Welcome to theartsdesk - Classical CDs Weekly: Beethoven, Bruckner, Notice Recordings. Definitive box sets of sonatas and symphonies, plus striking new music from a US independent label by Graham Rickson for Saturday, 22 February 2020.
"Beethoven paid no attention at all to the conventions of his own time In fact, he only ever wrote music for the future." One strength of Igor Levit's magnificent traversal of Beethoven's piano sonatas is how contemporary, how disarmingly modern he makes many of them sound. Speeds in outer movements are generally swift, the dynamic contrasts extreme. Try No. 25's tiny last movement, pushed to the limit here and almost buckling under the strain. But there's so much energy and joy; you suspect that Beethoven would have approved. He would also have grinned at Levit's fizzing account of No. 25, the grace and flamboyance perfectly matched. One of this set's many attractions is hearing Levit doesn't underplay the earlier, less familiar sonatas. The first three, dedicated to Haydn, are wonderfully handled. No. 2's first movement is laugh-out-loud funny, and No. 3's finale closes with a nicely emphatic full stop.
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The final sonatas were originally recorded and released in 2013. I'd forgotten how strong these performances are, especially given Levit's tender years. No. 29's opening glitters, the last movement's fiendish contrapuntal writing never sounding strained. And how sweetly Levit sings the lovely sarabande heard at the start of No. 30's last movement. There's enough here to sustain the curious for years, and it's been fascinating comparing Levit's cycle with a new one by Fazil Say, to be reviewed in a few weeks. Levit's dynamism, compassion and intelligence are compelling. He gives us the full Ludwig. Sony's engineering is demonstration-class, and the box itself is a covetable object. Superb booklet too, Anselm Cybinski's useful notes on each sonata followed by an interview with the pianist.
Bruckner BerlinBruckner: Symphonies 1-9 Berliner Philharmoniker (Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings)
Box set symphony cycles are a mixed blessing, if only because it's rare for one single conductor to nail each instalment. Herbert von Karajan came close to achieving Brucknerian perfection in the 1970s, though his DG set contains a fair few scrappy moments. This new Berlin set compiles live performances made between 2009 and 2019, sensibly spreading the load between eight different conductors. Coming from an orchestra which gave its first Bruckner performance in 1887, you'd expect these performances to be technically impressive. The playing is indeed spectacular, the stamina of the Berlin players something to marvel at. That several of these symphonies are now standard repertoire is also surprising; Bruckner doesn't always give up his secrets easily, and a dull performance of No. 8 makes for a very long 85 minutes. As a brass player I'm biased; I love this stuff, though can sympathise with those who initially find Bruckner insufferably long-winded and repetitive. Give him time, and he'll get under your skin. Unconvinced? Try the moment 2:19 into the Adagio of No. 8, a chorale answered by cascading upper strings and harps. It's astonishing, one of the most beautiful passages in any symphony, ever. Zubin Mehta's 2012 performance is very special indeed: spacious, spiritually-charged and intelligent. The beauty and weight of sound never distract from the musical argument, Bruckner's coda glowing. Listen out for those Wagner tubas, their immaculate intonation also a reason to enjoy Christian Thielemann and Simon Rattle's accounts of Nos. 7 and 9 respectively. Thielemann finds the fun in 7's two fast movements, the woodwind interjections in 7's last movement channeling Strauss's Till Eulenspiegel. Rattle gives us No. 9 complete with the most recent Samale-Philips-Cohrs-Mazzuca performing version of the finale. It works for me, the apotheosis utterly convincing. There's already a commercial recording from Rattle, but this 2018 remake is slightly better played and engineered.
I'd never registered Mariss Jansons as a Bruckner specialist, but he's persuasive when tackling No. 6's sharper outlines and breezier themes. Lower strings are wonderfully clear when the heavy brass first pile in, and Jansons revels in the first movement's soaring coda. Bernard Haitink prevents No. 5 from sprawling, the vast finale glorious. He's also impressive in No. 4's rambling later stages, the first two movements a masterclass in control and colour. And does orchestral horn playing get any better this? Herbert Blomstedt's taut take on No. 3 impresses. Seiji Ozawa and Paavo Järvi tackle Nos. 1 and 2; enjoyable performances of two quirky but ultimately unmemorable works, written before Bruckner had hit his stride. Blu-ray video recordings of the symphonies are thrown in, and the booklet contains an enjoyable extended essay by musicologist Richard Tauskin. As a package, it's a treat: engineering and production values well up to this label's high standards. Can we have a Mahler box next?
