Archive for the ‘Album’ Category

19
Aug

Xenia Pestova’s Shadow Piano on Innova Recordings

innova logoXenia Pestova is a pianist who actively promotes and performs new works of music. Additionally, she is the Head of Performance at the Bangor University School of Music in North Wales [and a contributor to I CARE IF YOU LISTEN, Ed.] Her Innova release,  Shadow Piano: Music For Piano/Toy Piano & Electronics, features pieces by several contemporary composers, all of whom Pestova states in the liner notes she is “fortunate to call [her] friends.”

Xenia Pestova - Shadow Piano on Innova

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5
Aug

Duo Noire: Where Classical Guitar Meets Minimalism

Duo Noire

Duo Noire

Figments, composed by Raymond J. Lustig and performed by the virtuosic pair, Duo Noire (Thomas Flippin and Christopher Mallett) is a unique and entrancing album that exists at the unusual intersection of minimalism and impressive classical guitar technique.

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23
Jul

Flux Quartet Delivers a Reference Recording of Feldman’s String Quartet No. 1

Flux Quartet Feldman's String Quartet No. 1

The FLUX Quartet have masterfully laid claim to the complete string quartets of Morton Feldman, becoming legends of new music along the way. They famously premiered the integral six-hour version of String Quartet No. 2 and later recorded it as part of Mode Records’ excellent Feldman Edition (in 1999 and 2002, respectively). It stood to reason that there would eventually be a follow up to complete the cycle, and it has arrived, well worth the wait a dozen years later.

The new release, featuring Feldman’s String Quartet No. 1 (1979) with Structures (1951) and Three Pieces for String Quartet (1954-56), presents a less daunting listening task than the earlier one, and yet there is much that is epic and unprecedented in it. The set contains the full program spread over two CDs and uninterrupted on a bonus DVD, and is accompanied by composer Linda Catlin Smith’s well-informed, expressive and illustrative essay exploring the idea of Feldman as a “speculative composer.” She has a wonderful way of describing the many exquisite sounds on this recording, and distilling her insights on the mysterious realm of this music and its creator.

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2
Jul

Jennifer Koh and Jaime Laredo: Two x Four

Cedille Records LogoIt wasn’t until seventh grade that I met my first violin teacher; before then, I was largely self-taught. I recall sitting in the back of my school orchestra (third-to-last chair of the second strings!) literally ecstatic about being surrounded by music. It was, of course, little more than deafening cacophony, a constant struggle to be heard above the other players—I was that stand partner that believed that playing louder than everyone created the most transcendent of sounds. Not long after I began studying with my teacher, Mr. Carter, did I wise up. When he handed me the sheet music for the seemingly apocryphal “Bach Double”, I grasped the voice of the violin: a voice to converse, to argue, to cry.

Indeed, there can be no better preface for Jennifer Koh and Jaime Laredo’s Two x Four than Bach’s argumentative dance, the Concerto for Two Violins in D minor. It is a piece meant for teacher and pupil. I remember rushing home from Mr. Carter’s studio, Youtubing a recording: a black-and-white video of David and Igor Oistrakh, father and son, performing together. As Igor stood beside the towering musical presence of his father, I was filled with the newfound revelation that music is a relationship, not just between performer and audience, but between master and student. Koh and Laredo remind us of this throughout Two x Four. Koh began her partnership with Laredo as his student at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. The project was conceived in 2010, when Koh proposed to composers Anna Clyne and David Ludwig about constructing new works for two violins, an instrumentation inspired by Bach’s beloved concerto. The product, Two x Four, is a transformative journey of the tutelage between Koh and Laredo, a relationship all musicians can revere. The album features violin duets by four composers, with Bach’s concerto and Philip Glass’ Echorus paving the way for Clyne’s Prince of Clouds and Ludwig’s Seasons Lost.

Two x Four, Koh and Laredo

Two x Four, Koh and Laredo

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18
Jun

BMOP Delivers Stellar Performances on Apollo and Daphne Variations

BMOP-sound-logoIt is an all too familiar scene: patrons travel to a grandiose hall to hear a major symphony orchestra perform on a Thursday-through-Sunday evening. The main attractions include a concerto performance by a critically acclaimed soloist and a symphonic masterpiece by a composer who is most likely long dead. Audience members find their seats and open the program only to discover, much to their dismay, that the concert will begin with an often tolerated but seldom enjoyed world premiere of a newly commissioned work. Everyone sits through this gesture of goodwill and politely applauds, and then the “real” concert begins. The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) blatantly addresses this disconnect and is on a quest to eradicate it. This ensemble, founded in 1996 by Artistic Director Gil Rose, is the leading orchestra in the United States dedicated to the performance of new music, and they are quickly setting a new standard for contemporary classical music. One of the ensembles’ most recent composer-centric releases, Lewis Spratlan: Apollo and Daphne Variations (BMOP/sound), proves that new music can be accessible when treated with the same care and attention as the classical giants.

Lewis Spratlan: Apollo and Daphne Variations

Lewis Spratlan: Apollo and Daphne Variations

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