Classic 107 - Winnipeg CAN Host Chris Wolf had the opportunity to Zoom chat with world renowned pianist Benjamin Grosvenor about his latest recording. A recoding featuring the music of Liszt.
The English pianist Benjamin Grosvenor is one of today's most sought after pianists. Ever since winning the BBC Young Musician of the Year at the age of 12 in 2004, Grosvenor has developed an International career that has seen him perform with the world's top Orchestras and make several award winning recordings on the Decca Record label.
Benjamin Grosvenor's latest release that comes today, February 19, 2021 features the music of Liszt…and not just any Liszt! Grosvenor has recorded some of the most difficult and monumental music that Liszt ever composed:
Piano Sonata in B minor, S. 178
Berceuse, S. 174ii
Tre sonetti di Petrarca, S. 161/4-6
Réminiscences de Norma, S. 394 (after Bellini)
Ave Maria, S. 558/12 (after Schubert)
When asked why Grosvenor chose to record the music of Liszt Grosvenor says "He had so many sides to him as a person but also as a musician…some composers I suppose, if you were to devote and entire disc to them you might worry about a lack of variety, but with Liszt and his compositional output, there's such a lot of variety and there is also the fact he was such an incredible transcriber of other people's music. He had amazing gifts in taking a whole opera and summarizing it in to a paraphrase of 15 minutes."
What Grosvenor is referring to is his recording of the Reminiscences de Norma (after Bellini) that can be found on this latest disc. A piece that demands that the pianist is totally secure in his technique, and also that he has a clear idea of the narrative that Liszt is trying to get across in the music. Grosvenor succeeds in spades on both counts!
The centre-piece of his latest recording is the vast and expansive Liszt B minor sonata. This is a sonata that would send lesser mortal pianists running for the exit due to its technical requirements, intense interpretive demands, and need for sheer endurance needed by the pianist. The piece is in one large chunk that lasts roughly 30 minutes. As Grosvenor says "It's a piece to be consumed in its entirety" And what a feast! Grosvenor has shown that he is clearly up to the task. He has made a recording that is 30 minutes of sheer delight. The interpretation is engaging, and interesting; this combined with Grosvenor's technical perfection and innate ability to sing through the piano make this truly a musical banquet; complete with sides, tea and fine French pastries.
"It's an extraordinary journey filled with so many different emotions…throughout there is this kind of contrast between the divine and the diabolical," says Grosvenor. "There is this sort of devilish element which he sets out in the characters that we hear on the very first page...In terms of the structure, the whole piece is developed from material we hear in the first minute of the piece."
Throughout so many of his recordings and performances Benjamin Grosvenor has proven himself to be a master of lyricism and the ability to change tonal colors at the drop of a hat, as the music requires. This element of Grosvenor's playing comes shining through in his interpretations of the three Petracha Sonettos that come from Liszt's 2nd Book of Years of Pilgrimage. These pieces can also be found on the disc. "They are intimate works, they are inspired by poems of the 14th century poet Petrach," Grosvenor says. "They are all love poems essentially, and Liszt picks three that offer three contrasting visions of love." Here again Benjamin Grosvenor manages to bring out the tenderness and also the dramatic aspects of these three pieces.
This latest recording of the music of Liszt marks not only his latest triumph on record, but it also marks Grosvenor's renewal of his contract with Decca Records. "It's great to be continuing my partnership with them. I've recorded for Decca for ten years now, I signed when I was 18. I hope there will be many more years to come, and I look forward to the next few discs we have with this contract."
For us as listeners let's hope the partnership Grosvenor has with Decca is long and fruitful, because if this if this latest disc is anything to go by, it is going to fantastic partnership!
If you missed Chris Wolf's conversation with Benjamin Grosvenor, you can see the entire Zoom conversation here:
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.
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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."
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99.5CRB - Boston's Cathy Fuller writes.....Pianist Benjamin Grosvenor talks about his personal and passionate testament to the visionary spirit of Franz Liszt, prepared and recorded in the dark months of COVID. Grosvenor is twenty-eight, and yet his remarkable musicianship has been capturing the hearts of the public for a long time. He won the BBC Young Musician Competition at eleven, when his imagination and technical prowess were already producing an uncanny brand of maturity and sparkle.
Now, in isolation as the COVID lockdown drags on in London, he has focused on the kaleidoscopic output of Franz Liszt. In our conversation, he talks about being so close to Liszt, while remaining so distant from life as it used to be. (See a full transcript below.)