Buy Bruckner: Symphonies 1-9 on the Berliner Philharmoniker's website
Notice CassettesNew Focus Recordings: Pinkie No, Evaporation
We're talking smaller boxes here; heroic US label Notice Recordings issues its music on cassette. They can send a download code too, though I made sure I listened to two recent releases properly. This meant unearthing an elderly Sony Walkman and blowing the dust off the tape deck in the attic, my ancient Ford Focus (with cassette radio) having recently expired. Aesthetically, these limited edition cassettes are exquisite objects, label co-founder Evan Lindorff-Ellery's artwork invariably appealing. They're mastered at a decent level too, and there's the delicious incongruity of hearing outré experimental music via vintage technology. Pinkie No is an extended live performance from percussionist Ben Bennett, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and ‘multi-instrumental improviser of various sorts' Zoots Houston. Lonberg-Holm's eerie rasps, creaks and shrieks are a constant, surrounded by a web of unsettling sonic intervention. You miss the visual element (this label should publish a VHS version) but repeated listenings bring out the playfulness, the endearing craziness of the music.
Live performances in New York and Boston from Ryoko Akama and Anne-F Jacques fill both sides of Evaporation. Aptly described by Notice as "both minimal and teeming with activity", this is a calmer, gentler listening experience than Pinkie No. We're hearing the pair on stage, interacting with prerecorded electronics and a variety of objects. The lack of visuals is an asset here; with eyes shut it's fun to speculate on exactly what's going on amidst the ticks, shuffles, ringing alarm clocks and distant chimes. It's difficult not to smile, and there's real musical intelligence behind what's heard: ideas are repeated and developed, and there's plenty of textual variety. After overdosing on Beethoven and Bruckner this week, Evaporation's playful, uncluttered ambience came as blessed relief.
In the episode n ° 907 of "ANIMAJAZZ", conceived and conducted by BRUNO POLLACCI , broadcast TUESDAY 25 February at 20.30, on PUNTORADIO, also streaming on www.puntoradio.fm will be the protagonists of the evening will be
TODD MOSBY - CD "Open Waters" Produced by Windham Hill Records founder Will Ackerman, and with a sound described as "an album to daydream to", Open Waters finds Mosby once again embarking on a creative journey navigating through elements of Jazz, New Age, Folk and Indian music. Coming from a family of inventors (he is the co-inventor of the Imrat guitar along with Kim Schwartz and Imrat Khan), Mosby's early musical DNA was formed from his love of Bluegrass and Folk music, which eventually expanded into Fusion and Jazz.
We remind you that "ANIMAJAZZ" can be heard on TUESDAY at 20.30 in immediate podcast on http://animajazz.eu Happy listening.
Pulsations, Angele Dubeau's new album, brings together works that evoke strong images and possess a profound emotional intensity. "A pulsation marks time, it infuses its rhythm in it and also evokes the heart. Just like those composers whose music calls out to me and who, with their unique signatures, mark time, our time. Features the music of; Olafur Arnalds, Jean-Michel Blais, Ludovico Einaudi, Alex Baranowski, Craig Armstrong, Peter Gregson, Yann Tiersen, Abel Korzeniowski, Johan Johannsson, Max Richter and Dala.
This week's Pulsations with Angele Dubeau is Craig Armstrong's 'Far From the Madding Crowd." LISTEN
A pianist of real character and refinement – plus a huge career in Europe – Lucas Debargue was on hand to lend his musicianship to a relatively rare outing of Franz Liszt's Piano Concerto no. 2.
It's hard to argue with the lineup of soloists Benjamin Zander and the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) have brought to town this season. Their trend of finding and presenting some of the most striking artists of the day continued Thursday night at Sanders Theatre with the local debut of Lucas Debargue. A pianist of real character and refinement – plus a huge career in Europe – Debargue was on hand to lend his musicianship to a relatively rare outing of Franz Liszt's Piano Concerto no. 2.
Premiered in 1857, the Liszt Second turns the piano concerto genre on its head, cast as it is in a single continuous movement (instead of three or four individual ones) and generally eschewing glittering, bravura displays for something a bit more contemplative (though its technical difficulties remain Herculean).
For this effort, Debargue proved the perfect collaborator. He's a pianist of terrific facility, who's equally comfortable as a chamber musician and no-holds-barred soloist, and his performance on Thursday was strongly directed, as well as precisely articulated and carefully voiced. Indeed, the lightness of Debargue's touch was, at times, astonishing: the opening of the Concerto's short final section, for instance, had a kinetic, elfin quality that simply shimmered. Photo: Paul Marrotta.
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The Toronto-based musician introduces children to world music through his Fiddle Fire! performances. He's always "adding, adding, adding" to what young audiences will hear when he steps on stage. Over the Rainbow Children's Entertainment Series presents Fiddle Fire! Sunday at 2 p.m. at Sault Community Theatre Centre. "For me, it's just this great opportunity to expose young people to sounds they might not have heard before," McKhool told The Sault Star before a recent show at a school in the provincial capital. "The world's a really big place."
He'll feature about a dozen different styles of music – "at least snippets of them," he promises – during his matinee performance. By getting youngsters to sing, clap and play instruments he's bringing along for a Northern Ontario tour, McKhool is hopeful "they have a really great time and get exposed to sounds from around the world." He's also keen to plant a few creative seeds to encourage concert-goers to remember their experience at his show and take any instrument and "play it in any style." Remembering "how much fun it is to play music" is also another hoped-for outcome McKhool has for his audiences.
