Recently French composer and pianist Lucas Debargue breathed new life into the harpsichord sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti and presents works outside the standard piano repertoire. The Parisian pianist has already climbed the pinnacle of piano artistry with Beethoven, Liszt and Ravel and unleashed full-blown romantic thunderstorms with Schubert's A-minor Piano Sonata no. 14 and the madcap finale of Ravel's Gaspard de la nuit.
On the album, Debargue devotes himself completely to Domenico Scarlatti. He already played four of this Italian master's sonatas on his highly acclaimed début album. Germany's Der Spiegel waxed ecstatic: "Debargue's Scarlatti recalls his mighty predecessors. He displays the subtle touch and feeling once bestowed on these miniatures by Vladimir Horowitz and imparts new sound to Scarlatti's keyboard music. … Debargue touches the outer limits of expression between joylessness and rapture: one may find it overwrought, but it's never less than gripping. And then there's the gentle Glenn Gould touch."
Debargue joins us for this mini-episode of REMOTE with a couple words on some of his pandemic-projects, reading list, and the importance of emphasizing our similarities rather than differences. READ THE Q&A
Max Richter's trailblazing 2015 composition Sleep is now available to download with the launch of a new app. The app enables listeners to reimagine the 8-hour Deutsche Grammophon recording in custom-made musical sessions to help with focus, meditation and sleep which many people will need in the midst of the pandemic lockdown. It brings to a wider audience some of the experience shared by those lucky enough to attend Richter's extraordinary eight-hour overnight performances of Sleep – complete with beds – including LTW's own Tim Cooper who wrote about it here when it came to London in 2017.
READ THE FULL Louder Than War ARTICLE
In episode 925 of "ANIMAJAZZ", conceived and conducted by BRUNO POLLACCI , broadcast TUESDAY June 30 at 20.30, on PUNTORADIO, also streaming on www.puntoradio.fm and in an immediate podcast on http: // animajazz. eu will be the protagonists CARLA BLEY - ANDY SHEPPARD - STEVE SWALLOW - CD "Life Goes On" - "Life Goes On_ III. And On "(ECM).
The third volume of a sequence of albums begun with Trios in 2013 and continued with Andando El Tiempo (2016), Life Goes On – once more recorded in Lugano and produced by Manfred Eicher - features striking new music from American pianist/composer Carla Bley, whose trio with saxophonist Andy Sheppard and bassist Swallow has a long history. (Their first recording in trio format was Songs with Legs, recorded for the ECM-distributed WATT label in 1994.) Bley has composed for ensembles of every size but, over time, the trio has established itself as an ideal unit for expressing the essence of her work. Throughout Life Goes On, Carla's terse, distinctive piano, shaping phrases irreducible as Monk or Satie, is beautifully framed by Swallow's eloquent, elegant bass guitar and Sheppard's yearning saxes. This trio has a unique collective sound, reflecting – as The Telegraph recently noted – "musical mastery of a rare order".
We remind you that "ANIMAJAZZ" can be heard on TUESDAY at 20.30 in immediate podcast on http://animajazz.eu and the "DOWNLOAD" of the episode can be made, free of charge, from the podcasts area. Happy listening.
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The 2020 Juno Awards have wrapped, announcing a list of winners that has been on hold since the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered the in-person Saskatoon weekend of events in March. But tonight, June 29, the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) and CBC combined the usual two-night series of events into an hour-and-a-half-long pre-recorded special, delivering a night that Canadian music fans have been waiting for.
Winner for 'Classical album of the year: large ensemble' is Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, conducted by Kent Nagano, The John Adams Album.
Released to coincide with Nagano's final season with the Montréal Symphony, The John Adams Album contains his key orchestral works conducted by one of his greatest, lifelong champions "Like all great pieces, each time one returns to them and restudies them, I'm able to find something more - new dimensions that I haven't seen before, other reflections of innovation and genius." - Kent Nagano on John Adams
SEE ALL WINNERS ON CBC PAGE
Is there a classical performer more keenly attuned to the moment than the cellist and musical ambassador Yo-Yo Ma? When the coronavirus pandemic broke out in March, Ma launched a participatory social media project (#SongsOf Comfort) that's tapped a deep need for music as a unifying force in these isolating times. The performer's ongoing performances of Bach's Cello Suites around the world have seemed similarly soulful, global, and essential.
Never content to stay in any narrow lane, Ma has been crossing borders for decades. As a driving force in The Silk Road Project (now Silkroad), he brought together musicians from widely diverse ethnic regions and traditions. He's collaborated with scores of artists, from Astor Piazzolla to James Taylor, in other ways.
Now, in a reprise of the 2011 Goat Rodeo album, Ma has reunited with fiddle player Stuart Duncan, mandolinist Chris Thile, and bass player Edgar Meyer on the drolly titled and winningly big-hearted Not Our First Goat Rodeo. The Sony disc features the gently infectious singer Aoife O'Donovan on three of the album's 10 tracks.
