It's a well-known predicament - the idea of ferrying someone to your mind space. When sitarist Anoushka Shankar takes us there as she translates loss, separation and pain in her personal life in Love Letters, she is accompanied by German-Turkish singer-songwriter Alev Lenz's voice. Through a string theory that Shankar builds with her sitar in Bright Eyes - a heaving piece from Love Letters - Lenz's bare voice fits like a glove. It's as if it was made to be sung along with the sitar. She modulates her voice, goes up and down the scales effortlessly and finds minor yet majestic inflections that make the song a very tightly-knit merger (fusion is a wretched word, as most serious musicians believe). On Friday, at Delhi's Siri Fort auditorium, when she sat behind a piano and sang, the now very famous piece, live, along with Shankar, among other accompanying artistes, she built on the sense of catharsis that the two found while creating Love Letters.
"It was really natural," she says. "We were just two friends making songs that we felt were important and things we wanted to communicate as women. It was creatively the most satisfying process. We didn't have the usual pressure that people do while making an album. Since both of us were dealing with heartbreak around the same time, it became a common process," says Lenz.
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27-year-old Benjamin Grosvenor is considered to be one of the greatest pianists of his generation, or any other generation, for that matter. Ever since emerging in his teens as a prodigy mature beyond his years, Grosvenor continues to evolve artistically, as he builds a legacy of recordings that often achieve reference status, such as his Chopin Scherzos and Ravel's Gaspard de la nuit, and a new release encompassing both Chopin Concertos.
This week, Grosvenor will be the featured guest on Episode 243 of the ASCAP Deems Taylor Virgil Thomson Award winning program Between the Keys, hosted by The Classical Network's Artist-in-Residence, composer/pianist Jed Distler. "Benjamin was an absolute delight to interview," says Distler. "He's warm, affable, unassuming, yet completely comfortable with his high place in the pianistic firmament, and passionate about a wide range of music. Long after our official conversation ended, we kept on talking shop and sharing repertoire ideas. No wonder all of my pianist friends adore Benjamin, personally and artistically."
Grosvenor's new recording of two concerto favorites: Chopin's Piano Concertos Nos.1 and 2, released on Decca Classics, was recorded with Elim Chan and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO). The album marks Benjamin's fifth on Decca Classics, following the hugely successful Homages in 2016, and is his first orchestral album since 2012.
Tune in to Between the Keys this Tuesday February 18th at 10:00 PM with special guest Benjamin Grosvenor, including musical selections by Ravel, Mendelssohn, Bach, Chopin and Brett Dean, only here on The Classical Network and WWFM.org New Jersey.
Ted Poor, who the NY Times wrote; "a trustworthy engine in countless modern-jazz settings," isn't your typical jazz drummer, and either is his New Deal/Impulse! debut recording 'You Already Know.' If you're at all familiar with the Seattle-based Poor's explorative career-or the wide-ranging work of his principal collaborators here, the deeply influential guitarist-producer Blake Mills and the saxophonist Andrew D'Angelo-this should come as no surprise.
Poor's album release show is set for the Columbia City Theatre on March 7,8
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Robert Plant, Karen Dalton, Elton John, Stephen Malkmus, Maria McKee, Shabaka Hutchings and Iggy & Bowie – plus our CD of the month's best music – all feature in the new Uncut, dated April 2020 and available to buy in UK shops from February 20. Inside the issue, you'll find: SHABAKA HUTCHINGS: The cosmic torchbearer of the London jazz scene, lynchpin of Sons Of Kemet, The Comet Is Coming and Shabaka And The Ancestors, invites Uncut round to talk "ecstatic improv", radical reinvention and esoteric philosophies. On March 13, Shabaka & The Ancestors will make their Impulse! debut with the band's sophomore album 'We Are Sent Here By History.'
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From a deeply stirring Mass to hauntingly re-imagined Leonard Cohen masterpieces, LUNA PEARL WOOLF: Fire and Flood encompasses 25 years of vocal and choral works by the innovative American-Canadian composer. The composer-portrait album features new and compelling performances from The Choir of Trinity Wall Street and NOVUS NY conducted by Julian Wachner, cellist Matt Haimovitz, soprano Devon Guthrie, mezzo-soprano Elise Quagliata, and Broadway actress Nancy Anderson.
Luna Pearl Woolf's new opera JACQUELINE, about the life of Jacqueline du Pré, premieres at Tapestry Opera in Toronto this week.
READ THE FULL BroadwayWorld ARTICLE
Alterations is jazz vocalist/composer Robin McKelle's follow-up to her 2018 Melodic Canvas which we covered on these pages. While that was mostly an album of originals, McKelle chooses here to, as she says, "fuse jazz, soul, r&b, blues and rock while keeping continuity in the music." These are mostly familiar songs from some of the most celebrated women in song interpreted through a jazz lens. They include Dolly Parton, Sade, Amy Winehouse, Adele, Janis Joplin, Carole king, Billie Holiday, Joni Mitchell, and Land Del Ray. For good measure, McKelle adds just one of her own, in tribute to female artistry.
