 20's. (Robert Hugill)

lunes, 11 de enero de 2016


The "Low" Symphony, composed in the Spring of 1992, is based on the record "Low" by David Bowie and Brian Eno first released in 1977. The record consisted of a number of songs and instrumentals and used techniques which were similar to procedures used by composers working in new and experimental music. As such, this record was widely appreciated by musicians working both in the field of "pop" music and in experimental music and was a landmark work of that period.
I've taken themes from three of the instrumentals on the record and, combining them with material of my own, have used them as the basis of three movements of the Symphony. Movement one comes from "Subterraneans," movement two from "Some Are" and movement three from "Warszawa."
My approach was to treat the themes very much as if they were my own and allow their transformations to follow my own compositional bent when possible. In practice, however, Bowie and Eno's music certainly influenced how I worked, leading me to sometimes surprising musical conclusions. In the end I think I arrived at something of a real collaboration between my music and theirs. (Philip GlassNew / York City, 1992)

Heroes, like the Low Symphony of several years ago, is based on the work of Bowie and Eno. In a series of innovative recordings made in the late 70's, David and Brian combined influences from world music, experimental avant-garde, and rock and roll and thereby redefined the future of popular music.
The continuing influence of these works has secured their stature as part of the new "classics" of our time. Just as composers of the past have turned to music of their time to fashion new works, the work of Bowie and Eno became an inspiration and point of departure of symphonies of my own. (Philip Glass)


There is nothing more inspiring than working with people who truly love what they do. Recording on a Ravenscroft had been a dream of mine since I first discovered the company and its marvelous pianos in 2011; I also could not have found a better venue, the Musical Instrument Museum, and the recording engineer Jim Zick who knew exactly how to capture the elements. The honest and beautiful music on this album are by the composers I admire, and I am humbled to be given the opportunity to share my vision of these works. - Erika Tazawa 

Hailed as “a superb collaborator, boldly undertaking the demanding keyboard parts with boundless technique, dynamic range, and expressive understanding” by American Record Guide, pianist Erika Tazawa has captured audiences internationally. Winner of the prestigious Beverly Hills National Auditions in 2013, Tazawa is quickly gaining the reputation as a leading artist in the field of chamber music and vocal accompanying. Her performances have been featured in radio programs such as BBC London, National Public Radio’s Performance Today, and WSKG New York. A passionate advocate of new works, Tazawa enjoys partnerships with contemporary composers performing both solo piano and in ensembles.

domingo, 10 de enero de 2016

Sarah Nemtanu / Deborah Nemtanu BARTÓK 44 Duos

Sarah and Deborah Nemtanu, the Franco- Romanian violinist sisters have recorded the 44 violin duos by Béla Bartók, Bartók 44 Duos, on the Decca label, due for digital release on January 8, 2016. 
Bartók’s Forty-Four Duos for two violins had their origins in his work as a folksong collector. In the early 1900s he travelled throughout his native Hungary and elsewhere in Eastern Europe in search of traditional melodies. Bartók and his friend Zoltán Kodály notated the songs and dances of peasant communities soon to be scattered or destroyed by two world wars. When Bartók composed his Forty-Four Duos in 1931, he mined his rich stock of Hungarian, Slovakian, Romanian, Ruthenian, Ukrainian and Algerian folk tunes for source material. Bartók 44 Duos sees the sibling violinists draw deep from their cultural roots to express the passion and energy of works inspired by Eastern European and Arabian folk song and dance. 
Each of Bartók’s duos is based almost entirely on an existing folk melody, either collected by Bartók or by other expert ethnographers. The complete set, contained in four books, opens with a Matchmaking Song and includes evocatively titled works like Teasing Song, Limping Dance, Mosquito Dance and Romanian Whirling Song. These works enter the Universal Classics catalogue for the first time with the Nemtanu sisters’ recording.
Sarah Nemtanu was born in 1981 and her sister Deborah, followed two years later. They began their violin studies with their father Vladimir who was first violinist with the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine. They both progressed to the Conservatoire regional influence of Bordeaux and the National Conservatory of Music in Paris where they studied with Gérard Poulet.
In 2005, Deborah was appointed concertmaster of the Ensemble orchestral de Paris. From 2002, Sarah has been co-concertmaster of the Orchestre National de France, with whom she also performed as a soloist. In 2009, she played the role of the violin soloist in Radu Mihaileanu’s film Le concert performing the Violin Concerto by Tchaikovsky.
The sisters say they have been playing Bartók’s duos from when they were 5 and 7 years old. Written in graded levels of difficulty for students, Deborah says ” Being sisters adds something a little bit magical….We feel something miraculous when we play together because when we play together there is an alchemy and much happiness.”

