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

January 26, 2015

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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

 

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 

The Examiner: Memorable recordings in 2014: GRAMMY nominations and beyond

December 26, 2014

Having made clear my discontent with the nominations for the 57th annual GRAMMYawards, I feel more than obliged to recognize that this was actually a rather good year for those who listen to recordings. One explanation for this difference of opinion may be found in the writings of Virgil Thomson recently collected as a single volume by Library of America. In one of his Herald Tribune columns, Thomson suggested that there were three kinds of audience. There is, of course, the “mass public,” there is the “musical audience,” which is more keenly aware of the technical aspects of execution, and there is the “intellectual audience,” that “wants culture with its music, wants information, historical perspectives, enlarged horizons.” My guess is that GRAMMY nominations tend to reflect the preferences of the mass public, while I have never tried to hide my intellectual stance.

Sometimes these two perspectives come into alignment. That was certainly the case with the Naxos recording of Darius Milhaud’s L’Orestie D’Eschyle, the first recording of the composer’s interpretation of Aeschylus’ dramatic trilogy to be released in its entirety. This was a worthy project that could certainly not be faulted for its impressive execution. Perhaps the GRAMMY judges were particularly taken with the episode in “Les Choéphores” in which the murder of Clytemnestra is described, in true Greek chorus fashion, by spoken recitation, which, in true Milhaud fashion, is accompanied by fifteen percussionists and speaking chorus. Whatever the reason, this recording will be up against some very stiff competition in the “Best Opera” category (even if it is not, strictly speaking, an opera). It will probably be a long shot for the final award, but for me it stands as one of the most memorable recordings of 2014.

For the benefit of those who like “top ten” lists, I have no trouble recognizing nine other recordings, all of which did not seem to register strongly enough with the GRAMMY judges:

  • On the other hand the current judges seem to have favored David Krakauer for his Dreams & Prayers album. For my part, however, I felt that Oxingale’s release of Akoka: Reframing Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Timeat the beginning of April was a far more significant event. The title refers to Henri Akoka, the Jewish clarinetist held in Stalag VIII-A, the same prisoner-of-war camp in which Messiaen was interned. It was during his imprisonment that Messiaen composed his famous quartet, and he worked closely with Akoka on the clarinet part. On this recording the other quartet performers are violinist Jonathan Crow, cellist Matt Haimovitz, and pianist Geoffrey Burleson; and the “reframing” part of the project includes some killer improvisation work from Krakauer, Since I first listened to this recording shortly after its release, this album has become my first choice when asked to recommend a good recording of Messiaen’s quartet.

By: Stephen Smoliar

Read entire article at: The Examiner

The New York Times: Classical Playlist: Beethoven, Shostakovich, Tigran Mansurian and More

May 15, 2014

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

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

‘AKOKA: REFRAMING OLIVIER MESSIAEN’S QUARTET FOR THE END OF TIME’
David Krakauer, clarinetist; Matt Haimovitz, cellist; Jonathan Crow, violinist; Geoffrey Burleson, pianist; Socalled, electronics
(Oxingale)
This brilliantly inventive recording pays tribute to Henri Akoka, the Algerian-born clarinetist who egged on Messiaen to compose when both were prisoners of war in a German camp during World War II. Framing a vivid rendition of the “Quartet for the End of Time” are two musical flights of fancy, an improvisation by the extraordinary clarinetist David Krakauer, and an electronic remix of the quartet by Socalled. (Fonseca-Wollheim)

Read at: The New York Times

The Examiner: Oxingale presents a stunning context for Messiaen on its latest release

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

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

Yesterday Oxingale released a new recording with a somewhat intimidating title, Akoka: Reframing Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time. This title definitely deserves points (and probably extra credit) for truth in advertising. It refers to Henri Akoka, a Jewish clarinetist who met Messiaen on the way to Stalag VIII-A, the prisoner-of-war camp to which Messiaen was sent when he was captured by the German army in June of 1940. While they were in transit to the camp, Messiaen worked up sketches for a clarinet solo that he showed to Akoka. Those sketches would eventually become the “Abîme des oiseaux” (abyss of birds) movement of his “Quatuor pour la fin du temps.” Once at the camp, Messiaen and Akoka met the violinist Jean le Boulaire and the cellist Étienne Pasquier. Messiaen wrote a short trio for clarinet, violin, and cello from which the full quartet eventually emerged and was first performed at the camp (“outdoors and in the rain,” as its Wikipedia page observes) on January 15, 1941 with Messiaen taking the piano part.