Building around the epic Sonata in B minor, Grosvenor includes the magical (and ferociously taxing) Reminiscences of Norma, as well as the three Petrarch Sonnets from the exquisite Years of Pilgrimage. Also included is a haunting account of a rarely-played version of the Berceuse and the beautiful reworking of Schubert's song Ave Maria. The result is a fresh and loving recording, dedicated to the grandfather he recently lost, who inspired Benjamin to play the piano in the first place.
The challenges in Liszt's music are many and monumental, like pacing the climaxes as they arrive one after another (as in his transcription of themes from Bellini's Norma), or getting a melody to sing out with your thumbs while the rest of your fingers are busy conjuring elaborate atmospheres (in the Ave Maria).
One of the greatest challenges is in the Sonata, keeping an immense, over-arching structure intact while moments of beauty erupt spontaneously. As Grosvenor said in our interview, "Only as time progresses do you realize that it's actually part of this great master plan that [Liszt] has, that goes over the massive breadth and length of this piece."
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British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor is internationally recognized for his electrifying performances, distinctive sound, and insightful interpretations. The album Liszt signifies his most substantial solo recording to date, centered around the works of the Romantic piano virtuoso and composer Franz Liszt. Grosvenor says, "The music of Liszt has been central to my repertoire since I was introduced to it as a child, by my grandfather. I wanted with this recording to show the composer in his different aspects, including some of his original compositions, but also displaying the extraordinarily re-creative abilities he showed in his transcriptions."
For February 19, 2021 - Benjamin Grosvenor - Liszt is the WFMT: Chicago 'Featured New Release'
Classical WETA 90.9 FM showcases notable new (or newly reissued) albums each week. Hear selections from the album on-air throughout the week, and check online to learn more about the artist and the music.
We're pleased to resume Album of the Week during Black History Month by featuring the wonderfully talented family of musicians: the Kanneh-Masons. They recently released a recording of Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns, along with several other animal-themed classical works.
The Carnival of the Animals features a new text by author Michael Morpurgo, narrated by him and Academy Award-winning actor Olivia Colman (of The Crown fame). Listen all week for portions of the Carnival as well as several full performances.
Here is a note from the seven talented Kanneh-Masons who are featured in this recording:
The idea for this album grew from our special connection with music as young children. Music that speaks to the young, brought to life in the creative dialogue between narrative and sound has an impact that lasts a lifetime. As very young children, our parents introduced us to Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, and we listened to this obsessively every morning before Primary school. (We still love the way the music illustrates the words spoken in that recording by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Dame Edna Everage!)
We were all similarly fascinated by the magical world of story and music created in Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saëns. The drama, the picture-painting and the humour which is packed into the music has been brought into vivid colour by Michael Morpurgo's story poems, – also narrated by the extraordinary Olivia Colman – which are funny, exciting and at times incredibly moving.
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.
Robin McKelle released her new album Alterations on Doxie Records in February. On it, McKelle delves into the catalogue of some of the most celebrated women of song, interpreting these masterworks through the lens of the jazz idiom. McKelle follows in a long tradition of female song interpreters, lending her sultry vocal stylings to classics by a diverse list of female innovators including Dolly Parton, Sade, Amy Winehouse, Adele, Janis Joplin, Carol King, Billie Holiday, Joni Mitchell, and Lana Del Ray. McKelle is joined on this release by a group of consummate musicians including co-producer, pianist and arranger Shedrick Mitchell, acoustic and electric bassist Richie Goods, drummer Charles Haynes, guitarist Nir Felder. In addition, esteemed saxophonist Keith Loftis is featured on McKelle's sole original composition on this release, "Head High"; and renowned trumpeter Marquis Hill is featured on Lana Del Rey's "Born to Die". The first single from Alterations, McKelle's rendition of Sade's "No Ordinary Love."
WUCF: Orlando FL interviewed McKelle about the new recording and living in the COVID reality. Listen to the attached file
Robin McKelle is pleased to announce the February 14th, 2020 release of her new album Alterations. Vocalist Robin McKelle delves into the catalogue of some of the most celebrated women of song, interpreting these masterworks through the lens of the jazz idiom. On Alterations, McKelle follows in a long tradition of female song interpreters, lending her sultry vocal stylings to classics by a diverse list of female innovators including Dolly Parton, Sade, Amy Winehouse, Adele, Janis Joplin, Carol King, Billie Holiday, Joni Mitchell, and Lana Del Ray. McKelle is joined on this release by a group of consummate musicians including co-producer, pianist and arranger Shedrick Mitchell, acoustic and electric bassist Richie Goods, drummer Charles Haynes, guitarist Nir Felder. In addition, esteemed saxophonist Keith Loftis is featured on McKelle's sole original composition on this release, "Head High"; and renowned trumpeter Marquis Hill is featured on Lana Del Rey's "Born to Die". The first single from Alterations, McKelle's rendition of Sade's "No Ordinary Love", will be released in late January. Alterations will be released on Doxie Records and distributed and marketed by the Orchard.
