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The Metropolitan Opera:

A Concert for Ukraine

The Metropolitan Opera, Decca Classics and Deutsche Grammophon present A Concert for Ukraine, an album recorded live at the Met on March 14, 2022, that features the company’s complete special concert expressing solidarity with the people of Ukraine. All ticket sales and donations supported relief efforts in Ukraine and proceeds from the album will also support relief efforts in the country. The album will be released digitally (available here) on 21 July and physically in the US later in 2022.

“This album captures a uniquely memorable performance by the Metropolitan Opera and its stars, and demonstrates the power of art to deliver a clear message to the forces of darkness that would destroy a nation,” Peter Gelb, the Met’s general director, said. “I hope this concert brings a measure of comfort and moral support to the suffering people of Ukraine, and that it reminds the world that we stand with them.”

Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus with a roster of star musical soloists offering solace through their art. The album opens with the National Anthem of Ukraine, featuring Ukrainian bass-baritone and Lindemann Young Artist Vladyslav Buialskyi. Stirring performances of Valentin Silvestrov’s “Prayer for Ukraine,” Barber’s Adagio for Strings, Op. 1, and “Va, pensiero” from Verdi’s Nabucco are also included, as well as a moving interpretation of Strauss’s Four Last Songs with the indelible soprano Lise Davidsen. The final selection, Beethoven’s Finale from Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, featuring a stellar quartet of soloists including soprano Elza van den Heever, mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, tenor Piotr Beczala, and bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green, offers a rousing conclusion.

Dominic Fyfe, Label Director of Decca Classics, says, “This is a time for solidarity with those suffering. We are pleased to join with our friends at the Met and our colleagues at Deutsche Grammophon to bring this Concert for Ukraine to a global audience. All the soloists performed without charge, and proceeds from the album will be donated to charities supporting relief efforts in Ukraine. Music can make a difference.”

Dr. Clemens Trautmann, President of Deutsche Grammophon, believes the recording represents a beautiful symbol of support and solidarity. “A Concert for Ukraine,” he notes, “enabled some of today’s finest musicians to show their compassion and light a beacon of hope for the Ukrainian people.”

Jung Jaeil:

psalms

Jung Jaeil, the multi-award-winning South Korean composer behind the sensational Parasite and Squid Game soundtracks, has signed to Decca Records. The first project in this new partnership will be the international release of his choral-electronic album psalms on 22 July, in partnership with Universal Music Korea.

On psalms, Jung interweaves choral a cappella (performed by the Budapest Scoring Orchestra and Choir) with electronic sounds and string ensemble. The music commemorates the 40th anniversary of the May 18th Democratic Uprising of Gwangju, South Korea, and uses Psalm verses from the Bible as text. It was originally scored for the audio-visual film and exhibition Round and Around, bringing to life pivotal moments from Korean history, directed by Jang Minseung and produced by the Korean Cultural Centre UK and the Korean Film Archive.

psalms was given its Korean release in 2021 on Universal Music Korea. For the international release on Decca in partnership with Universal Music Korea, four bonus tracks will be included with material from psalms rearranged for string ensemble.
Co-Presidents of Decca Label Group, Tom Lewis and Laura Monks, say, “We are thrilled to work with Jung Jaeil. His unique style and approach to composition makes him stand out from the crowd. He has already achieved great recognition for his soundtrack work that we now aim to amplify on a global scale.”

CEO of Universal Music Korea, Beom Joon Yang, says, “I am incredibly excited about this partnership that will bring more light to this talented artist and composer on the global music scene, which he wholly deserves. I look forward to seeing his creativity inspire audiences around the world.”

Christopher Tin:

The Lost Birds

The sky was once full of birds. Magnificent flocks so enormous that they would darken the skies for days as they flew overhead. The most awe-inspiring of these flocks belonged to a bird called the passenger pigeon. At their height, they were the most numerous bird species in North America, with a population estimated at 5 billion. But over the course of a few decades, we eradicated them for food, using nothing but the crudest 19th-century hunting technology. With callous indifference, we simply shot them out of the sky, one by one, until their songs were never heard again. 

