The 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.
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.
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
Producers: Tom Huizenga, Maggie Starbard; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Morgan McCloy, Maggie Starbard; Assistant Producer:Carlos Waters; photo by Carlos Waters/NPR
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 →
St. Paul, Minn. — Matt Haimovitz is helping the Minnesota Sinfonia celebrate its 25th anniversary season with a series of concerts Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Haimovitz was also Steve Staruch’s guest Thursday afternoon.
Haimovitz and Staruch had an opportunity to chat about the featured work on the Minnesota Sinfonia program, Ernest Bloch’s “Schelomo, a Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra.”
“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.
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 →
Cellist and multiple Grammy winner Matt Haimovitz has inspired classical music lovers and countless new listeners by bringing fresh music to concert halls and clubs, outdoor festivals, intimate coffee houses—just about anywhere he can reach listeners with passionate performances of world class music.
Matt Haimovitz talks about his collaboration with Christopher O’Riley on Shuffle.Play.Listen and the release of Angel Heart, a music storybook. Main Street’s Ashley Thornberg talks about her impromptu narrating performance with Matt as he played solo selections from Angel Heart, a music storybook.
These days it’s not unusual to find classical musicians performing in unlikely venues — pubs, clubs and out-of-the-way places. But long before this trend took hold there was Matt Haimovitz. Continue reading →