ClassicsToday Jed Distler writes.....Per Nørgård composed his first solo cello sonata between the ages of 19 and 21. His seriousness, sensitivity, and strong personality were clearly present early on. The first movement's brooding lyricism never turns on itself, while the microtonal gestures are expressively discreet and anything but gimmicky. The Allegro con brio finale is like a fragmented or interrupted gigue, where sudden double stops and pizzicato chords seemingly challenge the music's dance-like profile.
Wilhelmina Smith's lustrous sonority, wide dynamic range, and impeccable control in the highest registers bring forth the music's potential for color and drama. She conveys similar eloquence and sustaining power throughout No. 2, which consists of two pieces written nearly 27 years apart, and imparts an appropriately incantatory tone throughout the plaintive slides in the brief No. 3's "Prayer" outer movements.
Poul Ruders' Bravour-Studien is essentially a set of variations based on the Rennaissance era's greatest hit "L'homme armé". Ruders pushes the cellist's capabilities in many directions, from hard-to-voice pizzicato flourishes and sul ponticello effects to leaping chords and low-lying runs that must murmur without sounding muddy.
Smith's technical aplomb allows her to navigate Ruders' hurdles without difficulty. That said, I prefer Morten Zeuthen's more volatile and daring interpretation on Dacapo. His quavering vibrato in the opening Overture, for instance, immediately raises the emotional stakes, and the Etude boasts more abandon than in Smith's relatively careful reading, which, however, boasts more reliable intonation. While she nonchalantly dispatches the Intermezzo's arpeggiated chords, Zeuthen patiently spells them out, creating more of a contrast to the quiet pizzicato rejoinders. An unqualified recommendation for the Nørgård, but listeners interested in the Ruders should sample both Smith and Zeuthen.
SEE THE ClassicsToday PAGE
Beginning Monday, March 8 at 8 pm PT, Lara Downes will host "Evening Music with Lara Downes," a nightly program featuring classical music spanning centuries and styles, specially chosen and explored to reveal unique insights and context. Additionally, as the station's first-ever Resident Artist, Lara will curate and create new digital content that will engage the California community and give KDFC listeners a more in-depth look at the creativity and history that has shaped our musical lives.
Pianist Lara Downes is a sought-after performer, Billboard Chart-topping recording artist, producer, curator, activist, and arts advocate. Her dynamic work positions her as a cultural visionary on the national arts scene. Lara's musical roadmap seeks inspiration from the legacies of history, family, and collective memory, excavating the broad landscape of American music to create a series of acclaimed performance and recording projects that serve as gathering spaces for her listeners to find common ground and shared experience.
Current Host of the Evening Program, Rik Malone will still be featured as a host and continue to program the music for much of the KDFC schedule. Here's soem Q&A with Lara
AnalogPlanet's Michael Fremer writes.....Impulse! Records, founded in 1960 by Creed Taylor and home to some of the greatest jazz artists of all time including John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Archie Shepp, Alice Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders and Quincy Jones, among many others, this year celebrates its 60th anniversary.
The orange-and-black imprint known as the "House That Trane Built" was a cultural beacon of progressivism, spiritualism, and activism throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Today, the label thrives with a new vanguard of jazz artists including Shabaka Hutchings, Sons of Kemet, The Comet Is Coming, Brandee Younger, Ted Poor and others.
Jamie Krents, EVP of Verve and Impulse! says, "Impulse! Records has an important and enduring legacy that we are proud to celebrate during this anniversary year. We are thrilled to unveil new music, visual content, merchandise, partnerships and more. The famous orange label has been the musical home to progressive artists that pushed the boundaries of music, thought, and culture. Impulse! continues this legacy with a commitment to our history, and our future with artists like Shabaka and Brandee, who both carry the torch and blaze new trails. We are proud to share the story of this remarkable label with the world in this, its 60th year."
READ THE FULL AnalogPlanet ARTICLE
Hilary Hahn's new recording pays homage to the rich cultural heritage of a city that has been close to her heart throughout her career. Set for international release by Deutsche Grammophon on 5 March 2021, Paris sees the American violinist resume her productive partnership with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and its Music Director, Mikko Franck. The three-time Grammy Award-winner's album presents the world premiere of Einojuhani Rautavaara's Deux Sérénades, commissioned by Mikko Franck. It also includes Ernest Chausson's Poème and Sergei Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No.1, which received its first performance in the French capital in 1923.
HH made some time available TODAY!! to speak with radio stations about the new release. The list includes
KDFC: San Francisco
Spokane Public Radio: WA
WGTE: Toledo OH
WCMU: Mount Pleasant MI
WCPE: Wake Forest NC
WMHT: Schenectady NY
WQLN: Erie PA
WOMR Provincetown MA
Winnipeg's CLASSIC107: Canada
A Quiet Madness features three piano pieces, a piano and violin duet, a series of seven scenes for four flutes and a solo accordion piece that was composed as a response to Hurricane Katrina. The album immerses the listener in a photorealistic sound world of understated beauty. At once calming and thought-provoking, it allows the ear and mind to make their own connections without feeling overwhelmed by thematic constraints. William Susman's precise harmonic and rhythmic languages invite us into a subdued, enchanting expression of madness that roams all over the map, akin to the mind wandering during a rainy day-or, perhaps clairvoyantly, akin to the strange passage of time spent in self-isolation during the collective trauma of COVID-19.
Harmonious World Podcast's Hilary Robertson conducts her first podcast with William Susman and extracts from the composer's music. LISTEN TO THE SEGMENT
Support the show
CRB's BRIAN MCCREATH writes.....Boston Symphony Orchestra Music Director Andris Nelsons describes the three online performances he conducts, each of them featuring Beethoven symphonies, and works inspired by them, written by composers of our time.
In January 2020, Nelsons and the BSO were looking ahead to a concert tour of Asia, followed by the last chapters of the 2019-2020 season. The tour, however, was cancelled as the now world-wide pandemic took hold in the very countries the orchestra was to have visited. And eventually, those last dynamic chapters of the season, including Nelsons's return, were also stricken from the schedule.
In a radically changed world, Nelsons and the orchestra were finally reunited to record three concerts for BSO Now, the Boston Symphony's online concert series. And in a remotely-produced interview, Nelsons described each concert, revealing the ways his relationship with Beethoven's symphonies have evolved, as well as how the impact of those symphonies is refracted through compositional voices of our time.
I began by asking Nelsons to describe the feeling of returning to Symphony Hall after being gone for so long.
LISTEN TO THE 99.5:CRB - Boston SEGMENT
The New York Times - David Allen writes....For his new album, Benjamin Grosvenor delved into historical recordings of the daunting Sonata in B minor. "This is music that's probably not supposed to be played cleanly," Benjamin Grosvenor said of Liszt's Piano Sonata in B minor, the centerpiece of his new album.
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.
Milan Records today announces the February 12 release of MINARI (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK) with music by award-winning composer EMILE MOSSERI (The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Kajillionaire).
The third volume in David Korevaar's highly acclaimed series devoted to Lowell Liebermann's solo piano music (MSR Classics MS1688) continues his journey of recording all of Liebermann's works for the piano.
Grammy and Oscar-nominated songwriter and composer Stephan Moccio has released a brand new solo piano version of ‘Earned It', a track he co-wrote and co-produced with The Weeknd for the 2015 blockbuster film Fifty Shades of Grey.
This brand-new recording marks the continuation of Leipzig's Bruckner Cycle with Andris Nelsons and the Gewandhausorchester
Andris Nelsons and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig continue their award-winning Bruckner cycle.
