Archive for cello

Isang Yun: Sunrise Falling, a Centenary Composer Portrait

From a life wrought with struggle and torture, comes extraordinary music of stunning virtuosity and raw emotional power.

Uncompromising in his life as he was in his music, Korean composer Isang Yun(1917–95)held fast to his dream of a united people, even as he was unjustly accused of espionage for North Korea and sentenced to imprisonment and death. From this life of unimaginable oppression and torture emerges music of raw emotional power, now heard onISANG YUN: Sunrise Falling, a centennial commemoration of Yun’s life and music from the PENTATONE Oxingale Series. Maestro Dennis Russell Davies, a longtime collaborator and advocate for Yun, curates the program and conducts the Bruckner Orchester Linz, with remarkable, searing solo performances from cellist Matt Haimovitz, violinist Yumi Hwang-Williams, and pianist Maki Namekawa. Called an “important, courageous release” by Deutschlandfunk Kultur,this is the first in a new series of composer portraits from the PENTATONE Oxingale series. ISANG YUN: Sunrise Falling is available for digital download and streaming starting today with the CD release to follow October 5.

A cellist himself, Yun’s fascinating, highly autobiographical Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra (1975/76) anchors the album, bursting with passion, despair, and new timbral textures bridging Schoenbergian serialism and indeterminate pitch worlds, with radically precise technical demands. The work also integrates the sonic world of Asian instruments and forms, such as the use of a plectrum to emulate the Korean zither, the kŏmun’go. Cellist Matt Haimovitzhad not come across Isang Yun’s work, nor heard of his harrowing personal narrative, until recently: “I tapped into every aspect of my musical toolbox as I approached what at first glance appeared impossible. At the end of my solitary work was confirmation of the rich treasure I had in my possession. Isang Yun’s Cello Concerto deserves to stand alongside Lutoslawski’s and Dutilleux’s in the pantheon of the genre’s late 20th century innovations.” Haimovitz performed Yun’s “Glissées for Solo Cello” (1970), also heard on Sunrise Falling,at the Isang Yun Haus in Berlin on September 17, which would have been the composer’s 101st birthday, and will perform music by Yun at selected upcoming performances in Moscow, Washington, DC, Boston, New York, and elsewhere this fall.

“A composer cannot view the world in which he lives with indifference. Human suffering, oppression, injustice … Where there is pain, where there is injustice, I want to have my say through my music.”– Isang Yun, 1983

Yun’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No.1(1981) features violinistYumi Hwang-Williams, who reflects upon her own emotional return to Korea in 2015, where she performed the concerto at the Tongyeong International Music Festival held in honor of Isang Yun. Hwang-Williams also performs the wonderfully imaginative Kontraste. Two Pieces for Solo Violin (1987), and Gasa for Violin and Piano (1963), with Dennis Russell Davies at the piano. The double album also includes the orchestralFanfare & Memorial, and the intricate solo piano work, Interludium A(1982)– the note A also being an important reference point in the cello concerto and other works by Yun – performed by pianist Maki Namekawa.

Today, one hundred years after Isang Yun’s birth, the two Koreas still teeter on a razor’s edge, with ever more global ramifications. As unlocked and performed by these extraordinary artists, this music opens the gate to a lost, united land, with Yun’s own heart bleeding, but ever hopeful.

MATT HAIMOVITZ is praised by The New York Times as a “ferociously talented cellist who brings his megawatt sound and uncommon expressive gifts to a vast variety of styles.” Along with his performances around the world, he currently holds positions at the Schulich School of Music in Montreal and as the first John Cage fellow at The New School’s Mannes School of Music. Haimovitz’s recent recordings include an album solo cello music by Philip Glass, on the Orange Mountain Music label, and, for the PENTATONE Oxingale series, TROIKA, music of the Slavic soul; The Cello Suites According to Anna Magdalenaand its companion album, Overtures to Bach; among others.

DENNIS RUSSELL DAVIES is known for his extraordinary range of repertoire, technical brilliance and fearless music-making. An esteemed presence consistently at the forefront of both orchestral and operatic worlds, Davies is also an accomplished pianist.2018 marks 49 seasons that Davies has held music directorships of prestigious international orchestras, while frequently guest conducting with major orchestras and opera companies worldwide. Davis is Music Director and Chief Conductor of the BRUCKNER ORCHESTER LINZ, one of the leading orchestras of Central Europe, and was recently appointed Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Filharmonie Brno.

YUMI HWANG-WILLIAMSis an American violinist of exceptional musicianship, recognized both for her stylish performances of the classics and her commitment to the works of present-day composers. Stringscalls her “a modern Prometheus” who has “emerged as a fiery champion of contemporary classical music.” Hwang-Williams recently celebrated Leonard Bernstein’s 100th by performing Serenade with the Colorado Symphony (Denver), where she has been Concertmaster since 2000.