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Boston Philharmonic's theme of geographic connectivity among the three composers on its program at Sanders last night resulted in a concert significantly more interesting than a Trip Advisor's ‘Three-in-One Visegrád Group' excursion.
Lucas Debargue, who played this concerto in the final round of his successful stint at Tchaikovsky Competition, was just the ticket. In the concerto known for its ambiguous role of the piano - which seems to oscillate between accompanying other instruments and raging on its own - making some sense of the piano line seems to be the best way to make sense of the whole concerto. Debargue provided this core understanding at his first chance: he played the first big piano solo that ascends from chthonic rumblings with deliberate tension and seriousness. Whatever monstrous hero was being born in front of us, crawled out of his primordial mess with difficulty and determination. This sense of seriousness shone a light on the whole concerto, as it jumped between extremes. A sweet cello solo, beautifully played by the principal Rafael Popper-Keizer, got dutifully swept away by the monstrous march, crass enough despite lack of power in the brass section. This nasty transformation of a perfectly benign main theme carries a long tradition of alienating listeners. But it all magically made sense this time.
'Albare', Dadon is a jazz guitarist and composer. He has recorded two albums with Festival Records in Australia and produced A History of Standard Time, Joe Chindamo's first solo recording and featuring Ray Brown. His latest albums are Midnight Blues (2007), After the Rain (2009), Travel Diary (2010), Long Way (2012), The Road Ahead (2013), 2 Decades of Jazz (2014), Only Human (2015) and Dream Time (2016). Dadon is currently signed to Enja Records. Dadon, is also known an Israel activist. He discusses two of his many passions. February 22, 2020 installment of The David Suissa Podcast.
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‘Love Letters' marks a different direction for the internationally celebrated artist; it offers a shift in intimacy and content and comes at a pivotal time in her career as she signs to her new record label, Mercury KX.
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.
Igor Levit's approach is unique at St. Paul's Schubert Club / Interlude
Posted: December 8, 2018 12:00 AM
| By: Admin
Igor Levit the fascinating German-Russian pianist was featured on the Schubert Club's International Artists Series here in Saint Paul, Minnesota recently. The highly anticipated program had us on tenterhooks as the lone piano stood on the empty stage. Then out he walked in a long, flowing, white shirt, one arm leading his lanky body, and with barely a bow he sat at the instrument and began. He immediately set a tone of introspection- a serious, studied, and probing approach, as if suspended in another dimension.
Levit's approach is unique. I am reminded of the genius of Glenn Gould, who was fiercely independent and resistant to the live concert experience. Levit, like Gould, seemed to be immersed in his deepest, innermost sanctum. One can imagine him alone with the piano playing at a remote shrine and we in the audience, the privileged few, there to overhear his mystic communion with music. Recently, Igor Levit has recorded these works in an album entitled Life and he will be performing this program until the end of the year.
Sparked by the tragic death of a close friend in an accident, Igor Levit's piano playing reflects upon an experience of loss encompassing grief, despair, resignation and solace. He concentrates on works whose gloomy grandeur and melancholy beauty have occupied him for years. Each of them pays tribute to the virtuoso possibilities of the piano. Poetic moments of contemplative silence blend with life-affirming and extremely sensual music with a direct physical fascination. ...
Sony Classical announces the release of Pianist Igor Levit's third album - Bach, Beethoven, Rzewski. Available October 30, the album includes Bach's Goldberg Variations and Beethoven's Diabelli Variations, long considered acid tests of the performer's art, plus Frederic Rzewski's gigantic cycle on the Chilean revolutionary song ¡El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!, which has the reputation of being nearly unplayable. Not content with canonized masterpieces, Levit is equally drawn to the physical challenge of Rzewski's virtuosic tightrope walks.
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Igor Levit has recorded the Partitas by this incommensurable Bach, BWV 825-830: it's the second release by the 27-year-old pianist, whom many regard as the greatest talent of his time. With his debut album, featuring the late Beethoven sonatas, Levit already enjoyed great success and international critical acclaim: the album rose to no. 46 in Germany's Top 100 album charts.
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"Unlike those technically brilliant young pianists who dazzle briefly and disappear, Levit is pre-eminently a real musician who seems built to last." – The Guardian
For the last three years, Igor Levit's name has been the first to be mentioned whenever there has been talk of the most exciting of the younger generation of pianists. What is so surprising about Levit is not only the maturity of his interpretations, but his boundless appetite for new repertoire of works as difficult and demanding as possible. For his long awaited debut album, the twenty-six-year-old Levit has chosen some of the most challenging repertoire ever written for piano: Beethoven's last five piano sonatas. On his two-CD debut set, Levit is not just another young aspiring pianist releasing his debut album, but rather an outstanding artist who meets the exceptionally high demands of this extraordinary music. Levit's technical and artististic command in the difficult "Hammerklaviersonate" op. 106 is sure to be recognized as one of the most astounding accomplishments in recent history of Beethoven recordings.