Acclaimed guitarist Todd Mosby joins me for the latest episode of Harmonious World. We all need perspective right now, and there's a lot of that in Todd's latest album - Aerial Views . Todd's comment about creating music that musicians will love to perform on is very apt and I finish with Aether, one of my favourite tracks of 2021. Harmonious World Podcast gives many thanks to Todd for allowing me to feature clips from Aerial Views alongside our conversation.
Over the last half decade, Shabaka Hutchings has established himself as a central figure in the London jazz scene, which is enjoying its greatest creative renaissance since the breakthroughs of Joe Harriott and Evan Parker in the 1960s. Hutchings has a restlessly creative and refreshingly open-minded spirit, playing in a variety of groups-most notably, Sons of Kemet, The Comet Is Coming, and Shabaka & the Ancestors-and embracing influences from the sounds of London's diverse club culture, including house, grime, jungle, and dub. "The common theme in my career as a jazz musician has been wondering if what I'm doing is the thing that I should be doing," says Hutchings, who studied classical clarinet at college at London's prestigious Guildhall School of Music & Drama. "Me learning about jazz, how to play and interpret, was always a case of just trial and error. I think where I've come to recently is I've stopped trying to think ‘Is what I'm doing valid? or ‘Is what I'm doing part of the jazz tradition?' and just see myself as a musician."
Hutchings is featured on the cover of the May issue of Downbeat. SEE COVER IMAGE
Skope's Sasha Lauryn writes....."A world in which people seek the uncertainties, and possibilities, of art" is the vision of one of the most innovative ensembles to be gracing the popular music landscape right now. With the recent release of their latest album, it's undeniable that Art Of Time Ensemble is bringing that vision to life. Led by the artistic direction and vision of Andrew Burashko together with arrangements by Jonathan Goldsmith who reinterpreted a wide array of songs that qualify as standards. Goldsmith stays faithful to the original melodies and form and then pushes the boundaries as far as possible in every conceivable way. After immersing myself in the deeply sensory sonic landscapes, mesmerizing motifs and hypnotic storytelling that their recent album ‘Ain't Got Long' boasts, I can say with certainty they do just that. The Canada based collective have been breaking archaic genre boundaries since 1998, as their eclectic mix of musicians has attracted captivated crowds on multiple tours. Honestly, I'm just waiting for them to announce their next road trip. This album features the phenomenal pipes of Madeleine Peyroux, Gregory Hoskins, Jessica Mitchell and Sarah Slean. Perhaps it's Andrew's perfect pairings of soundscape with singer or the astounding arrangements of the songs themselves that sets this album apart from anything I've experienced.
Whatever it is, I can't get enough.
READ THE FULL Skope Magazine REVIEW
WRTI's SUSAN LEWIS writes......The Catalyst Quartet uncovers music and the stories of the people who wrote it in its new recording series UNCOVERED. The first volume focuses on music by late 19th-century English composer, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.
The Catalyst Quartet, founded in 2010 by the Sphinx Organization, aims to "reimagine" the classical music experience. "Sometimes classical music is presented like a museum piece," says violist Paul Laraia. "We want to make sure everything we do has relevance to today," and so the ensemble's programs reach out to a diverse audience, with diverse repertoire.
This new project, Uncovered, featuring music of composers who have been overlooked because of race or gender, begins with an album of music by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, a Black English composer born in the late 19th century, the child of an English mother and an African father from Sierra Leone.
Ironically, Coleridge-Taylor, who was born in 1875 and died suddenly at the age of 37, was acclaimed during his short lifetime. Raised in England, he started violin at 5, joined the Royal College of Music at 15, and at 23, had a triumphant premiere of his cantata, Hiawatha's Wedding Feast, set to the poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He toured the U.S., where he visited The White House at the invitation of President Teddy Roosevelt. He was so successful, the story goes, that New York musicians in the early 1900s began referring to him as "The Black Mahler;" others are said to have called him "The Black Dvorak."
And while Hiawatha's Wedding Feast remains familiar to many choral ensembles and you may recognize his melodies such as Deep River, much of his over 80 compositions, including operas, ballet music, songs, a symphony, violin concerto and chamber music are unknown today.