Laila Biali, equally at home in both the pop and jazz worlds - WVIA Public Media - Graham Album Review
Posted: March 23, 2020 12:00 AM
| By: Admin
WVIA - The Graham Album Review
Singer-songwriters come in all kinds of musical flavors, from old-fashioned folkies to punk rockers. The most familiar musical format is of the acoustic-guitar wielding artist who strums and sings, and sometimes brings in a band for their recording. But there are a lot of piano-based artists, from Billy Joel to Elton John to Randy Newman to Bruce Hornsby. And some of those piano-types show some jazz influence in their music. This time, we have a pianist and vocalist who approaches the music from a jazz perspective. It's Canadian artist Laila Biali, whose new release is called Out of Dust. In fact, on most of Ms. Biali's previous albums, she could be considered a jazz vocalist. The new release takes a decidedly more pop direction, but maintains the general musical sophistication of jazz.
Thirty-nine-year-old Laila Biali, a native of Vancouver, began playing piano at an early age and studied classical piano. She attended the Toronto school known as the Royal Conservatory of Music, where she was attracted to jazz. She released her debut album called Introducing the Laila Biali Trio in 2003, and later moved to New York, where she played piano for artists including Paula Cole and sang backing vocals on a recording by Sting, and toured with Suzanne Vega and Chris Boti. While much of her material has been very much in the jazz vein, she has done some interesting pop-influenced recordings, including a very creative version of Joni Mitchell's Woodstock on her 2011 live album. In 2018, she won a Juno Award, the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy, for her eponymous recording, her last release.
Now she has come forth with Out of Dust which, with the exception of one song, consists of all original music, and the influences run more toward sophisticated singer-songwriter than jazz. Her co-producer on the album is her husband, drummer Ben Wittman, who has also produced singer-songwriters like Patty Larkin and Lucy Kaplansky. There is a fairly large cast on Out of Dust with various horn players, backing vocalists and a string quartet who appear on various tracks.
Many of the songs were inspired by some turbulence in her life, with the death of a friend to cancer, a family member to suicide, and then Ms. Biali being diagnosed with two auto-immune disorders. So some of the songs have a degree of poignancy to their lyrics, but most ultimately come to an optimistic conclusion. While the jazz influence is apparent in the instrumentation on many of the tracks such as acoustic piano, and a big acoustic bass sound, there are enough pop ingredients to widen the appeal beyond jazzheads,
Opening is a piece called Revival which celebrates the 2017 Women's March and teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg. It takes a kind of Gospel influenced direction, with a great rhythmic groove. <<>>
Taking a more jazzy direction is The Monolith which also features the string quartet. It's a musically outstanding composition, which maintains an appealingly melodic sound with the kind of compositional details that would keep a jazz fan happy. <<>>
Glass House is one of my favorite pieces on the album with its shifting colors and intricate changing rhythms, in the context of an attractive song. <<>>
Wendy's Song revolves around a character facing a difficult time, again in a creative jazz-influenced setting. <<>>
Taking a rather different direction is the song Sugar done in a funky groove. The song seems to be literally about sugar, which given the oblique reference to Ms. Biali's medical problems, might have led to sugar being off limits. <<>>
Another attractive song carries the title Alpha Waves a reference to brain waves generally present during wakeful relaxation. The piece makes good use of the string quartet. <<>>
The album includes a pretty waltz in French called Au Pays de Cocagne which however translates as "in the land of cocaine." The lyrics were written by Sonia Johnson, a singer-songwriter in her own right. <<>>
The one cover on the album is Take Me to the Alley written by jazz singer Gregory Porter. Though this is some jazz influence, with the sax present, Ms. Biali takes the song in a decidedly more pop direction than Porter's original version. <<>>
Laila Biali's new release, Out of Dust, her seventh album, is her most pop-oriented to date, and an altogether fine record that combines Ms. Biali's excellent vocals, with her jazz sophistication, and some first-rate original compositions featuring articulate lyrics, some based on experience. The arrangements, though sometimes involving a bunch of added musicians, remain thoroughly tasteful, with the extra players providing some nice sonic colors.