The vitality kicks in right away with "Your Coffee Is a Disaster," all jittery, jangly plucks and shivers set off by wails of protest from the cello and fiddle, smoothed out later on by some creamy harmonies. The number feels both cunningly designed and loosely improvisatory, a well-made brew that's allowed to go awry a bit.
Lovely and light-fingered as it often is, this second Goat Rodeo also takes some daredevil rides into the unknown. As Ma has often demonstrated, music that takes risks can pay handsome rewards. PHOTO: Josh Goleman
READ THE FULL San Francisco Classical Voice ARTICLE
Host John Pitman chats with the great Swedish mezzo-soprano, Anne Sofie Von Otter about her performance of a new work by American composer, Caroline Shaw. Title "Is a Rose", the three-movement song cycle is sung by Von Otter with San Francisco's Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, as Shaw has written the work with Baroque ensembles – and Ms. Von Otter – in mind. Next, John talks with the composer herself, touching on the song cycle and her first oratorio, The Listeners, which was inspired by the gold record created for the Voyager spacecraft. Music from Shaw's new works are interwoven with the conversation.
When the coronavirus sequestered Americans at home and forced businesses to close, Hale Ryan braced himself for a financial winter. As the director of sales and marketing at Metroplex Piano in Dallas and a 30-year veteran of the piano business, he had seen other crises - like 9/11 and the 2008 recession - damage sales. When the lockdown began in March, Mr. Ryan said in a recent phone interview, "I thought this was going to be the final nail."
Instead, he began to field a flood of requests for instruments. Even with his showroom closed, the economy nose-diving and the professional music world in tatters, he sold pianos.
"It's actually been the best three months that I've seen in retail," he said.
The piano market encompasses a wide range of instruments, from hand-built concert grands that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to factory-made uprights, digital pianos and keyboards designed for young learners. The high-water mark of piano sales in America was 1909, when 364,500 new acoustic pianos were sold in the country. Since then, radio, television, recordings and instrument technology transformed the way music is created and consumed. Only about 30,000 new acoustic pianos are now sold here each year, but the number surpasses a million when all digital varieties are included.
Even a lower-end instrument represents a significant investment, and can seem like a luxury during a time of economic uncertainty. And with showrooms closed this spring, potential buyers could no longer test-drive the possibilities. A sale represented not just a splurge, but also a leap of faith.
"It's actually been the best three months that I've seen in retail," said Hale Ryan of Metroplex Piano in Dallas.Credit...Metroplex Piano
And yet interviews with nearly a dozen dealers across the country reveal surprisingly robust sales that suggest a resurgence of at-home music-making just as the live concert scene vanished. Most of the dealers noted a rise in demand for digital pianos, which allow players to channel the sound through headphones: a key feature in households where working-from-home parents share space with distance-learning children. The phenomenon seems to be part of a general pivot toward home-based recreation, along with increased demand for gym equipment and bicycles.
Indeed, a significant portion of purchasers appears to be new to the market. Tom Sumner, the president of Yamaha Corporation of America, said in an interview that he had heard from retailers that between 20 and 25 percent of sales this spring were to first-time buyers.
"A good chunk of customers are people they've never seen before," Mr. Sumner said.
According to him, Yamaha sold 60 percent more digital pianos this April than in the same month last year. He added that the sales increase was especially significant because, in a typical spring, schools tend to make big purchases in preparation for fall band season. Because of the coronavirus, he said, that segment has dropped away, so the spike in sales likely comes from individual buyers.
Brian Majeski, the co-owner of Music Trades, a company that analyzes data about the musical instruments industry, said in an interview that across America, sales of digital pianos rose by 30 percent this April and May, with the trend appearing to continue into June. He also noted an uptick for acoustic pianos, though it was smaller and mostly driven by used instruments.
Still, Mr. Majeski said, "The question in our industry is: Will this stick? Are you creating a new generation of players, or is it a momentary spike with people who have time on their hands looking for things to do?"
The Piano Guys, a crossover group that has clocked over a billion YouTube views with music videos of its arrangements of pop and classical standards, began selling digital pianos for $2,000 to $8,000 on its website last December, typically bundled with online learning materials alongside proprietary sheet music. Steven Sharp Nelson, a member of the group, said that in the first months it sold a piano every two or three days. In April and May demand rose steeply; some days the band sold six pianos in one day.
He said it was the pandemic that had led many to learn to play the piano for the first time. "We're in a cadenza fermata," he said, referring to the moment in a classical concerto when the orchestra drops away and the soloist takes off on a flight of fancy. "People are improvising."
Isaac Namias, who sells restored acoustic pianos in Brooklyn, said email inquiries shot up when the virus hit New York. Under lockdown, he said, he sold nearly twice as many units per month as during normal times, mostly instruments in the lower price range, about $2,500 to $6,500. About half his business was driven by piano teachers referring students. Notably absent from the client list were professional performing pianists. Mr. Namias said, "They want to touch the piano, they know exactly what they're looking for."
