Rhapsody: MATT HAIMOVITZ’S ADVENTUROUS CELLO

August 21, 2015

It’s easy (too easy) to think of any classical artist who is covering a pop song as a musician who is engaged in a little bit of opportunism. That’s because there is sometimes a little bit of pandering involved. But on other occasions, the crossover move really works. Click play on our mix, and you’ll hear one of those successes: cellist Matt Haimovitz’s scratchy-then-melodic cover of The Beatles’ iconic “Helter Skelter.” Aside from the performance’s ingenuity, it’s impressive that it also comes on Haimovitz’s new multidisc set of solo cello pieces (on which he plays music by Philip Glass as well as Luigi Dallapiccola). Continue reading

Primephonic: To Inspire, To Create, To Engage and To Empower

August 18, 2015

On this day in 1920, women were guaranteed the vote in the USA, which, when finally ratified by the state of Tennessee, led to a majority – basically making it the law of the land that women could vote!

By the beginning of the 20th century, women’s roles were changing drastically. Women were becoming more and more autonomous, working increasingly outside the home and receiving better education. When America entered the war in 1917, women had played an active role in the war effort and a year later, women had acquired equal suffrage with men in 15 states. Commemorating this historic day is a perfect time to reflect on and draw your attention to a handful of strong 21stcentury women in classical music. Continue reading

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.

The Boston Globe: Matt Haimovitz, period

July 9, 2015

Sometimes an artist’s most meaningful projects arise by chance, in everyday interactions, rather than through any grand plan. So, it seems, was the case with the intrepid cellist Matt Haimovitz, whose latest enthusiasm came about in the halls of McGill University, where he has been on the faculty for more than a decade. Every so often he would run into the fortepianist Tom Beghin, who also teaches there, and they would mention a possible collaboration.

Beghin, though, insisted that Haimovitz would have to play on the gut strings that were customary in the 18th and 19th centuries, rather than the metal strings used now, otherwise the cello would drown out the fortepiano’s lighter sound. And he’d have to tune his cello to a slightly lower pitch, with the note A below middle C at a frequency of 430 Hz instead of 440, today’s standard concert pitch.
Haimovitz, who plays two concerts with pianist Estela Olevsky in the Mohawk Trail Concerts series in Charlemont on Friday and Saturday, had always been curious about period approaches to his instrument, but he’d never followed through on it.

“Partly because I was a wimp about losing my sound,” he said by phone from San Francisco, where he was playing at a music festival. His training had all been about “playing on the setup that would maximize my ability to project in a big hall over an orchestra.” The thought of compromising that lush sound, he added, “didn’t cross my mind for years.”

Finally in 2012, he bit the bullet and scheduled a concert with Beghin that included Beethoven’s cello sonata (Op. 69) and the two piano trios of Opus 70. He began investigating gut strings, finding there was extreme variation in their makeup and quality. He tried out different Baroque-style bows. It was all pretty confusing at first.

The result, though, was totally liberating. The lighter sound and crisper articulation that he could produce on his Goffriller cello opened an entirely new musical realm. “It was such a joy, playing those pieces without having to worry about balance. All of a sudden, I could play loud without having to make room for the piano. It was wonderful.”

That initial rush did not wear off. “I went all in” on period instruments, Haimovitz said with a laugh. He has just released “Beethoven, Period,” a set of the composer’s sonatas and variations for cello and piano with longtime duo partner Christopher O’Riley playing an 1823 Broadwood fortepiano. The pair have now played the complete Beethoven a number of times — on modern instruments when they have to, but in correct historical fashion whenever possible.

The alternation between the different tunings was the hardest part of the new regime for Haimovitz to accommodate. Since he has perfect pitch, “it was nauseating at first, frankly,” to get used to switching back and forth between A440 and A430. “It took a long time. Chris and I would meet up every couple of weeks and find another keyboard. And every time we would do this it would start off sounding pretty bad, and gradually [I’d be] getting more and more used to it.”

The physical differences between old and new instruments, Haimovitz explained, affect the approaches of both performers, on both macro- and micro-levels. Balances, phrase shapes, even “the life of a note, [the way] it’s already resonating in a very different, more lively way. Being able to take the effort and time to shape it. You do that on metal, of course, but it just doesn’t draw it out of you in the same way.”