On this new recording the performers are Geoffrey Burleson on piano, David Krakauer on clarinet, Jonathan Crow on violin, and Matt Haimovitz on cello. It is, to say the least, one hell of an interpretation, combining connotations of highly free improvisation (as in “Abîme des oiseaux”) with the rhythmically demanding unison for the entire quartet in the “Danse de la fureur, pour les sept trompettes” (dance of fury, for the seven trumpets), requiring the utmost precision for the required uniformity. However, in the midst of all the technical demands lies some of Messiaen’s most visceral efforts at composition. While this is probably a reflection of the composer’s deeply-felt commitment to the Catholic religion, I have previouslyconsidered the possibility that the entire composition is based on a misreading of the tenth chapter of the Book of Revelation. Thus, it is better to approach this music as a series of reflections of apocalyptic visions without worrying about whether or not those visions can be traced back to the New Testament.

In that respect this new recording establishes a context for Messiaen’s quartet that has more to do with the circumstances surrounding the original performers than with Messiaen’s personal articles of faith. It begins with “AKOKA,” which is an almost entirely improvised composition by Krakauer. This suggests (not necessarily accurately) that at least some of the passages that Messiaen composed may have been inspired by his listening to Akoka, le Boulaire, and Pasquier improvising on their respective instruments. It is thus at least remotely possible that “AKOKA” honors a significant precedent, since much of the music that Alban Berg composed for the violin part in his concerto emerged from his listening to improvisations by the violinist who commissioned the concerto, Louis Krasner.

Adventurous as “AKOKA” may be, as a prelude it is a bit modest in comparison with the postlude, entitled “MEANWHILE….” This is the work of Socalled, which is the name that composer Josh Dolgin assumes when he is working as a “beat architect.” The music (and, yes, I have no problem with calling it “music”) is a collage that mixes live samples of the four Messiaen performers with old radio broadcasts (news reports of the Nazi advances during the Second World War), hip-hop, Jewish liturgical incantation, and the steady beats of “markers of time.” Particularly impressive is when Socalled inserts an incessant club-scene beat behind that homophonic “Danse de la fureur” movement. On the one hand this mix affirms the precision with which that music was being played; but, at the same time, it refracts the apocalyptic denotations of the score through a jazzy lens, making for a provocative distortion of Messiaen’s original conception.

Haimovitz has been quoted as saying that the intention of the full program for this recording was to lift Messiaen’s quartet “out of the polite confines of a normal chamber music performance.” He and his colleagues have succeeded admirably; but it is worth noting that they are not the only ones inspired by this “mission statement.” Here in San Francisco in February of 2011, four of the musicians in Nonsemble 6 (originally formed by students at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music to prepare a performance of Arnold Schoenberg’s Opus 21 Pierrot Lunaire) performed Messiaen’s quartet in the Red Poppy Art House surrounded by eight paintings (one for each of the quartet’s movements) by Olivia Lam. Just as Messiaen’s score amounts to a highly individual reading of New Testament scripture, so can performances of this music reflect equally individual readings through other uses of auxiliary media.

