For her latest studio album, pianist Hélène Grimaud travels to Salzburg where she creates a fascinating juxtaposition between the eternal Mozart and the Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov (b. 1937). Hélène has long had a passion for Silvestrov's music, which some call post-modernist or even neoclassical. The composer's own words hint at why this is for her so intriguing: "I do not write new music. My music is a response to and an echo of what already exists."
In selecting the music for this album, Hélène has carefully chosen music by Mozart that fits into an overall dramaturgy: from Mozart's famous unfinished D minor Fantasy, Helene transitions seamlessly into the great D minor concerto K. 466 - one of the most popular amongst Mozart's 27 concertos (and one of only two in a minor key). The C minor Fantasy here signals "the end of Mozart" and a new beginning: The Messenger starts with a theme reminiscent of Mozart, and like a messenger, creates a connection between the present and the world that existed before. Melancholy and hope, sadness and exuberance can be felt emanating from both Mozart's and Silvestrov's works. The Messenger, one of Silvestrov's most performed works, is dedicated to his wife Larissa Bondarenko, who had recently passed away. The Two Dialogues with Postscript that serve here as an epilogue, leave the outcome open, leading the way to Schubert, Wagner and beyond.
"When I first heard it, I was mesmerized," is how Grimaud describes the first time she heard Valentin Silvestrov's music. ECM Records founder Manfred Eichner gave her a CD of Silvestrov as a birthday present, and she was hooked. Grimaud talks about her newest album (of over 20!) with 90.5WUOL: Louisville KY - Daniel Gilliam. LISTEN
t amazes me how many films today have a soundtrack that isn't informed by the movie itself. This interchangeable claptrap has made it almost impossible to review. But composer William Susman flavors the setting of Sarah Sifer's Fate of the Lhapa beautifully. Interestingly enough, I saw this documentary many, many years ago, and it truly affected me, but I never knew the soundtrack was available until it was sent to me to review 13 years after its original release. Go figure.
While there are certainly traditional forms of Western instrumentation such as harp, Susman has incorporated sounds we would associate with Nepal: There is no list, but I believe we are hearing drums - such as the dhimay, madal, and khin - a bansuri (a bamboo flute), a plucked string (perhaps the tunga), tingsha cymbals, a sringa (a large "C"- or "S"-shaped horn which is also a political symbol), and more. Along the way is minimalism that is so transporting it would make Philip Glass proud, as it helps achieve a sense of bittersweet spirituality so prevalent in the film. (Glass is also a fierce proponent for Nepal's freedom and Buddhist principles - the latter evidenced in his opera, Satyagraha.)
At first, part of the fun for me was parsing out the instruments (wait - is this sound that conch shell that has both ritual and religious importance in Hinduism?), but magically by the seventh of eleven tracks, they merge into a higher plane of trance-inducing balminess that lovingly elucidates the subject matter. While it's accurate to say that the music of Susman (who also performs) blends that mysterious, uncanny long-established Asian music with those soul-moving Western strings evokes what the press notes call an "ancient healing tradition in danger of extinction," this is music that stands alone from the film - in fact, this journey requires you to listen with headphones on and your eyes closed. The mixing by Stephen Hart at Berkeley's Fantasy Studios makes everything sound crystal clear.
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James Whale's film classic Frankenstein (1931), starring Boris Karloff, was released without a musical score, as were many films in those early days of the talkie. A number of critics, including Leonard Maltin, have remarked that Frankenstein is badly in need of music. Michael Shapiro's 70-minute score is written to be played simultaneously with the screening of the film. For modern-day concert- and moviegoers, his haunting music adds significantly to the emotional impact of the film.
Harmonious World Podcast's Hilary Robertson interviews composer and conductor Michael Shapiro.There's a good chance that I'll be jumping on a plane as soon as such things are possible again - this time to see the operatic version of Michael's film score to the original film of...
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Earlier this month Zoho (last discussed this past May for its release of two albums of guitarist Sharon Isbin) released its first CD of solo piano music performed by Jeni Slotchiver. The title of the album is American Heritage, and it surveys 125 years of music by American composers. The "early bookend" for this recording is the nineteenth-century composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk, represented by one of his best-known works, "The Banjo" (Opus 15), as well as the thematically innovative "Paraphrase de Concert," the Opus 48 "Union." The other end of the survey is occupied by Frederic Rzewski with a recording of "Down by the Riverside" from his North American Ballads collection.
