Beethoven continues to intimidate / CPR Classical

Some years ago, I was stopped at a traffic light and heard Johannes Brahms' Symphony No. 1 on the radio. It dawned on me (after many times listening and playing it in orchestras on the violin) that Brahms channeled his predecessor, Ludwig van Beethoven. The young Brahms cleverly passed this famous rhythmic tattoo among the various voices in the orchestra. Sometimes it's in your face. Sometimes it's subtle like this: There are other nods to Beethoven in Brahms' First Symphony that have been well pointed out. For instance, the nature of the broad, stately theme in Brahms' finale has been compared to Beethoven's "Ode to Joy."   The pressure of such high expectations terrified him. That's why Brahms took nearly two decades - from early doodles and sketches to final product - to complete that first symphony. Once he cleared that hurdle, the music flowed freely. He completed his other three symphonies each in less than a year.    The looming shadow of Beethoven was and is legendary; intimidating numerous composers who followed him. Besides Brahms, great symphonists like Felix Mendelssohn and Gustav Mahler felt his presence. David Korevaar, a concert pianist and Distinguished Professor in the College of Music at the University of Colorado Boulder, said Beethoven had a similar effect on his contemporaries, including his teacher.   "Poor Haydn," Korevaar said. Franz Josef Haydn realized his student's genius and changed his focus as a composer. Haydn pretty much stopped writing instrumental music and turned his attention largely to choral works instead. "Beethoven by the late 1790s made such an impact that Haydn - who, after Mozart's death, briefly got to revel in being the greatest composer in Vienna - found himself again eclipsed," Korevaar said. Two centuries later, Beethoven continues to intimidate. "There's this kind of masterpiece complex where we say, 'Do you dare to play this music?' Well, why not?" Korevaar said. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Korevaar challenged himself to record all 32 Beethoven Piano Sonatas, mostly in his home living room  The goal was to complete the cycle in 60 days. He did it in 41. READ THE FULL CPR Classical ARTICLE
Bookmark and Share

Anthony McGill awarded Lincoln Center's 'Avery Fisher Prize' / The Violin Channel

In May, 2020, Anthony McGill launched a powerful musical protest video urging people to #TakeTwoKnees in demonstration against the death of George Floyd and historic racial injustice Today, the Avery Fisher Artist Program of Lincoln Center, in New York City, announced American clarinetist Anthony McGill as the 2020 recipient of the prestigious US $100,000 Avery Fisher Prize, in recognition of outstanding achievement and excellence in music. A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, Anthony currently serves as the principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic and holds teaching positions at The Juilliard School, Curtis Institute of Music, and Bard College Conservatory of Music. His #TakeTwoKnees video went viral this May, and hundreds of artists and citizens responded to the initiative with their own videos using the hashtag. "Thank you to the Avery Fisher Artist Program for this incredible honor. I never imagined as a young music student that one day I would be where I am today. None of it would have been possible without people truly believing in me. I'm grateful for this recognition of my life's work as I continue to advocate for the next generation of young musicians," Anthony said. A virtual 2020 Avery Fisher Prize award ceremony will take place on Tuesday, September 15 at 6:00 PM (EDT) and will be streamed live on The Violin Channel's Facebook. Previous recipients include Yo-Yo Ma, Lynn Harrell, Sarah Chang, Pamela Frank, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Edgar Meyer, Midori, Joshua Bell, Gil Shaham, Leila Josefowicz, and the Emerson and Kronos String Quartets. SEE THE Violin Channel PAGE
Bookmark and Share

NPR talks with Simone Dinnerstein about her new album, 'A Character of Quiet,' which she recorded at home

NPR's Mary Louise Kelly talks with concert pianist Simone Dinnerstein about her new album, A Character of Quiet, which she recorded at home during the pandemic. Life right now is a lot of things - unsettled, scary, quiet - rush-hour traffic mostly gone, the thrum of our daily routines suspended. For concert pianist Simone Dinnerstein, that has meant no touring, no concerts. Instead, she has recorded a new album at home during quarantine and chosen music that speaks to a sense of the world slowing down. It's called "A Character Of Quiet." And Simone Dinnerstein joins us now from New York. LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW & READ THE TRANSCRIPT
Bookmark and Share

HPR's 'All Things Considered' goes 'Off The Road With John Scofield'

Today All Things Considered Honolulu Host Dave Lawrence continues our Off the Road series of interviews with musicians sharing how the pandemic and other crises have touched them. John Scofield has earned a place in the world of jazz guitar over a career that began decades ago when he started performing professionally while still a student at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He went on to be part of the Billy Cobham/George Duke Band, record with Charles Mingus, be part of Miles Davis' band, and work with members of the Grateful Dead and Allman Brothers Band, among numerous others. Swallow Tales is John's new album exploring the music of his friend and mentor of nearly 50 years, bassist/songwriter Steve Swallow, who he met all those years ago at Berklee. During our interview, John shares the story of their friendship's evolution. He also talks about the impact the pandemic has had on his tour plans, and offers some insight on what the very uncertain future might bring for returning to the road. John took time to share some personal interactions with some of the music luminaries we've lost during the pandemic, like Ellis Marsalis and Manu Dibango. John also took time to discuss the Black Lives Matter / police reform movements.  LISTEN TO THE SEGMENT
Bookmark and Share
  Interview with HPR's Dave Lawrence

Bettye LaVette doesn't sing a song; she wrestles it to the ground / Montana Public Radio

Bettye LaVette's big ears, wide-open mind and ability to get inside a song's lyric, melodic line and harmonic implications "LaVetticize" every song she interprets. Her career parallels the rise of soul music, and she's among a tiny handful of her contemporaries who continue to create vital recordings. She was born Betty Jo Haskins on January 29, 1946, in Muskegon, Michigan. Bettye's family moved to Detroit when she was six years old. Her parents sold corn liquor and her living room was often visited by The Soul Stirrers, The Blind Boys of Mississippi, and many other traveling gospel groups of the day. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Bettye did not get her start in the church, but in that very same living room, where there was a jukebox, filled with the blues, country & western, and R&B records of the time. The "5" Royales, Dinah Washington, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Red Foley: these were her roots. "My Man - He's a Loving Man," Bettye's 1962 debut single, hit #7 on the R&B charts and sent her on tour with fellow newcomer, Otis Redding. Moving to New York, she joined the Don Gardner and Dee Dee Ford Review as a featured singer, recorded "Let Me Down Easy" and toured with James Brown. Bettye played (and tap-danced) the role of Sweet Georgia Brown in the Broadway musical, "Bubbling Brown Sugar" on tour for four years. In recent years, Bettye's recording and performing career has only picked up speed. She has received the W.C. Handy Award for Comeback Blues Album of the Year, the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, Best Soul Blues Female Artist from The Blues Foundation, and three Grammy nominations. Her new Blackbirds,' lbum was released via Verve in August 2020. Listen to Jon Floridis Montana Public Radio's Musician's Spotlight Broadcast: for for 9/15/20.
Bookmark and Share

Igor Levit releases double album marked by a desire for encounter and togetherness / WFMT: Featured New Release

Pianist Igor Levit has released a very personal double album marked by a desire for encounter and togetherness. The program includes rarely played arrangements of Bach and Brahms by Ferruccio Busoni and Max Reger, as well as Palais de Mari – Morton Feldman's final work for piano. "Encounter" is the pianist's sixth disc released on the Sony Classical label and conveys the urgent desire for human togetherness – at a time when isolation is the order of the day. For September 15 2020, Igor Levit - Encounter is the WFMT: Chicago 'Featured New Release'
Bookmark and Share

There was just something about Berlin that brought out the best in Ella / Grateful Web

Verve Records announces the release of a never-before-heard stellar live recording from the First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald. The Lost Berlin Tapes were recorded – incredibly in both mono and stereo – at Berlin's Sportpalast on March 25, 1962 and finds Ella at the top of her game with a trio led by pianist Paul Smith, Wilfred Middlebrooks on bass, and Stan Levey on drums. There was just something about Berlin that brought out the best in Ella. In February of 1960, she gave a concert at the Deutschlandhalle, which became one of her best-known and best-selling records, Mack The Knife: Ella in Berlin. The album won her 2 Grammys, it went on to be inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. That unique charm, energy and skill are palpable throughout this live recording. She opens with "Cheek To Cheek," followed by the rarer "He's My Kind of Boy."  After her behind-the-shoulder scat-heavy salute with "Jersey Bounce," Ella shifts to a heart-wrenching ballad of the Great American Songbook, "Angel Eyes." Ella also sings the Ray Charles hit "Hallelujah, I Love Him So," singing a reprise that shows Ella's improvisational skills. The full track listing is below. The Lost Berlin Tapes will be released on Verve Records on October 2, 2020. This incredible performance will be released on CD/digital and LP. READ THE FULL Grateful Web ARTICLE
Bookmark and Share

Lang Lang - Bach: Goldberg Variations makes KCRW: 'Rhythm Planet: September Songs'

This week's KCRW: Los Angeles 'Rhythm Planet: September Songs' playlist includes a bit of everything, and we highlight some of the tracks here. Included in the mix is Lang Lang / "Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988: Aria" on Deutsche Grammophone. Lang Lang's global release of this new album included a special introduction from the historic Temple (東景緣, Dongjingyuan) in Beijing – site of the old imperial printing house and a former Buddhist shrine, meticulously renovated in recent years to preserve its multi-layered history. On release day, the pianist performed extracts from the Goldberg Variations and talked about the intense personal connection he feels to Bach's music, as well as answering questions from fans.
Bookmark and Share

