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.
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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.
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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
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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.
On a Friday evening a few months ago, when it was entirely normal to be in a packed concert hall, Sheku Kanneh-Mason finished playing Saint-Saëns's Cello Concerto No. 1 with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
The British cellist had torn through the classic piece, which unfolds in a 20-minute whoosh.
"It just kind of starts," he had said at lunch that afternoon. There are no gaps between the concerto's sections, so no breaks for awkward throat clearing. No big solo cadenza stops the momentum. Mr. Kanneh-Mason's playing is more poised than fiery: levelheaded, though not exactly cool. But the enameled sunniness of his tone - milky yet bright - took on dashing spirit in the headlong sprint to the end.
Mr. Kanneh-Mason, who turned 21 on April 4, walked offstage to a loud ovation, then stood with his cello for a few seconds before heading back on for an encore. When he emerged, the audience greeted him with a roar. Marin Alsop, the Baltimore Symphony's longtime conductor, smiled as she watched from backstage.
"It's good," she said. "We need another star."
But if Mr. Kanneh-Mason continues to rise through first-name recognizability - it's "SHAY-koo" - ticket-selling power and millions of Spotify streams, he will be more than just another star who can anchor galas and assure capacity crowds. He will be what the classical music world has long lacked: a black headliner. Orchestras have a stunningly low number of black and Latino members, and the numbers are even grimmer when it comes to concerto and recital soloists.
"The arena is still devoid of stars of color," said Afa S. Dworkin, the president of the Sphinx Organization, a nonprofit devoted to diversifying classical music.
If Mr. Kanneh-Mason becomes a figure as well-known as Yo-Yo Ma, Lang Lang or Joshua Bell, his celebrity will have had its roots in a fairly standard, if impressive, achievement: He won a prestigious competition, the BBC Young Musician of the Year, in 2016.
But that victory set the stage for a once-in-a-lifetime launch. After appearing at a charity event attended by Prince Harry, he was selected to play at Harry's 2018 wedding to Meghan Markle. It was watched on television by an audience of nearly 2 billion - including many young people of color who have swiftly taken Mr. Kanneh-Mason as a model.
"It's difficult to see yourself doing something if you don't see someone looking like you doing it," he said.
This is what Ms. Dworkin calls "the Sheku effect." "A new generation of musicians are saying, ‘That will be me,'" she said. "And parents are looking at that and saying, ‘I wanted to start my kid on cello. How do I get to this?' It becomes positive and realistic."
Playing with members of the OrchKids after-school program, Mr. Kanneh-Mason took the students seriously and gave earnest advice.Credit...Greg Kahn for The New York Times
After one of his rehearsals with the Baltimore Symphony, Mr. Kanneh-Mason rode to an elementary school on the east side of the city to meet students in the ensemble's OrchKids program, which provides after-school music programs in poor communities.
He warmed up with Bach's D-minor Suite in an empty classroom as the sun lowered over the neighborhood of rowhouses. A large group of children, almost all of them black or Latino, filed in and peppered him with questions after he played some short, lyrical pieces, including a version of "No Woman, No Cry" that he arranged in the solemnly dancing style of a Bach sarabande. (His recording of it has been streamed almost 12 million times on Spotify.)
Then, joined in a ring by a dozen or so beginner cellists, Mr. Kanneh-Mason sometimes seemed almost overcome with bashfulness as he led a genial little master class. He took the students seriously as they sawed through "Frère Jacques," and gave earnest, soft-spoken advice as he played along. He was so humble and quiet that he sometimes seemed, improbably, to be just another kid in the class.
Being part of a circle of musicians - rather than the singular attraction - wasn't out of character for Mr. Kanneh-Mason. He was raised in Nottingham, in the middle of England, with six siblings, all of whom have also turned out to be serious players. His mother, who was born in Sierra Leone, and his father, whose parents are from Antigua, both grew up in Britain and met in college. Neither was a musician, or set out to create a family of virtuosos.
"It's a thing they liked," Mr. Kanneh-Mason said of his parents, who would play Itzhak Perlman, Jacqueline du Pré and Vladimir Ashkenazy CDs in the car. "It wasn't a big plan."
Quarantined together in Nottingham, the siblings have broadcast twice-weekly concerts over Facebook Live throughout the coronavirus lockdown. In April, on the day his older sister, Isata, was supposed to have appeared with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra as the soloist in Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto, the family performed an arrangement of the piece that has been viewed more than a million times.
"Recitals - with just piano, or chamber music - is what I enjoy the most," Mr. Kanneh-Mason said. "Because of the repertoire, and I like being able to work closely with just a few people on something. I prefer the intimacy of that to a concerto."
His taste in performing, valuing the small-scale and personal over grandeur, has fit in well with the restrictions of the moment and what is likely to come in the near future. He loves spaces like Wigmore Hall in London and, in New York, the 268-seat Weill Recital Hall, where he made his Carnegie Hall recital debut in December with Isata.
Still an undergraduate at the Royal Academy of Music in London, he's been continuing lessons with his teacher over video chat this spring, and working on the improvisations and arrangements he likes to toy with. On a Zoom call in May from his bedroom on the top floor of the house where he grew up, he talked about breaking apart the different voices of a Bach aria and playing them all. A few days later, he posted the results on Instagram, the tiny screen broken into five of himself, and the harmonies of "Komm, süsser Tod" almost painfully rich.
His coming months are uncertain, as they are for all musicians. The plan had been for him to do some low-key performances of Dvorak's Cello Concerto, the next addition to his orchestral repertoire, in the fall, to get some practice before higher-profile dates next year. Now it's unclear when he'll be able to play it anywhere.
He and Isata will return to the United States in a couple of years for another recital tour. "And the presenters are very confident that they will be able to sell big halls, because of the appeal he has and the audience that came to the last cycle," said Kathryn Enticott, who manages both of them. "And the initial reason for that was the wedding. But then the audiences want to come back."
While his biggest successes online have been in a decidedly light mode - "No Woman, No Cry," which he sometimes pulls out for encores, and arrangements of songs like "Hallelujah" and "Scarborough Fair" - his performing career has stuck almost entirely to the standard repertoire.
"He's been asked to do some crossover projects, and he doesn't want to go near them," Ms. Enticott said. "He believes that the music he plays, if people are exposed to it, they will appreciate just how great it is."
Mr. Kanneh-Mason is of course not the only gifted young classical instrumentalist of color. The Sphinx Organization alone has hundreds of alumni that Ms. Dworkin, who admires him, says are his equal in ability and deserve their chances, too.
"At the beginning of my career, a quarter-century ago," Ms. Dworkin said, "there was actual resistance, a vocal one: ‘We don't think they're ready; the talent isn't out there.' Now I think the issue is these quiet choices not being made."
Artist managers, recital presenters, orchestra administrators, record labels, journalists: All have the opportunity, and the responsibility, to take the risks that will broaden music.
"We are very much a field of followers," Ms. Dworkin said. "If a couple of presenters do it, others will follow. Like they did with Sheku." PHOTO: Greg Kahn
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."