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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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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Labrinth pulls off yet another pristine, passionate endeavour through his latest number ‘No Ordinary.' The British singer-songwriter has always displayed a knack for taking simple melodies and working wonders with them, and he does so again with this latest feature.
The composition is gentle but magical in its own way, especially when coupled with Labrinth's soulful, touching voice that seems to hit every feeling in the range. The first verse makes use of light bass instrumentation that is resounding without being overpowering; the vast majority of the focus is on Labrinth's phenomenal vocal range that's underscored at each and every step of the way. What gives the composition the extra edge is the vocal layering and overlapping that carries us all the way to the chorus. His voice is so powerful that even the moderate notes are charged with an all-consuming force. The lyrics refer to both ‘devotion' and ‘Holy Ghost,' hinting to the religious stylings of the melody, though they're never hammered in.
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NPR Music and Lara Downes announce the launch of AMPLIFY With Lara Downes, a new bi-weekly series of intimate and deeply personal video conversations with visionary Black musicians who are shaping the present and future of the art form, premiering Saturday, October 17 on NPRMusic.org, YouTube, and social media platforms.
Created and hosted by pianist and artist Lara Downes, and co-produced by NPR Music's Tom Huizenga, this series invites viewers to experience raw, revealing, and open-hearted conversations reflecting on how artists are responding and creating in this time of profound challenge and change. Downes and her guests-initially including MacArthur Fellow vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Rhiannon Giddens, 2020 Avery Fisher Prize-winning clarinetist Anthony McGill, multidisciplinary artist Helga Davis, and vocalist Davóne Tines, with other guests such as Sheku Kanneh-Mason and family to follow-connect and reflect on highly relevant themes ranging from music and mission, legacy and lineage, to transformation and change.
Guests to include Rhiannon Giddens, Anthony McGill, Helga Davis, Davóne Tines, and Sheku Kanneh-Mason and family.
Series premieres today!! Saturday, October 17 on NPR Music.org and NPR's YouTube and social media platforms.
Says Downes of the series: "In this time of our collective reckoning about historical inequities in American life and art, I'm excited to amplify the voices of extraordinary artists of color, shining a bright light on a diverse and rich future that is, in the words of James Weldon Johnson, 'full of the hope that the present has brought us.'"
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What is multiple Grammy-winning classical guitarist Sharon Isbin's response to everyone wearing masks to stay healthy? "Welcome to my world!" she says. "I've been wearing an N95 mask for almost 20 years on every single airplane flight, and since doing that, I've never gotten sick from flying."
In this 90.1WRTI: Philadelphia TIME IN interview, Sharon talks about navigating the pandemic with more healthy habits, including Transcendental Meditation, and learning the technology to create new ways (beyond Zoom) of teaching her guitar students at Juilliard, where she directs the department she founded in 1989.
Sharon met with me on Zoom on September 22nd, 2020 to talk about life during the panedemic. Here are edited excerpts from our conversation:
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. In selecting the music for this album, Grimaud has carefully chosen music by Mozart that fits into an overall dramaturgy: from his famous unfinished D minor Fantasy, she transitions seamlessly into the great D minor concerto, K. 466. The C minor Fantasy then signals "the end of Mozart" and a new beginning: Silvestrov's The Messenger starts with a theme reminiscent of Mozart and creates a connection between the present and the world that existed before.
For October 15 2020, Hélène Grimaud: The Messenger is the WFMT: Chicago 'Featured New Release'
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.
READ THE TRANSCRIPT - You're planning a dinner party, and the conversation is more important than the cuisine. So who would be on your guest list?
On her latest recording, The Love Album, violinist Anne Akiko Meyers plays host to seven ancient Greek Philosophers who gather for a raucous evening to extrapolate on the meaning of love. That's the setting for Leonard Bernstein's Serenade. "I really wanted to showcase the serenade and celebrate Leonard Bernstein's 100th birthday that's going to be coming up, and also to celebrate my parents' 50th wedding anniversary by having this album that's based on love and all its dimensions," Anne explains. "It starts with the Serenade, which is, in my opinion, one of the most undervalued and underplayed concert works. And it's based on Plato's Symposium, which is this raucous dinner party where seven philosophers are all discussing and praising the god of love, Eros. And it comes in five movements and it has a very arresting opening in which the violin is essentially naked. It's just naked violin in the start. And it then it goes up to this high, high stratospheric A-note where the orchestra and the violin all come together and it's like a collective tsunami. And then it opens up this whole dinner party about love.