Our grade for sound quality comes pretty close to an "A." The sound is clean and has good depth. Ms. Biali's vocals sound warm and inviting, and the mix keeps the added musicians and arrangements in perspective.
These days, there are not many vocalists who are equally at home in both the pop and the the legitimate jazz worlds. In that respect, Laila Biali is one of the best.
Today, JUNO Award-winning artist, Laila Biali, graces us with her stunning Joni Michell cover of the classic love song, A Case Of You, just in time for Valentine's Day! Accompanying the track is a captivating video of the live performance captured live off the floor at Revolution Recording Studios – inviting any listener into the moment with Biali. Watch the full video here.
Arranged by Biali, and her husband, Ben Wittman, on djembe, alongside George Koller on upright bass, this heartfelt interpretation was created with Valentine's Day in mind. A Case Of You was featured earlier this week on CBC Metro Morning, giving listeners an exclusive first preview of the track ahead of its release today.
"My first experience hearing Joni Mitchell's music was when I was still a music student at Humber College," shares Biali. "Hejira and Mingus were the obvious starting point for a Jazz novice as equally interested in the musicians accompanying Joni as in Joni herself. But then along came Blue. That was the one, the album that triggered a lifelong fascination with Joni and her songwriting. She made my heart ache with every feeling, love and loss in the same breath. No song captures that more for me than A Case of You. I think it's the ultimate Valentine's song because it can reach you no matter where you're at – whether you're in love, longing for it, or mourning it."
JUNO-winning artist Laila Biali offers a stirring gospel-infused arrangement of Silent Night, featuring John Ellis on tenor sax. Biali grew up singing the classic carol in harmony with her sisters at candlelit Christmas Eve services year after year, and you can feel the emotion and nostalgia in her powerful delivery.
Laila Biali – vocals, piano, arrangement
John Ellis – tenor saxophone
Glenn Patscha – B3 organ
George Koller – bass
Ben Wittman – drums
Mixed and mastered by Ben Wittman
Artwork by Halla Creative
JUNO and SOCAN Music Award winner Laila Biali celebrates Canadian icon Joni Mitchell's birthday with an intimate cover of Mitchell's beloved song, "Both Sides Now." Biali's stripped down approach illuminates poignant lyrics that speak to the heart.
Multi-award winning singer-songwriter and pianist Laila Biali has performed on prestigious stages from New York City's Carnegie Hall to Beijing's National Centre for the Performing Arts. Known for her signature sound that "masterfully mixes jazz and pop" (Washington Post), Biali has received top honors including a 2020 SOCAN Music Songwriting Award plus the 2019 JUNO (Canada's GRAMMY) for Vocal Jazz Album. She has also toured with pop icon, Sting, and hosts a national radio show on CBC Music.
Laila Biali is at it again, cooking up some fall/winter content including the release of Anthem by Leonard Cohen on Friday, Sept 18, just before Leonard's birthday Sept 21. Biali will record a special 'Quarantunes performance video' for the release.
The 2019 JUNO-Award winner covers fellow Canadian and music icon; Leonard Cohen in 'Anthem,' a relevant song with a salient message for the times we find ourselves in: "Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything, that's where the light gets in." Leonard would have turned 86 on September 21, 2020.
This single releases on the heels of Laila's highly-anticipated 2020 album release, Out of Dust, which came out on March 27 and features an expansive ensemble of instrumentalists and singers including GRAMMY Award winners and nominees Lisa Fischer, John Ellis, Larnell Lewis, and others.
For nearly every major triumph-a highly acclaimed return to jazz, winning the JUNO Award for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year, touring the world-the singer-songwriter has faced private debilitating crises. In just a few short years, Biali lost a close friend to cancer, mourned a family member's suicide, and was diagnosed with two auto-immune disorders that threatened to upend her career. It was a period of change and heartache-but it was also a season of great inspiration and hope. The result is Biali's deeply personal new album, Out of Dust.