One would find it hard to beat the all-star line-up featured in The Cave of Wondrous Voice, a new, hour-long survey of vocal and chamber music by the California-based composer Mark Abel. David Shifrin, Carol Rosenberger, Hila Plitmann, and Fred Sherry headline the album but they're not its only stars. On the whole, The Cave of Wonderous Voice is smartly played and engineered. Abel's writing throughout is fluent and often genial. While certain spots in the Trio, particularly, might benefit from grittier moments to offset the diatonic ones, this is music of considerable expressive directness as well as charm.
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Composer, pianist, and conductor Michael Shapiro joins us to talk about the music on his latest disc, including his John Milton-inspired piano concerto entitled Archangel. In this action-packed work, Shapiro lays out the epic Biblical battle between good and evil as a metaphor for the challenges we all face in our daily lives (which includes the current coronavirus pandemic – something Michael recently fell victim to himself). Also on the disc: orchestral excerpts from an opera based on Federico Garcia Lorca, and a full-throttle realization for orchestra of the famous organ Toccata by French composer Charles-Marie Widor.
LISTEN TO THE CONVERSATION
Voice of Hope is Camille Thomas's second album for Deutsche Grammophon. The Franco-Belgian cellist's program pays tribute to people's ability to triumph over adversity, create harmony in place of chaos, and overcome hatred with love. The album presents the world-premiere recording of Fazil Say's concerto Never Give Up, a response to terrorist attacks in Paris and Istanbul written for and premiered by Thomas, and also includes an exquisite selection of songs, prayers, and laments, Bruch's Kol Nidrei and Ravel's Kaddisch among them.
For June 30, Camille Thomas - Voice of Hope is the WFMT: Chicago 'Featured New Release'
Recently French composer and pianist Lucas Debargue breathed new life into the harpsichord sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti and presents works outside the standard piano repertoire. The Parisian pianist has already climbed the pinnacle of piano artistry with Beethoven, Liszt and Ravel and unleashed full-blown romantic thunderstorms with Schubert's A-minor Piano Sonata no. 14 and the madcap finale of Ravel's Gaspard de la nuit.
On the album, Debargue devotes himself completely to Domenico Scarlatti. He already played four of this Italian master's sonatas on his highly acclaimed début album. Germany's Der Spiegel waxed ecstatic: "Debargue's Scarlatti recalls his mighty predecessors. He displays the subtle touch and feeling once bestowed on these miniatures by Vladimir Horowitz and imparts new sound to Scarlatti's keyboard music. … Debargue touches the outer limits of expression between joylessness and rapture: one may find it overwrought, but it's never less than gripping. And then there's the gentle Glenn Gould touch."
Debargue joins us for this mini-episode of REMOTE with a couple words on some of his pandemic-projects, reading list, and the importance of emphasizing our similarities rather than differences. READ THE Q&A
Max Richter's trailblazing 2015 composition Sleep is now available to download with the launch of a new app. The app enables listeners to reimagine the 8-hour Deutsche Grammophon recording in custom-made musical sessions to help with focus, meditation and sleep which many people will need in the midst of the pandemic lockdown. It brings to a wider audience some of the experience shared by those lucky enough to attend Richter's extraordinary eight-hour overnight performances of Sleep – complete with beds – including LTW's own Tim Cooper who wrote about it here when it came to London in 2017.
READ THE FULL Louder Than War ARTICLE
In episode 925 of "ANIMAJAZZ", conceived and conducted by BRUNO POLLACCI , broadcast TUESDAY June 30 at 20.30, on PUNTORADIO, also streaming on www.puntoradio.fm and in an immediate podcast on http: // animajazz. eu will be the protagonists CARLA BLEY - ANDY SHEPPARD - STEVE SWALLOW - CD "Life Goes On" - "Life Goes On_ III. And On "(ECM).
The third volume of a sequence of albums begun with Trios in 2013 and continued with Andando El Tiempo (2016), Life Goes On – once more recorded in Lugano and produced by Manfred Eicher - features striking new music from American pianist/composer Carla Bley, whose trio with saxophonist Andy Sheppard and bassist Swallow has a long history. (Their first recording in trio format was Songs with Legs, recorded for the ECM-distributed WATT label in 1994.) Bley has composed for ensembles of every size but, over time, the trio has established itself as an ideal unit for expressing the essence of her work. Throughout Life Goes On, Carla's terse, distinctive piano, shaping phrases irreducible as Monk or Satie, is beautifully framed by Swallow's eloquent, elegant bass guitar and Sheppard's yearning saxes. This trio has a unique collective sound, reflecting – as The Telegraph recently noted – "musical mastery of a rare order".