But the reliance on hands-on, in-person sales seems to have lessened. Anthony Gilroy, a spokesman for Steinway, said in an email that although the company had seen a drop in sales when showrooms closed, the decline had been less than expected. In response to the pandemic, Steinway for the first time created an option to buy pianos directly from its website. And sales representatives using digital platforms were able to make big-ticket sales, including limited-edition Steinways costing upward of a quarter of a million dollars.
Mr. Nelson of The Piano Guys likened the trend to car sales. "To my mind it's like when people started selling cars on eBay," he said. "At first people thought that was crazy. But now a significant portion of car sales is done online."
Mr. Ryan, whose showroom in Dallas has since reopened, said he had organized virtual demonstrations of instruments on Zoom. "I never thought anybody would buy a $20,000 piano without playing it first," he said. But he sold several concert grand pianos this way, including a $200,000 Bösendorfer to a doctor who had been working on the front lines of the coronavirus.
"He is a pathologist and a serious player and he's always wanted a Bösendorfer," Mr. Ryan said. "He's stressed beyond belief and he just wants to get back to playing piano."
Sony Music Masterworks today releases Not Our First Goat Rodeo, the long-awaited follow-up album to the GRAMMY Award-winning The Goat Rodeo Sessions, with Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile.
In the fall of 1968, a sixteen-year old high school student named Danny Scher had a dream to invite legendary jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk and his all-star quartet to perform a concert at his local high school in Palo Alto, CA.
Blues Hall of Famer Bettye LaVette has decided to release her stirring rendition of "Strange Fruit" ahead of schedule as it says as much about the history of American racism and the state of the country today.
Guitarist John Scofield celebrates the music of his friend and mentor Steve Swallow in an outgoing and spirited recording, made in an afternoon in New York City in March 2019 - "old school" style as Scofield says, acknowledging that more than forty years of preparation led up to it.
Vikingur Olafsson's brilliant take on Bach is KDFC: Album Of the Week
Posted: October 23, 2018 12:00 AM
| By: Admin
Víkingur Ólafsson is a musical free spirit with a mission. He first made the classical world sit up and listen in early 2017 with his recording of solo piano works by Philip Glass – a fascinating journey through the time and space of their minimalist structures. Glass is now followed by Bach. Ólafsson's second Deutsche Grammophon album, the pithily entitled Bach, contains a mixture of original works and transcriptions, which the pianist (known as the Glenn Gould of Iceland!) has woven together in intriguing style.
Debussy has been with me as far back as I can remember, but my first encounter with the keyboard music of Rameau was Emil Gilels' 1951 recording of "Le rappel des oiseaux", which I came across during my student days in New York. I was immediately fascinated by the music and how well it lends itself to the modern piano, at least in Gilels' noble rendition, with its layered textures and light and shades. But it wasn't until the spring of 2019, as I waited (and waited and waited) for the birth of my first child that I finally had the chance, having cleared some weeks in my concert schedule, to sit down with all of Rameau's published keyboard works and read through every one of them. A world of wonder revealed itself: ingenious works of remarkable diversity, rarely programmed or recorded on the modern instrument.
Following his critically-acclaimed Johann Sebastian Bach album, pianist Vikingur Ólafsson releases a double LP of Bach Reworks, featuring new arrangements of his Bach transcriptions from electronic artists such as Valgeir Sigurðsson and Ben Frost (Prelude BWV 855a), Peter Gregson (Above and Below, B Minor), and Ryuichi Sakamoto (BWV 974 – II Adagio – Rework).
Following his critically acclaimed recording of piano works by Philip Glass, Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson will release his second concept album, Bach, on Deutsche Grammophon on September 7, 2018 (CD released 9/14). The album is available for pre-order everywheretoday.
Renowned for his innovative musical projects, Ólafsson offers listeners a very personal vision of Bach's intricate keyboard music on his new recording – artfully weaving Bach's original works together with transcriptions by Busoni, Kempff, Ziloti, Rachmaninov and Ólafsson himself. Ólafsson will also perform some of the repertoire from the album live at venues including London's LSO St Luke's, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk (Denmark), Hamburg's Laeiszhalle, and the Berlin Philharmonie during the 2018-19 season.
For Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson's debut album on Deutsche Grammophon, he is performing selections of Philip Glass's Piano Etudes to be released on January 27, in time for the composer's 80th birthday. Ólafsson's fascination with reinterpreting the Piano Etudesgrew as he toured and performed the works with Glass himself. "On the surface, they seem to be filled with repetitions. But the more one plays and thinks about them, the more their narratives seem to travel along in a spiral," he explains. "My approach to each of the etudes is to enable the listener to create his or her own personal space of reflection."
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