By: Stephen Smoliar

Read at: The Examiner

The Buffalo News: Listening Post: Future Islands, Bob Dylan tribute, Avi Avital, Dinara Alieva, Hafez Nazeri, Oran Etkin and ‘Working Man’s Poet’

March 30, 2014

… Avi Avital, “Between Worlds” (Deutsche Grammophon). You have to smile, hearing Bartok’s Romanian Folk Dances played on mandolin, accompanied by accordion and harp. That’s what mandolin virtuoso Avi Avital means about being between worlds. (Though the Romanian Folk Dances do sound quite at home on the mandolin, which sort of stands in for a balalaika.) Avital has great sidemen, led by Richard Galliano on accordion. They are warm and witty and unconventional – sort of like Buffalo’s Skiffle Minstrels, I thought now and then. only with a more Eastern European slant. They trade witty duets in a Piazzolla piece and fill a traditional Bulgarian dance with an infectious joy. The music tends to gather speed, gradually, like the music you hear at the Greek Festival. The mood grows more reflective with Ernest Bloch’s “Nigun” and a traditional Welsh melody, “Hen Ferghetan,” which begins with extreme delicacy and features Catrin Finch on harp. The thread that holds this disc together is that all the composers represented – also including Manuel de Falla and Hector Villa-Lobos – were all inspired by folk music. Avital and his friends help you see why. ΩΩΩ½ (Mary Kunz Goldman)

Hafez Nazeri, “Rumi Symphony, Project Untold” Performed by Nazeri and the Rumi Instrumental Ensemble and various artists including cellist Matt Haimovitz, violist Phil Neubauer and percussionists Glen Velez and Zakir Hussain under Nazeri’s direction (Sony Classical). How’s this for musical ambition? What the great Iranian composer and vocalist and instrumentalist wants to do with his Rumi Symphony Project, he says, is “spark a musical fusion so convincing and so different that it demands a new name.” It incorporates “the singular voice of the Persian mystical poet Rumi with the harmonic structure of Western Symphonic music, signaling the integration of distinct musical traditions into a new form and identity, a new beginning.” Nazeri has sold out Carnegie Hall with his music, and when you hear the power and beauty of what he is trying to do here (which is way beyond previous Eastern/Western musics by, say, Ravi Shankar) you’ll have no confusion why. I wish there were translations of Rumi’s poetry in the notes, but it’s marvelous, no matter.ΩΩΩΩ (Jeff Simon)…

Read at: The Buffalo News

 

The KlezmerShack: David Krakauer’s “Akoka”

March 27, 2014

CD coverAt the beginning of WWII, Olivier Messiaen was in the French army, and was taken prisoner of war. People less philistine than I consider it one of the premier pieces of 20th century music, and it premiered in Stalag 8-A on Jan 15, 1941 with Messiaen on piano, and three other musicians—one of them a Jewish clarinetist, Henri Akoka. There is a stunning description of the circumstances under which the piece was written and premiered in a new novel, Orfeo by one of my favorite authors, Richard Price. It may be the best section, and one that best illuminates what Powers is trying to say with the novel. (The one Jewish music connection to this piece, perhaps? Partly as a result of being part of that quartet of musicians, with missteps and near-transports along the way, Henri Akoka survived the war.)

I have been listing to an old RCA recording of “The Quartet for the End of Time” for the last couple of months, ever since reading about it in the novel. I had purchased the recording after reading Alex Ross’ incredible book on 20th century music, All the rest is noise,” a few years ago, and quite frankly, hadn’t gotten into it. That has changed.

Now, things have changed again. David Krakauer has released a new recording of the quartet, framed by short pieces composed by himself (“Akoka”) and digital re-mix wizard, SoCalled (“Meanwhile….”). It includes Krakauer on clarinet, SoCalled on electronics, Matt Haimovitz on cello, Jonathan Crow on violin, and Geoffrey Burleson on piano. It is stunning. It will officially release on April 1, and if you are at all interested in amazing once-avant garde music, this is a must-purchase. It has replaced (mostly) my older recording. As intended, this is the “Quartet for the end of time” for our time.

Read at: The KlezmerShack

By: Ari Davidow

The Jewish Week: Hearing A Jewish Downbeat

February 19, 2014

Cellist Matt Haimovitz’s Shoah-tinged ‘Akoka.’

When he was 16, Israeli-born cellist Matt Haimovitz was invited to play Richard Strauss’ “Don Quixote” with the Berlin Philharmonic under the direction of Herbert von Karajan. Berlin? Strauss, a darling of the Nazi regime? Von Karajan, who was a member of the Nazi party? But a career breakthrough of immense proportions.

