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


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


Read at: NPR

Hamilton Spectator: Rocky’s rundown on JunoFest

March 11, 2015


With all the pop fanfare of the awards’ telecast, people forget that the Junos has a highbrow element as well. The Church of St. John the Evangelist, at Charlton and Locke, will host two classically oriented concerts. The first, on Friday at 7:30 p.m., features Hamilton-born singer-songwriter Jeremy Fisher, a nominee in the adult contemporary category, plus the HPO Brass Quintet, Capella Intima, Emma Rush and Vox Metropolis. On Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m., Juno nominees Matt Haimovitz (cello) and Paul Stewart (piano), theBlythwood Winds and Piano Duo 2×10.

By: Graham Rockingham

Read at: Hamilton Spectator

Montreal Gazette: Seven Days, Seven Nights: The Damn Truth, Elephant Stone in a must-see show this week

March 11, 2015

Internationally acclaimed cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Christopher O’Riley play an all-Beethoven program at Salle Bourgie (1339 Sherbrooke St. W.) at 7:30 p.m. This tour has them “going period” with O’Riley playing an 1823 Broadwood fortepiano and Haimovitz’s 1710 Matteo Gofriller cello set up with ox-gut strings. Admission: $30.50. Tickets: 514-285-2000 or

By: Richard Burnett

Read at: Montreal Gazette

AllMusic: Beethoven, Period. REVIEW

4.5/5 Stars

Cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Christopher O’Riley released their first album together in 2011, an eclectic program of clever crossover arrangements titled Shuffle.Play.Listen. Haimovitz is well-known for bringing a contemporary attitude to his performances, often performing in clubs instead of classical venues, and his interest in making exciting music with a popular feeling has won him a big following. For this 2014 hybrid SACD release on PentaTone, though, Haimovitz and O’Riley turn their attention to the pinnacle of classical music for cello and piano, the 5 Cello Sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven. With his fans sure to follow where he leads, Haimovitz doesn’t need to add anything to this music to spice it up, and he and O’Riley approach the sonatas and three sets of variations with seriousness and dedication, if not exactly reverence. While the sonatas are played as straight as the title suggests, Haimovitz and O’Riley play with considerable emotion and élan, yet avoid making their performances seem like an academic recital. There is a lot of personality here, chiefly Haimovitz’s, and even though the music was performed on period instruments, the cello’s sound is robust, and the fortepiano is far from fragile. Still, this set might represent too much freedom for period style purists, so these energetic performances might not be for everybody and sampling is advised. [N.B. In the album’s listing, tracks 4 and 8 are reversed.]

By: Blair Sanderson


March 1, 2015

Though works by core-repertoire composers like Beethoven and Brahms figure in this month’s survey of the best new classical releases, the majority of our attached mix is dominated by modern and contemporary music. Spiky, energetic 20th-century pieces by Iannis Xenakis and Erwin Schulhoff are given slick new readings by violinist Mélanie Clapiès and cellist Yan Levionnois on their new album, Pierrots Lunaires. And on the album Spirit of the American Range, conductor Carlos Kalmar continues his impressive run of recordings with the Oregon Symphony. Together, they’re particularly good at bringing across the playful, boisterous modernism of Walter Piston’s “The Incredible Flutist Suite” (which includes a surreal, marching-band interruption in its eighth minute, punctuated by a barking dog).

On the bleeding-edge side of the contemporary scene, we have two (count ‘em, two!) new albums of loud n’ brawny orchestral pieces by Bang on a Can group cofounder Michael Gordon. (The LA Philharmonic takes on the towering “Dystopia,” while the Aurora Orchestra handles the companion work “Gotham.”) Put this together with new recordings that include chamber pieces by Paul Hindemith, piano items by Bela Bartok, and premiere recordings of works by Mexican composer Hilda Paredes, and, well, you’ve got a full month’s worth of vibrant classical music to discover! Click on the attached mix to get started, and refer back to this post, as well as our “composer tracklist” below, in order to keep track of who wrote each piece you’re hearing.

Track 1: Iannis Xenakis, “Dhipli Zyia”
Tracks 2-6: Bela Bartok, Szabadban (Out of Doors)
Track 7: Walter Piston, The Incredible Flutist Suite
Track 8: Ludwig van Beethoven, 12 Variations on “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from Mozart’s The Magic Flute

Tracks 9-10: Paul Hindemith, Oboe Sonata
Track 11: Michael Gordon, Dystopia
Track 12: Hilda Paredes, Papalote
Tracks 13-16: Erwin Schulhoff, Duo for Violin and Cello
Track 17: Beethoven, 12 Variations on “See the conquering hero comes” from Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus
Tracks 18-22: David del Tredici, Facts of Life
Tracks 23-26: Aaron Copland, Symphony No. 3
Track 27: Beethoven, 7 Variations on “Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen” from Mozart’s The Magic Flute

Tracks 28-30: Paredes, Canciones lunaticas
Tracks 31-34: Ernst Krenek, 4 Pieces, Op. 193
Tracks 35-37: Gordon, Gotham
Tracks 38-41: Johannes Brahms, Symphony No. 6

  1. Michael Gordon, Michael Gordon: Dystopia (Live)
  2. Oregon Symphony, Spirit of the American Range (Live)
  3. Andreas Bach, Bartók: Complete Works for Piano Solo, Vol. 1
  4. Mélanie Clapiès, Pierrots Lunaires: Violin & Cello Duos
  5. James Austin Smith, Distance
  6. Arditti String Quartet, Paredes: Cuerdas del destino
  7. Aurora Orchestra, Gordon: Gotham (Live)
  8. Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Bruckner: Symphonies Nos. 6 & 7
  9. Matt Haimovitz, Beethoven: Sonatas & Variations for Cello & Fortepiano
  10. David Leisner, Facts of Life

By: Seth Colter Walls

Read at: Rhapsody

Strings Magazine: What Would Beethoven Think?

