Liberate Instrumental Music! The history of western music is one of the instrumental living in harmony (ahem) with the vocal. A Beethoven symphony, a Verdi opera. Billie Holiday's Strange Fruit, Duke Ellington's Isfahan. The Beatles' Let It Be, Herbie Hancock's Watermelon Man. But recently, instrumental music has gone missing. Become nearly invisible. Inaudible. In old media. In new. Words and music, yes. Music alone, no.
Instrumental music must be restored to culture's apex. We need an Instrumental Music Liberation Front. SymphRONica to the rescue. This record is the opening salvo. A journey through the great fountainheads of the instrumental. Jazz meets classical musics (emphasis on the ‘s': European, Québecois, Sepahrdic, Manouche). Let musical freedom ring! Let Instrumental Music be Liberated!
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Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Myer and Chris Thile, each highly accomplished musicians in their own right, unite in their eagerly anticipated follow up album to Grammy Award winning The Goat Rodeo Sessions.
"Goat Rodeo" is an expression meaning a chaotic situation, one in which everything has to go right by skill or luck, or everything will be thrown off course. It's an appropriate title for the complexity of Not Our First Goat Rodeo. "Every Note A Pearl" shows this with dissonant notes in which the strings slide into new keys. In less skilled hands, this would be a mistake, but here it's a testament to the group's skill. It takes a good musician to sing in the wrong key on purpose, but it takes a great one to make the "wrong" key right.
Not Our First Goat Rodeo is a delicate ecosystem of sound. Like most ecosystems, any little change could bring the whole thing down, but here it's perfectly balanced. At the climax of "Scarcely Cricket" and "Not for Lack of Trying," each instrument takes on a life of its own. Rather than one sticking out and the rest supporting, they often each take their own stage, in a cacophony of interlocking chaos. A person can listen to the same track multiple times and get totally different impressions as the ear picks up new parts each time. It's the sonic equivalent of a forest path that demands multiple explorations to be fully known.
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Violin virtuoso Niv Ashkenazi joins FM91: Toledo OH to talk about Violins of Hope, an artistic and educational project composed of instruments that were owned by Jewish musicians before and during the Holocaust. With his fellow Juilliard graduate, pianist Matthew Graybil, Niv has released the first solo album to be recorded on one of these instruments.
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Since bursting on the scene as a child prodigy, Benjamin Grosvenor has established himself as the most exciting and accomplished British pianist of his generation. Remarkably mature for his 27 years, he has five albums under his belt since being the youngest pianist to sign with Decca in 2011. His latest release, the two Chopin concertos, marks his first orchestral outing since his 2012 Rhapsody In Blue album which featured Saint-Saens' second and Ravel's G major concertos as well as George Gershwin's showstopper.
Opinion has always been divided over Chopin's ability as an orchestrator. There are some who think his scores for the two piano concertos, both written when he was 20 and still living in Poland, are boring and unadventurous. Others believe he got the job done, albeit unspectacularly, and that the instrumentalists complement the soloist.
Whichever camp the listener falls into, there is no doubting that the piano writing is wonderful and memorable, and under the fingers of Grosvenor backed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra the two concertos are glittering and achingly lovely, fully-formed masterpieces.
His technique shows great clarity and technical ease. His touch is light and there is an innate artistry, taste and thoughtfulness in his playing. Still only 27, there is no telling what new heights he may scale. This is certainly a beautiful and impressive survey of Chopin's two masterworks.
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Norwegian composer and pianist Ola Gjeilo presents a stunning collection of brand-new original works for solo piano, composed and performed by Gjeilo himself. NIGHT is an intimate and meditative collection of peaceful piano music, inspired by the twilight hours in the place he now calls home – New York City.
Gjeilo's musical style is often described as cinematic and evocative, characterised by warm harmonies, flowing melodies and gently rocking, repeated figures. He is an exclusive Decca Classics recording artist, and the new album follows the highly successful Winter Songs (2017) and Ola Gjeilo (2016), which also feature Tenebrae, Voces8 and the Choir of Royal Holloway. NIGHT is his first solo piano album to be released on Decca.
Gjeilo is one of the most frequently performed composers in the choral world. He grew up outside Oslo, Norway in a musically eclectic home listening to classical, jazz, pop and folk, a broad background he later incorporated into his classical composition studies at The Juilliard School and the Royal College of Music in London.
He spoke with 89.7WCPE: Wake Forest, classical hoist - Rob Kennedy. Listen to the attached conversation.