An Enigmatic Sound, a Storyteller's Narrative and a Live Performance Style Imbued with Rat Pack Moxie Singer and Writer Robin McKelle is a Genre-Blurring Musical Alchemist, Taking Listeners on a Sonic Trip to the Old South, Sprinkling in Hints of the Motown Era or Even a Sade Album, and Mixing it Together to Create Her Inspiring Melodic Canvas' of Soul, Jazz, Gospel and More. On her new album - Melodic Canvas, McKelle is empowered by not trying to fit into a box, and the music is deeply textured, rich, and authentic. Melodic Canvas is also a timely social commentary, from the struggling teen in ‘Lyla' to the immigrant tale of ‘Simple Man'; the moments of social awareness, in ‘Yes We Can Can' (an Allen Toussaint cover featuring Chris Potter) and ‘It Won't End Up', are wise and inspiring without feeling heavy-handed; on first single ‘Do You Believe', McKelle questions religion, hate, misogyny.
Robin McKelle might have called this album The Real McKelle. "It's the record I've always dreamed of making. Not that there was anything stopping me in the past, it's simply that things panned out differently." The singer herself wrote most of the songs on this new production, a contemporary blend of soul and rhythm 'n' blues that avoids today's retro tendencies. "I love that music so much that I couldn't see myself doing something ‘in the style of…". I grew up listening to Nina Simone and Gladys Knight. I sang their classics and what I enjoy most today is building my own repertoire in that same soulful vein." Soul Flower mainly consists of original tracks along with a few covers, including an upbeat Walk On By.
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Robin McKelle comes out swinging on her second disc of big band jazz, Modern Antique. The bassist plucks some fat, rich chords, the pianist skitters over the keys, and McKelle herself confidently scats over the melody while the horn section eggs her on. The mood is playfully flirtatious, just this side of naughty. The entire combo is having so much fun and so are you that the tune is almost over before you realize it's an ingenious re-arrangement of Steve Miller's seventies classic, "Abracadabra."
2 New 'ON' this week: 140 Total
Peak: #19 Jazzweek SYND: WFMT: Jazz w/Bob Parlocha, PRI: Jazz After Hours, Jazz Variations, Music of Your Life, Sixty Second CD, The Bill Miller Show Networks: CBC, GPB, KPR Direct: XM: Real Jazz, Bloomberg Radio Markets include: Los Angeles, Boston, Wash DC, Philadelphia, Seattle, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Houston, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Baltimore, Detroit, Las Vegas, San Diego, Long Island NY, Indianapolis, Salt Lake City, Orlando, Raleigh NC, Tucson AZ, Sacramento, Wichita, Omaha, CANADA
On her newest release: Mess Around, Robin McKelle's warm contralto surrounds a first class rhythm 'n' blues record. After two albums devoted to big-band jazz and swing - Introducing Robin McKelle (2006) and Modern Antique (2008), Mess Around is a departure drawing from artists and groups such as The Bee Gees, Leonard Cohen, Doc Pomus, Willie Dixon and The Beatles. The aesthetic choices lend a wealth of meaning and consistency to the session, led by McKelle.
4 New ON this week: 163 Total Synd: Jazz Inspired, PRI/Jazz After Hours, WFMT/Jazz with Bob Parlocha, Sixty Second CD Direct: SiriusXM: Real Jazz & NPR Now(Jazz Inspired) Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, Wash DC, Philadelphia, Seattle, Minneapolis, Houston, Atlanta, Miami, Cleveland, Denver, Portland, Baltimore, San Diego, Detroit, Las Vegas, San Diego, New Orleans, Memphis, Sacramento & Berekeley CA, Salt Lake, Austin TX, Orlando, Canada Online: The Jazzintersecion.com, RadioIO, Taintradio, Live 365, RadioIO
Having worked with Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard, Michael McDonald, Wayne Shorter, Jon Secada & others, Robin McKelle now releases her debut album that broadens the boundaries of retro-swing. Introducing Robin McKelle evokes the spirit of 1940's America, while retaining an edge that speaks of a new time. With its balance of swing and balladry, the album heralds the arrival of a peerless interpretive artist.
1 New "ON" this week: 148 Total
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