We remind you that "ANIMAJAZZ" can be heard on TUESDAY at 20.30 in immediate podcast on http://animajazz.eu and the "DOWNLOAD" of the episode can be made, free of charge, from the podcasts area. Happy listening.
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The 2020 Juno Awards have wrapped, announcing a list of winners that has been on hold since the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered the in-person Saskatoon weekend of events in March. But tonight, June 29, the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) and CBC combined the usual two-night series of events into an hour-and-a-half-long pre-recorded special, delivering a night that Canadian music fans have been waiting for.
Winner for 'Classical album of the year: large ensemble' is Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, conducted by Kent Nagano, The John Adams Album.
Released to coincide with Nagano's final season with the Montréal Symphony, The John Adams Album contains his key orchestral works conducted by one of his greatest, lifelong champions "Like all great pieces, each time one returns to them and restudies them, I'm able to find something more - new dimensions that I haven't seen before, other reflections of innovation and genius." - Kent Nagano on John Adams
SEE ALL WINNERS ON CBC PAGE
Sony Music Masterworks today releases Not Our First Goat Rodeo, the long-awaited follow-up album to the GRAMMY Award-winning The Goat Rodeo Sessions, with Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile.
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.
Blues Hall of Famer Bettye LaVette has decided to release her stirring rendition of "Strange Fruit" ahead of schedule as it says as much about the history of American racism and the state of the country today.
Guitarist John Scofield celebrates the music of his friend and mentor Steve Swallow in an outgoing and spirited recording, made in an afternoon in New York City in March 2019 - "old school" style as Scofield says, acknowledging that more than forty years of preparation led up to it.
Igor Levit on surviving a Satie marathon / The New York Times Q&A
Posted: May 31, 2020 12:00 AM
| By: Admin
The pianist Igor Levit is always one-upping himself. His recordings have swollen from a collection of four Beethoven sonatas to the entire cycle; his performances, from a traditional recital to, as of Sunday, a livestream lasting over 15 hours.
In an extraordinary act of musical self-flagellation, Mr. Levit played Erik Satie's "Vexations" - a mysterious and absurd work consisting only of four lines repeated 840 times - to evoke and draw attention to the difficulties facing artists during the coronavirus pandemic. (Each iteration was printed on a single sheet of paper; they will be auctioned later to raise money for out-of-work musicians.)
"Vexations" performances are extremely rare, and typically presented as a roughly 19-hour relay with a long roster of pianists. But Mr. Levit - accomplishing the unthinkable, if inadvisable - did it alone in a Berlin studio, starting at 2 p.m. on Saturday and finishing at 5:30 a.m. Sunday, relatively early even with scattered intermissions.
If Mr. Levit's traversal, paid for using the $300,000 Gilmore Artist Award he received in 2018, was brisk, it was only for small stretches. The tempo direction is "très lent" ("very slowly"), which he started with and often returned to. But there were flashes in which he hurriedly pecked the keyboard as if jaded and exasperated, understandably dropping notes along the way.
"I got so tired that literally my fingers stopped moving," Mr. Levit said in an interview on Sunday. "Maybe a chord came a second late, but nobody died because of it. I'm OK with that; it's part of the performance."
At no point, he said, did he feel like he wasn't going to finish. And he avoided scaring himself beforehand with the piece's history, like in 1970 when Peter Evans quit after 595 repetitions, claiming to have had evil thoughts and visions. Pianists who take on "Vexations," he later said, "do so at their own great peril."
Mr. Levit may have felt confident, but his facial expressions betrayed frustrated exhaustion. He sometimes slouched or stared emptily into the distance, or held a palm to his reddened forehead - given a persistent sheen by sweat - as if in despair. The fascinating livestream occasionally slid into something more disturbingly voyeuristic, like witnessing a private crisis of faith and bracing for it to all go wrong.
But it didn't. If anything, Mr. Levit found renewed focus near the end, returning to a slow, even drawn-out tempo for what is inevitably an anticlimax. When I heard "Vexations" at the Guggenheim Museum in 2017, the audience didn't realize it was over until the pianist stood up from his bench.
There was clearer finality in Mr. Levit's performance. He had been tossing the sheet music of each repetition onto the floor, and once he got rid of the last one, he slowly closed the lid of the piano, held his face in his hands and walked away, nonchalantly picking his iPhone off a side table on the way out.
He slept for only a few hours before resuming his Sunday as usual. In the early evening, still riding a high from "Vexations," he spoke about his experience with it and what might come next. Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.
Where do you even start with preparing for this?
From the beginning of planning to the concert was about three and a half or four weeks. And I didn't train for it at all. I tried to play it at home, but without pressure and the actual thing happening - honestly, I got bored. There was no point of just playing it.
