viernes, 30 de junio de 2017

Kim Kashkashian / Jan Garbarek / Vangelis Christopoulos ELENI KARAINDROU Concert in Athens

“Each of my compositions seems to be part of a mosaic which takes on its ultimate form very slowly through the years”, Eleni Karaindrou once said, and the larger picture becomes both clearer and more finely-detailed with each new album.  Concert in Athens is her tenth release on ECM.  It is an exceptional documentation of a performance from 2010, marking a triumphant return to the Athens Concert Hall, the setting for the “Elegy of the Uprooting” shows five years earlier.
A new programme offers new insights, particularly when participating friends include guest soloists Jan Garbarek and Kim Kashkashian, both of whom have made major contributions to the realization of Karaindrou’s work in the past – Garbarek with his evocative playing of the themes for The Beekeeper (reprised on the album Music for Films) and Karaindrou as the key musical protagonist of Ulysses’ Gaze. Over the years both artists have periodically returned to join Eleni for special events.  Ulysses’ Gaze and Beekeeper themes are reprised here, along with music from other films of the late Theo Angelopoulos  -  Dust of Time, Eternity and a day,  Landscape in the Mist and Journey to Cythera, all of them revealing new facets as Kashkashian and Garbarek are featured  alongside Eleni’s team of soloists (with oboist Vangelis Christopoulos especially  striking).  There is also much here that is new or heard on CD for the first time including compositions originally written for theatre productions directed by Antonis Antypas including Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee, The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams as well as Jules Dassin’s production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.  The differing demands of the theatre music open up a new emotional range for the soloists to explore. Eleni:  “I sought to share with them memories from past and more recent voyages in the worlds of theatre and poetry.  With Jan I plunged deep into the fascination and torment of Arthur Miller, of Edward Albee and Tennessee Williams...” The album opens and closes with Garbarek’s intensely brooding saxophone, accompanied by Karaindrou’s piano and the string orchestra, playing the “Requiem for Willie Loman” from Death of a Salesman. Meanwhile, “Kim’s sturdy and sensitive bow swept us on a journey to Laurä’s fragile world in The Glass Menagerie, having first traversed the Closed Roads [one of several newly-arranged pieces of Karaindrou concert music] with all the passion and unmatched internal nobility which distinguish her work.” The scope of the music is further expanded with three charming miniatures inspired by M. Karagatsis’s novel “Number Ten ,  and written for the Greek television series of the same name. (ECM Records)

Lena Belkina / ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra / Andrea Sanguineti CLASSIC VIENNA

Mezzo-soprano Lena Belkina’s first album garnered high praise: “She sings Desdemona’s ‘Willow Song’ from Rossini’s Otello with lyrical intensity... Nacqui all’affanno e al pianto” from La Cenerentola is sharp-witted and brilliant”, opined Das Opernglas, while WAZ (Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung) wrote: “The coloratura is splendidly placed whether she’s mobilizing Tudor fury (in Anna Bolena), questioning her heart in the Barber of Seville or letting the soul of ‘Tanti affetti’ (La donna del lago) overflow with elegant beauty.”
For her second album, “Classic Vienna”, she has recorded the most famous representatives of Viennese Classicism, Mozart (1756–1791), Haydn (1732–1809) and Gluck (1714–1787), with the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Andrea Sanguinetti. Her Mozart selections include the aria “Parto, ma tu ben mio” from La clemenza di Tito, “Il padre adorato” from Idomeneo and the concert aria “Ch'io mi scordi di te?”. She sings Gluck’s arias “Che puro ciel” from Orfeo ed Euridice and “Oh, del mio dolce ardor” from Paride ed Elena as well as Haydn’s aria “Se non piange un’ infelice” from L’isola disabitata and his Scena di Berenice. The programme is rounded off with the overtures from Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Gluck’s Armide and Haydn’s Acide e Galatea. (Presto Classical)

Gidon Kremer / Boston Symphony Orchestra / Charles Dutoit SOFIA GUBAIDULINA Offertorium

This entry in DG's Echo 20/21 series of contemporary music reissues is outstanding for its musical quality, engineering, and remarkable performances. Offertorium is aptly subtitled "Violin Concerto" to reflect the role of the solo violin, here played with brilliance and understanding by Gidon Kremer, for whom it was written. It's in three continuous sections, each headed by a fascinating Webernesque deconstruction of the theme from Bach's Musical Offering. The extensive violin part is technically demanding, and the vigorous orchestral interjections range from the hauntingly wispy to the aggressively colorful. "The Homage à T.S. Eliot for Octet and Soprano" can be described as "mystical with backbone," perfectly complementing the texts, drawn from Eliot's Four Quartets. The music itself is haunting, rhythmically alive, and forward-moving. Its 33 minutes fly past, thanks to the Kremer-led all-star octet, Gubaidulina's inventive scoring, and the tension-filled vocal lines. Soprano Christine Whittlesey, a noted performer of modern vocal music, who sings in three of the work's seven movements, offers outstanding vocalism and interpretative intensity. (Dan Davis)

Fabio Biondi / Europa Galante VIVALDI I Concerti Dell'Addio

Since the early 1990s, Antonio Vivaldi and Fabio Biondi have become inseparable musical values for many music lovers around the world. In his latest recording for Glossa, the latter offers further proof of the astonishing imaginative powers of Vivaldi as a composer of violin concertos, which are matched by Biondi’s own dynamic and cultured virtuosity as a violinist (and director). With these Farewell Concertos Biondi – leading Europa Galante – turns to works written by a Vivaldi very near the end of his life as he travelled to Vienna in a desperate search for creative opportunities.
Where Biondi’s recent Il Diario di Chiara release saw a late Vivaldi surrounded by colleagues and successors at the Pietà in Venice, I concerti dell’addio sees him in a Vienna in mourning for its recentlydeceased emperor and more attuned to the nowfashionable galante style than to that of the Red Priest, however brilliant and ebullient Vivaldi’s compositional spirit continued to be. The six concertos on this disc are all drawn from a collection sold in 1741 – very cheaply it seems – to the count Vinciguerra Collalto, and today kept in Brno, and bear witness to Vivaldi’s late style (as it headed in the direction of Tartini and Locatelli).
Biondi’s selection of concertos provides him full scope to portray the vivid and masterfully-conceived imagery, the compendium of violin techniques and the opportunities for improvisation implicit in Vivaldi’s maturity. (GLOSSA)

Roberta Mameli / La Venexiana / Claudio Cavina 'ROUND M - MONTEVERDI MEETS JAZZ

What happens when you bring the worlds of jazz and Monteverdi together? Is there a musical meeting-point where the two can exist? Claudio Cavina clearly has been believing in this possibility for some time (witness some very “modern” moments in his recent Glossa recordings of the Scherzi musicali and L’incoronazione di Poppea).
Yet this is not La Venexiana playing jazz: Cavina and his musicians do not change a note of the original scores. Instead they bring all their experience and expertise of playing Monteverdi’s madrigals, sacred music (the 1610 Vespers being their current performing focus) and operas to bear on a group of “ ballads” from the 17th century, but in the company of a select quartet of improvising jazz musicians on saxophone, accordion, double bass and drums and all with the warm, soaring story-telling vocal tones of Roberta Mameli shining through as the protagonist.
The clue lies in the album’s title, with the musicians tipping their hats and paying hommage to jazz standards. And Cavina says that within Monteverdi ’s music, “there is something modern, something new and innovatory which encourages one to dare, to go further.” Listen to the results... (GLOSSA)

Andrea Pandolfo / Paolo Pandolfo / Michelangelo Rinaldi KIND OF SATIE

Every once in a while Paolo Pandolfo likes to slip away from the world of Baroque-era manuscripts brimming with virtuoso compositions for the viola da gamba in order to create a free-form improvisatory programme surrounded by like-minded musical spirits: and so, away from stylistic rules and regulations, Kind of Satie has come into being for Glossa.
Subtitled “new music around Erik Satie”, Pandolfo embarks on a journey around the eccentricity-laden life of that “transcendent idealist”, in the company of his brother Andrea, and with Michelangelo Rinaldi. Andrea Pandolfo, who has worked with Paolo on the Travel notes programme, is a trumpet and flugelhorn player as well as a composer (in world music, contemporary, folk, jazz and early music), whilst the multi-instrumentalist Rinaldi acquits himself admirably on this new recording in playing piano, accordion and toy piano. Paolo Pandolfo is to be heard on both his usual and on an electroacoustic viola da gamba.
Satie’s musical scores frequently bore marking designed solely for performers, but in some of the pieces included in Kind of Satie these are openly presented for listeners by the Pandolfo brothers. The music for the Trois Sonneries de la Rose+Croix and Sports et Divertissements provide the trio with starting points for their own modern-day musical compositions, as does Baroque music also (Marin Marais). The draughtswoman Tinka Volaric provides a series of illustrations created specifically in the context of this innovative project. (GLOSSA)

Mitzi Meyerson CLAUDE-BÉNIGNE BALBASTRE Musique de Salon

Maybe it is the fact that they are women, perhaps it is because of their preference for discretion over visibility, maybe it is in order to give a higher sense of priority to the timeless rather than to immediate success, the case is that both Mara Galassi and Mitzi Meyerson, the only two women in Glossa's artistic lineup, have become skilled in producing minority yet exquisitely-refined and lasting recording projects. Their discs indeed have attained cult status, for they succeed by word of mouth rather than through any more established means of communication.
Such will be the case also, we suspect, with Mitzi Meyerson's latest project, called Musique de salon, wherein she introduces us to a charming and delicious recital of pieces by Claude-Bénigne Balbastre. Sounds from a Taskin harpsichord and from a beautifully restored Broadwood fortepiano from 1792 take us back to the fascinating ambience of the pre-revolutionary Parisian salons… although the disc, appropriately, reaches a climax with a series of variations on La Marseillaise.
Philippe Beaussant in his essay for the booklet: "The music informally known as 'salon music' is not always as futile as it might at first appear. The very fact that it evolved in keeping with social mores, tastes, trends and even fashions means that it is a privileged witness of the history of music. This is wonderfully illustrated by Claude-Bénigne Balbastre." (GLOSSA)

jueves, 29 de junio de 2017

Kim Kashkashian / Stuttgarter Kammerorchester / Dennis Russell Davies LACHRYMAE

Lachrymae was my second exposure to the brilliance of violist Kim Kashkashian, after her ECM recording of Paul Hindemith’s viola sonatas. It has long been one of my favorites of hers, as its emotional and tonal complexities are high points of the New Series catalog. The program here is modest—consisting of only three pieces—but heavy. The opening strains of Hindemith’s Trauermusik paint a grave and darkening picture. Composed in a six-hour stretch of creative fervor in the afternoon following the death of King George V in 1936, the piece mourns the fall of the monarchical figurehead by describing a musical effigy in his place. Hindemith gave the premier performance that very evening in a special BBC live broadcast. And indeed, the music has that very quality: a lost message somehow regained and spread across the airwaves in a time of great sorrow.
The album’s title work comes from Benjamin Britten and is performed here in its glorious 1975 orchestrated version (for the earlier viola/piano version, check out Kashkashian’s Elegies, also on ECM). Britten has subtitled the work “Reflections on a Song of John Dowland,” thereby lending it a rather bold intertextual potency. And while it goes without saying that Kashkashian’s soloing is first rate here, the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra casts an even more enchanting spell as it binds each motivic cell with fluid grace.
Which brings us to Krzysztof Penderecki’s Konzert für Viola und Kammerorchester. The result of a 1983 commission from the Venezuelan government in honor of freedom fighter Simón Bolívar, the concerto marks a distinct shift in the composer’s aesthetic of virtuosity. Much in contrast to the density of his earlier concertos, here Penderecki cultivates a more intimate sound palette. Yet none of the color his work is known for is lost. We still get a meticulously constructed object adorned with all manner of timbres and percussive details.
In my opinion, Lachrymae showcases some of the most powerful music written for the viola. And who better than Kashkashian to wring out every last tear from this trio of captivating scores? This music is wrought in sadness and refined through a nurturing touch from its composers and musicians alike. It is not the spirit made manifest, but the manifest made spirit. (ECM Reviews)


Given the prevalence of war in the Europe of the Renaissance it is no real surprise that warlike themes and echoes of battles should find their ways into secular and civic music compositions – or even into religious ones (such as the many L’Homme armé and La Bataille masses of the time). With Di guerra e di pace, La Pifarescha captures the contrast between the roar and rhythms of battle and the celebrations of courtly and popular festivities as would have been performed by an alta cappella ensemble from the Middle Ages through to the dawn of the Baroque: shawms, slide trumpets and sackbuts, plus other wind instruments buttressed by percussion instruments.
The music of well-known composers from the period – Josquin, Isaac, Willaert, Phalèse, Susato and Senfl – is conjured up in virtuosic performances from this Italian ensemble, La Pifarescha, making its first appearance on Glossa (even if its members are regular instrumental contributors to performances and recordings by the likes of Cantica Symphonia or La Venexiana).
This modern journey, creating a Renaissance “soundtrack”, embraces not just war and peace but also the contrast of European and Arabic and Asiatic influences from the times of the Crusades through to civic bands playing for the residents in Renaissance Venice or Bologna. In creating this enjoyable and improvisation-filled entertainment the members of La Pifarescha wear their scholarly knowledge lightly as they play their way from the popular to the erudite and back.

miércoles, 28 de junio de 2017

Paolo Pandolfo BACH The Six Suites

Originally released in 2001 but unavailable for almost two years, Glossa has designed gorgeous new packaging for this most important of Paolo Pandolfo’s projects, possibly a milestone in the recording history of Bach’s music. Everybody seems to know these discs – despite almost no marketing effort, they are perceived with such benchmarks as Glenn Gould’s or Gustav Leonhardt’s renderings of the Goldberg Variations or Anner Bylsma’s performances of the original cello suites.
The fact that these suites sound so well on the viola da gamba is of course to a great extent due to Pandolfo’s magic touch. The rich sonority of the viola da gamba truly seems to enrich these pieces and Pandolfo’s remarkable transcription gives weight to his theory that Bach originally composed them with this instrument in mind. (GLOSSA)


Paolo Pandolfo is one of those rare artists who does not give into the temptation of establishing a regular and frequent rhythm of making new recordings – except, in his case, when he feels that he has something really relevant and new to say. If, in some way, this sets him apart and places him on the fringes of the record market, it does guarantee on the other hand a sense of timelessness and durability for his artistic work. His dazzling virtuosity and a musicality that knows no bounds transforms him into a true reference marker in an early music world that grows more predictable by theday.
And now, after nearly two years of silence, Pandolfo gathers round him a group of friends in order to create something which has practically been lost among the performers of “classical” music, victims of a wasting process that has become almost ingrained: improvisation. Turning back to a tradition which in the 16th and 17th centuries counted upon practitioners as famous as Diego Ortiz, Christopher Simpson and Girolamo Della Casa and that continued with significant names such as Frescobaldi, Corelli, Mozart and Brahms, these musicians unleash their imagination to regale us with eighty minutes of touching beauty and an unusual freedom. What we have here is a journey across musical structures which are mainly late- Renaissance ones, from dance ostinato basses (Pass’e mezzi, Folías, Canarios, Vacas) to the Fantasies for a solo instrument, from improvisations on a cantus firmus (La Spagna) to the alla bastarda style, based on polyphonic compositions (Anchor che col partire, Doulce Memoire)… Truly delightful.