"It's a very complex work and it's incredibly challenging for the soloist," Anne continues. "I think it mirrors a lot of Leonard Bernstein's own inner conflict that he was feeling at the time about his sexuality. He went to this book to look for answers, and he's a very probing, thoughtful artist.
"But the Serenade has so many moments of tenderness, of really expressiveness, lyricism, virtuosity and jazz," Anne notes. "There's a swagger - the only way Leonard Bernstein could write, you know, was with this really charming jazzy swagger in the last movement."
Anne Akiko Meyers Vanessa Briceno-Scherzer/Christie Stockstill - Anne says for her, this work has been a journey of discovery for more than two decades. "It's constantly revealing itself to me because just like any artist, you're changing and developing and it's really like reading a wonderful, beautiful book," she says. "You just find out new things that you discover, and I think there's just such a power and there are some moments of sadness, of loneliness that I recently felt like he was trying to convey. Especially like in the fourth movement. It's almost like you had this feeling of someone just stroking your head and saying, 'It's going to be OK.' It's music that definitely grows with you, and I really look forward to playing it many, many more times."
Anne has paired these seven philosophers with seven arrangers who have re-worked 10 memorable songs from the American Songbook and classic films. One of her all-time favorites is Sammy Fain's "I'll be Seeing You," arranged on this recording by Brad Dechter. "It's music that really speaks about the afterlife," Anne says, "and you know it was so popular in the '40s after the end of World War II. … A lot of people were missing each other, and this song came on the radio regularly. And I also heard it actually at the Academy Awards when Queen Latifah sang it, and it stayed with me. It just stayed in my heart and memory to see all these people who've passed away, these great legends, these great contributors to society. And this simple, sublime music playing in the background, I was like … wow. Just stunning. I need that music. I need that in my life."
Angela Morley re-worked the famous love theme from Ennio Morricone's Cinema Paradiso, a film that's close to Anne's heart. "I think for most people, when you hear movie music you actually don't think about the scene it was connected to," Anne says. "You just listen to the music and you're moved, emotionally, by its beauty, and that's what you remember. It's your own memories, it's your own ideas of what happened maybe during your life, during that time the music came into your world. And I was really moved like most people by the movie Cinema Paradiso, and I gave that as a present to my then-boyfriend who is now the father of my two children, and my life partner, and my husband. We watched it together - I remember being incredibly sick at my parents' house in St. Louis. And yet we put this movie on and it's like, 'Ahhhh.' You know? It was so meaningful at the time."
And then there's a funky new arrangement of Gershwin's "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess. "I just couldn't stop smiling when I practiced that one," Anne admits. "I was like, 'Wow - I love this!' It's got this honky-tonk kind of element to it - it's really kind of bad ass. And I loved that. It's so much fun to play and I also got my own rhythm section with that piece, which was a first. So I just love Brad Dechter for giving me that opportunity, for sure."
In case you're wondering, Anne Akiko Meyers is fully expressing this music on the newest love of her life: "I'm now playing on the Guarneri del Gesu, the ex-Vieuxtemps that was made in 1741, and I always just kind of chuckle thinking like, 'Wow. It's playing tangos and 'Wish Upon a Star' and 'Gabriel's Oboe' and all this beautiful music from the 20th century and the 21st century, and yet it just resonates. Its power and its beauty come to life with this music. So I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to let it purr, you know, and let it sing as much as possible."
Enter for a chance to win a copy of this CD - This week on New Classical Tracks, you can enter for a chance to win a copy of Anne Akiko Meyers' Serenade: The Love Album on CD. Winners will be drawn at random. Be sure to enter by midnight CDT on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015.
Superstar violinist Anne Akiko Meyers is one of today's most in demand classical performers. A Billboard Top Selling Classical Instrumentalist of the Year, she is beloved by audiences around the world, with a reputation for innovative programmes and ground-breaking commissions. Mirror in Mirror marks her 36th studio album and is one of her most personal projects to date.
