WFMT NEW RELEASE OF THE WEEK: Beethoven, Period.

Beethoven: Cello Sonata No 3 in A major, Op 69 (26:11)

Matt Haimovitz, cello; Christopher O’Riley, fortepiano

This release journeys back to the birth of the cello/piano genre with Beethoven’s complete sonatas and variations, recorded on period instruments. Matt Haimovitz plays his own Goffriller cello, crafted in Venice in 1710 and set up with gut strings also from Italy and an early 19th-century rosewood tailpiece. Haimovitz uses a Dominique Peccatte bow of the same era. Joining him is a frequent collaborator, Christopher O’Riley, who plays on an original Broadwood fortepiano made in 1823.

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Read at: WFMT

Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review: Matt Haimovitz & Christopher O’Riley, Beethoven, Period. Music for Cello and Piano on Period Instruments

 February 24, 2015

Beethoven wrote his music for pianoforte and cello in an age when the piano sounded very different than it does today. That has not stopped us from appreciating his cello-piano sonatas and variations as played on modern instruments. In the right hands they never fail to enchant. Yet an original instrument experience of the music, it turns out, is rather different, though no less enchanting.Matt Haimovitz & Christopher O’Riley, cello and piano, respectively, have given us a most pleasant surprise in their complete recording of the complete Beethoven oeuvre for cello and piano on such period instruments, in a 2-CD set entitled Beethoven, Period.(Pentatone Oxingale Series 5186 475).

They utilize vintage instruments, tune to A=430 in keeping with various tunings of the era, and use the untempered tunings, all of which gives the music a decidedly different cast. The music has a resonant sweetness with the tuning, sounds startlingly different in key modulations and, because of the lower general volume levels of the piano in those days, gives the cello part a prominence and an overall transparency of parts you don’t get in modern instrument versions.

The result is a very balanced interplay between the instruments and a very different feel in both forte and pianissimo passages. Listen to the resplendent Cello Sonata in A Major, op. 69, for example, and you will hear the music differently than what we have become accustomed to.

Haimovitz & O’Riley seem very at home in with the old resonances. Indeed their performances are detailed and filled with brio in the very best ways. They succeed capitally. Yet it all comes across in a wonderfully refreshing way.

This will be delightfully fascinating for all who know the music. It gives us a different sort of lyric appreciation of the music, a new life born of a return to the period sound.

Wholly recommended.

The New York Times: Her Art, Her Passion, Her Torment: Joyce DiDonato Celebrates Camille Claudel at Zankel Hall

February 6, 2015

Joyce DiDonato at Zankel Hall with the Brentano String Quartet: from left, Serena Canin, Mark Steinberg, Nina Lee and Misha Amory. Credit: Hiroyuki Ito for The New York Times

The life of the French sculptor Camille Claudel is a tangle of art, passion, madness and betrayal. A student and lover of Rodin’s, Claudel was a critically acclaimed artist when she began to show signs of mental distress, which led her family to commit her to an institution, where she spent the remaining 30 years of her life.

On Thursday at Zankel Hall, the incandescent mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato presented the New York premiere of Jake Heggie’s “Camille Claudel: Into the Fire.” Set for voice and string quartet, the work compresses a tragic life of operatic dimensions into a song cycle of great beauty and emotional resonance.

Ms. DiDonato is one of this season’s artists in the Perspectives series at Carnegie Hall, tasked with assembling a group of concerts that reflect her own interests. At first glance, these seem eclectic: Thursday’s program, which featured the fiercely eloquent Brentano String Quartet, also included instrumental music by Charpentier and Debussy, as well as the world premiere of “Mother Songs,” a set of lullabies composed by amateurs, resulting from an outreach program of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute.

But at a closer glance, there was a narrative cohesion to the concert that revealed Ms. DiDonato’s intelligence as a storyteller. Debussy’s seething String Quartet provided a backdrop for Claudel’s personal drama, a Parisian arts scene humming with innovation yet anchored in the kind of classicism of which Charpentier’s “Concert Pour Quatre Parties de Violes” is an elegant example. The Brentano Quartet performed both with stylistic finesse; in the Debussy, the juxtaposition of blurry textures and bright explosions of sound vividly evoked Impressionist painting.