Paolo Pandolfo TRAVEL NOTES

Pandolfo is a musician committed to his instrument and his time. His is an alert mind, at times even tormented, always grappling with the idea of his role as a viola da gamba soloist three centuries after the instrument’s virtual disappearance. In 2003 things fell into place and the realization ofan idea with a vague and uncertain outline became possible…
At first conceived as a solo recording project, a few days before the sessions were to begin, and almost by coincidence, the singer Laura Polimeno and Paolo’s brother, the trumpet player Andrea Pandolfo, joined the adventure. The stage was set for two real surprises: on the one hand, a viola da gamba CD comprised entirely of new, modern works, and on the other, the creation of a new and fascinating sonority, produced by combining the viola da gamba with trumpet and voice.
The result is profoundly and unusually beautiful. Recorded in Spain (Robledo de Chavela) and Belgium (Namur), this is a truly important CD. It is one of those discs which defines our label’s commitments, not only to the painstaking reconstruction of the sounds of the past, but also and above all to the projection of this immense treasure into the future, so in need of intelligent aesthetic statements. (GLOSSA)

Mara Galassi / Giovanni Togni G.F. HAENDEL Microcosm Concerto

The story of Handel’s associations with the harp and also those of harpists with his music stretches out across more than a century, from before the composer’s arrival in London in 1712 until well into the 19th century, when arrangements of his works were continuing still to be published. In an original and novel CD - in which the harpist Mara Galassi performs on two contrasting period instruments, a Welsh triple harp and an Érard pedal harp - there appear both compositions written by Handel for the instrument, such as the Harp Concerto HWV 294 and the Suite in D minor HWV 448, as well as later arrangements by composers such as Edward Jones and Nicolas Charles Bochsa, in new works partially attributed (in a somewhat doubtful manner) to Handel.
This is Galassi’s third disc for Glossa (following Il Viaggio di Lucrezia in 1998 and Les Harpes du Ciel in 2003, two CDs which have been quietly acquiring cult status), and on it she shares centre stage with the keyboard player Giovanni Togini, who acts as the ideal musical companion on any of the three instruments which he makes use of for this Microcosm Concerto: the organ, the harpsichord and the fortepiano. (GLOSSA)

Europa Galante / Fabio Biondi G.F. HANDEL Imeneo (Serenata "Hymen" - Dublin, 1742)

Fabio Biondi signs his fifth release on Glossa with a further opera exploration, here with Europa Galante and providing a vital interpretation of Handel’s late opera Imeneo, given in its serenade style 1742 Dublin version. 
If, by this date, the London public was tiring of the Italian opera in which Handel had been excelling for decades, and the composer was now turning both to the oratorio and in the direction of the galant style, he was still able to call upon divos and divas of the quality of La Francesina and Giovanni Battista Andreoni to perform his music. Though not a success in its Lincoln’s Inn Fields staging in London, Imeneo was performed by Handel as his only Italian work during his season in Dublin (which also saw the first performance of Messiah), complete with additional arias to add to those praised in 1740 and a pruning of the libretto (which hadn’t received approval).
The revised story turns on Tirinto (Ann Hallenberg in Biondi’s modern-day production, as performed at the Handel Festival in Halle) pining for his beloved and kidnapped Rosmene (Monica Piccinini). Her liberation by Imeneo (Magnus Staveland) leads to Rosmene being required to decide which of the two Athenians to wed. Hymen – as Handel’s work was known in Dublin – was the god of marriage, and so, will love overcome duty and reason or not? Fabio Biondi, directing from the violin, brings all his own experience in both Italian music and music from the eighteenth century in delivering a stunning vindication of an unfairly neglected Handel opera. (GLOSSA)

Sonia Prina / laBarroca / Ruben Jais GLUCK Heroes in Love

There is definitely no lack of heroic roles in the Gluckian repertory apart from the very well-known Orfeo from Orfeo ed Euridice: many memorable parts were assigned by this composer for the alto voice (either male castratos or female contraltos) – and it is precisely this repertory, written for excellent interpreters and yet still rarely performed today, which is celebrated on this CD.
As a consequence of a specific historical set of circumstances, Gluck had the good fortune to work with the final alto singers of his generation: not only Gaetano Guadagni, but also Giovanni Carestini, Vittoria Tesi and many others. Until the first part of the 18th century, the contralto register was the one especially favoured for heroic male roles and for those of heroines en travesti. Much of this repertory remains unexplored and of course unrecorded: with this new programme, Glossa tries to help filling a somewhat unexplainable gap.
Sonia Prina, one of the leading altos of her generation, teams up with the fine Milanese laBarocca orchestra, conducted by Ruben Jais, for her first full-scale opera recital on disc: and this after having sung the leading role in Handel’s pasticcio Catone, very recently released on Glossa, and anticipating her mind-blowing performance in Silla, another Handelian opera, with Fabio Biondi – to be presented in Autumn, as well on Glossa.

La Compagnia del Madrigale CLAUDIO MONTEVERDI Il pianto della Madonna

With Il pianto della Madonna, a collection of spiritual compositions by Claudio Monteverdi, La Compagnia del Madrigale provide a stunning follow-up to their award-winning recording of the Fifth Book of madrigals by Luca Marenzio – both releases from Glossa. The singers of the ensemble have returned to their favoured Piedmontese recording location in Roletto to create a vivid sound picture of the desire in Monteverdi’s own time to bring the “heavenly harmony” of the composer’s secular works into the service of the religious domain (and that despite Post-Tridentine restrictions on such secular “intrusions”).
Here, for example, is presented the spiritual version of the celebrated Lamento d’Arianna from the lost opera AriannaIl pianto della Madonna – and sung in a distinctive polyphonic reworking prepared especially for La Compagnia del Madrigale. Pastoral concerns in Monteverdi’s madrigals, such as in the Fourth and Fifth Books, make way for reflections on the Crucifixion or the Nativity through the new religious texts supplied by the likes of Angelo Grillo and Aquilino Coppini, which nonetheless fit the music more than aptly. Included also are some of Monteverdi’s own religious compositions, as published by Giulio Cesare Bianchi, and including the extensive Litaniae lauretanae.
In the booklet essay Marco Bizzarini brings his deep understanding of the interplay of words and music in Italy in Monteverdi’s time, underscoring the skill, experience and sheer musicality of La Compagnia del Madrigale. (GLOSSA)

Il pianto della Madonna.pdf

Allabastrina / La Pifarescha / Elena Sartori FRANCESCA CACCINI La liberazione di Ruggerio dall’isola di Alcina

With this production of Francesca Caccini’s La liberazione di Ruggerio dall’isola di Alcina, directed by Elena Sartori, an important stepping-stone in the development of seventeenth-century opera receives a superb new recording from Glossa. For much of her career – Caccini was a composer, a virtuoso singer, a teacher, a poet and a multiinstrumentalist – she worked at the Medici court, and was commissioned by the grand duchess of Tuscany, Maria Maddalena of Austria, to write this commedia in musica for performance in Florence in 1625. Very probably this was the first opera composed by a woman, and its performance in Warsaw in 1628 stands as the first documented Italian opera known to have been staged outside the peninsula.
Caccini’s score, evoking not just the music of her father Giulio but that of Jacopo Peri and of the Monteverdi of Venice, is full of musical diversity and originality. The libretto of La liberazione (by Ferdinando Saracinelli, working from Ludovico Ariosto’s epic Orlando furioso) portrays the struggle between two sorceresses – one ‘good’, Melissa, the other ‘evil’, Alcina – over the young knight Ruggiero, who has been bewitched by Alcina.  
The singers recorded here for these roles are Gabriella Martellacci, Elena Biscuola and Mauro Borgioni, whilst other roles – in a score packed with vocal opportunities – are taken by Emanuela Galli, Francesca Lombardi Mazzulli and Raffaele Giordani. Elena Sartori, who directs the ensembles Allabastrina and La Pifarescha, also contributes an illuminating booklet essay placing Francesca Caccini in her musical and biographical context. (GLOSSA)

martes, 27 de junio de 2017

Roberta Invernizzi / Silvia Frigato / Thomas Bauer / La Risonanza / Fabio Bonizzoni G.F. HAENDEL Duetti e Terzetti italiani

Fabio Bonizzoni returns with a further Glossa release dedicated to the chamber vocal output of Georg Friedrich Handel: here, a second volume of duets (and trios), which features the vocal talents of Roberta Invernizzi, Silvia Frigato, Thomas Bauer and Krystian Adam.
Whilst Handel wrote these small-scale vocal works across his career, this new selection focuses on that astonishingly fertile brief stay that the young Saxon made in Italy from 1707-09 (when he also produced many of the cantatas which Bonizzoni has recorded to great critical success for Glossa). These sensual duets and trios are imbued with Handel’s discovery of Italian – especially the Arcadian – culture, which included him hearing and understanding the music of Corelli and Alessandro Scarlatti. How quickly and successfully Handel developed the chamber duet form is discussed in another of Stefano Russomanno’s detailed explorations of Handel’s music in the booklet essay.

Much of the music for these duets and trios on this recording is scored for soprano and bass singers and Roberta Invernizzi, in particular, is afforded another opportunity to demonstrate her magical reaction to Handel’s responsiveness to the Italian language. Not to be outdone in this respect are also the other vocal solists and of course the experienced continuo team from La Risonanza: Caterina Dell’Angello (cello), Evangelina Mascardi (theorbo) and Fabio Bonizzoni himself (harpsichord). (GLOSSA)

Kim Kashkashian / The Hilliard Ensemble / Dennis Russell Davies / Stuttgarter Kammerorchester GIYA KANCHELI Abii Ne Viderem

My first exposure to the music of Giya Kancheli, with which the composer once said, “I feel more as if I were filling a space that has been deserted,” was through Exil, which remains in my opinion the finest ECM New Series release to date. Much in contrast to the tearful beauty of that most significant chamber album, the orchestral arrangements on Abii ne viderem—drawn as they are from the same thematic sources—lend extroverted articulation to essentially “monastic” material. This music may speak the same language, but in a far more distant dialect. The Life without Christmas cycle, from which two pieces bookend the present recording, is central to the Kancheli oeuvre. Not only is it his wellspring, but it also comprises, it would seem, the overarching worldview under which he musically operates. It is the gloom of a life of displacement, the full embodiment of what Hans-Klaus Jungheinrich calls “measured gravity,” which may perhaps be likened to the heavy emptiness of Tarkovsky’s Stalker. As in said film, every gesture makes a footprint, a remnant of human presence left to sink into the submerged wasteland of a silent future.
Morning Prayers (1990) is immediately distinguished by an angelic boy soprano, whose taped voice is never fully grounded but which hovers throughout. The piano adds another haunting element, seeming to pull at the barbed ends of nostalgia even as it pushes the orchestra down a flight of descendent chords. Occasional violent moments startle us into self-awareness and only serve to underscore the power of the prayers that surround them. The most profoundly effective moment occurs when the piano echoes in a dance-like theme, the orchestral accompaniment slightly off center—a distant memory ravaged by time and circumstance.
The title of the album’s central piece, Abii ne viderem (1992/94), translates to “I turned away so as not to see.” The more one listens to it, the question becomes not what is being turned away from but what is being observed upon turning. Its paced staccato bursts are linked by a profound silence, escalating with every reiteration. This silence eventually opens into a full orchestral statement, italicized again by the piano’s audible pulse. We find ourselves caught in the middle of a larger web of sentiments, until we can no longer see ourselves for who we are but only for who we have been. Personally, I find this piece to be a touch overbearing, if only because the import of its ideas is easily crushed by the heft of its dynamic spread.
The presence of the Hilliard Ensemble rescues Evening Prayers (1991) from the didacticism of its predecessor. It is a more fully unified narrative, linked by a lingering alto flute. A gorgeous “ascension” passage marks a rare contrapuntal moment for Kancheli, while David James’s voice creates magic, ever so subtly offset by a skittering violin. Occasional bursts, some punctuated by snare drum, break the mood and ensure that our attention is held. Inevitably, the piece ends like a ship sailing into a foggy ocean, leaving behind only a blank map to show for our travels.
Don’t let any comparisons to Arvo Pärt lure you astray. Kancheli’s music, while transcendent, cannot be divorced from its rootedness in upheaval. And while this album may be filled with beautiful moments, I cannot help but feel that something gets elided in these grander arrangements. I say this with the gentlest of criticisms, and perhaps only because my first foray into this world was on such a small scale. The sound of Exil stays with me, and sometimes I just cannot hear it in any other context, and for those wishing to hear this composer for the first time I would recommend starting there. That being said, the scale of these pieces makes them no less evocative for all their historical understatements and sensitivity. And perhaps that is Kancheli’s underlying observation: that, in our current climate of convalescent ideologies, all we have to hold on to are those rare flashes of fire in which our communion with something greater has transcended the rising waters of sociopolitical corruption. (ECM Reviews)

Kim Kashkashian / Robert Levin / Eduard Brunner GYÖRGY KURTÁG Hommage à R.Sch. - ROBERT SCHUMANN

Bartók serves as the link between Schumann and Kurtág: when Kurtág says 'My mother tongue is Bartók, and Bartók's mother tongue was Beethoven' he is referring to the historically linked musical traditions of Germany and Austria, which are his special concern. In addition to this general connection, the works of Kurtág and Schumann reveal astonishing and fascinating affinities in terms of both literary and musical references..... --From the CD booklet notes by Hartmut Lück
on Kashkashian: '... the best violist in the world.' --New York Daily News
'Her playing is notable for its songfulness, a weightless soaring that conveys a wealth of emotion.' --Philadelphia Inquirer

Kim Kashkashian / Netherlands Radio Chamber Orchestra / Peter Eötvös BÉLA BARTÓK - PETER EÖTVÖS - GYÖRGY KURTÁG

“Kim Kashkashian’s playing of that most vexing and vulnerable of instruments, the viola, always seems to convey both the pain and the joy, the beauty and the toil, that go into the making of music. As it’s been said, she is a virtuoso who doesn’t play like a virtuoso. You don’t get just the notes, the surface get the subtext, the deep feelings – the composers’, hers, yours.” – Bradley Bambarger, Schwann Opus.
Typically impassioned, committed performances distinguish Kim Kashkashian’s New Series recording of music for viola by three great Hungarian composers. Kashkashian’s intense focus, superb craftsmanship and explosive virtuosity are brought to bear on Béla Bartók’s final work, on one of György Kurtág’s early pieces, and on an important new work written especially for her by Peter Eötvös.
Interconnections between the composers and the interpreter are many. Something akin to a line of transmission runs from Bartók to Eötvös via Kurtág. Kurtág has famously said that his “mother tongue is Bartók”, and his Movement for Viola and Orchestra was directly influenced by Bartók’s Violin Concerto and Concerto for Orchestra. Peter Eötvös was born, like Bartók, in Transylvania, befriended Kurtág in Budapest, and his musical development was decisively influenced by the work of both composers. “György Kurtág’s music”, Eötvös has noted, “is deeply rooted in European tradition. The certainty and glowing intensity of his works remind me of Van Gogh and Dostoyevsky. The increasing success of his music comes on the one hand from the fact that his powerful, subjective ability to express himself cannot be pigeonholed in any of the familiar stylistic movements, and on the other hand, from the fact that his music has an unusually vital relationship to the living and the dead.” A similar claim might well be made for the musics of Eötvös himself and Bartók, in which innovation and respect for the weight of tradition are keenly balanced.
Kashkashian, who has worked closely with Kurtág, was instrumental in bringing his music to the New Series and made the premiere recording of his revised six-part cycle “Jelek” (ECM New Series 1508). She has also worked under the baton of Eötvös and has, furthermore, been playing the Bartók Viola Concerto for three decades now. In preparation for the current project she went back to some of Bartók’s own sources, “listening to a lot of the Hungarian folk music he collected to study the articulation of melody, rhythm, phrasing.” (ECM Records)