March 1, 2015
Matt Haimovitz

Matt Haimovitz’s new Beethoven set launches affiliation with Dutch label

Even for pioneering cellist Matt Haimovitz, recording Beethoven’s complete music for cello and piano on period instruments was an audacious step. There were musicological depths to be plumbed—based on manuscripts, first editions, and scholarly research—and practical performance issues to be addressed in order to ensure that the results of his new two-CD package on the newly minted Pentatone/Oxingale label called Beethoven, Period be simultaneously authoritative and entertaining. Throughout the project, Haimovitz had in his mind “at every second whether Beethoven would like this or not.”

Recording the Beethoven cycle had been a dream since his days at Harvard when he wrote his thesis on Beethoven’s last cello sonatas and his advisor was famed Beethoven scholar Lewis Lockwood, Haimovitz says. Once he discovered that pianist Christopher O’Riley, his frequent collaborator at experiencing music “between the genres as the iPod generations do,” loved and was conversant with old instruments himself, the two gave a few performances. “It was such a revelation,” Haimovitz says, “that when we heard Skywalker Sound was free, we decided to record the complete set.”

Playing his 1710 Matteo Goffriller cello, strung with Toro Strings’ ox gut and set up by Louis Gaucher in Montréal, and partnered by O’Riley on an 1823 Broadwood, Haimovitz is using the Beethoven cycle recordings to launch his new Pentatone initiative: Beginning this year, new albums and critically acclaimed reissues from Haimovitz and his musical collaborators will be available internationally in SACD 5.1 surround sound and as high-definition downloads.

Haimovitz’s next recording will be a second go at Bach’s Six Cello Suites using a cello piccolo for the Sixth Suite. “They will be different from my recordings of 15 years ago—which I no longer recognize,” he says. The cycle will be accompanied by a newly commissioned overture for each suite by composers Philip and Vijay Iyer, among others. Each overture will be 5-15 minutes long and will reflect music from a different part of the world using Indian modes and rhythms, Greek chant, Middle Eastern and other influences. Improvisation will play a role in Iyer’s piece, Haimovitz says, and there will be “improv in the compositional process of the other new pieces.”

At press time, Haimovitz and O’Riley planned to launch Beethoven, Period in concerts in Los Angeles and San Francisco (where the duo is in residence at the Conservatory), and at clubs and listening parties in Seattle, Eugene, and Portland, where they will “play live and also experience the music in audiophile-quality surround sound.”

By Laurence Vittes posted

Read at: Strings Magazine

The Whole Note: Beethoven, Period. Review

February 27, 2015

Beethoven, Period
Matt Haimovitz; Christopher O’Riley
Pentatone PTC 5186 475

Beethoven’s interest in the cello appears to have begun early on. His first set of two cello sonatas Op.5 were written in 1796 in his 26th year, his last, Op.102, dates from 1815, by which time the composer was experiencing the trauma of increasing deafness. In between came another sonata and three sets of variations, all of them presented here in this two-disc Pentatone/Oxingale recording featuring cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Christopher O’Riley, the first in a series titledBeethoven, Period.

Most cellists choose to perform on early instruments, and Haimovitz is no exception – his cello of choice is a Goffriller, crafted in Venice in 1710. But rather than overpower the cello with a modern concert grand as is sometimes the case with cello/piano pairings, O’Riley proves to be the perfect musical partner in his use of an 1823 Broadwood pianoforte, both instruments tuned slightly below the standard A440. The result is a wonderfully authentic sound, very close to what Beethoven would have heard in the early 19th century

The first CD contains the earliest two sonatas and the 12 Variations on See the Conquering Hero Comes of Handel. From the opening hesitant measures of theSonata in F Major, we sense the two artists are in full command of the repertoire. Their playing is stylish and precise while the interaction of the two period instruments allows for a compelling degree of transparency.

In disc two, we move into a new period in Beethoven’s style – the Sonatas Op.69and Op.102 show evidence of a more mature style, somewhat darker and more dramatic, while the seven variations on Bei Männern… from Mozart’s The Magic Flute aptly demonstrate Beethoven’s facility at extemporizing on a popular theme. The “magic moment” for me on this disc came in the second movementAdagio con moto sentimento d’affetto of the Sonata Op.102, No.2. Here Haimovitz’s lyrical tone and the sensitive interpretation by O’Riley evoke a wonderful sense of mystery before the start of the jubilant Allegretto fugato,bringing both the sonata and the set to a most satisfying conclusion.

Bravo to both artists in this exemplary pairing; the “great mogul” himself would have been pleased.

By: Richard Haskell

Read at: The Whole Note


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.

Click stars to rate:
Rating: 4.4/5 (14 votes cast)
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.