sábado, 9 de enero de 2016

PIERRE BOULEZ (1925 -2016) Complete Works

More than anyone else’s, Pierre Boulez’s oeuvre has not known completion and never will. Doubtless like so many creators – and not the least important –, he undertakes projects that, without any particular explanation, he will not follow up on. In the ‘unfinished’ category, for instance, appears a score he had planned to write for Les Percussions de Strasbourg, of which we are mentioning the idea only for the record. But in an approach of which there are few equivalents in the history of music, Pierre Boulez considers each of his works like the exploitation of a material, from which arise, in the course of an unpredictable but carefully controlled proliferation of new compositions or, more precisely, new versions of a composition that, in the final analysis, and for a given, immeasurable time, will have been only the kernel of the final piece. This is less a matter of alterations, expressing doubts or regrets, reactions that are hardly Boulezian, than the pursuit of work that, even if resulting in public performances (and such has often been the case), preserves its potentialities, so many stages before – the material deemed exhausted – the recognition of paternity of a definitive piece at last.
The present set is therefore itself testimony to a particular compositional process, the inventory of a body in the process of edification, in which certain, perfectly closed opuses are inscribed, and at the highest level, in the repertoire of contemporary musical creation whereas others, already noticed by commentators, are relegated to a sort of antechamber, the exploration of which requires the greatest patience.
This set also gives the idea of a shattered chronology, unlike the classic catalogue of a musician organizing the various pieces in his development one after another. Examples abound: thus Livre pour quatuor, for which Pierre Boulez imagined the succession of six movements back in 1948. A first, partial performance took place in 1955, and then, in this year 2012, he composed one of the missing movements. Detachable pages, in a way, for which Boulez took Mallarmé as a model. Consequently, the usage of this set, work by work in the hopes of detecting an itinerary, is totally utopian, except that the Boulezian corpus, albeit manifold, is homogeneous in its references, coherent through its different models, also progressive, from the rigours of an initial post-Webernian period up to the flexibility – fantasy? – of writing that is no less precise but somehow liberated. 
Missing links? Boulez wants to turn over only finished works or parts of works to the public. The programme of this set reflects the Boulezian corpus as ‘work in progress’. 
Finally, the recordings, chosen in agreement with the, composer attest to a real-time interpretation, if we might say so. Foundations of a tradition on which future generations will be able to nurture themselves without being condemned, for all that, to strict observance, which would contravene all that the Boulezian philosophy has taught us. The composer provides the example; his practice of conducting, his frequenting classical composers, his thinking about his own approach, the (relative) flexibility of his own scores, and the abilities of a new generation of performers commit him to new perspectives; beyond the word-by- word of the notes: more flexibility, differentiation in sound and clarity. The confrontation of the two recordings of Le Marteau sans maître proposed in this set, recordings made some forty years apart, supply the proof. In this area, nothing is definitive. But now, in addition to the pleasure of listening, knowledge of such period documents is particularly enlightening. It stimulates the listener’s thinking as much as the commentator’s and indicates fruitful paths to performers that simple faithfulness to a tradition would be unable to satisfy. 
‘Every work is ambiguous: attached to the past, oriented towards the future. What is important to me,’ says Boulez, ‘is its current contribution.’ A limited, but nonetheless demanding, ambition. (Claude Samuel)
CD 1 - 3 / CD 4 - 6 / CD 7 - 9 / CD 10 - 13

Jolente De Maeyer / Nikolaas Kende KREUTZER SONATA

Jolente De Maeyer received her first violin lessons at the age of four. When she was 14 years old, Jolente was invited by Yehudi Menuhin to pursue her musical studies at the Yehudi Menuhin School near London. She continued her studies with Natasha Boyarsky at the Royal College of Music in London,  Stephan Picard at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler in Berlin and Augustin Dumay at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Belgium.
At the age of 6, Jolente started participating in several national and international competitions. That year she became the youngest ever laureate of the Jong Tenuto Competition and also received First Prizes in the Charles de Bériot Competition Brussels. Later on Jolente became a prizewinner in several international competitions like Cardona International Competition in Portugal, International Violin Competition Liana Issakadze in Russia (2004) and the Benjamin Britten International Violin competition in London (2005). She  also became a semi-finalist in the Queen Elisabeth Competition in 2009.
Since 2003, Jolente has formed a duo with pianist Nikolaas Kende.  Together they formed the Rubensensemble in 2007.
Jolente recorded the 6th Violinconcerto of Henri Vieuxtemps in 2010 with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Liège with Patrick Davin. This recording received the René Snepvangersprijs from the Belgian Music Press in 2011.
In 2013 Jolente recorded de 2nd Violinconcerto of Saint Saëns with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Liège with Christian Arming.

