HollywoodSoapbox - John Soltes writes......Celebrated pianist Jeni Slotchiver has built a career out of musical exploration. She has interpreted many well-known composers in the classical music realm, particularly from the 20th century. Her new project is a survey of songs from the vast African-American musical tradition. Her album's title speaks to this expansive journey into the past: American Heritage: From the Civil War to Civil Rights.
On the recording, which has recently been released by ZOHO, Slotchiver includes compositions by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Margaret Bonds and Louis Moreau Gottschalk, among several others. The selections range from the traditional folk song "Shenandoah" to Frederic Rzewski's "Down by the Riverside".
"This is music I have been close to practically my whole life," the pianist said in a recent phone interview. "I was exposed to all kinds of music when I was younger. Clearly I'm a classical music nerd, but I loved gospel, blues, jazz. I love popular music, and I heard all kinds of music in our home. I did spend my early years in the South, and so there were some quite memorable moments of experiencing the music live there."
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Rowan University' Bret McCandless writes.........Great performances and recordings of their work can go a long way in helping solidify the reputation of any composer. The GRAMMY Award-winning Catalyst Quartet is working to use their immense talent to highlight chamber music by composers who may have been overlooked because of their race or gender with a new series of recordings, titled Uncovered. Volume One, featuring early works by Afro-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, promises an exceptional project, bringing the incredible playing of a top-tier string quartet to finely selected repertoire.
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor may not be a household name to some classical music fans, but in his lifetime he was highly regarded as a conductor and as the composer of Hiawatha's Wedding Feast, one of the most performed choral works of the late nineteenth century.
The first volume of Uncovered arrives with a bang in the first chords and confident opening theme of Coleridge-Taylor's Piano Quintet in G minor, op. 1, announcing that the works in the series demand to be heard. The first movement, Allegro con moto, is a sonata-form opening movement that introduces some of Coleridge-Taylor's signature sounds: a blend of seriousness and playfulness, immersion in Romantic harmony, and a fascination with alternating and layering duple and triple divisions of the beat. Throughout the quintet, Coleridge-Taylor pits the piano (helmed by the brilliant Stewart Goodyear) against the strings, alternating focus, while also creating a variety of textures and moods. The Larghetto is Chopinesque in its lyricism and chromaticism, with beautiful solo playing by Karla Donehew Perez on the violin and Karlos Rodriguez on the cello. The Scherzo is jolting with its rhythmic play. The closing movement opens in an uncertain meter and distant E-flat major, but quickly finds its way back to G minor and a race to the finish. This is the most exciting of the movements, with a miniature vivace fugue that shows off Coleridge-Taylor's counterpoint chops and ramps up tension to an exhilarating finish.
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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."
LISTEN TO THE 99.5CRB - Boston SEGMENT
Grammy-nominated cellist Joan Jeanrenaud, vocalist / accordionist Mira Stroika and composer / pianist William Susman perform a blend of influences in these film scores seen on PBS Television, over 20 film festivals world-wide, museums in New York and San Francisco, and WINNER of the Tribeca Film Festival.
In her first new recording in a decade, Joy Harjo – the first Native American named Poet Laureate of the United States – digs deep into the indigenous red earth and the shared languages of music to sing, speak and play a stunningly original musical meditation that seeks healing for a troubled world – I Pray for My Enemies, to be released from Sunyata Records/Sony Orchard Distribution on March 5, 2021.
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.
Bill Frisell wins JazzTimes: Critics Poll for 'Best Guitarist' and 'Best Electric/Jazz-Rock/Contemporary Group/Artist'
Posted: February 1, 2021 12:00 AM
| By: Admin
For this annual companion poll to our Top 50 Critics' Picks, our regular contributors participated in this survey based on our yearly Readers' Poll. Contributors were asked to focus on artists' achievements during 2020 rather than assessing entire careers. Bill Frisell won for 'Best Guitarist' and 'Best Electric/Jazz-Rock/Contemporary Group/Artist.'
Bill Frisell's career as a guitarist and composer has spanned more than 40 years and many celebrated recordings, whose catalog has been cited by Downbeat as "the best recorded output of the decade."
Recognized as one of America's 21 most vital and productive performing artists, Frisell was named an inaugural Doris Duke Artist in 2012. He is also a recipient of grants from United States Artists, Meet the Composer among others. In 2016, he was a beneficiary of the first FreshGrass Composition commission to preserve and support innovative grassroots music. Upon San Francisco Jazz opening their doors in 2013, he served as one of their Resident Artistic Directors. Bill is also the subject of a new documentary film by director Emma Franz, entitled Bill Frisell: A Portrait, which examines his creative process in depth.
Almost every day, Bill Frisell gets up in the morning, has some coffee, and writes music. At this point, there are piles and piles and piles of single pages of staff paper filled with his graceful script. "I don't know where the melodies come from," says Frisell. "I try not to judge anything and just let them be." Frisell's mantra, or motto so to speak, is, "Music is good" – a statement said to him by his dear friend and great banjo player Danny Barnes. "That is something that I can say is always true. It's so perfect. Everything I need to know is that phrase, ‘Music is Good.' I almost called the album that, but then I thought that might be too literal. It's good to leave it open."
When You Wish Upon A Star, the latest project from legendary guitarist/composer Bill Frisell features music from iconic film and television scores. Conceived not only as an homage, but as a celebration of music-making with longtime collaborators and their collective commitment to refined interpretation of material. Produced by Lee Townsend (Loudon Wainwright III, John Scofield, Carrie Rodriguez), the LP brings together an all-star "dream team" of musicians including; violist Eyvind Kang, drummer Rudy Royston, bass player Thomas Morgan and vocalist Petra Haden.
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"May you never hear surf music again." – Jimi Hendrix
"Space is the place." – Sun Ra
Just when you think you've got guitarist-composer Bill Frisell all figured out, confident in your expectations, this American original shakes things up with a heretofore unexpected glimpse into those layers of consciousness which inform his rootsy, inclusive, oh so personal style of musical outreach. Because while Bill Frisell is capable of routinely navigating the most harrowing ascents into the outer reaches of the improvisational Ionosphere without once ever flinching, there emerge at regular intervals suggestions of something more childlike and elemental; a sensibility which revels in expressions of earnest, unadorned directness-the aesthetic poetry of an impressionistic painter who is unafraid to distill things down to their most folkish, heartfelt essence.
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Legendary jazz guitarist Bill Frisell's first release on OKeh Records,Big Sur, features all-new music commissioned by the Monterey Jazz Festival which premiered at their festival in 2012. While staying at the Glen Deven Ranch, Frisell was captivated by the beauty and grandeur of the Big Sur, California coastline which inspired him to write this transcendent new music. He is joined on the recording by the talented musicians of his Big Sur Quintet; Jenny Scheinman (violin), Eyvind Kang (viola), Hank Roberts (cello) and Rudy Royston (drums).
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