lunes, 26 de junio de 2017


Reto Bieri’s New Series debut is a brilliant recital for solo clarinet that looks at new developmental possibilities in the ‘language’ of the instrument in modern music. Bieri quotes with approval Heinz Holliger’s statement “My entire relation to music is such that I always try to go to the limits”. Here the Swiss clarinettist has brought together pieces from the border regions of compositional exploration, as well as the pathways that link them. Under examination here are, for instance, the border region “between silence and the birth of sound and noise, a magical region”, touched upon in the music of Salvatore Sciarrino, Heinz Holliger and Gergely Vajda. Then there is the juncture of speech, sprechgesang and melody (referenced in Holliger and Luciano Berio), as well as the border region linking gesture, dance, ritual and game – as in Holliger, Elliott Carter and Péter Eötvös.
In Holliger’s “Contrechant”, the piece that gives Bieri’s album its title, all the regions are illuminated, calling for “a new kind of virtuosity from the player”, a challenge to which Reto Bieri rises. With the exception of the late Luciano Berio, the clarinettist has worked closely with each of the featured composers to realize optimum performance of these pieces. What a fascinating group of composers it is, too: from Elliott Carter – at 102, America’s Grand Old Man of new music – to Gergely Vajda, former student of Eötvös, who wrote “Lightshadow-trembling” when he was only twenty.
Paul Griffiths, in his liner notes, emphasizes the ‘singing’ quality of the performances: “Song. Some of the titles nudge us in that direction – Lied, Contrechant, Rechant – but what makes the conclusion inescapable is the fluency, the nuanced variety of Reto Bieri’s playing. This is indeed song: song without words … song in which sound alone sings”.
Bieri views the choice of pieces for the present album as an extension of the ideal repertoire suggested by the 1995 ECM solo clarinet recording “dal niente” by Eduard Brunner, with music of Lachenmann, Stockhausen, Stravinsky, Boulez, Scelsi and Yun. (Both solo clarinet discs were recorded at Propstei St Gerold, with Manfred Eicher producing). “Contrechant” is destined to prove no less influential. (ECM Records)

LERA AUERBACH plays her Preludes and Dreams

Russian pianist and composer Lera Auerbach does not look like your average pianist/composer. She looks a little more like an actress or model, and Americans might note that she looks a bit like British actress Olivia d'Abo, who plays Nicole Wallace, Vincent D'Onofrio's notorious nemesis on the popular detective show Law and Order: Criminal Intent. However, acting is not Auerbach's sideline; it's poetry, and she has five collections of poems to credit, plus publication of more than 100 single items in various Russian poetry journals. Most of us in the West can't make heads or tails of the Russian language, therefore Auerbach's music must speak to us on her behalf. The 37 pieces found on Bis' Lera Auerbach plays her Preludes and Dreams are like pianistic poems; while a few top the three-minute mark, most of these pieces range between 3 minutes and 30 seconds. The movements are subdivided into three sets, 24 Preludes for Piano, Op. 41, Ten Dreams, Op. 45, and Chorale, Fugue and Postlude, Op. 31, but at first the listener may experience them as if all were part of the same work, or at least the same "album" -- that taken in a popular sense, rather than in a typical classical album where the disc is made up of movements belonging to works obviously different from one another. Lera Auerbach plays her Preludes and Dreams has a sense of continuity that makes it feel as though all of it is of a piece.
Auerbach is an excellent pianist, and yet not one who composes to amaze us with her dexterity. Many of her pieces are spacious, understated, and strongly reliant on distantly struck notes and the sound of chords dying away for their effect. Not even one of her pieces is truly abstract or seemingly derived from some kind of procedure; Auerbach composes by impulse and her development schemes are instinctual. At times her influences are apparent -- one hears an occasional allusion to Mussorgsky and more often to the music of Prokofiev. The fifth "dream" Tempo di Marcia features a twisted-up fragment of what seems to be a quote from Kurt Weill's Kanonensong disintegrating into the coal dust of a ground-up remnant from the "Fate" motif of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony in C minor. Such direct quotations are relatively rare in Auerbach's music; however, she does work from direct impressions and personal experience and that is what goes into her music. Auerbach isn't trying to do a backflip in order to please an audience, either; some of her harmonic gestures are stern, tough, and even angry sounding. Nevertheless, her music is the result of a distinct and well-studied personality, a fact that is already well known to many top-flight performers and groups who have commissioned Auerbach for works and to Sikorski, the music publisher to whom Auerbach is its youngest composer.
Lera Auerbach plays her Preludes and Dreams shakes up the expectations commonly accorded to classical music in a variety of ways. Many pro-European musical pundits may insist that the classical tradition cannot move forward without the use of the "dreaded systems" developed early in the twentieth century and done to death by mid-century. However, Auerbach is European, isn't using the dreaded systems, and seems to be moving forward as well as anyone. Other more technologically inclined music mavens insist that the entire future of music is bound up in digital technology, and yet the only digital technology Auerbach is using here is her fingers. Auerbach, utilizing a traditional instrument and clearly recognizable musical materials, is making music that sounds fresh, mysterious, contemporary, atmospheric, and personal. Perhaps if we stopped worrying so hard about what the next big thing was going to be, we might take notice of artists like Auerbach, who is offering something right now in terms of classical music that is hip, relevant, provocative, and thoroughly enjoyable. (Dave Lewis)


An ECM debut for György Kurtág jr, in a strikingly unusual context. The son of the great Hungarian composer is himself an influential figure in new music, particularly in the electronic and electro-acoustic domain. “Kurtágonals” is, amongst other things, a celebration of his work in this area, as fellow composer László Hortobágyi  adapts and develops Kurtág jr. themes – some of them more than 30 years old - , setting them in new sound-environments. Hortobágyi views “Kurtágonals” as both a diary of a long friendship and a succinct summary of the musical oeuvre of the contributors.
The three musician-composers, also known democratically as Hortogonals, have a vast range of experience between them which reaches beyond ‘new music’ into non-western forms, sound-collage, improvisation, folk music, pop, rock, and ambient music. The participants write, “The principal intention of the Hortogonals project is to re-contextualize these compositions, originally born in a classical avant-garde musical atmosphere, into a 21st century final form. Joint efforts have resulted in a so far non-existent genre of ‘contemporary audiopod’, a collage of music with unique tonality and unusual compositional form.” (ECM Records)

sábado, 24 de junio de 2017

TOSHIO HOSOKAWA Vertical Time Study I - Sen V - In die Tiefe der Zeit - Melodia - Vertical Time Study III

In his series Vertical Time Study, Hosokawa seeks to "integrate Noh’s vertical structure of time into my own music. It is about how temporal elements, like wedges, disrupt the vertical, horizontal timeline at irregular intervals. These disruptions produce elements of tension … creating visible fissures in the structure of time and visible cracks in space. My aim is to examine the complexity and the depth of these sounds hidden in the moment." In his piece Sen V, Hosokawa tries to combine the "earth’s groaning" - his personal impression of Tibetan Shomyo (Buddhist monk chants) – with the sound of the accordion. The same instrument plays an important role in his 1994 piece In die Tiefe der Zeit, in which it acts as the female counterpart to the solo cello. Both instruments are embraced by the string section representing the universe. The part for accordion in Melodia, which represents Hosokawa’s attempt to portray the "flow of sounds in our souls", is inspired by the sound of the ancient Chinese Sheng. The special relationship with Buddhist ideas is the hallmark of Hosokawa’s oeuvre: "It is possible to attain the state of Buddha in a single note." (Proverb)

Vadim Gluzman / Angela Yofee LERA AUERBACH 24 Preludes for Violin and Piano - T'filah - Postlude

Lera Auerbach, just 30, has already achieved success as a pianist, composer (more than 60 opus numbers to date), novelist and poet. Born in the Soviet Union, she trained mainly in the US and in Germany. This, the first commercial CD of her music, benefits from powerful, strongly committed performances, and excellent recording – Auerbach’s style involves vivid, sometimes aggressive exploitation of the piano’s bass register, and such passages come across with wonderful force and clarity. 
For the sequence of 24 keys, she adopts the same order as Chopin did for his Preludes (and Pierre Rode in his 24 violin Caprices). But the major and minor keys mean something rather different to Auerbach. Sometimes the key is only tenuously suggested (F sharp major); sometimes we’re half-way through the piece before it’s established (C major). On other occasions the tonal centre may be clear but the mode less so (B major). Or we come across naïve, straight-forward tonal material, subverted by unusual timbre or an ‘alien’ harmonic context (G major). 
Auerbach’s music is eclectic, in places referential (F sharp minor, with its echoes of Mussorgsky and the Mozart K488 Concerto), but put together with tremendous passion and imagination. And if some devices tend to recur over and over again (wide separation of the pianist’s hands, thumping repeated bass notes, pieces that begin with great energy which then runs out to create a sense of emptiness), the way she welds so many memorable moments into a convincing extended sequence shows a real composer at work. We’re likely to hear a lot more of her. (Duncan Druce / Gramophone)

Daniel Hope SPHERES Einaudi - Glass - Nyman - Pärt - Richter

For as long as mankind has gazed up into the night sky at the stars and planets following their ordained course, the imagination has been set free. In ancient days, people spoke of “music of the spheres”, ghostly sounds that were long thought to have been created by the planetary bodies brushing past each other. The music they made was ethereal and, quite literally, otherworldly.
“I’ve been fascinated for a long time by this idea of ‘spherical music’ and by the philosophers, mathematicians and musicians who expounded their theory of musica universalis over the centuries,” explains Daniel Hope. “It started with Pythagoras and extended to some of those extraordinary German thinkers such as Johannes Kepler who were convinced that music was created when planets move or collide, and that music had a mathematical foundation, a kind of astronomical harmony. I thought it was significant that these were brilliant scientists and mathematicians, not just soothsayers. My aim was to make an album touching on this sublime theme, while also discovering what composers nowadays might write when thinking in this context.”
“Spheres” can be interpreted in a number of ways, beginning with the exploration of pieces that ally themselves to the concept of extraterrestial music which can as easily come from the 17th century as from the 21st. But the circularity of a sphere, the shape’s roundness, can also be related to the use of repetition in much of modern music – from the minimalism of Philip Glass via the fusing of the minimal with a more overtly emotional language, as in Michael Nyman’s Trysting Fields (music from the soundtrack to Peter Greenaway’s film Drowning by Numbers), to the quirky and immediately communicative Eliza Aria by Elena Kats-Chernin. (James Jolly)

JOHN CAGE Two4 - TOSHIO HOSOKAWA In die Tiefe der Zeit

The Japanese composer Toshio Hosokawa describes his music as calligraphy with notes in space and time, notes that come from the world of silence and also return to it. He understands his composition "In die Tiefe der Zeit" [Into the Depths of Time] as a mythic soundscape. To the traditional Japanese "paths" of discovering the self, Toshio Hosokawa adds another one: the "path of music".
John Cage, too, decided early on to take the "path of music", and he thoroughly explored non-Western systems of thought and ways of life.

viernes, 23 de junio de 2017


The German-Austrian-Australian Rosamunde Quartett München was formed in 1991 by four musicians of widely differing backgrounds, and given early encouragement by Sergiu Celibedache and Heinrich Schiff. A major success at the Berliner Festwochen a year later elevated them to 'the elite of the lofty guild of string quartets' to quote one German critic, and since then they have toured the major festivals. The undervalued work of Czech composer Burian has been one of the quartet's enthusiasms from the outset. Here they contrast his 4th String Quartet with Shostakovich's 8th - in the process alluding to the troubled biographies of both men - in a programme that begins with Webern's farewell to Romanticism in the Langsamer Satz.

'One of the finest discs to come from ECM of late by the little-known but distinguished Rosamunde Quartet. The Webern dates from his short-live Romantic period, in style close to late Strauss or Schoenberg of Verklärte Nacht. Shostakovich's elegiac String Quartet No. 8, dedicated to 'the victims of fascism and war', glints with irony and self-reference, while the Czech Burian manages to be at once sinister and dreamy.'  (Fiona Maddocks, The Observer)

VALENTIN SILVESTROV leggiero, pesante

Of all the words in music’s vocabulary, one of the commonest is "farewell" Many of the world’s greatest songs are addressed to the departing: the recently dead, lost lovers, missed opportunities. Music speaks of these things as memory speaks, makes us aware both of distance and of remaining closeness. Nothing is lost, music says: it is here. But also: it is here only because it cannot come back. … When it addresses leave-taking specifically, it has terms that include some of the oldest in the Western tradition. A four-note scalewise descent in the minor mode has been an image of lament since the Renaissance, and perhaps it accounts for the atmosphere of sadness that often gathers around minor-key harmony. A final cadence, particularly in slow music, can also sound like a valedicition, because this is the point at which music not only expresses passing but itself recedes.
This vanishing and this eternal presence have been the Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov’s persistent topics through the last three decades, since he was in his 30’s and, like his Soviet contemporary Arvo Pärt, heard the past sounding through the gaps in modernism. …
At the opening of the First Quartet, for instance, there are the falling phrases and the omnipresent cadences that convey appeased grief, all at a very relaxed tempo and in a harmonic ambience as straightforward as that of a folk song. The Barber Adagio is only a step away. But then the picture begins to cloud. An expected harmony does not arrive and cannot be found. The instruments start slowly circling because they cannot think what else to do. Inexplicable dissonances creep in. The music seems to be losing its way, and eventually it just comes to a sounding stop on a sustained soft discord, fading into toneless whispers.
There is an effort here to refresh aged notions. Because Mr. Silvestrov’s turns of phrase are never quite completed – or because any completion sounds partial and tentative – they reach to some extent from the realm of the borrowed to speak firmly and newly. And they help themselves do so both by taking on novel timbres ( the vibratoless sounds of the quartet) and by extending a strong appeal to their performers (an appeal to which a particularly powerful, rich and vital response comes from the cellist Anja Lechner and the pianist Silke Avenhaus in two works). (Paul Griffiths, The New York Times)

Rosamunde Quartett DINO SALUZZI

The Kultrum collaboration between Argentinian bandoneon master Dino Saluzzi and the Munich-based German-Austrian-Australian Rosamunde Quartet was initiated in 1996. Featuring Saluzzi's chamber music for bandoneon and string quartet, Kultrum is both a "departure" and an extension of Dino's previous ECM recordings (in fact the title echoes that of his first disc for the label), in which - as Swiss critic Peter Rüedi has noted - he acknowledges and then transgresses the boundaries: between composition and improvisation, between so-called serious and popular music, between folk music and jazz and tango.
The genesis of the project, however, can be traced back specifically to Saluzzi's solo album Andina of 1988 and a small piece added as a postscript to that session. The sound of the bandoneon on "Memories" seemed to imply a wave of orchestration, and the suggestion that a string quartet could bring this out more fully was left for Saluzzi to ponder.
In the interim, the Rosamunde Quartet - whose tastes are unusually comprehensive for a classical ensemble - raised Saluzzi's name among a list of enthusiasms from Haydn to Nono in the course of production discussions with ECM. A Munich concert by the Saluzzi Trio provided an opportunity for Dino and cellist Anja Lechner to meet and exchange ideas and in June 1996, the Saluzzi-Rosamunde collective began rehearsing together.
Saluzzi insists that tango players would have been inadequate interpreters of his new music. "I needed freedom from the tango form. At the same time, I also feel responsibility to conserve the tradition, and it's dangerous to move, but we have to move." Not least to defend the territory from the numerous classical players claiming Argentine inspirations this season - now that Piazzolla is safely dead!
The Kultrum project has toured over the last two years, to critical and public acclaim, as Saluzzi and the quartet have honed the material. A few days before the recording at the Austrian monastery of St Gerold (site of such significant New Series recordings as the Jan Garbarek/Hilliard Ensemble Officium album, Giya Kancheli's Exil, Paul Giger's Schattenwelt, Michelle Makarski's Caoine and Eduard Brunner's Dal Niente), the collective played an ecstatically-received concert at Munich's Prinzregententheater. (ECM Records)

Rosamunde Quartett TIGRAN MANSURIAN String Quartets

Mansurian writes extremely well for quartet; the textures and polyphonic working are basically traditional, with little in the way of outré effect. … The Second Quartet consists of three slow movements, putting one in mind of the five Adagios of Shostakovich’s Fifteenth Quartet. This is a work of ravishing if crepuscular beauty, deeply tonal, whose melodic language is partly influenced by a song by the much-loved Armenian national composer Komitas as well as by Armenian sacred music of the middle ages. … The performances by the Rosamunde Quartett of all three works bespeak utter identification with the music and create a very finely tuned chiaroscuro of quiet dynamics. (Calum MacDonald / International Record Review)

Both string quartets are beautiful, profoundly moving pieces of great consolatory power and expressive strength, albeit in discreet and introspective. However, for all its apparent simplicity, Mansurian’s music cannot be compared with what is now often referred to as Holy Minimalism… Because of its predominantly melodic character, Mansurian is more linear and more coherent from a stylistic point of view. … These splendid performances were recorded under the composer’s supervision and have a strong ring of authenticity. They are not likely to be superseded anytime soon. (Hubert Culot / Music Web)

Imbued with dark emotions, the music is not meant for easy listening, but like a good novel, it communicates a real human condition and predicament. Through these intimate compositions, we get closer to the inner world of Tigran Mansurian, the enigmatic and soulful composer with a searching mind. (Ara Arakelian / The Armenian Reporter inernational) 

jueves, 22 de junio de 2017

Hans-Joachim Roedelius / Arnold Kasar EINFLUSS

With delicate piano themes and atmospheric electronic sounds, Hans-Joachim Roedelius & Arnold Kasar develop a unique chemistry. The fact that they are part of different generations of musicians is one of the reasons for the uniqueness and the magic of their encounter.
Roedelius is one of the forefathers of Kosmische and Krautrock. With his bands Cluster and Harmonica, he played a major role in the development of these movements. Roedelius was formed by the political and social uprising of the late sixties and the seventies. Today Roedelius is able to look back on more than a hundred releases and collaborations ranging from his longtime companion Dieter Moebius to acclaimed international artists such as Brian Eno or younger musicians like Tim Story.
Arnold Kasar is almost thirty years younger than Roedelius, he is a child of Berlin´s crossover scene of the 1990s. He broke the line between electronic dance music and jazz, he played with Micatone, Nylon and Friedrich Lichtenstein. As a session musician, arranger and producer, he contributed to many releases of the influential Berlin label Sonar Kollektiv.
Kasar is a classically trained pianist, Roedelius did not even learn to read music. Their approach is as different as it can be, yet they share an openness to musical forms and their collaborative partners. In their joint sessions in Baden near Vienna, Roedelius quickly decided he wants to play the piano. Kasar had the idea to prepare the piano with sheets of felt, creating the unique, tender, intimate sound of the album. “Joachim [Roedelius] has a nice, soft stroke”, explains Kasar: “He never had a piano lesson in his life. He does not compose, yet he does something with the piano which is similar to what he does with the synthesizers. I cannot explain it, but it touches something inside of me.” Kasar responds in the most immediate fashion to Roedelius' piano play using his electronic instruments.
Within three days more than thirty pieces were produced. “We’ve needed our entire lifetimes to get there”, Roedelius smiles. “Einfluss” is not about technology, not about precession, not about structure, but about flow. Where others musicians seek total control, Roedelius and Kasar let themselves go. In this way, they can open up to and respond to the other player in an unique way. It is not a matter of demonstrating some kind of craft, to prove one's ability to play the piano or to compose impressive music. Rather, they want the listener to share a joint experience with them. “The special thing about it is that we did not intend to make something special”, smiles Roedelius.


This release features song excerpts from various long-form theater pieces, the first four coming from Meredith Monk's theater piece Acts From Under and Above, and these are the most jarring on the record. "Scared Song" features English lyrics, minimal accompaniment, and Monk singing harsh, abrasive "scared" sounds. Very unsettling -- and perhaps that is the intention. "Do You Be," a selection from her opera Vessel, features Monk solo on piano and voice with a shrill, piercing wail. Very satisfying. Additional selections from Vessel appear on Monk's 1992 recording Facing North. With one exception, the remaining tracks come from a Monk/Ping Chong science fiction epic opera called The Games, and these more diverse, more exploratory pieces really make the collection work as a recording. A casual listener unfamiliar with the theater pieces may well be put off by the abrasiveness of the first four tracks, which may unfortunately be enough to deter them from the remainder of the recording. But beyond some questionable programming choices, fans of her work will be delighted to see her continuing development as a recording artist.

MEREDITH MONK Impermanence

In her album Impermanence, Meredith Monk succeeds in creating pieces that fit her theme well and much of this music does indeed seem ephemeral, fleeting. These works are not casually or routinely constructed, though; their apparent simplicity masks a psychological and musical sophistication that's evident in the way their carefully placed details contribute to their surprising impact. The prevailing mood of the album is melancholy, but not passive sadness; even the songs that deal most explicitly with loss, such as Last Song (which opens the album) and Liminal, are punctuated with astonishing, defiant gestural outbursts that make it clear that Monk has no intention of going gentle into that good night. One of the strengths of the album is the variety of its pieces; Monk is never repeating herself or just recycling ideas. Pieces such as Particular Dance, for voices and mixed ensemble, are lively and full of unpredictable humor, and Maybe 1, for eight pianos, is a quirky, minimalist-inspired bagatelle. The textural variety of the pieces is also appealing; almost all of them use voices in one way or another, but the voice is often used instrumentally or as accompaniment to the instruments. Monk and her ensemble perform with great delicacy and sensitivity to each other; this is clearly a group of singers and instrumentalists that knows how to listen, and each member is constantly calibrating his or her contribution with the sounds of the others, as in the best chamber music performances. ECM's sound is immaculate. The album is a significant addition to Monk's discography and should be of strong interest to fans of new vocal music that pushes the envelope but is still accessible and engaging. 

Stile Antico GIACHES DE WERT Divine Theatre

Little is known about the early life of Giaches de Wert, except that he was born in 1535 somewhere in the region of Antwerp or Ghent (perhaps in the small village of Weert between the two cities). From his youth, however, his world was more Italian than Flemish: as a child he was taken to Italy to be one of the Marchesa of Padulla’s choristers. In his mid-teens he moved to serve an offshoot of the Gonzaga family at Novellara, but soon made connections with the nearby ducal courts of Mantua – where the devout Duke Guglielmo Gonzaga had a particularly keen interest in church music – and Ferrara, long famed for its musical prestige thanks to the patronage of the Este family, where he was influenced by the madrigalist Cipriano de Rore. After a short spell in Milan, he returned to Mantua in 1565 as maestro di cappella in Duke Guglielmo’s recently completed chapel of Santa Barbara. There he was to remain for the rest of his life, though not without maintaining connections (both musical and, during the mid-late 1580s, romantic) with the court at Ferrara, where the lively musical life must have been a welcome distraction from his not always happy existence at the Mantuan court.
Giaches de Wert is best known for his madrigals - the perfect bridge between the polyphony of the high Renaissance and the new style of Monteverdi. Stile Antico's new album introduces us to another side of this composer who, though Flemish-born, spent most of his life in Italy, primarily in Mantua. The unique and dramatic style of these remarkable motets cannot fail to ravish explorers of this 'divine theatre'. 

ATLAS an opera in three parts by MEREDITH MONK

With this, Meredith Monk's latest record and one of her most substantial pieces, a number of questions have to be raised and satisfactorily answered. Atlas is a self-declared opera, yet is an opera virtually without words. It has a narrative, yet the narrative would be imperceptible to the CD listener unless it was relayed in an accompanying note which, by definition, is separate to the musical entity called Atlas. Judging by the booklet-note by Max Loppert and the accompanying photographs of the 1991 Houston premiere, these problems would not attend an actual staging of this work where the music has a clear and narrative-based context throughout.
So, how are we to approach this work in its CD form? A parallel which comes to mind is listening to a conventional opera sung in a tongue which one doesn't understand, and for which one has neither libretto nor synopsis. Or, perhaps even more aptly, a ballet where one is similarly strapped for a story-line and unable to see the dancers. Several layers of meaning are left unilluminated but we are left with the music itself.
What is encouraging about Monk's work here is that, as opposed to some of her drier exercises from the past, it does have a feeling of continuity and of succession: each section grows from the previous one, and there is a sense of thematic and motivic growth (albeit not along formal lines) which marks it out from the more militant miniaturist compositions. Monk is also interested in creating music which is pleasant to listen to and which paints pictures, even to the listener with no idea of the story-line. There is a large cast of singers, but it is rare for more than four characters to be singing simultaneously, and more often Monk uses voices in quick succession, each working with different musical material, to build up her overall picture.
The accompaniment is supplied by just ten instruments, five of these being strings. It is very sensitively attuned to the vocalisation, and also contributes some purely musical interludes of great charm. The performance level is very high, the dedication is evident at every turn: as a substitute for being there, this set will do nicely. But I'd love to see a production mounted in this country; or perhaps ECM could release a video version?' (kshadwick / Gramophone)

miércoles, 21 de junio de 2017

Valery Afanassiev FRANZ SCHUBERT Moments Musicaux

Pianist Valery Afanassiev – renowned for strikingly individual and deeply introspective interpretations of the music of Franz Schubert – has now paired two often extrovert works by the composer: the set of six “Moments musicaux” and the “Sonata D 850”. Recorded in September 2010 at the Auditorio Radiotelevisione Svizzera, Lugano, this is ECM’s second solo Schubert release by the Moscow-born pianist, having previously issued a live recording of Afanassiev performing Schubert’s final “Sonata D 960” at the 1985 Lockenhaus Festival that has become a much-discussed favourite among connoisseurs.
Composed from 1823 to 1827, the year before the composer’s death at age 31, the “Moments musicaux” brim with song and dance, as well as Schubert’s characteristic mood swings from major to minor, from light to dark, often within a single piece. With its glittering surface, the brief “No. 3 in f minor” was one of Schubert’s more popular piano pieces for decades; but the ballroom-worthy tune has an odd tension underneath, as if the party were bound to end early. “No. 1 in C major” has melodies reminiscent of the composer’s “Winterreise”, while the two in A-flat major, No. 2 and 6, tap rich veins of melancholy, particularly in Afanassiev’s interpretations. “No. 4 in c-sharp minor” is another number that swirls like a woman dancing with tears in her eyes. “No. 5 in f minor” is the set’s lone thoroughly fast-paced number, although even its up-tempo leaps have a brittle quality. 
The “Sonata D 850”, written in 1825, is one of Schubert’s most ebullient piano sonatas – with Ländler-like melodies, simulated horn calls and strongly syncopated rhythms; he composed the piece over three weeks in the spa town of Gastein, so the environment undoubtedly contributed to the sonata’s high spirits. Yet, as with so many works by this composer, there are also passages in “D 850” pregnant with nostalgia and emotional ambiguity, especially in the second movement, which Afanassiev explores with meditative concentration. (ECM Records)


Meredith Monk has such a wonderful and unique vocal style that she is able to sing in complete abstraction (no known words or language for much of the album) yet maintain a very emotional and even sentimental quality in these abstractions, at times. Listeners who can get past just how unique and abstract her approach is will find immense joy and sadness deep within her pieces. On Dolmen Music, Monk wavers from being sad to the point of being quite morose (such as the tracks "Gotham Lullaby" and "The Tale") to being happy to the point of hysteria (as on "Traveling" and "Biography") without skipping a beat. Most of the musical accompaniment is minimalist (mainly piano with occasional, sparse percussion, guest vocalists also being prominent on the final six-part track "Dolmen Music"). This minimalist support only furthers Monk's vast vocal language as the prominent focus in the recordings. Listeners will also be very pleased to find that her wonderful voice is not crowded or overshadowed. A true original, Monk's work should be sought by anyone with an interest in vocal exploration.


A daring display of vocal gymnastics and a journey back to childhood when all sounds were wondrous, Turtle Dreams includes the title track composition for four voices (two men, two women) and four organs as well as shorter pieces featuring various combinations of voice, Casio, piano, miniMoog, and didgeridoo. Monk's work raises smiles as well as the hair on the back of the neck. Here she seems tapped into some primordial force -- humming, babbling, chattering, all set to looping, funereal organ works of chromatic simplicity. Mesmerizing yet never mechanical, the side-long "Turtle Dreams" and "View 1" derive their pleasures from the infinite sounds of the human voice. The entire album accompanied a multimedia work where Monk and three other singer/dancers were intercut with shots of a turtle walking over various terrains (including miniature cities, looking like a monster movie). Comforting thoughts during any listen. (Ted Mills)

John Holloway / Jaap ter Linden / Lars Ulrik Mortensen JEAN-MARIE LECLAIR Sonatas

Following his acclaimed recordings of sonatas by Biber, Schmelzer and Veracini and his no less lauded rendering of the complete unaccompanied works by Bach, British violinst John Holloway once again joins forces with his excellent partners Jaap ter Linden and Lars Ulrik Mortensen for an album of strikingly beautiful, yet little known chamber music from the baroque era. Jean-Marie Leclair (1697–1764) who trained as a dancer, lacemaker, violinist and composer and was murdered in Paris under obscure circumstances, laid the foundations for the French violin school. As a composer he is a master of mixed styles, providing a rare synthesis of Italian and French traits, of melodic beauty and dancelike vivacity. John Holloway has chosen sonatas from his “classical” period in which Leclair had gained a perfect balance of proportion, expressiveness and virtuosic display. (ECM Records) 

This came as quite a revelation. Choosing five sonatas from what he believes to be Leclair’s finest collection, and, along with his colleagues, performing them with deep understanding and expressive finesse, John Holloway makes a persuasive case for the French violinist as a major figure of 18th-century music. … All three players capture unerringly each movement’s rhetorical style, and are sensitive to the many expressive details of harmony and melody, while remaining natural and unaffected. … I urge you to listen. (Duncan Druce / Gramophone)