There couldn't have been any emotional preparation, but I did have a musical goal. I told myself: I am not playing performance art, not stoically in the same tempo. I wanted to just let myself go, to do as much as I could to make it like a piece, like storytelling.
Did it leave you in any sort of pain?
I'm not making this up: I'm feeling really good. I have no back or hand issues, no headache.
What about psychologically?
There were moments of anger, there were moments of fear, sadness, devastation. But these were touchable moments for me more than anything psychological. In the middle, I looked at where I was and thought: There are still 590 to go, what the heck? It took me about half an hour to get through that, but it was really the only moment where I thought, not that I wasn't going to make it, but that I was annoyed.
I feel like that showed in your playing.
I just let myself go. And I wasn't thinking about questions about the dynamics; it was just following my emotions. Sometimes that was just counting every single number. But there were also moments where I was thinking about how I'm playing this piece while the U.S. is burning. This country I love so much - I felt a great level of despair and anger. I can't tell you that it translated into the music, but it at least translated into me. A very long part of the performance was driven by this thought.
Were you keeping up with the news during the intermissions?
This was the first time since the bloody iPhone was invented that I didn't have it with me for 16 hours! But I had seen the news from Minneapolis the night before.
Then what were you doing when you weren't playing?
Peeing. Sorry if that's not a good answer. But I was drinking water all the time, probably five and a half liters at least. I was really sorry to have to stop. I do not like intermissions; it's really hard to stand up. I wish I could play concerts without them.
What comes after something like "Vexations"?
I honestly don't know. This morning, my friends came over for coffee and I opened my iPad and Googled "the longest piano pieces ever." And 90 percent of what comes out is Sorabji. Then Frederic Rzewski's "The Road," which is an incredible cycle. He once told me it's like "War and Peace" music.
Igor Levit's work on the 32 Beethoven Piano Sonatas has been the most important endeavour of the past 15 years of his life. This autumn will see his new studio recording of the complete sonata cycle released on Sony Classical on September 13 and represents the recorded testament to almost half his life spent in the study and performance of these sonatas. The release of this momentous 9-album cycle is one of the most eagerly awaited recordings for the 250-year Beethoven anniversary.
No other composer has had such an important influence on Igor Levit's life as that of Ludwig van Beethoven. He admits that this composer's music is around him practically every day and in almost everything he does. The profound impact of Beethoven's music- since his first emotional point-of-no-return with the Missa solemnis at age 13, followed by his first dedicated work on Sonata op. 2/2–has subsequently shaped Levit's approach to almost all music, whether he is playing Liszt, Shostakovich or Rzewski.
Sparked by the tragic death of a close friend in an accident, Igor Levit's piano playing reflects upon an experience of loss encompassing grief, despair, resignation and solace. He concentrates on works whose gloomy grandeur and melancholy beauty have occupied him for years. Each of them pays tribute to the virtuoso possibilities of the piano. Poetic moments of contemplative silence blend with life-affirming and extremely sensual music with a direct physical fascination. ...
Sony Classical announces the release of Pianist Igor Levit's third album - Bach, Beethoven, Rzewski. Available October 30, the album includes Bach's Goldberg Variations and Beethoven's Diabelli Variations, long considered acid tests of the performer's art, plus Frederic Rzewski's gigantic cycle on the Chilean revolutionary song ¡El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!, which has the reputation of being nearly unplayable. Not content with canonized masterpieces, Levit is equally drawn to the physical challenge of Rzewski's virtuosic tightrope walks.
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Igor Levit has recorded the Partitas by this incommensurable Bach, BWV 825-830: it's the second release by the 27-year-old pianist, whom many regard as the greatest talent of his time. With his debut album, featuring the late Beethoven sonatas, Levit already enjoyed great success and international critical acclaim: the album rose to no. 46 in Germany's Top 100 album charts.
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"Unlike those technically brilliant young pianists who dazzle briefly and disappear, Levit is pre-eminently a real musician who seems built to last." – The Guardian
For the last three years, Igor Levit's name has been the first to be mentioned whenever there has been talk of the most exciting of the younger generation of pianists. What is so surprising about Levit is not only the maturity of his interpretations, but his boundless appetite for new repertoire of works as difficult and demanding as possible. For his long awaited debut album, the twenty-six-year-old Levit has chosen some of the most challenging repertoire ever written for piano: Beethoven's last five piano sonatas. On his two-CD debut set, Levit is not just another young aspiring pianist releasing his debut album, but rather an outstanding artist who meets the exceptionally high demands of this extraordinary music. Levit's technical and artististic command in the difficult "Hammerklaviersonate" op. 106 is sure to be recognized as one of the most astounding accomplishments in recent history of Beethoven recordings.