Thought Catalog: Music For Writers: Matt Haimovitz’s Cello Solos Go Into ‘Orbit’

August 13, 2015

Four Hours: ‘A Small Part Of The Repertoire’

You could do worse than play a 1710 cello made by the Venetian luthier Matteo Goffriller, but what Matt Haimover now is doing on that instrument can come very close to explaining what we mean by an author’s “voice” in writing.

  • He can stroll up on you with the walking-bass ease of a 1945 Luigi Dallapiccola adagio.
  • He can shimmy his bow way down into a slurry of nervous buzzes in Steven Mackey’s Rhondo Variations of 1983.
  • He can tell you “The source of all humor is not laughter but sorrow,” and then play Paul Moravec’s Mark Twain Sez second movement, “Humor,” pacing out a profoundly elegant clearing in his audience’s mind to hold just such a contradictory quip.

And all the while, you’ll know it’s him.

As when an accomplished author moves through the minds and vocabularies of a broad cast of characters, you never lose your grasp on this artist’s singular “voice,” even as Haimovitz works his way through four hours — yes, four hours — of solo cello performance.

Orbit, this three-disc set, takes its name from the Philip Glass 2014 meditation that opens it. We’ve just been writing here in Music For Writers about the remarkable, architectural genius for building a work that Glass brings to his music. And what Dennis Russell Davies and the Bruckner Orchester do for Glass’ Symphony No. 10,you now get to hear Haimovitz do for this lonely étude. Both men’s voices — Glass’ devastating primacy in construction and Haimovitz’s relentless drive of exploration — stand in gracious respect of each other.

Thanks to New York Public Radio’s 24/7 free contemporary classical Internet stream Q2 Music, you can hear it. Orbit is Album of the Week at Q2 Music, and it’s no wonder that Doyle Ambrust there writes of having “a cranium full of Matt Haimovitz.” One of the most intensive exposures to a single artist’s vast vocabulary to come along in years, Orbit is drawn from the years 1945 to 2014 and almost 25 composers. They include Jimi Hendrix (Anthem, 2002) and Luna Pearl Woolf (Haimovitz’s composer-partner) in an evocation of Paul McCartney and John Lennon (Helter Skelter, 1968)

In his notes, Hamovitz talks of the 20th century’s Tower of Babel with respect and good cheer, embracing “its boldness, diversity, complexity and its return to the natural order of harmony.” And what you hear as his own instrumental voice rises to unify this long conversation is a stamp of artistry coming into its own. The Oxingale label is one founded by Haimovitz, himself, and in December it became a partner of the Pentatone Music brand.

It’s thanks to Pentatone’s designers, in fact, that the album has its remarkable cover. Haimovitz tells me he doesn’t know where the photo comes from or what it depicts. But as you hear this work, you’ll realize that Pentatone is speaking Haimovitzian quite well: From an impossible height, several people gaze down on what looks like the 20th century itself, a vast city of sunlit ambition.

Marin Alsop. Image: Grant Leighton

Marin Alsop. Image: Grant Leighton

The dizzying eloquence of that shot is one of the first things Haimovitz and I talked about as I reached him in Santa Cruz. He was there for a performance on Saturday evening (15th August) in Maestra Marin Alsop’s Cabrillo Festival.

Haimovitz will headline with violinist Tim Fainan evening named for the West Coast premiere of Nico Muhly’sWish You Were Here. The program also features music of Missy Mizzoli (River Rouge Transfiguration, West Coast premiere); Sean Shephard (Blue Blazes, West Coast premiere); Hannah Lash (Eating Flowers, world premiere of a festival commission); and Glass — Haimovitz and Fain give his Double Concerto for Violin and Cello its West Coast premiere.

The Israeli-born artist (“HIGH-moe-vitz”) made his debut in 1984 at age 13 with Zuben Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic, recorded for years with Deutsche Grammophon, and is a Grammy nominee whose friendly, easy bearing gives him a wry, self-deprecating sense of humor.

“Might sell more albums without my face on the cover, too,” he cracks, as we talk about the arresting cover shot for Orbit.