For listeners, the most immediately discernible difference lies in the sound world, which can be so unlike our modern ideal of these instruments as to be alien to our ears. Proof can be found on “Beethoven, Period” in the duo’s rendition of the variations on “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” In the seventh variation, Haimovitz’s cello drops almost to a whisper without losing its presence, while the fortepiano creates a sound so distant and magical it resembles the stars twinkling in the night sky.

That wondrous sound, Haimovitz explained, was the result of the Broadwood’s particularly expressive soft pedal. Other fortepianos they’ve used have had different characteristics that they’ve had to adapt to on the fly. Haimovitz finds this with his gut strings: Even though he always uses strings made by the Toro family in the Abruzzo region of Italy, “they’re handmade, so it’s a little bit sometimes like riding in a rodeo — you don’t know what it’s going to throw at you at any given second. But that’s gotten to be a fun thing about them. It’s kind of one more interaction, give and take with my instrument.”

Haimovitz has already completed his next recording project: Bach’s six suites for solo cello, using not only gut strings on his Goffriller but also a five-string cello piccolo in the sixth suite, the instrument for which that treacherously difficult piece was originally written. He was on the fence about whether to learn the cello piccolo for the recording. “But there was just no turning back at that point.”

For the Mohawk Trails recitals, he’ll be back on metal strings, playing with a modern piano, since much of the repertoire is from the 20th century. (His accompanist, Estela Olevsky, is an old friend from his days teaching at the University of Massachusetts.) But his newfound passion will leave a trace even there. For Beethoven’s variations on Mozart’s “Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen,” he’ll use a Baroque-style bow made by Cambridge bowmaker David Hawthorne. The combination of old and new turns out to suit the music perfectly. “I like the lightness of it in my hand,” he said. “It’s like a sports car in my hand, rather than a pickup truck.”

The Bach set, which will come out later this year, will make a fascinating comparison with his 2000 recording, about which Haimovitz now says that he can “no longer recognize what I did 15 years ago.” That set was a crucial moment in the cellist’s artistic rebirth. It came when he had gotten off the treadmill of the celebrity virtuoso, playing familiar concertos to large audiences in glitzy halls, and began playing Bach, contemporary works, and his arrangement of Hendrix’s “Star Spangled Banner” in bars and coffeehouses. If “indie classical” had a moment of inception, that was probably it.

For those who fell in love with Haimovitz’s progressive, contemporary sense of what a musician should be today — really, how could you not? — it may be jarring to see him embrace the distant past so fervently. But his goal remains the same: connecting with the music and his audience in the most direct, honest way possible. He’s gone through this latest journey because “it’s just more natural with the original tools. And that’s where you can just learn a lot from them.”

By: DAVID WEININGER

Read at: The Boston Globe

WQXR: In-Studio: Matt Haimovitz & Christopher O’Riley Play Beethoven & Rachmaninoff

April 15, 2015

Matt-Haimovitz-Christopher-ORileyThe cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Christopher O’Riley are quick to emphasize that their recent venture into Baroque period instruments isn’t some fusty or antiquated pursuit. The duo’s new album, “Beethoven, Period,” was recorded at Skywalker Ranch, film director George Lucas’s famous studio complex in Northern California. Instead of sheet music they played from iPads. Their Seattle launch concert took place at the Tractor Tavern, a rock club.

The experience with very old instruments also forced them to rethink their approach to Beethoven’s music. “All of the sudden, the relation between the cello and the piano is completely different,” Haimovitz tells host Elliott Forrest. “No longer am I trying to project over the grandeur of a Steinway grand but I’m actually having to make room for the piano.”

“You have a lot more leeway in terms of expressivity and color, even in the sense of one note having a shape to it,” added O’Riley.

The album features Beethoven’s complete works for cello and keyboard, with O’Riley playing on a fortepiano made in 1823 and Haimovitz outfitting his 1710 Goffriller cello with ox-gut strings, a rosewood tailpiece and a period bow.

The duo’s performance in the WQXR studio marked a return to (mostly) modern equipment – with a 1940’s Steinway and a modern cello bow – but two movements from the Opus 102 No. 2 sonata had a lightness and transparency that suggested time diligently spent in the period-instrument camp.

As Haimovitz notes, the Opus 102 sonatas “offer a window into Beethoven’s late period where he’s deconstructing all of the ideas of the enlightenment and what he inherited from Haydn and Mozart and really finding his own voice complete.” Below is the third movement.