The titles of Mr. Heggie’s songs, with texts by Gene Scheer, are those of some of Claudel’s sculptures, allowing her work to remain in the foreground, even as the songs explore her personal turmoil. Ms. DiDonato gave a riveting performance that ranged from the unkempt eroticism of “Shakuntala” to the hollow despair with which she sang the final line, “Thank you for remembering me.”

The touching simplicity of “Mother Songs,” written in a gospel-tinged American vernacular, with spun-sugar arrangements by the composer Luna Pearl Woolf, may seem far removed from Claudel’s wild genius. But the authors, women who had teamed up with teaching artists from the Weill Music Institute during their pregnancies, drafted these lullabies facing their own struggles. Of the four women represented in Ms. DiDonato’s performance, one had been homeless during her pregnancy, two were teenagers, and one was incarcerated on Rikers Island.

Ms. DiDonato’s tender performance of their songs alongside her tribute to Claudel thus became a gesture of defiant compassion.

By: CORINNA da FONSECA-WOLLHEIM

Read at: The New York Times 

SF Examiner: Duo plays Beethoven as Beethoven would have wished

February 05, 2015
Cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Christopher O’Riley play Beethoven on period instruments at the S.F. Conservatory or Music. - COURTESY  PHOTO

Rarely does an encounter with the past forever change a musician’s relationship with his instrument. But when Grammy-nominated cellist Matt Haimovitz joined with pianist-NPR host Christopher O’Riley to perform and record Beethoven’s Sonatas and Variations for Piano and Cello on period instruments, he hardly expected that their move to authenticity would open an entirely new range of musical possibilities.When Matt, as he prefers to be called, outfitted his precious 1710 Goffriller cello with the same authentic ox-gut strings that were used in Beethoven’s day, and played them with a bow from Beethoven’s era, he discovered the changes were like night and day.

“I love the gut so much!” he exclaimed in a conference call with his duo partner. “Gut is so much more human to me, and it allows me so much more flexibility and range of attack and resonance. My fear with gut strings all along was that I was going to lose my voice. Quite the opposite has happened. More and more, I’m finding that the sound of gut strings is my ideal.”

That’s quite a switch for someone who wrote his graduate thesis on Beethoven at Harvard 25 years ago, and who has struggled ever since with the fact that, in Beethoven, a cello outfitted with modern metal strings does not balance well with a modern piano.

When the duo arrives at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on Tuesday night, Chris will play the same 1823 Broadwood fortepiano he used for the recording. On loan from the Beethoven Center at San Jose State, it’s very similar to the Broadwood in Beethoven’s possession. Tuning both fortepiano and cello a microtone lower than “modern pitch” will further replicate the sound that Beethoven heard in his head.

“There’s a whole world of color and articulation available when you’re not having to worry 80 percent of the time whether you’ll be heard or not,” says Chris of the period instruments’ superior blend. “If I had known 30 years ago what I know now, I wouldn’t have had to deal with the fact that the modern Steinway’s bass, as much as I love it, is at complete odds with a lot of Beethoven’s music. On the fortepiano, the bass is still penetrating, but the upper, lyric registers are much more singing.”

Since Chris no longer has to hold back, and Matt no longer needs to struggle to be heard over a 9-foot concert grand, Beethoven’s music should flow in a manner seldom heard with modern instruments.

“When we play the slow movement of the last sonata,” says Matt, “I don’t think you have to know anything about music to just close your eyes and take in such a hauntingly beautiful sound world.”

IF YOU GO

Beethoven, Period

with Matt Haimovitz and Christopher O’Riley

Where: S.F. Conservatory of Music, 50 Oak St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 10

Tickets: Free

Contact: (415) 503-6275, http://www.sfcm.edu

Read at: SF Examiner

San Francisco Classical Voice: From the Top Loves the S.F. Conservatory

February 4, 2015
Christopher O'Riley

Christopher O’Riley, photo by Edy Perez

 

It’s been a while, seven years, since the popular NPR musical talent show From the Tophas been back to San Francisco. The show is planning to tape a show at the S.F. Conservatory on Feb. 14.

The taping caps a week in which From the Top host Christopher O’Riley will be in residence at the Conservatory giving concerts with cellist Matt Haimovitz.

Unusually, this edition of the radio show will focus on performers from the Conservatory’s pre-collegiate division, including soloists 16-year-old cellist Elena Ariza from Cupertino; 15-year-old pianist Elliot Wuu from Fremont; and 14-year-old violinist Kevin Zhu from Cupertino. Conservatory alums Haimovitz and soprano Lisa Delan will premiere parts of the “music storybook” Angel Heart (based on stories by Cornelia Funke and with music by Luna Pearl Woolf) on the same program. Normally, the auditions for From the Top include a geographical region, so this is a little feather in the cap for the Conservatory.

The radio episode airs nationally on March 9. For tickets to the taping, call 415.503.6275 or visit this Conservatory website.

BY MICHAEL ZWIEBACH

Read at: San Francisco Classical Voice

The Seattle Times: Next at the Tractor Tavern: fortepiano and cello

CONCERT PREVIEW

‘BEETHOVEN, Period’

8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 2, Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave N.W., Seattle; $20 (206- 789-3599 or tractortavern.com).

When two artists title their concert “BEETHOVEN, Period,” it’s reasonable to assume that they’re referring to Beethoven as the end-all and be-all of composers. Or perhaps they’re alluding to his pivotal position as the “bridge” composer between the classical and romantic periods.

While Grammy-nominated cellist Matt Haimovitzand pianist and NPR host Christopher O’Rileywould hardly dispute Beethoven’s compositional supremacy, the title actually refers to their exploration of his sonatas and variations for piano and cello on period instruments. In advance of the release of their double-disc high-resolution recording on Pentatone, the duo arrives at the Tractor Tavern in Seattle on Monday, Feb. 2, to perform Beethoven’s music as the composer expected it to be heard.

Haimovitz’s precious Goffriller cello, which dates from 1710, 60 years before Beethoven’s birth, will be outfitted with authentic ox-gut strings, just as in Beethoven’s day. His bow, too, will be from the same era. Sonically, these changes are like night and day.

“I love the gut so much!” Haimovitz exclaimed in a conference call that included his duo partner. “Gut is so much more human to me, and it allows me so much more flexibility and range of attack and resonance. My fear with gut strings all along was that I was going to lose my voice. Quite the opposite has happened. More and more, I’m finding that the sound of gut strings is my ideal.”

That’s quite a switch for someone who wrote his graduate thesis on Beethoven at Harvard 25 years ago, and who has struggled ever since with the fact that, in Beethoven, a cello outfitted with modern metal strings does not balance well with a modern piano.

O’Riley, in turn, will play an authentic fortepiano, whose sound Beethoven also had in mind. Tuning a microtone lower than “modern pitch” will further replicate the sound of Beethoven’s era.

“There’s a whole world of color and articulation available when you’re not having to worry 80 percent of the time whether you’ll be heard or not,” he says of the period instruments’ superior blend. “If I had known 30 years ago what I know now, I wouldn’t have had to deal with the fact that the modern Steinway’s bass, as much as I love it, is at complete odds with a lot of Beethoven’s music. On the fortepiano, the bass is still penetrating, but the upper, lyric registers are much more singing.”

All of this talk may seem a little highfalutin’ for an evening in a honky-tonk bar, but Haimovitz has nothing but praise for the Tractor. At the forefront of musicians who brought classical to new audiences in nontraditional venues, he discovered the Tractor some years back when he played the Bach Cello Suites there. He’s been back several times since.

“It’s really one of my favorite alternate venues to play,” he says. “The people are really passionate about music. It’s great energy and a great, fun vibe.”

Since he no longer needs to struggle to be heard over a 9-foot concert grand, and O’Riley no longer has to hold back, their vibes, too, should be quite high. What better place to perform music that took the piano/cello combination to new heights?

“There’s a sense in these groundbreaking pieces that Beethoven is pushing the limits of what the instruments can do separately and together,” says Haimovitz. “When we play the slow movement of the last sonata, I don’t think you have to know anything about music to just close your eyes and take in such a hauntingly beautiful sound world.”

Jason Victor Serinus writes about classical music and high-end audio for publications worldwide. Reach him at jserinus@gmail.com.

By Jason Victor Serinus

Read at: The Seattle Times

JUNO Award Nomination for AKOKA: Reframing Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time

January 27, 2015
Akoka: Reframing Olivier Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time

Akoka: Reframing Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time

CLASSICAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR: SOLO OR CHAMBER ENSEMBLE

Blanc / Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà / Analekta*Select

Akoka: Reframing Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time / David Krakauer, Matt Haimovitz, Socalled, Jonathan Crow & Geoffrey Burleson / Oxingale*S.R.I.