Where technique is concerned, Slotchiver does a far-more-than-creditable job of managing the superposition of familiar tunes in Gottschalk's "Union." I just hope she had fun playing it, since it is difficult to listen to that piece without at least chortling. On the other hand I was a bit concerned that, by paying too much attention to technique, Slotchiver may have smoothed over some of the sharper edges of the Rzewski selection. This was unabashedly political music that deserved more than just a "faithful keyboard account."
Taken as a whole, however, the album is a valuable reference resource; and, for the most part, it makes an excellent case for music that deserves more attention in the "standard repertoire" than has been accorded to date.
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Well this is a surprise. You may have heard the radio-friendly single Little Something that the American singer-songwriter has conjured up with Sting. However, that sunny slice of Latin lite gives zero clues to Gardot's fifth studio album. Nor, for that matter, does her fourth album, Currency of Man, which was all rootsy funk and socially aware lyrics addressing racism and poverty.
No, in Covid times Gardot has evidently decided that (in the spirit of Bacharach and David) what the world needs now is love. On Sunset in the Blue, Gardot is in torrid torch-song mode with nine of her most swoonsome performances detailing passion and desire cushioned by the strings of the Royal Philharmonic. For one song, From Paris with Love, she uses musicians auditioned during lockdown beaming in their parts from around the world.
This is Gardot reunited with producer Larry Klein and arranger Vince Mendoza returning to the lustrously upholstered ballad style first heard on My One and Only Thrill in 2009. The voice is close-miked, a mix of the sensual and vulnerable, channelling the ghost of Julie London; echoes too of Diana Krall's The Look of Love – a photogenic jazz maiden making sweet music designed to be heard far beyond the jazz basements.
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Ben Rosenblum plays both piano and accordion on this pastoral session with the blended horns of trumpeter Wayne Tucker, Jasper Dutz on tenor sax or bass clarinet, guitarist Rafael Rosa, bassist Marty Jaffe, drummer Ben Zweig and guests Jake Chapman/vib, Sam Chess/tb and Jeremy Corren/p. Chapman's vibes team with Tucker's horn on an Old World tango of a title track with added accordion atmosphere, with similar moods with Corren replacing Chapman on the European "Motif From Brahms". A fun tarantella with Tucker out in front gets you dancing on "Fight Or Flight" with the horns in gorgeous harmony on the elegiac "Bright Above Us" and the folk tune "Izpoved". The team takes a dreamy read of Leonard Bernstein's "Somewhere" with Neil Young's "Philadelphia" a rich vehicle for Rosa and Chess. Sounds of the piazza.
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In a socio-politically charged year when our understanding of African American history has been in the spotlight and challenged like few times in the past, music can serve as a great instructor. If you think you know American Music, veteran NY based classical pianist and well-traveled concert performer Jeni Slotchiver invites you to open the door to the past deeper than you ever might have imagined on American Heritage – an extraordinary work paying homage primarily to African American composers of the 19th and early 20th Century whose works laid the foundations of later forms of music like jazz, blues and R&B.
To offer a wider view into these eras, she balances slave songs with Union Army hymns, sea shanties and secular dances and spirituals, some of which include snippets of tunes that we may be more familiar with (i.e. Margaret Bonds' "Troubled Water," based on the spiritual "Wade in the Water." Running elegantly and rhythmically over the ivories as if her mystical melodic hands were opening the doors to a treasured but often overlooked expanse of time, Slotchiver takes us from the dramatic swells of Samuel Coleridge Taylor's "Deep River, Op. 59, No. 10" (1904) and a spirited romp through the darker emotions and great moments of vibrant joy of Harry Thacker Burleigh's six tune suite "From the Southland" (1907) through the folkloric charms of William Still's "Swanee River" (1939).
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Inspired by the ground-breaking mission of NASA's Juno space probe and its ongoing exploration of Jupiter, Juno to Jupiter is a multi-dimensional musical journey through electronic, progressive, ambient, techno, orchestral, and vocal music.
Milan Records today announces the release of Luca Guadagnino's WE ARE WHO WE ARE (ORIGINAL SERIES SCORE) featuring music by producer, multi-instrumentalist, composer, songwriter and vocalist DEVONTÉ HYNES.