Continue reading

NPR: Matt Haimovitz & Christopher O’Riley Tiny Desk Concert

March 14, 2015

Whether it’s warranted or not, classical music wonks are perennially worried about the next generation of fans.

It seems there’s less need to fret when you hear cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Christopher O’Riley. Some 15 years ago, they were already chipping away at the barriers — both real and perceived — between classical and pop.

Haimovitz played Bach in barrooms across America, and O’Riley (who hosts From The Top, NPR’s classical radio show for young musicians) began including his own sophisticated transcriptions of songs by Radiohead and Elliott Smith in his recitals. On their double album Shuffle.Play.Listen., music by Stravinsky and Astor Piazzollamingles with Cocteau Twins and Arcade Fire.

Comfortably ensconced behind Bob Boilen’s desk, the duo plays a typically diverse set. The central work, “The Orchard,” is a collaboration between Philip Glass and West African composer Foday Musa Suso. It unfolds like a lullaby, as the piano’s rocking bass line provides a mesmerizing foundation for the cello’s wistful song high above. Surrounding it are lyricism and outbursts byBeethoven, from his Cello Sonata No. 4 (sounding distinctly 20th century), and a cinematic movement from Leoš Janáček‘s Pohádka, where heart-melting melodies clash with nervous energy.

Set List

  • Beethoven: Cello Sonata No. 4 in C – IV. Allegro vivace
  • Philip Glass/Foday Musa Suso: The Orchard
  • Leoš Janáček: Pohádka – II. Con moto

Matt Haimovitz, cello

Christopher O’Riley, piano

Credits

Producers: Tom Huizenga, Maggie Starbard; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Morgan McCloy, Maggie Starbard; Assistant Producer: Carlos Waters; photo by Carlos Waters/NPR

By: 

Read at: NPR

Second Inversion: NEW VIDEOS: Matt Haimovitz and Christopher O’Riley at the Tractor Tavern

February 19, 2015

In case you missed these on Facebook and Twitter, be sure to check out these videos with Matt Haimovitz and Christopher O’Riley from the iconic Tractor Tavern in the heart of Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood.

(Yes, that is a styrofoam cup in Matt’s cello)

(Beethoven in a Bar… why not?!)

Read at: Second Inversion

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

The Examiner: Haimovitz and O’Riley to tour with historically-informed Beethoven performances

January 5, 2015
Cover of the recording being discussed

Next month cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Christopher O’Riley will release their next duo album. Following up on their two-CD album Shuffle.Play.Listen, released by Oxingale Records in September of 2011, their new album will be “something completely different.” Its title isBEETHOVEN, Period. (including both punctuation marks); and it is another two-CD set. The Oxingale brand has been taken over by PentaTone classics, and the new album will be released on the new PENTATONE Oxingale Series label. The new recording is currently available for pre-order from Amazon.com.

The album title is to be read with the connotation that it presents recordings of historically-informed compositions by Ludwig van Beethoven for cello and piano performed on period instruments. In fact, two CDs are sufficient to hold all eight of Beethoven’s pieces for “pianoforte and violoncello” (as they are listed in the in the index of the Princeton University Press edition of Alexander Wheelock Thayer’s biography of the composer), five sonatas and three sets of variations. For the recordings Haimovitz played a 1710 cello made by the Venetian Matteo Gofriller with gut strings and an early nineteenth-century tailpiece; and O’Riley accompanied him on a Broadwood fortepiano made in 1823.

This release will be marked by an eight-city North American tour, during which O’Riley will sample a variety of fortepianos along the way (while Haimovitz will travel with his cello). These Beethoven performances should be a far cry from the Shuffle.Play.Listen repertoire, which interleaved major works from the twentieth-century repertoire with Bernard Herrmann’s suite of music he composed for Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo on one CD and sampled the rock repertoire of groups such as Arcade Fire and Radiohead on the other. However, while at Harvard University Haimovitz wrote his senior thesis on the Beethoven sonatas; so these are likely to be highly informed interpretations, supplemented with extensive liner notes written by Haimovitz. The tour schedule will be as follows:

  • Thursday, January 29, 7:30 p.m., Northridge, California: Valley Performing Arts Center
  • Saturday, January 31, 8 p.m., Glendora, California: Haugh Performing Arts Center
  • Monday, February 2, 8 p.m., Seattle, Washington: Tractor Tavern
  • Tuesday, February 3, 7 p.m., Portland, Oregon: Millennium Records
  • Wednesday, February 4, 7:30 p.m., Portland, Oregon: live streaming of a house concert
  • Thursday, February 5, 9 p.m., Eugene, Oregon: Sam Bonds
  • Tuesday, February 10, 8 p.m., San Francisco, California: San Francisco Conservatory of Music
  • Wednesday, March 11, 7:30 p.m., Montreal, Quebec: Bourgie Concert Hall
  • Saturday, April 11, noon, New York, New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art

Broadway World: Haimovitz and O’Riley Reunite for New Beethoven Tour

January 5, 2015

Matt Haimovitz and Christopher O’Riley, two fearless musicians who have bonded over common musical passions of wide range and scope, reunite for BEETHOVEN, Period., an illuminating voyage back to the birth of the cello/piano genre with Beethoven’s Sonatas for Pianoforte and Cello. Grammy-nominated 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.

Haimovitz and O’Riley take BEETHOVEN, Period. on tour-sampling a variety of fortepianos en route-starting in Los Angeles on January 29, through April 11, when they perform at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.Complete tour dates and details below.

“Each time I approach Beethoven’s Sonatas and Variations for Piano and Cello is a life-affirming milestone,” says Haimovitz, who wrote his undergraduate thesis on the Beethoven Sonatas at Harvard University twenty years ago, “To grapple with the composer’s uncompromising vision, and his ideal of equality and balance. Yet, nothing could have prepared me and Chris for the revelation of exploring these works using period instruments. With this setup, the fact that the cello can easily overpower its partner changes everything. Suddenly, the consideration is no longer “how can the cello cut through the multi-voiced powerhouse of a concert grand piano,” but “how can it make room for the nuances of the 19th century fortepiano?””

For his part, O’Riley, who has recorded extensively on a variety of instruments, was amazed by the problem-free 1823 fortepiano: “It was exceedingly unexpected and astonishing to find that this nearly 200-year old instrument was in such immaculate condition. I’d place this in my Top Five instruments I’ve ever played.”

Finding the ideal tuning was also revelatory. While there were a variety of tunings in use in Beethoven’s Vienna, Matt and Chris found that their instruments resonated ideally at A=430, a microtone lower than the modern A=440 and higher than the Baroque A=415. “I think we all vibrate a little better at that pitch,” says O’Riley.

For Haimovitz and O’Riley, there is no more fascinating, influential, and documented figure than Beethoven. And, centuries before the duo blurred the lines between Radiohead and Stravinsky – as in their acclaimed Shuffle.Play.Listen for the Oxingale label – Beethoven had already embraced vernaculars within his music, using popular themes of the day by Mozart and Handel in his Variations. Returning to the cello and piano over three important periods in his career – early, middle, and late – Beethoven reveals his innermost struggles and triumphs as he marries the two disparate instruments, fearlessly unshackling the cello from its continuo origins, and confronting the challenges of its low voice in relation to the piano’s polyphony. Within a twenty-year period, Beethoven singlehandedly created and immortalized the genre.

Extensive liner notes by Matt Haimovitz explore further details and insights into the Sonatas and Variations -Opus 5, Opus 69, and the Opus 102 Sonatas, completed exactly 200 years ago, in 1815. Also in the notes, William Meredith, Director of The Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies, and Executive Director of The American Beethoven Society, discusses the 1823 Broadwood fortepiano used in the recording.

BEETHOVEN, Period. is the debut release on the PENTATONE Oxingale Series. Oxingale Records, the trailblazing artists’ label founded in 2000 by Matt Haimovitz and composer Luna Pearl Woolf, has joined forces with the Amsterdam-based label PENTATONE, renowned for its discerning artistic quality and superior audiophile technology. The international release of BEETHOVEN, Period. will be followed by new albums and reissues from Haimovitz, Woolf, and their musical collaborators – in SACD 5.1 surround sound and as high definition downloads – on the new PENTATONE Oxingale Series.

BEETHOVEN, Period. is a Tippet Rise Production. The recording was made possible by the American Beethoven Society.

Grammy-nominated Matt Haimovitz is 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 theChicago 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’Riley is 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.

Read at: Broadway World