Volume 1: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor includes one quartet, and two quintets, one featuring pianist Stewart Goodyear, and one with clarinetist Anthony McGill.
LISTEN & WATCH THE 90.1WRTI: Philadelphia INTERVIEW
'SOMETHING came from Baltimore's' Thom Gouker......Yeah! This was a big thrill for me. I was nervous interviewing one of my favorite artists of all time, Joe Lovano, so I decided to ask him 20 goofy questions to see how he handled them. He easily accepted the challenge and spun junk questions into gold. It's very impressive and that it why I suggest that you check out the Youtube interview, we chatted for 1 1/2 and must of it make it to tape.
"Garden of Expression" is the sent album with the trio Lovano/Crispell/Castaldi, the first was the 2018 release "Seeds of Change"
Do we have to explain who Joe Lovano is????? This is copied from Wiki. Joseph Salvatore Lovano (born December 29, 1952) is an American jazz saxophonist, alto clarinetist, flautist, and drummer. He has earned a Grammy Award and several mentions on Down Beat magazine's critics' and readers' polls. He is married to jazz singer Judi Silvano with whom he records and performs. Lovano was a longtime member of a trio led by drummer Paul Motian.
LIMELIGHT Magazine's Clive Paget writes......Superlative soloists and compelling chamber music from a quartet on a mission.
One of the revolutions set in progress by last year's Black Lives Matter protests has been the refocusing of the classical music industry's attention of composers of colour, many of them historical figures formerly the preserve of the curious collector and rarely programmed live.
New York-based Catalyst Quartet was founded in 2010 by the Sphinx Organization, an outstanding Detroit-based social justice organisation dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. The ensemble (Karla Donehew Perez, violin; Abi Fayette, violin; Paul Laraia, viola; and Karlos Rodriguez, cello) build programs and projects accordingly and this excellent release of music by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor is the first in a projected series of "Uncovered" CDs focussing on composers overlooked because of race and/or gender (others releases will include music by Joseph Boulogne Chevalier de Saint-Georges, William Grant Still, Florence B. Price, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, and George Walker).
CLICK HERE FOR THE LIMELIGHT PAGE
Spellbinding Music's GUILLAUME writes....Born in Chicago and based in Palo Alto, California, William Susman is an American composer and pianist whose work encompasses orchestral, chamber, vocal and soundtrack music informed by western classical, jazz, African and Latin American traditions as well as contemporary minimalism. Constantly toying with instrumental permutations – from solo performance to his scaled-down big-band formation Octet – the music of William Susman is a continuous exploration of harmonic and rhythmic patterns. Released in October 2019 and January 2021 respectively on his own Belarca label, Collision Point and A Quiet Madness introduce works spanning over 25 years.
This is "music for moving pictures" – to paraphrase the title of his documentary soundtrack released in 2009 – an astute and contemporary sonic expression of the "quiet madness" playing out on 24-hour news TV channels or as an infinite scroll on our smartphone screens.
READ THE FULL Spellbinding Music REVIEW
Icelandic pianist and post-classical composer Eydís Evensen has confirmed details of her debut album, BYLUR, which will be released on 23rd April, 2021 by XXIM Records, Sony's new imprint for innovative, post-genre instrumental music.
On 26 March 2021 the ambitiously multifaceted musician/composer Clark presents his chillingly affecting ninth studio album Playground In A Lake, on which he broadens horizons and tries new things, with profound results.
Three-time GRAMMY Award-nominated pianist Joey Alexander follows his major-label debut album, WARNA (Verve Records), with three new singles "SALT" (March 19: LINK), "Under the Sun" (April 23), and "Summer Rising" (May 28) set for global release on Verve.
How do the great musicians prepare to play the great works? Each has his or her own methods, and tends to keep the strategy quiet, a secret key to success.
One thing that distinguishes the subtle Benjamin Grosvenor, 28, from the rest of the pack of young star pianists is his extensive knowledge of historical recordings. This listening has paid off in a spellbinding Liszt recording out on Decca on Friday, crowned with a typically thoughtful account of the treacherous Sonata in B minor.