viernes, 8 de enero de 2016

Jan Lisiecki / Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia / Antonio Pappano SCHUMANN

Jan Lisiecki turns to the music of Robert Schumann for his third Deutsche Grammophon album. The 20-year-old Canadian pianist presents strikingly mature and imaginative interpretations of the composer’s complete concertante works for piano and orchestra. Jan Lisiecki: Schumann – Works for Piano and Orchestra, set for international release on 8 January 2016, opens with the evergreen Piano Concerto in A minor op. 54. It also contains the Introduction and Allegro appassionato op. 92, Träumerei op. 15 no. 7 and the rarely heard Introduction and Allegro op. 134, the latter entering the DG catalogue for the first time in the yellow label’s 117-year history. Lisiecki is partnered by the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Sir Antonio Pappano, with whom he made his debut at the 2013 BBC Proms in Schumann’s Piano Concerto. “This proved to be a performance of extraordinary accomplishment,” noted the Guardian at the time.
Jan Lisiecki’s personal vision of Schumann’s poetic works has evolved over several years, backed by meticulous preparation and deep immersion in the music. His approach to the Piano Concerto and the other concertante works has also gained from Antonio Pappano’s guidance and encouragement. The album reflects the rapport shared by soloist, orchestra and conductor. Recorded in September 2015 under studio conditions in Rome, it renewed a musical relationship forged three years earlier when Lisiecki, then aged 17, performed Schumann’s Piano Concerto with Pappano and his Santa Cecilia forces during a five-concert European tour in which he alternated as soloist with Martha Argerich.
“These pieces demand an incredibly close collaboration in order to accomplish what Schumann desired,” comments Lisiecki. “I believe the sound of the Santa Cecilia Orchestra matches mine in the best possible way.” The Piano Concerto and other concertante works, he adds, are concerned above all with subtle shades of expression and intimate dialogue between soloist and orchestra. “Of course the Piano Concerto is virtuosic. But it’s virtuosic in a way that’s in the background, and that’s what speaks to me.”
Antonio Pappano, himself an accomplished pianist and tireless supporter of young musicians, recalls his first experience of hearing Lisiecki’s pianism. “I’ll admit that I was overwhelmed with envy when I first heard Jan play. What is so refreshing is that there are no fake layers of age added on – just youth,” he notes. “We’ve now worked together many times and this Schumann project provided a perfect opportunity to work on two pieces that are so rarely heard in concert, as well as to revisit a concerto that is a shared favourite.”
Jan Lisiecki’s previous releases as an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist, comprising piano concertos by Mozart and Chopin’s Études opp. 10 & 25, have attracted critical acclaim and strong international sales. In 2013 he received the Leonard Bernstein Award at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and was also named as Gramophone’s “Young Artist of the Year”.
The pianist’s forthcoming engagements include two tours of the United States this January, the first with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Peter Oundjian, the second with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. During the latter Lisiecki will make his debut in the main auditorium at New York’s Carnegie Hall, performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.4. His schedule for the remainder of the 2015/16 season also includes an extensive tour of Germany and Switzerland with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, and concerto performances with the Cleveland Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. (Deutsche Grammophon)