Chart-topping, international violin soloist Rachel Barton Pine, joined by multi-faceted conductor Teddy Abrams and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, releases Dvořák and Khachaturian Violin Concertos, on AVIE on November 1. The album, featuring Dvořák's Violin Concerto in A minor Op. 53 and Khachaturian's Violin Concerto in D minor, highlights each composer's prominent use of his own traditional ethnic music.
Dvořák and Khachaturian Violin Concertos marks Pine's 39th recording and fifth album on AVIE records (AV 2375). Pine's previous four AVIE albums, Mozart: Complete Violin Concertos with The Academy of St Martin in the Fields, conducted by Sir Neville Marriner; Bel Canto Paganini: 24 Caprices and other works for solo violin; Testament: Complete Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violinby Johann Sebastian Bach, and Elgar & Bruch Violin Concertos with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andrew Litton all debuted on the classical charts.
Violinist Rachel Barton Pine, Cedille Records' best-selling artist and longtime advocate for music by Black composers, performs a program of blues-influenced classical works for solo violin and violin and piano by Black composers of the 20th and 21st centuries on Blues Dialogues: Music by Black Composers, her newest Cedille Records album. Pianist Matthew Hagle, Pine's longtime recital partner, joins her on their third album together on Cedille and Pine's 21st for the Chicago-based label.
'Blues Dialogues' features several world-premiere recordings: Noel Da Costa's A Set of Dance Tunes for Solo Violin, Dolores White's expanded, four-movement version of her Blues Dialogues for solo violin, and Billy Childs's Incident on Larpenteur Avenue, a single-movement violin sonata exploring the events and impact of the 2016 killing of Philando Castile by a Minnesota police officer.
Billboard chart-topping violinist Rachel Barton Pine debuts Elgar & Bruch Violin Concertos, recorded with Maestro Andrew Litton and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. The album marks her 36th recording and fourth album on Avie records (AV 2375). Pine's previous three Avie albums, Mozart: Complete Violin Concertos with The Academy of St Martin in the Fields, conducted by Sir Neville Marriner; Bel Canto Paganini: 24 Caprices and other works for solo violin; andTestament: Complete Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin by Johann Sebastian Bach, all debuted at the top of the Billboard Classical charts (positions 3, 3, and 1, respectively).
Rachel Barton Pine has released - Bel Canto Paganini: 24 Caprices and other Works for Solo Violin. A musical tightrope that samples virtually all of the most challenging techniques possible on the violin, this, Pine's 35th album will mark her third release on Avie records and makes her the first American-born female violinist to record this repertoire. In tribute to Paganini's legendary cultivation of his devilish reputation, the album was released in stores in May, the same month as his death
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RACHEL BARTON PINE RELEASES TESTAMENT:
COMPLETE SONATAS AND PARTITAS FOR SOLO VIOLIN BY JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH
ON AVIE RECORDS
Pine Is The Only American Gold Medalist of the J.S. Bach International Violin Competition in Leipzig, Germany
Album Release Coincides with Bach's March 21 Birthday
In celebration of Johann Sebastian Bach's March 21 birthday, Billboard chart-topping violinist Rachel Barton Pine releases her recording Testament: Complete Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin by Johann Sebastian Bach.
The album – her second on Avie Records – is available for sale on April 1.
Johann Sebastian Bach's contributions to classical music are universally acknowledged and celebrated as among the most significant and profound. His contrapuntal writing continues to set the standard by which any musical composition is judged. Among the greatest examples of his mastery of counterpoint, the Six Sonatas and Partitas for unaccompanied violin are a cornerstone of every violinist's study and repertoire.
In connection with Mozart's birthday on January 27, Billboard chart-topping violinist Rachel Barton Pine debuts on AVIE records performing the five Mozart Violin Concertos and the Sinfonia Concertante K364 with Sir Neville Marriner conducting the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. The two-album set will be released January 13 and also features the recording debut of violist Matthew Lipman.
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Billboard chart-topping violinist Rachel Barton Pine performs early Romantic concertos by Felix Mendelssohn and Robert Schumann with Christoph-Mathias Mueller conducting Germany's Göttinger Symphonie Orchestera on the new album Mendelssohn & Schumann Violin Concertos (Cedille Records CDR 90000 144). Following critically praised and commercially successful recordings of the violin concertos of Brahms and Beethoven, the internationally acclaimed musician interprets two more major works of the violin literature.
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