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.
3 new albums retell the history of black composers / The New York Times
Posted: February 11, 2021 12:00 AM
| By: Admin
The New York Times - Joshua Barone writes......Music can't survive on its own. Composers not entrenched in the canon need support: from publishers, from foundations, from performers. Without these champions, it's all too easy to slide into obscurity.
Three projects - by the Catalyst Quartet; the baritone Will Liverman; and the pianist Lara Downes - consider another avenue for maintaining a legacy: recordings. Gone are the days when classical albums could be relied on as moneymakers. But in the age of streaming, they are endlessly accessible, easy to disseminate and, in the case of these new releases, ideal for spreading the word about overlooked composers of color, whose music often exists in varying states of disrepair.
Recordings have helped propel the recent revivals of Julius Eastman and Florence Price, whose works are held up by scholars and critics today but languished for decades - neglected for a variety of reasons, including race.
When a friend of mine, the musicologist Jacques Dupuis, programmed Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's "Endymion's Dream" a few years ago for the Boston ensemble Calliope, the only full score of it he could find was a rare holograph at the Library of Congress. So he traveled to Washington and spent dozens of hours transcribing it and creating a performing edition. A video of the resulting concert is the only available recording of the piece.
"I'm not sure that would be sustainable as a regular practice without robust institutional support," he said, "which speaks to some of the hurdles in bringing equity and diversity to music programming."
Similar labor went into the creation of these albums, made with the goal of highlighting music by Black composers and offering new possibilities for the classical canon.
‘Uncovered, Vol. 1: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor'
The Catalyst Quartet's Uncovered project began in 2018, growing from an initial idea of performing and recording a program of works by a few underrepresented composers. That quickly blossomed into something more ambitious: a series of focused surveys, beginning with music by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.
Coleridge-Taylor, born to a white mother and Black father in Britain in 1875, wrote the pieces on "Uncovered, Vol. 1" while he was a student at the Royal College of Music in London. Although they reflect the influence of Brahms and Dvorak, as the violinist and scholar Matthew Leslie Santana observes in the album's liner notes, they have the feel of "a new music project," said Karlos Rodriguez, the quartet's cellist.
"Except it of course isn't new, and now it's redefining the canon," Rodriguez added. He pointed to the Clarinet Quintet in F-sharp minor: "You think of Brahms and Mozart clarinet quintets, but this is up there. It holds its own."
"Uncovered, Vol. 1," released earlier this month on the Azica label, features Catalyst - the violinists Karla Donehew Perez and Jessie Montgomery, the violist Paul Laraia and Rodriguez - in three early Coleridge-Taylor works, including quintets performed with the pianist Stewart Goodyear and Anthony McGill, the New York Philharmonic's principal clarinet. (Montgomery, increasingly in demand as a composer, left the quartet last month and was succeeded by Abi Fayette.)
Preparation for the Coleridge-Taylor album - and future installments of Uncovered, which continues with a Florence Price recording - didn't come as easily as, say, a recording of Beethoven quartets. The scores were not always readily available, and there wasn't an established interpretation history.
"These pieces are not in your blood," Donehew Perez said.
Some of the music had never been recorded, or there was only a single record, and, as Laraia said, "None of these pieces should exist in one recording." The members of the quartet are hoping that "Uncovered, Vol. 1" prompts more Coleridge-Taylor performances.
"I think this is an interesting way for presenters to move in an interesting direction, but there doesn't have to be shock," Fayette said. "You can hear the Classical era and Romantic era; it's not like you're throwing audiences into the deep end. And I think this year has proven to us that classical music is ready for a shift."
Will Liverman's "Dreams of a New Day," a program of American art songs by Black composers out Friday on Cedille Records, has been in the works for two years. But, Liverman said, the album "is coming at a good time." Because of pandemic delays, he found himself recording it with the pianist Paul Sánchez last summer, a time of widespread Black Lives Matter demonstrations and renewed urgency for racial equity in classical music.
At the heart of the album - its roster includes both living composers and older ones like Margaret Bonds and Harry Burleigh, known for his influence on Dvorak and the threading of spirituals with classical idioms - is the premiere recording of Shawn Okpebholo's "Two Black Churches." It is an affecting setting of poems about the bombing of a Birmingham, Ala., church in 1963 and the 2015 shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.
Liverman, who is scheduled to sing this fall in the Metropolitan Opera's season-opening production of Terence Blanchard's "Fire Shut Up in My Bones" - the company's first opera by a Black composer - said that he has been performing these works in recitals, but that the recording is a way to "normalize" them.
"When I was starting off as a student, I kept seeing people like Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau because they had made so many recordings," he said. "There's something very important about having music that's out there and accessible."
About two years ago, Lara Downes wanted to record an album of unearthed piano works by Florence Price. She took the project to three labels; none were interested.
"But it needed to happen," she recalled. "So I just did it."
A similar spirit led to the creation of Rising Sun Music, a digital label that debuted this month with the EP "Remember Me to Harlem" and will continue to release recordings of works by Black composers. "If you're independent," Downes said, "you can move a lot faster."
Downes has been working to develop a community of scholars and musicians to help with the project, which seeks to highlight the work of composers of color going back more than 200 years. Two of those collaborators appear on "Remember Me to Harlem": the oboist Titus Underwood, in William Grant Still's "Song for the Lonely"; and the bass-baritone Davóne Tines, achingly gentle in Margaret Bonds's "When the Dove Enters In."
As part of the initiative, Downes also intends to release new - in some cases, the first - editions of scores, to make them more accessible to performers and students. The shaky state of these works, she said, reflects the history of American music, and of the country more broadly.
"Every story you uncover, there's a question of, ‘Why was this covered?'" Downes said. "You're talking about Black life and an imbalance. Part of this is bigger than the music. We can look at our art and culture as a microscope of us."
On Friday, February 5, 2021, GRAMMY Award-winning Catalyst Quartet releases UNCOVERED Volume 1 on Azica Records. The first of a multi-volume set, Volume 1 features the works of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor including his Quintet in G minor for Pianoand Strings with pianist Stewart Goodyear, Fantasiestück, and Quintet in F sharp minor with clarinetist Anthony McGill.
UNCOVERED Volume 2 will feature the works of Florence Price and Volume 3 and beyond will feature Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, William Grant Still, and George Walker among others.
Catalyst Quartet poses, "Over the course of time there have been many overlooked artists in classical music, especially because of their race or gender. It is important to acknowledge that we have not yet heard the whole story due to this sidelining of musical voices. Composers like Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Florence Price, and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson have contributed beautifully crafted work to the repertoire but are not widely celebrated because quality recordings and performances of their music are rare or non existent. With our next recording project we are helping to change this unfortunate reality."
Through a collaborative arranging process, the Catalyst Quartet has created the first fully realized 4-voiced version of the Goldberg Variations for string quartet. The album features this special contribution to the string quartet repertoire along with Glenn Gould's only published composition, his String Quartet Op. 1, completed just before recording his own debut album of the Goldberg Variations in 1955. Having been collectively inspired by Bach's genius and Glenn Gould, the artist responsible for bringing the Variations into our collective consciousness, we have decided to explore and highlight this three dimensional relationship amongst Bach, Glenn Gould, and the medium of the string quartet.
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