'Im not interested in everybody in the world listening to my music for free, i can't exist that way' / Jazzwise

Grammy award-winning composer and orchestra leader Maria Schneider is one of the cultural world's most outspoken critics against the tech giants and one of jazz's strongest advocates for musicians' rights. So, as ‘Big Data' plays an ever-increasing, and ever more troubling, role in musical spaces, her new album Data Lords has arrived at exactly the right time. Stuart Nicholson finds Schneider as angry and as determined to act as ever. SEE THE Jazzwise PAGE
Bookmark and Share

John Finbury - American Nocturnes makes KCRW: 'Rhythm Planet: September Songs'

This week's KCRW: Los Angeles 'Rhythm Planet: September Songs' playlist includes a bit of everything, and we highlight some of the tracks here. Included in the mix is John Finbury / "Lay Me Down" from American Nocturnes on Green Flash Music. Released through Green Flash Music, American Nocturnes – Final Days of July, a new album of original compositions by Grammy and Latin Grammy nominated composer John Finbury is a collection of ten evocative pieces that spotlights the composer's mastery in an intimate small ensemble setting.  This is music that crosses genres and defies stylistic boundaries. It is classical and through-composed yet often leaves space and improvisational opportunity for the musicians, often disguised as developments and ornamentations of the melodies. It is music that is bound to fascinate listeners through a deeply emotional, delightful sway between jazz and chamber music. The instrumentation in this record is also unique, with the core duo of piano and cello joined by guitar, harmonica and accordion.
Bookmark and Share

Benjamin Grosvenor, Isata Kanneh-Mason & Mitsuko Uchida make 'the best piano performances from this year's BBC Proms' / Pianist

This year's edition of the Proms may have been very different, given Covid-19, but we were still treated to some exceptional piano performances... Benjamin Grosvenor - Grosvenor was joined by the Philharmonia Orchestra and conductor Paavo Järvi for a performance of Shostakovich's First Piano Concerto, bookended by Ravel's neo-Baroque masterpiece Le tombeau de Couperin and Mozart's titanic Symphony No. 41.  Isata Kanneh-Mason - Isata, who appeared on the cover of issue 110 of Pianist, joined her brother Sheku (cello) for a specially recorded recital of Beethoven, Barber, Bridge and Rachmaninov.  Mitsuko Uchida - Sir Simon Rattle conducted the London Symphony Orchestra and Pianist 104 cover star Mitsuko Uchida in a programme ranging from Elgar to Adès and Gabrieli to Kurtág. The climax is Vaughan Williams's Fifth Symphony. SEE THE Pianist PAGE
Bookmark and Share

'Guitar Girl' mag Q&A's with Sharon Isbin on 'Affinity' and 'Strings for Peace'

Sharon Isbin is a world-renowned guitarist with over thirty albums, three GRAMMY's, numerous other awards, and nearly a million sales. The Atlanta Journal called her "the Monet of classical guitar." She recently won the 2020 Musical America Worldwide Instrumentalist of the Year award-the first guitarist to receive this accolade in its 59-year history. In continuing with her signature versatility, Isbin released two very different albums entitled Affinity and Strings for Peace in May of this year.  
Photo by J. Henry Fair READ THE Guitar Girl Q&A
Bookmark and Share

Top 10 Albums for September

Bertrand Chamayou :

Good Night

The sixteen lullabies – or berceuses – that Bertrand Chamayou has chosen for Good Night! form a captivatingly varied album. Embracing music from the Romantic era to the present day, the French pianist has shaped his programme with care and imagination. Miniatures by masters like Chopin, Liszt, Grieg and Brahms (whose archetypal lullaby is heard here in Max Reger's transcription) sit beside rarer treasures by, among others, Lyapunov, Alkan, Bonis and Lachenmann, and a specially commissioned piece by the contemporary composer Bryce Dessner. It makes a satisfying recital while providing individual items to enrich digital playlists. 
Diana Krall :

This Dream Of You

Featured on the upcoming album This Dream of You, out September 18. Diana Krall returns with a new album, years in the making, featuring personally chosen gems from the American songbook produced in collaboration with her longtime producer Tommy LiPuma.
Lang Lang :

Johann Sebastian Bach - Goldberg Variations

"This is a very important dream-come-true moment", says Lang Lang. The superstar pianist, who waited 20 years before playing Johann Sebastian Bach's monumental composition in public, has finally achieved his goal of recording the Goldberg Variations. The result of two decades of deep study and personal reflection, his vision of Bach's Aria and 30 Variations is out now onDeutsche Grammophon. 
Thelonious Monk :