Bartok: Chamber Works for Violin Vol. 3 / James Ehnes / Chandos*Naxos

Prokofiev: Sonates & Mélodies / Jonathan Crow & Paul Stewart /ATMA*Naxos

Ysaÿe Sonatas for Solo Violin / Karl Stobbe / Avie

 

Read the full list of nominees at: The Juno Awards

CBC Music: First Play: Matt Haimovitz & Christopher O’Riley; Beethoven, Period.

January 26, 2015

Listen here

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In 2011, a pair of musical iconoclasts brought us Shuffle.Play.Listen, a deliberately scattershot collection of folk, movie music, 20th-century chamber music and indie rock — all performed on cello and piano.

For their second recorded collaboration, that pair — cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Christopher O’Riley — has run as far as possible in the opposite direction. On this new disc, the duo has returned to the roots of classical performance. Haimovitz and O’Riley play the first movement of a piece, then they play the second, and if applicable they play the third. Then, they move on to the next piece. No shuffling. No new arrangements. No indie rock.

And the repertoire? Beethoven. As standard as you can possibly get. One gets the feeling that Haimovitz and O’Riley are making a statement here. Perhaps Haimovitz’s liner notes might provide us with a clue: “To this day, two hundred years after the fact, these late sonatas sound and feel like modern music.” No gimmicks required.

And yet, there’s still novelty here. Haimovitz and O’Riley have chosen to present this music on period instruments, thus the album’s title:Beethoven, Period. By now, we’re used to hearing baroque and Renaissance music on the instruments of those periods, but hearing Beethoven’s chamber music performed on a fortepiano from 1823 and a cello from 1710 is a fascinating experience.

So, here for you to gorge on are Beethoven’s complete cello sonatas and variations, beautifully played as they were originally intended. Period.

Tracklist

Disc 1

Cello Sonata No. 1 in F major
1. Adagio sostenuto
2. Allegro
3. Rondo. Allegro vivace

4. 12 Variations on ‘See the Conquering hero comes’ from Handel’sJudas Maccabaeus

Cello Sonata No. 2 in G minor
5. Adagio sostenuto e espressivo
6. Allegro molto più tosto presto
7. Rondo. Allegro

8. 12 Variations on ‘Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen’ from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte

Disc 2

Cello Sonata No. 3 in A major
1. Allegro ma non tanto
2. Scherzo. Allegro molto
3. Adagio cantabile
4. Allegro vivace

5. 7 Variations on ‘Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen’ from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte

Cello Sonata No. 4 in C major
6. Andante
7. Allegro vivace
8. Adagio. Tempo d’Andante
9. Allegro vivace

Cello Sonata No. 5 in D major
10. Allegro con brio
11. Adagio con molto sentimento d’affetto
12. Allegro fugato

Pre-order Beethoven, Period. on iTunes.

By: Matthew Parsons

Read and listen on: CBC Music

 

LA Daily News: Upcoming classical music events in the Los Angeles area

January 26, 2015

“Crossover” has become one of the hot buzzwords of the music scene in recent years as classical musicians seek to broaden their horizons by moving into non-classical fare. Two of the foremost exponents of this phenomenon, pianist Christopher O’Riley and cellist Matt Haimovitz, will showcase this concept on Thursday in CSUN’s Valley Performing Arts Center.

Rather than performing before an audience of up to 1,700 in VPAC’s Grand Hall or even in the 500-seat Plaza del Sol, O’Riley and Haimovitz will play to 200 patrons, who will be seated on the Grand Hall stage. The program — titled “Shuffle, Play, Listen” (the same title as a CD released in 2011) — starts at 7:30 p.m. and will feature music from such disparate composers as J.S. Bach, Igor Stravinsky, Radiohead and Arcade Fire.

Although O’Riley is one of this generation’s top pianists, he is perhaps better known as the host of the NPR program “From the Top” (6 p.m. Sundays on KUSC). Haimovitz, who made his debut at age 13 with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic and his recording debut shortly thereafter on Deutsche Grammophon with James Levine and the Chicago Symphony, mixes appearances at concert halls throughout the world with gigs at clubs and coffee houses.