The Lost Birds is a memorial for their loss, and the loss of other species due to human activity. It's a celebration of their beauty--as symbols of hope, peace, and renewal. But it also mourns their absence--through the lonely branches of a tree, or the fading echoes of distant bird cries. And like the metaphor of the canary in the coal mine, it's also a warning: that unless we reverse our course, the fate that befell these once soaring flocks will be a foreshadowing of our own extinction.

To pay proper tribute to these birds, I adopted a distinctly 19th-century musical vocabulary: one based on the tunefulness of folk songs, with a string orchestra accompaniment that's both soaring and melancholy. And to put their story into words, I turned to four 19th-century poets--Emily Dickinson, Christina Rossetti, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Sara Teasdale. These women saw their world transform from a pastoral society to an industrial one--one in which humans, for the first time, began disastrously reshaping the environment. And the poems which I selected depict an increasingly fraught world: first without birds, and ultimately without humans.

We are now in the 21st century, and our tools for affecting the world around us--emissions, pesticides, deforestation--are more indiscriminate and cruelly efficient. As bird, fish, animal, and insect populations crash around us, we increasingly find ourselves in a silent world--one in which the songs of birds are heard less and less. We hope that the silence can be filled by more voices speaking up on behalf of these lost birds--for their sake, and for ours.

Kristof Barati:

Johann Sebastian Bach Complete Sonatas & Partitas

"Baráti draws a full-throttled sound from the 1703 “Lady Harmsworth” Stradivarius, and in the high-ceilinged space of the Verbier Village church, his Bach reverberated impressively… His gutsy playing makes him one to watch." - Strings Magazine

Particularly when it comes to J.S. Bach's incomparable solo works, the Hungarian violinist Kristóf Baráti has established himself as one of the foremost interpreters of his generation. This complete set of the six Sonatas and Partitas, performed in full at the 2016 Verbier Festival, marks his first live recording of the cycle. Baráti's performance balances dazzling virtuosity with solemn reflection. Feeding off the energy of the audience, and vectoring Bach's profoundly sacred writing within the Eglise de Verbier, a deeply moving account of these masterpieces is rendered.

Ben MacDougall:

GODFALL - Aperion Symphony

A new symphonic release from composer Ben MacDougall

Aperion Symphony is the third original soundtrack release for the video game Godfall. A musical distillation of the game’s score presented in traditional symphonic form, each movement is a journey through one of the fantasy game’s four realms.

Calvin Jones:

After the Conquest

American composer and pianist Calvin Jones and his wife, a native of Kiev, Ukraine, were awakened in their apartment on February 24th at 5 am to the sound of loud sirens and bombs going off around them. Since their narrow escape from Kiev, they have moved from Romania to Montenegro to Greece in order to find a semi-permanent home, hoping they can return back to their apartment in Ukraine one day.

Since then, they have been assisting other escapees and supporting those left behind. “It has been heartbreaking to see so many people killed, injured, and displaced by this senseless war. We are and have been working to get as many people out as possible, assisting those having to find new homes and getting supplies like food, water, and medication to people still in Ukraine – and there are so many needs right now. We are working with individuals and organizations on the ground to try to meet as many of these very practical, material needs as possible. We have been in touch with so many people who continually risk their lives taking supplies to elderly, infirmed and others who desperately need help. They are the reason we decided to dedicate the video of ‘After the Conquest’ to them. They are real heroes and have been mostly overlooked.” says Calvin.

The music video features footage recorded by a Ukrainian who stayed behind and has documented much of the destruction. The footage centers around the Kiev, Ukraine area and shows how businesses, homes, apartments, vehicles, and nature have all been destroyed because of missiles, gunfire, and tanks. It also features Calvin performing his arrangement of “After the Conquest” with the Lviv Virtuosos Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine. “This video is extremely important to us to show what’s happening from the perspective of people who are still living in Ukraine. Journalists tend to gravitate to areas where the most damage is located, but we wanted to represent how the millions of little ways that everyday life, as people have experienced over the last several decades, has been devastated and ruined.” added Calvin.