He was pondering the offer when his grandfather extended another invitation.

“My grandfather took me to Yad Vashem,” he recalled in a telephone interview last week. “The experience was so powerful that I turned them down. It was a very difficult decision. It was a pinnacle on a professional level, but I couldn’t do that to my grandparents.”

Haimovitz’s career survived. He made the difficult transition from prodigy to adult professional by gradually moving away from the standard cello repertoire and expanding his horizons to take in new music and the challenges of experimentation. And he has paid back his debt to his grandparents handsomely with his new album, “Akoka,” a stunning combination of the old and the new that evokes the Shoah in an elegant way.

The centerpiece of the CD is a shatteringly beautiful performance of Olivier Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time,” a deeply spiritual piece of music written while Messiaen was a prisoner in a German POW camp. The clarinetist for whom he wrote the piece was a fellow prisoner, an Algerian Jew named Henri Akoka. When a sympathetic camp guard arranged for Messiaen and the other musicians to be sent back to France, Akoka’s Jewish features led to his being kept in the POW camp. He eventually escaped, jumping from a train with his clarinet under his arm.

Haimovitz has teamed with David Krakauer and Socalled to create two pieces in response to the Messiaen, a composition by Krakauer bearing Akoka’s name, and a mash-up by Socalled that combines the Messiaen with the beat-maker’s usual witty collection of sound bites, musical samples and frisky beats. The result is compelling listening, particularly when you know the story behind the compositions.

“It’s always powerful to play the Messiaen,” Haimovitz said. “To think of the circumstances, that makes it an even more spiritual experience. It’s an extraordinary statement that under those conditions you could come up with something so beautiful and transcendent. It lifts the spirit.”

By: George Robinson
Read at: The Jewish Week

O'Riley's Liszt - Blu-ray Video/Audio Disc

Christian B. Carey: O’Riley’s Liszt

December 27, 2013

File under best CDs of 2013

O’Riley’s Liszt
Christopher O’Riley, piano
Oxingale

During the past decade, Christopher O’Riley has been quite busy, hosting From the Top, concertizing, and recording his adaptations of pop songs by Radiohead, Nick Drake, and Elliott Smith.  But he hasn’t released an all-classical CD since a Scriabin disc in 2004. That is, until 2013, when his two-CD recording of music by that barnstormer of barnstormers and finger-buster of finger-busters, Franz Liszt, saw the light of day. Continue reading

San Jose Mercury News: Best of 2013 classical

December 20, 2013

We’re constantly hearing that classical music is in a state of crisis: struggling orchestras, aging concertgoers, a weakened recording industry. Sometimes I think it’s all a crock, or at least a substantial exaggeration. Whatever the challenges, the music is stubborn and continues to thrive in many ways. This year, like every year, I received many dozens of new classical recordings. Here are 10 that should stand the test: old works, new works and new works commenting on old works with affection and humor.

1. Hilary Hahn, “In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores” (Deutsche Grammophon): The violinist commissioned 26 new works from 26 composers — a bonanza of repertory, created in one fell swoop. (She also held a contest to find a 27th, and wound up choosing from among more than 400 submissions.) Brilliantly performed by Hahn and pianist Cory Smythe, the results are on these two discs — a grab bag of treasures. The composers include David Lang and David Del Tredici, Mason Bates and Lera Auerbach, Nico Muhly and film scorer James Newton Howard. I’m right now obsessed with Avner Dorman’s “Memory Games,” a sort of mad, mazelike tango that might have been conceived by Conlon Nancarrow.

2. Christopher O’Riley, “O’Riley’s Liszt” (Oxingale): I love the way pianist O’Riley moves from fascination to fascination with each new recording. This double-disc feels like a concept album: nothing but Liszt transcriptions of works by Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Wagner (“Prelude and Liebestod”) and (the pièce de résistance) Berlioz, whose “Symphonie fantastique” is rarely heard in this titanic version for solo piano. It unfolds like an ancient exploration, straight to the scaffold and the “Witches’ Sabbath.” Continue reading