Anne Akiko Meyers new Fantasia recording marks her 35th studio album and is one of her most important projects to date. The Billboard Top Selling Classical Instrumentalist of the Year has had numerous albums reach the Number 1 spot and Fantasia is expected to perform as the album captures incredible virtuosity and poetic color with these iconic works by Ravel, Einojuhani Rautavaara's last major work, written for Meyers, and Karol Szymanowski's sensuous Violin Concerto No. 1.
14 NEW 115 TOTAL
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eOne has released Anne Akiko Meyers' 31st album: Serenade: The Love Album, an exploration of love in all its dimensions, featuring Leonard Bernstein's "Serenade" and ten world premieres from seven living composer-arrangers. "Serenade" is one of Leonard Bernstein's masterpieces, and was recorded in anticipation of the composer's upcoming 100th birthday celebration. It is based on a reading of Plato's Symposium, in which seven ancient Greek philosophers debate the meaning of love. Anne Akiko Meyers, a champion of living composers, commissioned seven renowned composer-arrangers to create ten works for violin and orchestra from love-inspired music from stage and film to pair with the Serenade. The London Symphony Orchestra and conductor Keith Lockhart join Anne in this recording, which will be released on the celebration of Anne's own parents' 50th wedding anniversary, produced by Susan Napodano DelGiorno and engineered by GRAMMY-award winner Silas Brown.
16 NEW 158 Total
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On September 30th, celebrated violinist Anne Akiko Meyers will release The American Masters internationally on eOne. This recording, Anne's 30th, features world premieres of two pieces written for her: Mason Bates's Violin Concerto and the Lullaby for Natalie by Oscar and Grammy Award winning composer John Corigliano. Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto, a staple of the violin repertoire, and the most popular American concerto for violin and orchestra is also featured on this recording. Leonard Slatkin, a champion of all three composers, conducts the London Symphony Orchestra.
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Anne Akiko Meyers releases her fourth recording on the eOne label, The Four Seasons: The Vivaldi Album. Performing with the English Chamber Orchestra under the direction of David Lockington, Ms. Meyers presents two Italian legends with Antonio Vivaldi and Guarneri del Gesù. New recording of Vivaldi's famed Four Seasons – as well as the Vivaldi Triple Concerto on which Meyers plays all three parts – marks the recording debut of the 1741 ‘Vieuxtemps' Guarneri del Gesù violin, considered one of the finest sounding violins in existence.
25 New: 184 Total
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Violinist Anne Akiko Meyers' newest recording for eOne entitled Air: The Bach Album will be released on Valentine's Day, 2012. This is Anne Akiko Meyers' first orchestral album for eOne and features the English Chamber Orchestra with Steven Mercurio conducting. Music includes Bach's Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2, the Double Concerto for 2 Violins, and arrangements of Bach's "Air", "Largo" from the Harpsichord Concerto in f minor, and the Bach/Gounod "Ave Maria."After her recent acquisition of the "ex-Napoleon/Molitor" Stradivarius violin from 1697, Meyers decided to become the first violinist to record both solo parts of the Double Concerto on two different violins, and joked that this was the first time she agreed with all of her 'partner's' musical ideas.
Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Wash DC, Dallas, Atlanta, Cleveland, Seattle, St. Louis, Baltimore, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Denver, Kansas City, Detroit, Austin, Houston, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Buffalo, Puerto Rico, Canada
Violinist Anne Akiko Meyers: Seasons...Dreams, with Reiko Uchida, piano; Emmanuel Ceysson, harp. Works by: Beethoven, Debussy, Faure and Wagner alongside world premiere recordings of arrangements by Tyzik, Pritsker and De Rosa. The innovative and versatile violinist Anne Akiko Meyers releases Season...Dreams, her newest recording on E1 Music. One of the world's premiere concert violinists, Anne Akiko Meyers has been celebrated throughout her nearly three-decade career for her exceptional musicianship, charismatic presence and creative diversity. On this new release, Meyers is joined by long-time collaborator Reiko Uchida on piano and the young harpist of the Paris Opera, Emmanuel Ceysson.
9 New 'ON' this week: 129 Total
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