The Comet Is Coming:

'Code' from HYPER-DIMENSIONAL EXPANSION BEAM

The Comet Is Coming, the London-based Mercury Prize nominated synth-sax-drum trio featuring DANALOGUE (Dan Leavers), SHABAKA (Shabaka Hutchings),  and BETAMAX (Max Hallett),  today announce their fourth studio album Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam set for release September 23 via the legendary Impulse! Records. Their first single “CODE” is released today – an intergalactic head-banger that explores hidden meaning and codes in humans (DNA) and technology  – alongside a visualizer. Watch here and pre-order Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam here.

The Comet Is Coming grab you by the head and don’t let go with their relentless and fiery sound, “at once eliciting thoughts of impending doom and possible hope”  (Pitchfork). The ingredients: 80s synth models, saxophone and drums, sprinkled with visceral punk rock, interstellar jazz blasts, and dance-floor trances.

On their fourth album, Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam, The Comet Is Coming – synth magician/producer Danalogue, drummer-producer Betamax, and saxophonist/spiritual riffologist Shabaka– burn brightly, soundtracking our epoch of change in ways their contemporaries simply aren’t trying to.

Barre Phillips - Gyorgy Kurtag:

Face a Face

Barre Phillips’s End to End album, released in 2018, brought the documentation of his music for solo bass to a profound conclusion. Now Face à Face returns the emphasis to collaborative work, to dialogue and shared creation, in improvisations with György Kürtág Jr.

The Hungarian composer and improviser, last heard on ECM on the album Kurtágonals in 2009, describes his musical relationship with Barre as “one of the most important of my life” and on Face à Face it is immediately that the two musicians share an advanced understanding. It is an understanding patiently built up over the years. They have been developing their duo project – featuring double bass, synthesizers and digital percussion - since 2014, and it is texturally and dynamically absorbing, fascinating to follow.

György Kurtág Jr continues to compose and research in France’s Bordeaux region.
Early in 2022, Barre Phillips returned to the United States after more than 50 years in France.
He is currently based in New Mexico.

Keith Jarrett:

Bordeaux Concert

Bordeaux Concert documents a solo perforamce, the last that Keith Jarrett would give in France, at the Auditorium de l'Opéra National de Bordeaux on July 6, 2016, and finds the pianist at a creative high point.

Each of Jarrett’s 2016 solo piano concerts had its own strikingly distinct character, and in Bordeaux – although the music would progress through many changing moods – the lyrical impulse was to the fore. In the course of this improvised thirteen-part suite, many quiet discoveries are made. There is a touching freshness to the music as a whole, a feeling of intimate communication shared with the 1400 attentive listeners in the hall. This time there is no recourse to standard tunes to round out the performance; the arc of spontaneously composed and often intensely melodic music is satisfyingly complete in itself. In the later concerts part of Jarrett’s achievement as an improviser has been the way in which he has not only channeled the music in its moment-to-moment emergence but implied a sense of larger structure as he balances its episodes and atmospheres.

Bordeaux’s community of listeners had long been aware of Jarrett’s music. The Nouvelle-Aquitaine capital was one of the first European cities where Jarrett presented his music, as early as 1970 - with his trio, then, with Gus Nemeth and Aldo Romano. He was back in the early 1990s, with the ‘Standards’ trio with Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette. The July 2016 concert, however, was his only solo performance in the city (made possible via the Jazz and Wine Bordeaux Festival and its director, Jean-Jacques Quesada.)