READ THE FULL MAKING A SCENE REVIEW
Flamenco guitarist, composer and multi-instrumentalist Dave Soldier has been exploring cultural boundaries throughout his life. He founded a string quartet that fused punk, classical and R&B, but also played punk Delta Blues and started the Thai Elephant Orchestra. Now he explores the roots of pop songs, and found them about a thousand years ago at the crossroads of Muslim, Jewish and Christian cultures in southern Spain, more specifically in Andalusia at the time of the Moors. The song titles of these compositions are therefore in English, Arabic and Hebrew. The lyrics were always sung, are based on muwashshaha & zajal, and were taken over by singers in Provence. And that is what our Western pop music would be based on, from Schubert, The Beatles, Hank Williams, to opera. These old texts have now been given a flamenco, jazz and world music twist and are usually sung by Ana Nimouz. They sometimes sound cheerful, sometimes mysterious, and sometimes as fusion. A special release for those who are interested in the origin of our music, and who are not averse to world music. - Patrick Van de Wiele
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Milan Records today releases THE NEW POPE (ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK FROM THE SKY – HBO – CANAL+ SERIES produced by FREMANTLE'S THE APARTMENT and WILDSIDE, co-produced with HAUT ET COURT TV and THE MEDIAPRO STUDIO) with music by LELE MARCHITELLI.
Referred to as "the Jimi Hendrix of the ukulele," Jake Shimabukuro is a true virtuoso, and exhibits his talents once again with the release of ‘Trio', available February 14th through Music Theories Recordings.
You Already Know, the New Deal/Impulse! debut from the acclaimed drummer Ted Poor-"a trustworthy engine in countless modern-jazz settings," per the New York Times-isn't your typical jazz drummer's recording, almost defiantly so.
Maybe it's something in the water in Iceland that's produced an invasion of mournfully beautiful and stylistically innovative musicians, each setting out to revolutionize the word with a tonal language of ear-opening, futuristic art. In much the same way that Bjork has caught the world's attention with her mind blowing take on pop, Johann Johannson has been terraforming a sometimes typical landscape of film scoring into a thing of haunting beauty. Listening to such works as "Prisoners," "McCanick," "Free the Mind" and his Oscar-nominated "The Theory of Everything" and "Sicario" are haunting journeys into humanity at its worst, and best. Low, nearly sub-sonic tones dance with subtle, yet memorable themes, his melodies journeying into the depths of hell or the highest reaches of scientific and spiritual heaven with striking originality. In that way, Johannson hasn't diluted his indie street cred honed on any number of strange art music albums, operas and exhibition pieces. He's made that rare segue from high-minded music to the more plebian demands of the big screen, spearheading a music revolution shared by such high art composers as Max Richter ("The Congress"), Jay Wadley ("Indignation") and Mica Levi ("Under the Skin").
Levi created a brilliantly confrontational "Skin" score that was as extra-terrestrial as film music could get with the buzzing tonalities of its black oil seductress, Now Johannson has initiated a scoring close encounter that's just about as strangely memorable with "Arrival" – his latest tour into the extremes of human endurance with Quebecois director Denis Villeneuve. On the pitch black surface of its alien orbs, this tale of linguist trying to find common, grammatical ground for the sake of the planet's survival might not seem to be made of the same unholy moral quagmire stuff of "Prisoner's" psycho child-napper or "Sicario's" ruthless drug war assassin. But those expecting ultimately happy Spielbergian wonder don't know Villeneueve very well, as the translator finds herself moving through time and ponders visions of motherhood, all the while desperately trying to bridge the communication gap with creatures that would give Cthulu pause.
It's a sense of dread, and wonder that Johannson conveys with icy, ominous strings, unearthly brass, tribal percussion, emotionally resonant melody and a dialogue between chirping women, moaning males and the approximation of alien whale cries Much in the same way we might not makes sense of the visitors' Rorschach Test language, Johannsson's score is its own wonderfully trippy and beautiful language that doesn't spell itself out, yet remains thematically hypnotic throughout. Like this striking, challenging film, Johannsson's "Arrival" evolves a musical conversation where Johannsson again proves himself as a composer driven to push the outer limits of the art form – yet in a way that multiplex movie audiences will want to understand, and hear more of. READ THE Q&A with Film Music Magazine
During the weeks before his untimely passing on February 9, award-winning Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson was closely involved in preparations for the reissue of his debut album, Englabörn. Originally released in 2002, the record had been especially remastered, and a second disc containing reworkings of a number of its tracks had also been assembled. Some were by Jóhannsson himself – including a piano version of the title track, performed by fellow Deutsche Grammophon artist Víkingur Ólafsson – while others involved included Ryuichi Sakamoto, A Winged Victory for the Sullen and Hildur Guðnadóttir. Following discussions with his family, the release of Englabörn & Variations went ahead on March 23, 2018.
From Academy Award-winning director James Marsh (The Theory of Everything, Man of Wire) comes The Mercy, a tale of yachtsman Donald Crowhurst (Colin Firth)'s disastrous attempt to win the 1968 Golden Globe Race that results in his outrageous account of traveling the world alone by sea. The soundtrack for The Mercy features music by Jóhann Jóhannsson (Arrival, mother!). The music is a combination of newly written, commercial orchestral scores, and existing pieces from Jóhannsson´s catalog, such as Orphée, Englabörn, Free The Mind and Copenhagen Dreams.
Jóhann Jóhannsson, the Golden Globe-winning, Oscar, BAFTA and Grammy-nominated composer's first album for Deutsche Grammophon, is a meditation on beauty and the process of creation. Orphée traces a path from darkness into light, inspired by the various retellings of the old story of the poet Orpheus, from Ovid's to Jean Cocteau's. A many-layered story about death, rebirth, change and the ephemeral nature of memory, the myth can also be read as a metaphor for artistic creation - about the elusive nature of beauty and its relation to the artist, as well as the idea that art is created through transgression - by the poet defying the gods who forbade him, to turn back towards his beloved as he leaves the Underworld. The new album is set for a September 16th release date on Deutsche Grammophon.
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