Palo Alto

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. In a series of twists and turns, against a backdrop of racial tension and political volatility, that concert was recorded by the school's janitor. Palo Alto is now available  physically on Impulse! Records and digitally on Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment. 
Daniel Hope :


Violinist Daniel Hope spent his period of social distancing by performing chamber concerts online from his living room in Berlin with specially invited guests including Christoph Israel, Till Brönner, Matthias Goerne and more. Deutsche Grammophon is proud to present Hope@Home the album, a selection from this series of livestream events which attracted a combined audience of 2.5M viewers. Every track is live, one take only. As Hope says, "There were no patches or editing, no second takes. Sometimes life doesn't allow for second takes. This was my world for six magical and highly unusual weeks. I hope you enjoy listening."      
Maria Schneider Orchestra :

Data Lords

Data Lords is a new double-album by Grammy Award-winning composer and bandleader Maria Schneider. Inspired by conflicting relationships between the digital and natural worlds, the recording features Schneider's acclaimed orchestra of 18 world-class musicians. "No one can deny the great impact that the data-hungry digital world has had on our lives. As big data companies clamor for our attention, I know that I'm not alone in struggling to find space – to keep connected with my inner world, the natural world, and just the simpler things in life," says Schneider. "Just as I feel myself ping ponging between a digital world and the real world, the same dichotomy is showing up in my music. In order to truly represent my creative output from the last few years, it felt natural to make a two- album release reflecting these two polar extremes." ALL PRESS SECURED BY ANN BRAITHWAITE
Labrinth :

Euphoria (Original Score From The HBO Series)

Milan Records, an imprint of Sony Music Masterworks, today releases'EUPHORIA (ORIGINAL SCORE FROM THE HBO SERIES)'with music by chart-topping, multiplatinum-selling artist and producer'LABRINTH.''Available everywhere now, the album features score music from the first season of the hit HBO series and marks Labrinth's first-ever project as lead composer.' Written and recorded in close collaboration with the show's writer Sam Levinson, his original compositions feature prominently throughout the series as a sonic companion to the show's angst-driven narrative.''The resulting 26-track collection is a genre blending mix of gospel, soul and electronic influences, indicative both of Labrinth's imitable style as well as the show's deeply moving storyline.'' Of the album,'LABRINTH'says, "My experience with'Euphoria'has made me a better musician. It was a dream come true to give wings and add magic to the different storylines. It was a collaborative effort among Sam Levinson, the crew and the cast - I only added texture to an already phenomenal show. I hope that anyone who listens to the music embraces feeling something."
Melody Gardot - Sting :

Little Something

World-renowned singer-songwriter Melody Gardot announces her long-awaited new album along with the release of a highly anticipated single which sees her join forces with 17-time Grammy Award winning music icon Sting. The duet ‘Little Something', released today on Decca Records, brings together Gardot and Sting's distinctive vocals on this up-tempo, Latin inflected pop track.  Mixed by 4x Grammy-Award winner, Robert Orton (Lady Gaga, Carly Rae Jepsen, Lana Del Rey) the song was created by Melody Gardot, Sting, his long-time guitarist Dominic Miller and French producer Jen Jis.
Ella Fitzgerald :

The Lost Berlin Tapes

Verve Records announces the release of a never-before-heard stellar live recording from the First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald.  The Lost Berlin Tapes were recorded – incredibly in both mono and stereo – at Berlin's Sportpalast on March 25, 1962 and finds Ella at the top of her game with a trio led by pianist Paul Smith, Wilfred Middlebrooks on bass, and Stan Levey on drums.  There was just something about Berlin that brought out the best in Ella. In February of 1960, she gave a concert at the Deutschlandhalle, which became one of her best-known and best-selling records, Mack The Knife: Ella in Berlin. The album won her 2 Grammys, it went on to be inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.  Two years after that historic concert, Ella returned to the city at the height of her career, in the midst of her most extensive European tour to date. Flanked by her stalwart rhythm section including pianist Paul Smith, bassist Wilfred Middlebrooks and drummer Stan Levey, Ella delivers an energized, top-of-her-game set a month before her 45th birthday. 
Ezinma :

Beethoven Pleads The Fifth

Today, violin sensation, Ezinma, announces the release of "Beethoven Pleads The Fifth," (Decca Records) an exhilarating and thumping reimagination of Beethoven's 5th Symphony.  Produced by Brandon Korn (Travis Scott, DJ Khaled, Lil Wayne) and Steven Epstein (Yo-Yo Ma, Wynton Marsalis, Placido Domingo) the re-envisioned hip-hop infused classical track is from her upcoming un-titled EP and the accompanying video is out now.