Martha Argerich:

in Verbier (Live)

MARTHA ARGERICH on VERBIER FESTIVAL GOLD THE JOINT LABEL VENTURE BETWEEN THE VERBIER FESTIVAL AND DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON

“It is with great pride that we announce the Verbier Festival Gold label with our friends at Deutsche Grammophon. We have created many iconic memories with our community of artists in Verbier over the last 29 years, and we are honoured to share them now together with such a prestigious partner.” - Martin T:son Engstroem, Founder & Director

From the very beginning, incomparable pianist Martha Argerich has been a beloved member of the Verbier family. Her concerts at the Festivalare met with unparalleled anticipation, excitement, and elation -exuding a spirit of spontaneity and surprise. Nowhere else in the world does Argerich devote herself more fully to playing chamber music with dear friends.

Joining with Vadim Repin and Mischa Maisky, this release begins with a shimmering account of Haydn's "Gypsy" Trio. Argerich is equally notorious for delivering jaw-dropping fireworks to the Verbier mainstage, as exemplified in a superlative reading of Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto, accompanied by Yuri Temirkanov and the VFO.

Hannah Peel & Paraorchestra:

The Unfolding

We are excited to announce the details of our new album with Hannah Peel, The Unfolding; set for release on 1 April 2022 via Real World records, and available for pre-order from today.

The Unfolding is an extraordinary eight-part collaboration between Mercury and Emmy nominated Northern Irish composer Hannah Peel, Paraorchestra, and Charles Hazlewood, recorded in precious morsels of time around the global pandemic. There are pieces of music that seek to tell us deeper stories. Others harness the talents of the players at their disposal in adventurous ways. Then there are the rare, generous works that make us think back to our roots as human beings and to our shared beginnings in the universe, that lift us in their melodies, rhythms and textures, that carry us with them. The Unfolding is all of these things.

The Unfolding also explores our progressive idea of what an orchestra should be, mixing analogue, digital and assistive instruments with a unique ensemble of disabled and non-disabled musicians to make magic happen.

Gustavo Dudamel:

Antonin Dvorak - Symphonies Nos. 7-9 w/LA Phil

Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic garnered rave reviews for their performances of Antonín Dvorák’s masterful final three symphonies in February 2020. Hailed as “a revelation” by the Los Angeles Times, their interpretations were recorded live at Walt Disney Concert Hall by Deutsche Grammophon for release as a digital album – the follow-up to the artists’ GRAMMY® Award-winning recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8. Out on 29 July 2022, and also available in Dolby Atmos®, Antonín Dvorák: Symphonies Nos. 7 – 9 captures the power and intensity of Dudamel’s vision of three of the greatest works in the symphonic repertoire.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Music & Artistic Director amplifies the turbulent emotions of each work and plunges deep into their often-dark inner worlds, connecting with the music’s spiritual roots in Dvorák’s Czech homeland and reflecting ideas formed during the composer’s time as Director of the National Conservatory of Music of America in New York City.
“Working with my orchestra on Dvorák’s late symphonies was a unique and deeply moving experience, and these three performances are an important addition to our growing catalogue,” comments Dudamel. “I’m grateful to Deutsche Grammophon for recording us with such enthusiasm and sensitivity, and for taking the music we make in Los Angeles and sharing it around the world.”

Derek Bermel:

Intonations - Music For Clarinet and Strings

In the music of Derek Bermel, familiar oppositions – between classical and vernacular, comic and serious, visceral and cerebral – start to break down. In Intonations (2016) for string quartet, a series of ragged chords, like the sound of someone blowing idly on a harmonica, is taken apart, reassembled, and woven into a web of dazzlingly ornate counterpoint. In A Short History of the Universe (as related by Nima Arkani-Hamed) (2013), a raucous, jazzy glissando becomes the unlikely basis of a meditation on cosmology and the nature of time. The music on this album is full of such moments of strange alchemy, in which seemingly antithetical qualities merge and transform each other unpredictably.

These pieces draw on Bermel’s kaleidoscopically varied background as both composer and performer: studies under the great French modernist Henri Dutilleux, the Dutch avant-gardist Louis Andriessen, and the American ragtime revivalist William Bolcom; travels to learn Thracian folk music in Bulgaria, the Lobi xylophone in Ghana, and the caxixi in Brazil; and collaborations with musicians ranging from Wynton Marsalis and Stephen Sondheim to the rapper Yasiin Bey (Mos Def). The breadth of these interests has earned Bermel a reputation for eclecticism, but the label doesn’t capture the deeply personal sensibility running through all his music, one marked by sly theatricality, deadpan humor, and restless intellectual curiosity. It’s this final quality that both impels Bermel’s stylistic exploration, and gives the resulting music its unity. Unsurprisingly, then, the pieces on this album are as wide-ranging intellectually as musically, their inspirations extending from theater (Ritornello), to gestalt psychology (Figure and Ground), to theoretical physics.

Apollo Chamber Players:

MoonStrike

On Friday, September 2, 2022, Apollo Chamber Players, under the direction of founder and violinist Matthew J. Detrick, releases its sixth album, MoonStrike, on Azica Records. MoonStrike is a universal celebration of storytelling, space, and folk song, realized through new works by Jennifer Higdon, Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate, and Pierre Jalbert. Tate’s title work, MoonStrike, is narrated by Chickasaw astronaut John Herrington, the first American Indian citizen to fly in space. All three works were commissioned by Apollo Chamber Players as part of its 20x2020 project, launched in 2014 with a mission to commission 20 new multicultural works before the end of the last decade. The New York premiere of MoonStrike will take place on Thursday, March 9, 2023 at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall.

Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon’s In the Shadow of the Mountain (2020) is inspired by her upbringing in the Great Smoky Mountains and incorporates the sounds and colors of the region. Higdon shares, “The resonance of that area led me to choose, for my first opera, Charles Frazier’s novel Cold Mountain. The struggles of survival in Appalachia, the majesty of its natural features, and the sonorities of the mountain’s music, color the quilt of that opera and of this string quartet.”

Next is the title work, MoonStrike (2019), by Chickasaw composer and U.S. Cultural Ambassador, Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate. The work honors the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing through American Indian moon legends as narrated by Chickasaw astronaut John Herrington. Tate explains, “American Indian legends are very colorful and have a tendency to take twists and turns within the narrative. Regarding the Moon, it is very consistent that the traditional tales involve trickster characters and competitions for ownership of this precious object.” MoonStrike features three diverse American Indian legends, and is bookended with an arrangement of a Calusa Corn Dance. MoonStrike also draws inspiration from Apollo Founder Matthew J. Detrick’s love of space and childhood dream to become the first person to play the violin in space.

Julia Hulsmann Quartet:

The Next Door

The follow-up to 2019’s Not Far From Here sees Julia Hülsmann reconvening with the same line-up as last time, in Studios La Buissonne, and entering into intense interplay with a band that has been extensively worked-in on the road. The Guardian called the quartet’s debut “a standout, for understated reinvention of the familiar and cool virtuosity” and spoke of “clever, thoughtful, inquisitively contemporary jazzmaking”. These virtues have been further refined and new idioms added to the blend on the quartet’s second stance, with each member – tenor saxophonist Uli Kempendorff, Heinrich Köbberling on drums, Marc Muellbauer on bass and Julia – contributing original material to The Next Door.

“Since the last album we’ve been on the road a whole lot”, Julia notes. “We’ve had time to further develop our rapport as a quartet and, as a result, our interplay has become even more intuitive.” Even when most live-activity was intermittently shut down, Julia and her quartet participated in alternative performance projects and spent many weeks vigorously rehearsing new material. The fruit of their labour, presented on this album, is as multi-facetted as it is uncompromising, with a strong emphasis on an intimate ensemble sound. Flashes of jazz’ tradition, somewhere between 60s modal customs and post-bop swing, pull through The Next Door like a guiding light, but it’s how the group subsequently transforms these notions and makes them their own that stands out.

“Empty Hands”, the album’s pensive opener, is a blank canvas, gradually filled in with tender key strokes, searching melodies and delicate accompaniment. As Julia, who wrote the song, explains: “When your hands are full, you have to juggle everything back and forth, you’ve too much to deal with simultaneously. Empty hands, on the other hand, are like a clean slate – you have all the possibilities in the world to do what you please”. “Made of Wood” contrasts this impressionist design with an earthy tone, set in a modal frame and propelled forward by straight-ahead swing: “Time and again I feel like writing something solid, conciliatory in a way. This piece refers to my inner foundation, which I associate with something made of wood, something comforting.”

The pianist’s brief duo exposition in exchange with saxophonist Uli Kempendorff on “Jetzt Noch Nicht” – later reprised as a variation with all members of the group – is a moody theme with a twisty melody, inviting the players’ most expressive playing. On Julia’s “Fluid” the band presents a tight, spirited unit in a mesmerizing performance of a smooth, steadily crescendoing arc: “This piece is based around the thick, layered piano sound that’s introduced after a couple of bars. Melodies can crystallize over this fluid tapestry and flow on in waves. Water is an important element to me, which frequently appears in my images.”  

Uli’s warm tone complements Julia’s trio with exceptional warmth, entering into a natural symbiosis with the piano’s subtle action, and his own piece, “Open Up”, is among the set’s highlights: “When writing ‘Open Up’ I was exclusively focused on the melody’s forward-motion. The line dancingly weaves its way through three octaves. The bass part is notated and creates a counterpoint, while piano and drums are free to interject, comment and mingle at will. There’s much room for free interpretation and alteration throughout.”

Marc Muellbauer’s compositional contributions go through various pulsations – “Polychrome” being a rubato exercise built around a, mostly, diatonic melody that wants to escape its tonal framework. “Wasp at the Window” on the other hand finds the group conspiring in an extensive workout in nine-time with an ostinato bending and bulging to the quartet’s beat. Again different by design, Marc wrote the bossa nova “Valdemossa” with composer Frédéric Chopin in mind: “It is based on the harmony of Chopin’s well-known Prelude No.4 in E Minor, from his cycle of 24 Preludes, op.28. I wrote a new melody expanding the harmony’s chromatic suggestions and exploiting its ambiguity in modulating into two other, far removed keys. It is named after the beautiful place in Mallorca where Chopin wrote his piece…”

With a playful and slightly deconstructed inclination, drummer Heinrich Köbberling’s first original in the programme, “Lightcap”, initially suggests the sketch-like framework of a Paul Motian tune. Actually, the piece is inspired by Köbberling’s early trio endeavours in the 90s with saxophonist Lisa Parrott and bassist Chris Lightcap, giving the song its name. The drummer’s other composition is “Post Post Post” – a subtle group improvisation with a veiled melody that has occupied the drummer for several years.

It has become customary for Julia’s records to highlight revamps of known songs from the pop world and with Prince’s “Sometimes it Snows in April” the quartet uncovers another neat treat. The piece’s catchy melody, immediate harmonic hook and laid-back groove are thoughtfully explored by the entire band, with Julia’s gentle touch at the centre of attention.  

The Next Door, recorded at Studios La Buissonne in the South of France in March 2022, is issued as the quartet embarks on a European tour, with concerts in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Norway.

Various:

Summer Tales - The Essential Summer Soundtrack

Ten contemporary composers, performers, producers and DJs break new ground with Summer Tales, a genre-defying programme of classical music reworks – the ideal chillout soundtrack to carefree summer days. Invited by DG’s New Repertoire team to reimagine popular classics with summer in mind, David Douglas, Goldmund, Peter Gregson, Laura Masotto, Mathilda, Model Man, Roosevelt, Someone, Sam Thompson and Xinobi have worked their magic on music by composers from Pachelbel and Bach to Debussy and Ravel. Their inspired and contrasting responses, ranging from laidback soundscapes to more dance-floor-oriented tracks, make up the Summer Tales listening experience. Deutsche Grammophon will release the album digitally on 22 July 2022, while vinyl fans will be able to purchase Summer Tales on LP from 26 August.