‘It’s Really A Singing Instrument’

On a windswept phone connection, typical of Santa Cruz, I opened our chat by telling him how very recognizable his cello-voice is becoming.

Matt Haimovitz

Matt Haimovitz

Thought Catalog: Matt, I’m reminded in listening to Orbit, that your technique is always attuned to what each composer wants, and yet I hear your “cellic” voice every time. It’s taken this long to develop that distinctive a personality as an artist, doesn’t it?

Matt Haimovitz: I appreciate that comment because in this day and age, there’s so much conformity and uniformity, it’s often very difficult to tell the difference [between one performing instrumentalist and another].

I used to play that game all the time, growing up as a teenager, with a collection of LPs…you’d put something on and have to guess who was playing, [Pierre] Fournier or [Leonard] Rose or [Pablo] Casals, whoever it was. These days, I’m not sure I could even tell them all apart. So your saying that means a lot, thank you.

“All these composers you hear on Orbit, you can tell, love that chameleon aspect of the instrument…It’s really a singing instrument.”
Matt Haimovitz

TC: I don’t think we’d actually know this, in fact, though, if you hadn’t done something like Orbit. If you hadn’t put so much diverse music together at once like this, I’m not sure we’d be getting this effect of saying, “My God, I can still hear Haimovitz, even in this and this and this piece. It’s an unexpected benefit from this project.

MH: With it all in one place, yeah. And it was never intended that way. It was intended as single albums. And we were trying to figure out how to put it all out and decided to put it together. And I think you’re right, there’s this scope to it. And amazingly, this is just a small part of the repertoire for cello. There’s great stuff throughout Europe, German composers, French composers, Asian — maybe this is the start of a longer term project. (He laughs with a tinge of exhaustion.)

You’re right, it’s great after 15 years of going project by project, to see so much of it in context and all in one place.

TC: And we don’t get it as well unless  you do solo work, too. I don’t think we can hear it as clearly. I don’t ever want to hear you with an ensemble again.

MH: (He laughs.) Don’t say that. But it’s true, when you think of soloists, you think of piano. And yet, starting with Bach and even before Bach, the overtones on this instrument are so rich that we can provide our own bass. You can always take away overtones, but you can’t add them. So all these composers you hear on Orbit, you can tell, love that chameleon aspect of the instrument. In a sense, we can accompany ourselves and we can play as high as the violin or flute or saxophone. It’s really a singing instrument .

TC: Like [the composer] Paola Prestini and [cellist] Jeffrey Ziegler, you and Luna Pearl Woolf can work together as composer and performer when you want to, right?

Luna Pearl Woolf

Luna Pearl Woolf

MH: Luna is one of six composers I’ve commissioned for a suite of overtures, one each, to the Bach suites, and I commissioned her for the sixth that I recorded on the cello piccolo. And she’s working on an opera for the Washington National.

TC: This is Better Gods, Luna’s opera based on Queen Liliuokalaniwhen Hawaii was annexed into the States, right? [The hour-long commission is part of the American Opera Initiative.]

MH: Right, it premieres in January. And she’s got some Hawaiian chant in the opera. And that chant was very similar to the motive in the Bach.  And when I pointed that out, that was it. So the piece is based on Hawaiian chant and some things in her opera.

TC: An overture to the sixth Bach cello suite with Hawaiian chant.

MH: Exactly.

TC: Can’t wait.

‘You Find A Way To Share It’

MH:  When we first started out in our relationship, Luna was so happy to have an advocate like me. And now, it’s almost a different story…doing this composition for me for the Bach was a bit of a relief from the really big form she’s working on with the opera.

TC: And with Luna’s composition career getting so big now and your career coming into this advanced stage, what do you find that you still feel you haven’t had a chance to do?

MH: You know,  I don’t really operate like that. At any one time, I’ve got lots of ideas and at any one time the challenge is weeding out some of those things and staying focused. I’m like a perpetual dreamer. At a young age, I could see connections between things that maybe you wouldn’t normally think of. That’s the way I’m wired. If I find something that’s engaging to me and I’m passionate about it, I want to see it all the way through. And I will it through. It sort of just works.

I don’t know what will happen in the next couple of years, but there are certain things, like Orbit. I never thought I’d have this kind of relationship with all these composers. As a 13 or 14-year-old practicing five hours a day, I never though I’d be recording [Gyorgy] Ligeti.

“It’s this idea that if you’re passionate about something, you stick with it and you share it. You find a way to share it.”
Matt Haimovitz

TC: And you know, when we hear about your debut at Carnegie when you were, what, 15? And you stepped in for Leonard Rose. Most of us would say, “Well, that’s when Matt realized he had arrived as a world-class musician.” Such a spectacular moment.

But really, it sounds like what you’re saying to me now and what we’re hearing on the Orbit album is a much deeper and richer form of coming into your own, a better understanding of yourself in the work, isn’t it?

MH: It is. And you know, it also has to just do with inhibitions. And embracing what is in front of you without fear. Absolutely. Not really worrying about what the trend is or what is popular. If I want to do something that would really sell, I’d go hook up with a drummer and a rock band.

But it’s this idea that if you’re passionate about something, you stick with it and you share it. You find a way to share it.

Oxingale Records and Pentatone Join Forces

December 16, 2014

OXINGALE RECORDS, the trailblazing artists’ label founded in 2000 by cellist Matt Haimovitz and composer Luna Pearl Woolf, is excited to announce that it is joining forces with PENTATONE, the classical music label renowned for its discerning artistic quality and superior audiophile technology. Beginning in 2015, new albums and reissues from Haimovitz and his musical collaborators will be available internationally – in SACD 5.1 surround sound and as high definition downloads – from the Amsterdam-based label under the PENTATONE OXINGALE series.

“15 years ago, Luna and I founded Oxingale to pave a way for us to share music that we are passionate about, with an audience that we believed was seeking meaning and musical adventure,” says Matt Haimovitz, continuing, “For us, classical music is a living, breathing art form. We started Oxingale to bring to life what has been in our minds and hearts, whether by composers working 300 years ago, newly inked works, or improvisations. The invitation to collaborate with PENTATONE is an affirmation. With our shared sense of artistic and sonic values, we look forward to bringing our vision and energy to a label which has shown an optimistic and uncompromising attitude in its contributions to culture and the future of classical music.”

“There was never any doubt for PENTATONE to join forces with OXINGALE Records,” says PENTATONE’s managing director, Dirk Jan Vink. “We believe the works of Oxingale artists bring a fantastic addition to our catalogue. With PENTATONE’s warm, dynamic and detailed sound capturing the superb works and performances of Oxingale’s artists, we look forward to bringing you a range of prestigious work in prime quality.”

The new collaboration launches on February 1, 2015 with the release of BEETHOVEN, Period., the complete collection of sonatas and variations for pianoforte and violoncello recorded on period instruments by Grammy-nominated cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Christopher O’Riley. Following later in the year are two more releases: Shuffle. Play. Listen, a groundbreaking recording, also with O’Riley, which saw Herrmann, Janacek and Stravinsky come together with Radiohead, the Cocteau Twins and John McLaughlin; and an all-Schubert album featuring the Arpeggione Sonata and the Cello Quintet. Also forthcoming is a 3-CD box set of Haimovitz’s solo cello recordings from the last 15 years, including 20 world premiere recordings and two newly released tracks: Orbit, by Philip Glass and a new arrangement of the Beatles’ Helter Skelter for solo cello by Woolf.

Founded in the year 2000, the Grammy Award-winning Oxingale Records is as committed to revelatory interpretations of the canonic repertoire as it is to riveting performances of works by recent and living composers. Under the new collaboration, Oxingale will continue to oversee its own A&R direction, while benefiting from the global distribution and marketing offered by PENTATONE.

Launched in 2010, Oxingale Music is the publishing arm of the label. Oxingale Music publishes the work of Luna Pearl Woolf plus a range of works by composers such as Pulitzer Prize-winner Lewis Spratlan and Rome Prize-winner David Sanford. The Oxingale Music catalog includes a substantial library of music written for and premiered by Matt Haimovitz, most of which are recorded on Oxingale and will be released over time as part of the PENTATONE Oxingale Series.

This year, Oxingale Music launched a semi-annual composition competition aimed at expanding and enriching the repertoire for cello in unusual combinations and ensembles. Over 40 composers from 18 countries entered the 2014 competition, the winners of which will have their works premiered in February 2015.

 

Oxingale Music announces Winner of Composition Competition

November 16, 2014

Oxingale Music, publisher of a range of contemporary sheet music from award-winning composers, has chosen a slate of winners for the first in a series of composition competitions aimed at expanding and enrich the repertoire for cello in unusual combinations and ensembles. The nucleus of Oxingale Music is a catalogue of works written for, premiered by, and recorded by Grammy-nominated cellist Matt Haimovitz.

For the 2014 Composition Competition, Oxingale Music and Matt Haimovitz joined UK vocal trio Voice in inviting composers of all ages and nationalities to submit a work for cello and three voices, using text from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 8, 30, or 60. 

Over 40 composers from over 18 countries entered works, most written expressly for this competition. 

The winning composition will be premiered by Matt Haimovitz and Voice in February, 2015 in New York State, with the possibility of further performances into 2016. The winning composer will be offered up to $500 to defray the cost of travel and accommodations to attend rehearsals and the concert. In addition, the full slate of winning compositions will be considered for publication on Oxingale Music.

Because of the tremendous quality of submissions received, Matt Haimovitz and Voice will perform at least one of the runner-up works, in addition to the winning composition, on their concert in February.

• Winning composition: Bozo Banovic, “Sonnet 60 of William Shakespeare,” Serbia 

• Runners up:

Diana Rosenblum, “Like as the waves,” United States

Filipe Sousa, “Like as the waves,” Portugal 

• Honorable mention: Gabriel Malancioiu, “Chronos phagos – The Eater of Time,” Romania

Oxingale Music Announces New Composition Competition for Cello and Voice

May 29, 2014

Oxingale Music, publisher of a range of contemporary sheet music from award-winning composers, announces the first in a series of composition competitions aimed at building the repertoire for cello and unusual ensembles. The nucleus of Oxingale Music is a catalogue of works written for, premiered by, and recorded by Grammy-nominated cellist Matt Haimovitz.

For the 2014 Composition Competition Oxingale Music and Matt Haimovitz join UK vocal trio Voice in inviting composers of all ages and nationalities to submit a work for cello and three voices, using text from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 8, 30, or 60. Works should be under ten minutes in duration. There is no fee to submit. For additional details, please see below.

Prizes:

– The winning composition will be premiered by Matt Haimovitz and Voice in February, 2015 in New York State with the possibility of further performances in 2016.
– Oxingale Music will provide the composer a stipend of up to $500 towards travel and accommodation to attend rehearsals and the concert.
– The composer will be provided an archive recording of the performance, if available.
– The winning composition will be considered for publication on Oxingale Music.
Guidelines:

– Submission deadline: October 15, 2014
– Composers of any age or nationality may submit one original work.
– Duration: up to 10 minutes
– Text must be taken from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 8, 30, or 60. Sonnets may be used in whole or in part, individually or combined, at the composer’s discretion.
– Work must be for acoustic cello and un-amplified voices. (No electronics please)
– Works must be submitted electronically via dropbox or other file-transfer method. Please see required submission package contents below. Please do not submit materials via email or postal mail.
Vocal ranges:

Victoria = A3 to C6. Happy to sing in a folky chest register up to D5.
Emily = G3 to B6.
Clemmie = E3 to G6. She is most comfortable A3 to E6.
Please visit Voice’s website where you can listen to recordings and get an idea of the three singers’ blend on different tracks. If you have specific questions regarding the vocalists, please direct your inquiries to Victoria at voicetrio@gmail.com.
Submission package must include:

– Complete submission form (below)
– PDF of full score
– XML or .sib file of full score
– Biography/CV of composer
– Photo of composer
For more information on the artists and Oxingale Music please visit:

http://www.matthaimovitz.com
http://www.voicetrio.co.uk
http://www.oxingalemusic.com
The fine print:

– The competition organizers reserve the right not to select a winner.
– By submitting a work to this competition you certify that the composition is original and does not rely on the copyrighted material of any other person.
– Payment of stipend will be made in the form of reimbursement of expenses. Documentation of expenses must be received no later than 30 days after the premiere.
– Archive recording may be used for promotional purposes only. Any commercial use or public broadcast must be approved separately.
– By submitting a work to this competition you certify that there is no legal impediment to Oxingale Music acting as publisher for this work. If any conflict exists, please disclose it on the submission form. Oxingale Music reserves the right not to publish the winning composition.

General inquiries can be sent to info@oxingale.com Please do not email submissions.

Application

 

Triad Arts Weekend: David English, Mark Freundt, Hope Larson, Lemony Snicket, and Matt Haimovitz on Triad Arts Weekend

April 27, 2014

This week we revisit some of Team Triad Arts’ choice recent interviews, and get a musical look at this Earth Day Weekend. Guitarist David English is one of the performers at the Piedmont Earth Day Fair, and we’ll join him in conversation with David Ford, and learn about the art of building the cigar box guitar. Our celebration of Mother Earth continues with Mark Freundt. He’s conducting the 4th annual presentation of the Missa Gaia (Earth Mass). Then we’ll get a little silly & confusing with author Lemony Snicket – that is, if he even shows up. Mr. Snicket crafted the wildly popular “A Series of Unfortunate Events” novels, and now he’s inking out his peculiar craft in the world of detective fiction. We keep the pen close to paper with acclaimed graphic novelist Hope Larson, and a look at her adaptation of “A Wrinkle in Time.” Then we wrap things up with acclaimed cellist Matt Haimovitz. Matt explores the sonic limits of the cello from Bach to Hendrix with indie rock detours along the way. … Continue reading

Minnesota Public Radio: “New Classical Tracks: ‘Angel Heart'”

October 16, 2013

ST. PAUL, Minn. —

“There! Do you hear it? There is a whispering of wings in the silence of the night. They’re coming. With features as white as snow, and faces as bright as the moonlight.

Angels.

They come to chase the nightmares that gallop through the dark and to harvest the light of the stars. They spread it over roofs and beds and sleeping eyes And fill the night with music…” Continue reading

San Jose Mercury News: ‘Angel Heart’ star-studded adaptation comes to Cal Performances Oct. 6

October 7, 2013

Lullabies and bedtime stories are usually close to the top of the list of most treasured early childhood memories. Few things can comfort an infant or toddler into peaceful slumber as the voice of a parent or grandparent softly intoning “Rock-a-bye Baby” or “Brahms Lullaby.” Nowadays one can augment a child’s calming bedtime rituals by merely hitting the “play” button on a CD or MP3 player.

A trio of imaginative women combined their talents to create what might become a new children’s classic. Continue reading

The Whole Note: Review of Glass Concerto No. 2: “Early, Classical and Beyond Strings Attached – October 2013”

September 30, 2013

The terrific Matt Haimovitz is back with another fascinating CD, this time featuring the Cello Concerto No.2 “Naqoyqatsi” by Philip Glass (Orange Mountain Music OMM 0087). Long-time Glass champion Dennis Russell Davies provides excellent support with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Continue reading

Publishers Weekly: In Tune: Music Sparks a New Project from Cornelia Funke

September 24, 2013

What happens when a pair of music professionals set out to create a CD to share with their kids? In the case of composer Luna Pearl Woolf and soprano Lisa Delan, they enlist author Cornelia Funke, actor Jeremy Irons, and Mirada Studios to help them turn their vision into a multimedia storybook and interactive iPad app. The result is Angel Heart, a CD in mini-hardcover packaging being released September 24 by Oxingale Records. An app is set to follow in early 2014. Continue reading