"I almost feel like you should know the notable recordings of a work like this," Grosvenor said of the sonata in a recent interview. "More than anything, it helps you understand what works and what doesn't work. You react to some things positively and you react to some things negatively, and that fuels your imagination."
What do you think about the opening bars of the sonata, which are so spare compared to what follows?
It's foreboding, and mysterious, and a little bit threatening. It would be quite interesting to just line up eight recordings of the first bar. For someone who is a music lover but who is not that acquainted with putting a piece together, it might just be interesting to hear how two notes can essentially be interpreted in so many different ways.
There are many valid approaches. What Vladimir Horowitz does in a large hall in his Carnegie recording, this kind of demonic thing, works very well. Cherkassky's is interesting; it sounds like he's improvising, like it's something that's just come to him in the moment, but it's obviously conscious because he executes it in the same way at the end of the slow movement as well.
I was aiming for something mysterious, almost - so the notes are not too present. They're quite soft, very much like plucked strings, the bass more in it than the treble, like what Alfred Brendel does.
So comparisons with orchestral sounds help you define what you are trying to achieve, even in a work as pianistic as this?
As a pianist you've been playing the piano all of your life; you have a natural association with piano sound. So it's only when you're forced to put it into words that you try to make those associations. But it is an appropriate way to think, because, for most composers, the piano is always trying to imitate other instruments, because of its nature as a percussion instrument. Again, it's a line of thought that adds fire to the imagination, and the colors that you then draw out.
One of the challenges in the piece is how to create tension over the whole, or even just over shorter periods of double octaves, or continuous fortissimo dynamics. You picked out a section near the start as an example.
In this double-octave passage there is a lot of fortissimo playing, and you vary that in terms of dynamics, but the meter is the same for a while, with these continuous quavers.
Horowitz, in the final rise and descent, just pushes through. There's lots of wrong notes, but it's raw. It's exceptionally difficult because of the octaves, but if you can push through it in that way I think it's very effective, all the way to the lowest note on the piano.
So when you are playing the piece live, does atmosphere matter more than precision in passages like this?
Yes, this is music that's probably not supposed to be played cleanly. Part of the struggle is, it is technically difficult, but that's what makes it exciting. Someone said of Horowitz that his playing is not exciting because he plays fast, but because he plays faster than he can. In this music there's an element of that. Lupu generates the tension in a different way; it's tension by holding back, by creating a limit that you're working against.
Then the slow movement poses quite different challenges.
It's magical music. The most incredible bit for me is this ascending line in the right hand, the scales after the climax. It's the most static point of the piece, and a groove needs to be found between static to the point of no motion, and finding the magic that's in it. Not to play it too casually. Claudio Arrau there is very special; it's such a wonderful moment with these triple pianissimos - finding that beautiful color, and where to take the time.
Then comes the fugue, a moment when I'm always wondering how fast a pianist is going to try to play. Is this another place where aura matters more than accuracy?
The counterpoint needs to be clear. So it's the point at which you can still characterize it, and that point is different for each pianist, as long as it builds and builds gradually to the right point.
Intellectually speaking it's not necessarily correct, but I quite like the idea of treating the first five bars as a kind of fanfare. They don't carry enough to push forward out of the slow movement, so to me they inevitably sit somewhere in between if you are going to take it at that tempo. I like the change of pace there.
The magic, and the music, of the slow movement return on the very last page.
It's this final transition from darkness to light: the rumbling in the left hand, then the way that it ascends to the top of the piano. Those diminished chords are little shards of light, then it comes away to the very low notes, then these transcendent last chords. That's what the last page is about: transcendence. You can't help but think that the last note is an awakening from a dream.
Close listening brought out the enormous range of possibilities in a work that presents an intellectual challenge of interpretation as much as a punishing test of technique. The piece is a Faustian struggle between the diabolical and the divine; the question is how to make it cohere over more than 30 minutes.
Image“You react to some things positively and you react to some things negatively,” Grosvenor said, “and that fuels your imagination.”
"You react to some things positively and you react to some things negatively," Grosvenor said, "and that fuels your imagination."Credit...Kalpesh Lathigra for The New York Times
There is no single answer. The example of Radu Lupu points in one direction. "It has this great inevitability about it," Grosvenor said of Lupu's interpretation. "In terms of the way he controls the pulse it's quite symphonic, and also in the kinds of sounds he produces."
Shura Cherkassky, a figure beloved of pianophiles whose impulsive, visionary performances were so idiosyncratic that Grosvenor said he would never dare imitate them, offers something else in a live recording from 1965. "Sometimes it feels kind of improvisatory and sometimes he doesn't quite do what's written in the score," Grosvenor said. "But he somehow makes this miracle of his own unique narrative from it."
Perils lurk whichever way a pianist turns. "The danger in pursuing this symphonic, quite rigid, controlled outlook is that it could quite easily become something more of an academic exercise than the fantastical piece that it is," Grosvenor said. "And obviously if you go along the Cherkassky route, you could make it sound like something that doesn't make much sense."
If Grosvenor successfully traces a course between those extremes, he also takes inspiration from how his forebears have resolved the many difficulties in a work of this scale. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
Hot on the heels of his 2020 Diapason d'Or and Gramophone Award triumphs, British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor presents his first album in a renewed exclusive partnership with Decca Classics.
The album, Liszt, is released on 19th February 2021, signifying Grosvenor's most substantial solo recording to date, centred around the works of the Romantic piano virtuoso and composer, Franz Liszt. The release marks Benjamin's sixth album on Decca Classics, following the award-winning Chopin Piano Concertos in 2020.
Grosvenor says, "Decca Classics has been my recording home for the last decade, and I'm pleased that we are continuing our partnership with this new release. The music of Liszt has been central to my repertoire since I was introduced to it as a child, by my grandfather. I wanted with this recording to show the composer in his different aspects, including some of his original compositions, but also displaying the extraordinarily re-creative abilities he showed in his transcriptions."
British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor presents a new recording of two concerto favorites: Chopin's Piano Concertos Nos.1 and 2, released on Decca Classics. Recorded with Elim Chan and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO), the record marks Benjamin's fifth album on Decca Classics, following the hugely successful Homages in 2016, and is his first orchestral album since 2012.
These works have been an active part of Grosvenor's repertoire since his early teens: "Chopin was the first composer to whom I felt a strong connection as a child. I have always been drawn to his music, and his piano concertos are among some of the finest in the repertoire." Of the new recording, which came to fruition following a successful performance of the Piano Concerto No.2 with Elim Chan and the RSNO in 2018, Benjamin notes: "I am delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate with Elim and the outstanding musicians of the RSNO." Benjamin appears this spring in the US performing the Piano Concerto No.1.
In this new recording, British pianist Benjmain Grosvenor explores works by great composers paying tribute to their predecessors. Among these works, Mendelssohn looks back to the Prelude & Fugue form made so popular by Bach; and Franck does likewise (adding a Chorale as a central section). Busoni takes Bach's great solo violin Chaconne, presenting it in a bold transcription for piano; Chopin breathes new life in to the traditional ‘Barcarolle' of Venetian gondoliers, followed ten years later by Lizst's tribute to Italian folksong, Venezia e Napoli. From the 20th Century, Ravel looks to the traditional baroque suite for inspiration for his Tombeau de Couperin (available only on the digital release). The new album will be released by Decca on September 9, 2016.
16 NEW 49 TOTAL
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Benjamin Grosvenor presents Dances, a glittering album shining the spotlight on music from Bach to Boogie Woogie via Chopin, Scriabin, Granados and the Blue Danube. Grosvenor states: "This album's inspiration comes from a letter in 1909 from Busoni, proposing a ‘dance program' comprising original compositions and transcriptions.With Bach's 4th Partita as its starting point, this recording presents a chronologically and geographically wide-ranging recital of works by composers (and transcribers) to whose output the keyboard was central, featuring both familiar and more obscure gems from the piano repertoire."
26 NEW 53 Total
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