With a tracklist framed by two trios of French originals, Summer Tales kicks off with a rework of La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin from British producer Mark Brandon, aka Model Man. “Debussy is a composer I first studied when I was in my teens,” says Brandon. “The freedom DG offered me has led to a piece I’m really proud of, one that’s informed deeply by Debussy but hopefully evolves into a new entity that can bring him to a different space.” 

Dutch producer David Douglas pays tribute to Saint-Saëns with his version of “The Swan” from The Carnival of the Animals. “Even though I make electronic music, the Romantic era has always been a big inspiration to me,” he explains. “Saint-Saëns said he wrote this piece just for fun – I decided to have a lot of fun making this rework so it feels like a song close to my heart.” 
Jeux d’eau is reimagined by German producer Roosevelt, who appreciated the opportunity to work outside his comfort zone. “Sometimes that’s exactly what you need,” comments the artist. “My take with the remix was almost a hip-hop approach, where I sampled just a small section of the original, looped it throughout the track and tried to merge it with a dance-floor groove.” 
Portuguese producer Xinobi took on the challenge of a 17th-century classic: Pachelbel’s Canon in D. “It was very rewarding,” he says. “I decided to go ethereal and discreet, with a (not too obvious) euphoria build-up in the middle, all on top of old-school-styled breakbeats.” Next is composer Laura Masotto’s Shéhérazade Rework, inspired in part by the Persian, Arabic and Indian roots of the tales behind Rimsky-Korsakov’s hit. As she explains, “I wanted to weave together past and present, and recreate the atmosphere of the warm summer nights in these places from a new perspective, through modern instruments. I blended the sounds of synths with Rimsky’s dreamy string themes.”

Dutch-British musician and producer Someone, aka Tessa Rose Jackson, is also a visual artist and has created the cover artwork for Summer Tales. She focused on Tchaikovsky’s timeless melody and memories of the watery sounds of lakeside summer holidays for her Swan Lake rework, which proves “that melody can transcend the years and fit right into our current world”. Cellist-composer Peter Gregson, meanwhile, channels the energy of J.S. Bach through his Gigue 6.6. “I think there’s eternal optimism in Bach’s music,” says the DG artist. “This felt like a perfect opportunity to expand on those long childhood summer days; the ups and downs all buoyed by the optimism found in the weather!”

Summer Tales closes with three more French reworks. American composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer Goldmund pares down the lushness of the “Flower Duet” from Delibes’ opera Lakmé: “I feel there’s a simplicity to summer that I wanted to impart so I kept the instrumentation sparse and intimate.” By contrast, French chanteuse Mathilda, known for her work with the late singer-songwriter Christophe, evokes “a summer night in Andalusia” and “a sensual, strong and dangerous Carmen”, in her reimagining of Bizet’s “Habanera”. British composer, orchestrator and conductor Sam Thompson crowns the album with a virtuoso rework of Fauré’s Pavane, featuring his friend Peter Gregson on cello. “To me,” says Thompson, “summer is in the bright positivity of the twittering woodwinds and the long, languid phrases of the cello melody.”

Three e-singles offer a generous slice of Summer Tales ahead of the full album’s release. La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin (Model Man Rework) will be available to download or stream from 10 June, with Laura Masotto’s Shéhérazade Rework following on 24 June, and Someone’s Swan Lake Rework on 8 July. 

Vikingur Olafsson:

From Afar

Celebrated for his innovative programming and award-winning recordings, Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson is offering a window into his musical life story with his new album, From Afar. Due for release on 7 October on Deutsche Grammophon, the highly personal double album reflects Ólafsson’s musical DNA, from childhood memories growing up in Iceland to his international career and contemporary inspirations.

Recorded on both upright and grand pianos, the album captures two distinct sound worlds with works by Bach, Mozart, Schumann, Brahms and Bartók, alongside Icelandic and Hungarian folk songs, a world premiere by Thomas Adès, transcriptions by Ólafsson himself, and interconnecting pieces composed by his hero, 96 year-old Hungarian composer and pianist György Kurtág. The first single, Ave Maria by Sigvaldi Kaldalóns, is released today (listen HERE) along with a new video of Ólafsson introducing the album.