By Robert D. Thomas

Read at: LA Daily News

Audiophile: RECORD NEWS: PENTATONE Oxingale Series – BEETHOVEN, Period.Spesial

January 12, 2015

PENTATONE has initiated a cooperation with the American record company Oxingale Records. Now they launch the debut work of their collaboration, which has subcategory Oxingale Series.

The release BEETHOVEN, Period is the first release in a seried where PENTATONE cooperate with Oxingale Records. Here the Grammy nominated cellist Matt Haimovitz and the pianist Christopher O’Riley have recorded Beethoven sonatas for cello and fortepiano.

It is played on historical instruments, where the Goffriller cello of Matt Haimovitz is built in Venice in 1710, while Christopher O’Riley plays on a Broadwood fortepiano from 1823.

 

There are five sonatas on this double SACD from PENTATONE, with opus numbers. 5 No.1 & 2, 69, and 102 No.1 & 2. An eavesdrop reveals a soft but vivid performance rendered with good sound at 16bits / 44.1kHz.

We hope to come back with a review of the multi-channel reproduction of this SACD from PENTATONE.

 

 

Read more at PENTATONE

Read more at Oxingale Records


Press release from PENTATONE

Baarn, The Netherlands, 12 January 2015BEETHOVEN, Period. is the debut release on thePENTATONE Oxingale Series.Oxingale Records, the trailblazing artists’ label founded in 2000 by Matt Haimovitzand composer Luna Pearl Woolf, has joined forces with the Netherlands-based label PENTATONE, renowned for its discerning artistic quality and superior sound standards. The international release of BEETHOVEN, Period. will be followed by new albums and reissues from Haimovitz, Woolf, and their musical collaborators – published as Super Audio CD and as high quality downloads – on the newPENTATONE 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, the  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.

Grammy-nominated Matt Haimovitzis acclaimed for both his tremendous artistry and as a musical visionary – pushing the boundaries of classical music performance, championing new music and initiating groundbreaking collaborations, all while mentoring an award-winning studio of young cellists at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music in Montreal. Mr. Haimovitz made his debut at the age of 13, as a soloist with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic, and at 17 he made his first recording for Deutsche Grammophon with James Levine and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Haimovitz’s recording career encompasses more than 20 years of award-winning work on Deutsche Grammophon and his own Oxingale Records. In 2000, he made waves with his Bach “Listening-Room” Tour, for which Haimovitz took Bach’s beloved cello suites out of the concert hall and into clubs. Haimovitz’s honors include the Concert Music Award from ASCAP, the Trailblazer Award from the American Music Center, the Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Grand Prix du Disque, and the Diapason d’Or.

Acclaimed for his engaging and deeply committed performances, pianist Christopher O’Rileyis known to millions as the host of NPR’s From the Top, now in its fifteenth year on air. A guest soloist with virtually all of the major American orchestras, O’Riley has also performed recitals throughout North America, Europe, and Australia. O’Riley strives to introduce new audiences to classical music with an almost missionary zeal by performing piano arrangements of music by Radiohead, Elliott Smith, Pink Floyd, and Nirvana alongside traditional classical repertoire. A prolific recording artist, O’Riley has recorded for Sony Classical, Oxingale Records, RCA Red Seal, Decca, and Harmonia Mundi. He has received the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant and an equally coveted four-star review from Rolling Stone magazine.

Matt Haimovitz and Christopher O’Riley, two fearless musicians who have bonded over common musical passions of wide range and scope, reunite forBEETHOVEN, Period., an illuminating voyage back to the birth of the cello/piano genre with Beethoven’s  Sonatas for Pianoforte and Cello. Matt Haimovitz, praised as a musical visionary in pushing the boundaries of classical music performance, and O’Riley, acclaimed for his engaging and deeply committed performances and known to millions as the host of NPR’s From the Top, turn back the clock to record for the first time on period instruments – Haimovitz’s Venetian Matteo Gofriller cello of 1710 set up with gut strings and an early 19th century tailpiece, and O’Riley with an 1823 original Broadwood fortepiano.

The new recording on two SACDs is available internationally on February 1, 2015 on the PENTATONE Oxingale Series.

 

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Read at: Audiophile