miércoles, 6 de enero de 2016


For Cantante e tranquillo Keller Quartett leader András Keller and producer Manfred Eicher developed a carefully balanced program based entirely upon slow movements from a wide range of works from different eras. Across the centuries, beyond generic boundaries and the lives of their creators, the movements reveal remarkable similarities of expression that perhaps only become apparent in this new context.
At the same time the selection documents the quartet's 20-year collaboration with ECM and its growing maturity. Its performances invariably approach the works with integrity and an imaginative power rooted in close listening and subtle interaction. More recent readings of Beethoven's op. 130 and 135 have been augmented with fresh recordings of György Kurtág and combined into an album with older and newer renditions of Alexander Knaifel, György Ligeti and Johann Sebastian Bach.
 But there is another feature that unites the works and movements beneath the heading 'Cantante e tranquillo' (an expression mark from Beethoven's F-major String Quartet, op. 135): a sense of the ineffable. Music history knows few compositions more enigmatic in their essence than Beethoven's late quartets.
Johann Sebastian Bach's Art of Fugue has likewise kept its secrets to the present day. Is there anything more astonishing, and yet more consummately wrought, than this opus summum that resists all speculation? As late as 1993 Peter Schleuning could write of Bach's late magnum opus that 'the history of The Art of Fugue is a history of solitude, of quests and discoveries, of experimentation and research – and of failure. The work grew old with Bach and died with him.' Yet scholars and performers alike have remained vitally alive to The Art of Fugue.
A prime example is the present quartet arrangement of several of its numbers. In any event, the part-writing of the four instruments almost has the character of a musical analysis, much like Anton Webern's arrangement of the Bach Ricercar.
Bach, to quote Alfred Einstein, was a rock on which many composers have built their works, including Alfred Schnittke and Alexander Knaifel. Also among them is György Kurtág. His epigrammatic works function like punctuation marks in the dramatic structure of the recording. As does György Ligeti with the multi-layered counterpoint of his entire oeuvre.
The CD's booklet text sums it up: 'A wistful charm imbues this entire recording of pieces which, though not written together, seem to have been predestined for each other.' (ECM Records)

martes, 5 de enero de 2016

Olga Scheps / Stuttgarter Kammerorchester / Matthias Foremny CHOPIN Piano Concertos

Along with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Matthias Formeny Olga Scheps creates a harmonious and complex atmosphere, as it could be possible possible with a small orchestra.The accompaniment by the small ensemble condenses the effect of the piano and flatters without degenerating into decorative padding, as it is often heard in the criticism of the orchestration.
But the biggest compliment deserves Olga Scheps.She fully lives up to a Standard as superb Chopin performer with this recording, which was created in Stuttgart SWR Radio Studios. Her tone clear and sparkling in this highly romantic oeuvre, of which the second one especially, which was created erlier to the E minor Concerto, however is notorious for his technically intricate passages. 
She copes all tripping hazards with pianistic finesse and concentrates fully on the introspection of this voluptuous dreamy work. With its lightweight, vocal tone she satifies the audience with the introverted passages as well as with the dance driven ones. And then she follows the final traces of the third set with a noble virtuosity rather than crude sensationalism of impetuous passion of the young Chopin, who has already published this concert at the age of 19, in the seemingly endless runs, she visualizes her obviously great performance as a Chopin interpreter. (Birgit Schlinger)

lunes, 4 de enero de 2016


Annecy Classic Festival, in collaboration with the Festival d'Auvers-sur-Oise, launches its own CD label: DiscAnnecY.
For its first album, DiscAnnecY has recorded the 24 years old Ukrainian pianist Anna Fedorova, who was presented to Annecy's festival-goers last August 25. (06/10/2014)

Anna Fedorova is one of the world’s premier young pianists. From an early age, she demonstrated an innate musical maturity and astounding technical abilities. Her international concert career took o while she was only a child, and audiences around the world were stunned by the depth and power of her musical expression. She has performed in some of the most prestigious concert halls of Europe, North and South America, and Asia, including the famous international venues.
 In September, 2014, Anna Fedorova ‘s first CD will be released. CD dedicated to Brahms, Chopin and Liszt in the collection DiscAnnecY under the label DiscAuverS distributed all over the world by Socadisc / New Arts International and produced by Annecy Classic Festival and AVC Charity foundation. To o icialize this production, Anna Fedorova will give a recital on October 29th of the same year, in the “Théâtre de l’Athénée” in Paris.

Anna Fedorova / Benedict Kloeckner RACHMANINOFF Piano Concerto 2 - Cello Sonata

Anna Fedorova is one of the world's premier young pianists. From an early age, she demonstrated an innate musical maturity and astounding technical abilities. Her international concert career took off while she was only a child, and audiences around the world were stunned by the depth and power of her musical expression. Critics have praised Anna's signature “sweet modesty and wild expression,” which rendered listeners “completely taken by surprise, compelled and astonished.” In September 2013 Anna performed Rachmaninoff 2nd Piano Concerto at the opening of the season of Sunday Morning Concerts series at the Great hall of the Royal Concertgebouw. Within half a year, the recording of this concert received over 1,000,000 views on YouTube and was highly praised among renown musicians. 
Anna has claimed top prizes at numerous international piano competitions, including the International Rubinstein 'In Memoriam' piano competition, the Moscow International Frederick Chopin Competition for young pianists, the Lyon Piano Competition, and recently became recipient of the Verbier Festival Academy Award. She is also two-time laureate of the Dorothy MacKenzie Artist Recognition Scholarship Award at the International Keyboards Institute & Festival (New York, USA). A graduate of the Lysenko School of Music in Kyiv (studio of Borys Fedorov), Anna is currently a student of Norma Fisher at the Royal College of Music in London, where she in the recipient of the Big Give full tuition scholarship. Additionally, Anna studies at the prestigious Accademia Pianistica in Imola, Italy under professor Leonid Margarius. She has also received artistic guidance from world renowned pianists like Alfred Brendel, Menahem Pressler, and Andras Schiff.

Olga Scheps SCHUBERT

"Scheps showed the ability to create her own Schubert-Version. On one point you can sense her great sense of orchestrating it on point. On the other point you can sense her ability to give her own personal note to it. You can sense, the amount of effort she put in through every note she encounters." (NDR online) 

"Olga Scheps has the ability to show sense in all shades of darkness. Her poise in playing the piano, is presented through a total control of her mastery. She is on point as far as the interpretation goes. The message is sent. The “Kuperlwieser Walzer” is her key play, as far as giving you that Good-Night-Vibe. In her own personal way she is able to present As-Pur-Impromptu D 935. Every change of vibration is shown, where emotion of warmth and cold is felt at the same time. With her competence and intelligence and the mastery of her craft, we should be more than excited about her 4th Studio Album." (Rondo)


"In Olga Scheps Russian Album she excellently captures the emotion of melancholy, magically showcases sadness and being reserved. You can feel the emotion of slight world pain and the suffering of the soul, like at the beginning of Mili Balakirevs “Au Jardin” (…). Once the main subject of the play  Glinkas/Balakirevs “Lerche” comes into play your ears will widen: Sorrow, and the emotion of saying goodbye is felt throughout her mastery of playing the piano, without being old-fashioned. A Schepstrademark is her way of playing Rachmaninows g-Moll-Prelude: Effortless, also not showcasing her true capabilities she goes through this prelude. Overall a great Cover of the matter, being focused on presenting the play in its true fashion, which is not being boasting and a certain reservedness." (Fono Forum)

"Scheps shows masterfully how to present the emotions of sadness and pain in her Russian album. The tears will be following her play, that’s what is the result of her mastery. Her album is a well-put program that opens up many doors of emotion. (NDR online)

Jan Lisiecki / Christian Zacharias / Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks MOZART Piano Concertos Nos. 20 & 21

The Deutsche Grammophon label has offered a series of teenage prodigies, not all of whom have lived up to their billing. This release by Polish-born Canadian pianist Jan Lisiecki, just 17 and looking not entirely unlike Justin Bieber, may make a bigger splash than most. You might guess from the sheer daring of the interpretations, especially that of the Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466, that you were dealing with extreme youth here, but no insufficiency of technique or tone gives it away. The Piano Concerto No. 20 is really impressive. Lisiecki and conductor Christian Zacharias, leading the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, set out to create a real old-school recording of this most stormy of Mozart's concertos, and they succeed in forging something that's quite detailed and coherently worked out. It might also be called over the top, but that's something to be decided by the individual listener Lisiecki deploys a big sound, and he and Zacharias add on tempo variations, ornaments, and sudden dramatic gestures, topping the whole thing off with Beethoven's underutilized cadenza for the first movement. It's sort of as if one of the big Russian-schooled pianists of the middle part of the last century had decided to record the work with Leopold Stokowski as conductor, and Zacharias' contribution is key: he ruffles the orchestra's strings into spiky little attacks. In the Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K. 467, they are not quite as distinctive, but the breadth and control of Lisiecki's playing is nevertheless impressive, and in a world in which young students are disinclined to take chances he deserves all kinds of credit. (

Olga Scheps CHOPIN

"The debut album of the 24 year old russian pianist phenom Olga Scheps is one of the best and can be included in Chopins birthday. Just the different emotions, shadows and skills are displayed in her album. Amazing." (Stern)

"Olga Scheps play the g-moll-Ballad with a sense of a feminine side and on-point technical skills. A fine tuned 'Walzer', two sensible 'Nocturnes', two 'Mazurken' and a different 'Etüden'." (Die Welt)

"The FAZ named Olga Scheps the new star in Chopin-Heaven. Her current studio album just is a indicator to her success. She is a master of her craft and makes it look effortless, combined with passion and emotion." (Kölnische Rundscha)

domingo, 3 de enero de 2016

Tanja Becker-Bender / Péter Nagy BÉLA BARTÓK The Works for Violin and Piano

“Anyone who met Bartók and was aware of the primordial rhythmic power of his music was sur- prised by the slender, fragile form of the man. He had the outward appearance of a delicate, sensi- tive scholar,” wrote the Swiss conductor Paul Sacher. Born in the small Hungarian town of Nagyszentmiklós (now Sânnicolau Mare in Romania), Béla Bartók was an exceptional phenomenon in many respects. It was around 1905 that he first heard Magyar peasant music, and it impressed him deeply. From then on, he began collecting old songs and dances from Hungary and Romania on his trips (later also from Slovakia, Serbia, Bulgaria and the Arabic countries). He had the country peo- ple perform them and wrote them down himself. In the process, he discovered age-old folk music which had quite a different sound than the syn- thetic folklore propagated in the cities, which had been influenced by Franz Liszt (Hungarian Rhapso- dies) or Johannes Brahms (Hungarian Dances).
“Simple, frequently rough, but never stupid,” was the impression made by this peasant music on Bar- tók. He also found “no indication of chords stereotypically connected to the major-minor tonal system.” This folk art “which, despite its emphatic power, was entirely free of sentimentality and superuous ornamentation,” became a fundamental part of his expressionistic tonal language. One might say that Bartók drew only “from the clearest springs”, as the end of his Cantata profana (1930) so eloquently avows. Tanja Becker-Bender and Péter Nagy therefore undertook an intensive study of this sort of folklore and its instrumental techniques before making this recording.

sábado, 2 de enero de 2016

Ernst, Daniel & Andreas Ottensamer THE CLARINOTTS

The Clarinotts are a one-of-a-kind clarinet trio formed of Ernst, Daniel and Andreas Ottensamer – the Principal Clarinettists of the Vienna Philharmonic and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras.
Founded in 2005, the ensemble aims to find new and exciting ways in which to bring the varied voices of the clarinet family to the fore, performing on the E-flat, bass clarinet and basset horn alongside the more common B-flat and A clarinet.  With an emphasis on the Viennese tradition of clarinet playing, the individual excellence of each player – all esteemed international soloists in their own right – is expressed in collective performances of the very highest quality.
Comprising extant works, new arrangements and high-profile commissions, The Clarinotts’ repertoire is wide-ranging and diverse, covering core classical masterpieces as well as film music and jazz – all serving to display the dazzling range of colour and inbuilt unity of this critically acclaimed father-and-son trio.  The ensemble ranges accordingly, performing duos and trios with and without piano, as well as in combination with other artists and ensembles.
The Clarinotts regularly tour Europe and Asia, and appear as guests with many of the world’s most renowned orchestras and festivals.  Recent and upcoming highlights include tours of Japan, China and Taiwan, and the world première of a triple clarinet concerto by celebrated Austro-Hungarian composer Ivàn Eröd with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under Andris Nelsons (January 2016).
The Clarinotts released their debut album on Octavia Records and Gramola Vienna in 2009 to much critical acclaim, and are set to release a recording on Mercury Classics/Deutsche Grammophon in early 2016.
The 1st January 2016 will see the release of The Clarinotts new album on Deutsche Grammophon/Mercury Classics. The enormously talented family trio have based this album on music for the stage, including music by Rossini and Mozart, and it has been recorded with string members from the Vienna Philharmonic.  As well as this exciting news, The Clarinotts will also be the feature of the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s Day intermission film. This will be live streamed world-wide to over 90 countries and will be watched by around 50 million people.

Trio Rodin ENRIQUE GRANADOS Chamber Music with Piano

ÆVEA label is proud to introduce Trio Rodin's first CD with a new version of the Granados' Piano Trio based on the manuscript found at the "Museu de la Musica de Barcelona" (instead of the commonly played edition, UME). Besides, the CD includes the world's first recording of Granados' Trova, an arrangement by the composer himself of his most famous chamber orchestra piece "Elisenda". 
The sonata for violin and piano in another of the surprises offered to the listeners here: "We knew about the existence of the manuscripts of a second, third and fourth movements; but no one has dusted them off and shown them to an audience till now. A complete second movement, and two other unfinished, are presented here as a première of what it is, without any doubt, one of his greatest chamber music works." (Trio Rodin) 
The sound is 100% natural, mastered with no additional effects. This is an OnClassical production. Passionate, charming and ambitious... without any doubt one of the most promising young piano trios. (Edesche Concertzaal)