Steve Tibbetts:

Hellbound Train

Steve Tibbetts: guitars, dobro, piano, kalimba, percussion; Marc Anderson: congas, percussion, gongs, steel drum, handpan; Michelle Kinney: cello, drones; Jim Anton, Eric Anderson, Bob Hughes: bass; Mike Olson: synthesizer; Marcus Wise: tabla; Tim Weinhold: vase, bongos; Claudia Schmidt, Rhea Valentine: voice (collective personnel)
Recordings 1981-2017

ECM 2656/57 2CD: 6024 4557480 3 Release: 1. Juli 2022

A question for Steve Tibbetts

Hellbound Train is a double album anthology drawn from your work on ECM. What was the criteria for inclusion? How did you select the pieces? Is this The Best Of Steve Tibbetts?

Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity:

Elastic Wave

Gard Nilssen is one of Europe’s most creative improvising drummers, with a fresh approach to rhythm and freedom. On ECM, he has appeared on acclaimed recordings with the Maciej Obara Quartet (Unloved, Three Crowns) and with Mathias Eick (Skala). Now Elastic Wave presents the Norwegian musician’s powerhouse trio, Acoustic Unity. Dynamic interaction, a swinging sense of pulse and boldly etched themes – all three players contribute compositions – are among the defining attributes of a group that addresses fiery anthems and poignant ballads with panache and conviction.

The group’s stylistic flexibility is rooted in shared experience. Nilssen and saxophonist/clarinettist André Roligheten grew up together in their hometown of Skien in Norway’s Telemark region. In 2005 they encountered Swedish bassist Petter Eldh inside a “Nordic large ensemble for young musicians” directed by Django Bates, and found an immediate rapport. In 2014, after diverse collaborations, Nilssen, Roligheten and Eldh came together as a trio, and have since toured widely. Elastic Wave is the trio’s fourth album, following releases on Clean Feed and Odin.

Elastic Wave is issued in time for appearances at this year’s Jazzfestival Saalfelden, where Gard Nilssen is artist-in-residence, appearing with Acoustic Unity and with his large ensemble the Supersonic Orchestra (which also has the trio at its core, and its material arranged by Nilssen and Roligheten) and other formations. This autumn will see touring by both the large and small groups.

Lang Lang:

The Disney Book

In celebration of 100 years of The Walt Disney Company, globally acclaimed piano virtuoso Lang Lang is set to transport listeners into the magical world of snow castles and flying carpets with his latest album, The Disney Book.

This enchanting musical journey through iconic movie melodies, reimagined in new versions written especially for him by some of the world’s leading arrangers, invites fans of all ages to enjoy classical music through Lang Lang’s unique interpretations. The recording will be released on 16 September on Deutsche Grammophon, in collaboration with Disney Music Group.

A truly international production, with recording sessions taking place in London, New York, Shanghai and Paris, The Disney Book traces the history of music in Disney films from the 1920s to the present day, whilst also reflecting Lang Lang’s own personal journey. Lang Lang explains: “Animation sparked my imagination and transported me to other worlds. The music was a big part of this experience – and led to my life-long love of classical music. There is such a variety of styles in Disney songs; truly, something to inspire everyone. I hope that people of all ages will enjoy this recording and experience the joy that we all felt the first time we saw a Disney film.”

The album’s first single, released today, is “Feed the Birds” from Mary Poppins – which Walt Disney himself famously declared to be his favourite Disney melody. The film’s co-composers, brothers Richard and Robert Sherman, were regularly asked to join Walt in his office on a Friday afternoon to play it for him; they even continued this tradition after the legendary animator’s death in 1966. Lang Lang’s own version of “Feed the Birds” features an accompanying music video, shot as dawn broke over Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland Park in California, making him the first classical pianist ever to perform there.

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