On her latest release, multiple Grammy winner Sharon Isbin performs multi-faceted and virtuosic new works for guitar, written for her by four leading composers. From the Africa-influenced El Decameron Negro by iconic Cuban guitarist/composer Leo Brouwer, through the Chinese and Spanish-inspired Seven Desires by Tan Dun, to Richard Danielpour's sensual song cycle Of Love and Longing, and the jazz and world music-influenced Affinity by Chris Brubeck, Sharon Isbin gives her inimitable imprint to, and vastly enriches major new repertoire for guitar.
The album has been covered for the whole note. See review as cover image
Nicholas McGegan may no longer be the artistic director of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, but the record of McGegan's inimitable touch - unmistakable, in the case of Handel's Saul - remains to savor. Everything about his artistry, including the buoyant and sprightly tempos, sly humor, deep reverence for beauty, and capacity for sincere emotional expression come through on this, his final live recording with PBO.
Although Saul's covers and liner notes shockingly fail to give him credit, the recording was superbly produced, recorded, edited, mixed, and mastered by PBO's former recording engineer, David v.R. Bowles of Swineshead Productions, LLC. Set down in Berkeley's First Congregational Church in April, 2019, this digital-only release shows the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Philharmonia Chorale, under Bruce Lamott, in fine form. Auditioned in 24/192 high-resolution, Bowles's achievement captures all the nuance and color that were transmitted by First Congregational's uniquely live, resonant, and spacious acoustic, and leaves me deeply regretting both his departure and that of his husband, McGegan.
The recording is available on various streaming/download services, including Qobuz, Amazon, and others. If you download or stream this recording and discover yourself without libretto, biographies, and Lamott's introduction, you can find them at philharmonia.org/saul., Make sure to access them because they'll help you understand just how wonderful this performance is. Having said that, there are many times when the sound and music are so captivating that you may find yourself closing your eyes as your relish their beauties. PHOTO: Laura Barisonzi
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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.
As part of Summerfest, this week CPR Classical will be showcasing the work of British cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who didn't just rise to fame, he catapulted.
By 18 he already had a major record label contract and his first CD under his belt, but it was the call from Meghan Markle, soon to be Duchess of Sussex, that would change his career trajectory. Kanneh-Mason performed three pieces at the royal wedding of Markle and Prince Harry, which had an estimated worldwide audience of 2 billion people. Overnight, a new superstar was born.
The third of seven children, Kanneh-Mason first captured attention when he played classical music with five of his musically talented siblings on the 2015 season of "Britain's Got Talent," making it to the semi-final round. A year later he was the first Black musician to win the BBC Young Artist Competition. Since then he's been awarded the Classic BRIT Awards Male Artist of the Year and was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire.
For the first time ever, award-winning cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason releases an original composition entitled, "Melody." Written for solo cello, the digital single is out on Decca Classics.
Having just celebrated his 21st birthday, Sheku is happy to mark the occasion with his own work, simple and beautiful with its folksong-like lilt. Those lucky enough to have seen him in concert may have heard him perform it as a surprise encore, but he had no intention of officially releasing it until now.
Speaking from his family home in Nottingham, where he is currently in situ with his six siblings, parents and fellow Royal Academy of Music flatmate, Sheku says: "I wrote this tune a while back, inspired by folk music I love listening to. I never intended to release it but felt now would be a good time to share it. I hope it might encourage people to try something new and express their creativity during this difficult time."
Award-winning cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason returns with Elgar, a new album of works anchored around Elgar's Cello Concerto – arguably the best-known work in the classical canon written for solo cello, which saw the 100th anniversary of its first performance this month.
Recorded at the famous Abbey Road Studios with the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), and conducted by one of Sheku's lifelong heroes, Sir Simon Rattle, the work is a statement of intent from the 20-year-old musician whose rise to being "the world's new favourite cellist" (The Times) has taken nothing away from his ambition to continue evolving and learning as an artist. Sheku explains, "It's how I feel about the music that really motivates me to work and discover and develop my own ideas – that's what keeps me going."
18-year-old cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason came into the spotlight when he won the prestigious BBC Young Musician award in 2016. Signed to Decca Classics, his debut album features Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No.1, the piece Sheku performed in the BBCYM final. Recorded live with City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Inspiration also includes a broad range of new cello arrangements, from Saint-Saëns' "Le Cygne (The Swan)" to Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry."