Arts SF: SANTA CRUZ SPRINGS TO LIFE With Cabrillo’s Contemporary Orchestral Sounds

August 17, 2015

SANTA CRUZ, CA—The final weekend of the Cabrillo Festival is inevitably invigorating, with one new orchestral piece almost atop the other, sometimes with the ink barely dry.

This is Music Director Marin Alsop’s baby, now in her 24th season on the summer podium here. Here she and the devotees can feast on contemporary sounds, created by figures either well-known (like Philip Glass) or otherwise. Continue reading

AllMusic: Review of ORBIT: Music for Solo Cello (1945-2014)

August 14, 2015

AllMusic Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars

On this 2015 compilation of contemporary solo cello music, Matt Haimovitz presents a diverse program of past performances, drawn from his recordings on Oxingale Records. The selections have been remastered for HD sound by PentaTone, so the audio quality of these 3 hybrid SACDs is superior to the sound of the first releases, which appeared on the albums Anthem (2003), Goulash! (2005), After Reading Shakespeare (2007), Figment (2009), and Matteo (2011). The selections range from popular music to the avant-garde, and Haimovitz explores major examples of modern cello music, from Luigi Dallapiccola’s Ciaconna, Intermezzo e Adagio (1945) to Philip Glass’ Orbit (2014), and embraces many of the trends that make up contemporary music, including a virtuoso arrangement by Luna Pearl Woolf of The Beatles’ Helter Skelter.

By: Blair Sanderson

Read at: AllMusic

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.

Q2 Music: Matt Haimovitz Channels Vast Dynamic Range in 4-Hour Retrospective, ‘Orbit’

August 10, 2015

A Q2 Music Album of the Week Selection.

'Matt Haimovitz - Orbit: Music for Solo Cello (1945-2014)'“Matt Haimovitz – Orbit: Music for Solo Cello (1945-2014)” (Pentatone Music)

I’ve got a cranium full of Matt Haimovitz at the moment, and have not yet reached capacity. Clocking in at 3.75 hours, the cello soloist’s latest release, “Orbit,” stockpiles the majority share of selections from five albums (on his Oxingale Records label), spanning 2003-2011, along with recent numbers by Phillip Glass and Luna Pearl Woolf.

To be clear, listening to four hours’ worth of any unaccompanied instrument is generally accepted as a legitimate defense in arson/public indecency/manslaughter trials, but here, Haimovitz cleverly arranges his three-album set more as a playlist than a triptych of full-lengths. Given his exemplary facility on the instrument, and the liberal span of repertoire he’s tackled since debuting with the Israel Philharmonic at age 13, “Orbit” is an expedition well worth booting up for.

Leaping from György Ligeti to Du Yun, Elliott Carter to Steven Mackey, and Salvatore Sciarrino to Jimi Hendrix, to name just a few the 20-plus composers included within, intriguing aesthetic parallels reveal themselves, and preferences necessarily arise. Luciano Berio’s Sequenza XIV stands as the collection’s high water mark, with Haimovitz deftly shapeshifting from cellist to percussionist, corralling the piece’s manic polarities of lyricism and full-on-berserker into a nuanced, handsomely-crafted episode.

What connects all of this music is a focus and intensity of tone that at times reads as aggressive in Haimovitz’s live performances, but here brings a clarity to a vast dynamic palette and articulation range. Take the timbral detail heard in the arresting conclusion to Woolf’s Sarabande, the harmonics of which pull the listener’s perspective skyward before a fluttering seizure of overpressure extinguishes the ascent.

Although “Orbit” gets off to a quivery start with an uncharacteristically pale Phillip Glass score (of the same title), Haimovitz delivers the bill-paying skills throughout in this considerable, and impressive, retrospective.


Read at: WQXR 105.9 FM New York Public Radio.

WQXR Q2 Music: Matt Haimovitz Channels Vast Dynamic Range in 4-Hour Retrospective, ‘Orbit’

August 10, 2015

I’ve got a cranium full of Matt Haimovitz at the moment, and have not yet reached capacity. Clocking in at 3.75 hours, the cello soloist’s latest release, “Orbit,” stockpiles the majority share of selections from five albums (on his Oxingale Records label), spanning 2003-2011, along with recent numbers by Phillip Glass and Luna Pearl Woolf. Continue reading

Volkskrant: Haimovitz is het soort muzikant dat elk stuk spannend maakt

August 5, 2015

4/5 stars

“a mighty triple CD with contemporary music for solo cello, is actually more of a quest…Orbit is named for the late and remarkably successful cello piece of Philip Glass…The album is basically an anthology (and something more) from the CDs that the cellist has released on his own label.
Haimovitz is a master cellist who draws from a three centuries old instrument not only a rich, full sound, but also more alarming sounds. He is the kind of musician that each piece is exciting because of his uncompromising commitment…”

RECENSIE Orbit, een kloeke driedubbel-cd met eigentijdse muziek voor cellosolo, is eigenlijk het verslag van een queeste. De Amerikaanse cellist Matt Haimovitz exploreert al twintig jaar minder voor de hand liggende uithoeken, of het nu om podia gaat of om muzikale genres.

Continue reading

The Millbrook Independent: Matt Haimovitz and the Pendericki String Quartet at Music Mountain.

“There’s no such thing as perfection” may be a valid observation, but on Sunday afternoon a full house at Music Mountain was offered proof to the contrary.  The Penderecki Quartet joined by Matt Haimovitz were as near perfect in concert as this reviewer has heard in many a year.

It started with Bach’s Cello Suite No. 2 in D Minor that Matt played in soft dulcet tones modulated to round out the sharp edges one sometimes hears in this piece. One had the impression he was playing for us, not for a muse nor for an imagined composer, but for us. The stately passages made us feel in the presence of majesty; he revealed the music as if he was liberating it; it floated across the sound waves as if it has always existed – he was just the instrument that sent it on its way with care and affection. The impression was one of exquisite lightness.  This was not the playing of some ancient piece but the creation of a gem that shone its many facets with brilliance.


Beethoven’s String Quartet Opus 131 of 1825 was placed in a position of honor  when played by the  Penderecki Quartet.  We heard an understanding of the music that made the audience happy, indeed ecstatic.  From the haunting opening line played by a single violin to the finale, we were captivated, transported and transfixed; we were treated to a musical feast; in the contemplation of life itself we were led to a sunny plain, a place of magical existence. A throaty soft cello played by Katie Schlaikjeer opened a new dimension.  The understanding the musicians brought to this important piece was appreciated by the audience. It was a sharing.  The best kind of music-making and listening.  The first violin was Jeremy Bell; Jerzy Kaplanek was second; violist Christine Vlajk and cellist  Katie Schlaikjer are the members of the quartet.

Schubert’s Cello Quintet in C Major with Matt Haimovitz taking the second cello chair produced as fine a performance as could be imagined.  Light, intelligent and patient.  Perhaps a bit slow, we heard every nuance, every subject aptly explored.  There was plenty of mournfulness, as it was composed when Schubert presumably knew he was dying.   We heard funereal solemnity tempered by lyrical interludes of sheer glory. The sun was shinning through the dark clouds that would soon close over all.  A difficult piece beautifully played.


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.”


Read at: The Boston Globe

Audiophile Audition: BEETHOVEN, Period. Review

May 30, 2015

Matt Haimovitz is almost as good a writer as he is a cellist, and his intelligent notes to this recording make for fine, informative reading. Early on, he describes the instruments involved. Christopher O’Reilly plays an especially clear-voiced 1823 Thomas Broadwood fortepiano, which, we are told, is the model following the one that Broadwood himself gifted to Beethoven in 1817. As for Haimovitz, he plays a Venetian Goffriller cello of 1710 “outfitted with ox-gut strings and an early 19th-century rosewood tailpiece and drawn by a Dominique Peccate bow of the same era.” Haimovitz then muses, somewhat surprisingly, “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?’” I say “somewhat surprisingly” because, having listened to these performances several times before reading his notes, I found the thought of any sort of imbalance far from my mind.

Instead, I was struck by the special sort of tension maintained here between parity and contrast. Of course Beethoven pioneered the cello-and-piano sonata and, being Beethoven, he was not only “unshackling the cello from its continuo origins” but making the piano a full partner in the enterprise. Cf. the title of this album: “Complete Sonatas and Variations for Pianoforte and Violoncello.” Beethoven wrote his first two sonatas for himself and the celebrated cello virtuoso Jean-Louis Duport; for me, the first movement of Sonata No. 2 epitomizes the equally shared responsibility Beethoven mapped out for himself and his partner. By turns, piano and cello explore the explosive drama of this G-minor juggernaut. Chris O’Reilly clearly relishes being a stand-in for the German master here; his performance has special fire and élan. And I love the upper range of the Broadwood—crisp and bright, without a hint of jingle or jangle. In the mostly smiling rondo finale, Haimovitz nimbly negotiates Beethoven’s hairpin turns from bounding runs and double stops to throaty song.

For me, the greatest of all is the Sonata No. 3, Op. 69, and I have very definite ideas about how this piece from Beethoven’s heroic Middle Period should go. For me, Haimovitz and O’Reilly are just a little too non tanto in the Allegro ma non tanto first movement. Their approach is a bit too even-tempered, even genial, for me. Having reviewed the sonata album from Steven Isserlis and Robert Levin (Hyperion CDA67981/2) fairly recently, I still hear that duo’s highly charged approach in my mind’s ear and feel that Haimovitz and O’Reilly don’t quite stack up, at least in this movement. I’m quite a bit happier with their performance of the movements that follow: real Beethovenian swagger in the scherzo, and the finale is the whirling dervish of a thing that it should be. I’m even taken with Haimovitz’s plaintive statement of the second melody: a bit unusual but effective. In fact, this performance is more nuanced than some, with larger dynamic contrasts than many players allow themselves.

As Haimovitz says, Beethoven’s final two sonatas for cello “sound like modern music.” And he reminds us that the publisher to whom Beethoven first offered these works said thanks but no thanks! Haimovitz goes on, “There is almost a sense that Beethoven needs to break down the bounds of Op. 69, classically proportioned and balanced, to challenge the Platonic ideal of chamber music interplay. . . .” An astute observation and one that apparently pays interpretive dividends because these are among the finest performances I’ve heard of these somewhat intractable sonatas. Op. 102 No. 1 is especially fine (but then I much prefer it, as music, to No. 2).

As to the sets of variations, they are as always nimble and entertaining vehicles, here given spirited, sympathetic performances. Not my favorite Beethoven by a long shot, but when I want to hear them again, Haimovitz and O’Reilly are about as fine a pair of advocates as I know. Given that their playing is captured in beautifully true, beautifully balanced surround sound from PENTATONE, that’s all the more reason to return to this excellent pair of discs.

By: Lee Passarella


L’Opéra: On Se Souviens De Toi, Sappho (We Remember You, Sappho)

April 12, 2015


Présenté pour la première fois avec mis en scène, [à la compagnie Ballet-Opéra-Pantomime, directeur Hubert Tanguay-Labrosse] l’opéra Orpheus on Sappho’s Shore de Luna Pearl Woolf s’est révélé une fascinante et onirique proposition artistique: la rencontre de ces deux figures de la Grèce antique, Orphee et Sappho, deux allegories anciennes de l’art et de la passion. L’oeuvre s’enracine dans l’idéal des grans madrigalistes italiens qui désiraient marier poésie et musique, danse et theater. D’ailleurs, la partition de Woolf comporte de nombreuse mélopées ayant un je-ne-sais-quoi de baroque dans la souplesse et la délicatesse de la ligne vocale. La compositrice fait prevue d’une belle sensibilité et d’un grand attachement pour ses personnages, ce qui reflète dans une musique simple et brillante, efficace et théàtrale. Et comment ne pas être touché à la fin de l’opéra par ce vers authentique de Sappho: “Je crois qu’un jour, on se souviendra de nous,” chanté avec toute la douceur du monde sur un éclairage entre chien et loup.

Jana Miller et Hubert Tanguay-LabrossePresented for the first time with staging [by Québec company Ballet-Opéra-Pantomime, director Hubert Tanguay-Labrosse], the opera Orpheus on Sappho’s Shore by Luna Pearl Woolf proved itself a fascinating and dreamy artistic proposal: the meeting of two figures of ancient Greece, Orpheus and Sappho – two ancient allegories for art and passion. The work is rooted in the ideals of the Italian madrigalists who sought to combine poetry with music, dance and theater. Moreover, Woolf’s score includes numerous melodies with a Baroque je-ne-sais-quoi in the suppleness and delicacy of their vocal lines. The composer proves herself to have a lovely sensitivity and great affection for her characters, reflected in a music both natural and brilliant, effective and theatrical. And how not to be touched at the end of the opera by the words of the real Sappho: “I think someone will remember us,” sung with all the sweetness in the world on a twilit stage.

By: Éric Champagne

Read at: L’Opéra