A leading figure among today’s pianists, MAKI NAMEKAWA is equally at home in classical music and the repertoire of our time. Namekawa records and performs frequently for major radio networks in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and France. In 2013, she performed the world premiere of the entire cycle of Philip Glass’ 20 Études for Solo Pianoat Perth International Arts Festival under the participation of Glass himself, followed by concerts around the world. A best-selling double-CD of the complete Glass etudes was released by Orange Mountain Music in 2014.

David Krakauer and Matt Haimovitz’s Profound and “Brilliantly Inventive” AKOKA Receives its First International & Remastered SACD

First released in North America to great acclaim in 2014, clarinetist David Krakauer and cellist Matt Haimovitz’s “brilliantly inventive” (The New York Times) live recording, AKOKA, is remastered and released on SACD internationally on the PENTATONE Oxingale Series this month. AKOKA lifts Messiaen’s transcendent Quartet for the End of Time – in a “shatteringly beautiful performance” (The Jewish Week) – out of the polite context of a chamber music performance, and bookends it between Akoka, Krakauer’s improvisational, Sephardic-tinged piece, and Meanwhile…, a re-mix by hip-hop/klezmer artist SocalledHenri Akoka – the Jewish clarinetist who premiered the Quartet for the End of Time with Messiaen himself at the German prisoner-of-war camp in which they were both interred – is the inspiration for this recording, which brings out the human aspect of this composition, seen through the eyes of one individual caught up in terrifying events beyond his control.

As the forces of fundamentalism, intolerance and violence intensify in today’s world, this mounting of Messiaen’s great work only increases in its relevance. David Krakauer comments: “In June 1940, Henri Akoka was captured by the German army along with Messiaen and two other musicians – a cellist and a violinist – and imprisoned in Stalag VIII-A, a prisoner-of-war camp in Görlitz, Germany (now Poland). The Quartet for the End of Time was premiered with the composer at the piano at the camp on January 15, 1941 in front an audience of about 400 fellow prisoners and guards. When the French prisoners of war were allowed to return home, Akoka was told that because he was Jewish, he was going on a “different train” to a destination in the east – surely a concentration camp. In the dead of night, Akoka jumped off the train – with his clarinet! – and miraculously made his way back to Paris where he survived the war.  In “Akoka,” we musically juxtapose the story of one lone human being caught up in world conflagration, fleeing for his life, with the huge concepts of the Apocalypse and the end of time itself that are depicted in Messaien’s Quartet.  By framing it with my wailing, quasi-improvised piece and Socalled’s nightmarish electronic new work, we feel like we have created a unique way to present Messiaen’s towering masterpiece.”

The new release on the PENTATONE Oxingale Series also features new liner notes by Matt Haimovitz, and by Rebecca Rischin, author of the book For the End of Time: The Story of the Messiaen Quartet, as well as commentary on the Quartet by Messiaen himself.

Clarinetist DAVID KRAKAUER is praised internationally for his ability to play in a myriad of music genres with “prodigious chops” (The New Yorker) and “soulfulness and electrifying showiness” (The New York Times). He occupies the unique position of being one of the world’s leading exponents of Eastern European Jewish klezmer music, and at the same time is a major voice in classical music. With his band Ancestral Groove, he has redefined the klezmer genre with major appearances internationally and his discography contains some of the most important klezmer recordings of the past decade. In his newest project, The Big Picture, he explores the universal search for identity through a re-imagination of familiar themes by renowned film music composers.

MATT HAIMOVITZ is praised by The New York Times as a “ferociously talented cellist who brings his megawatt sound and uncommon expressive gifts to a vast variety of styles” and by The New Yorker as “remarkable virtuoso” who “never turns in a predictable performance.” His most recent recordings for the PENTATONE Oxingale series, Overtures to Bach and The Cello Suites According to Anna Magdalena, were among the recordings credited to David Foster for winning this year’s Grammy Award for Classical Producer of the Year. Performance highlights this season include numerous performances of Overtures to Bach in the US, Canada, and Germany, and concerti with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, the Atlanta Symphony, and Tokyo’s New Japan Philharmonic. In June Haimovitz leads the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie at the Berlin Philharmonie, and performs a concerto by Isang Yun with the Bruckner Orchestra with Dennis Russell Davies on tour in Austria.

Josh Dolgin, aka SOCALLED, is a pianist, accordionist, producer, journalist, photographer, filmmaker, magician, cartoonist and puppet maker based in Montreal. He has appeared in music festivals from Moscow to Paris, London to LA, and Krakow to San Francisco. With six solo albums to his name, he has performed all over the world for more than 10 years, and his list of collaborators knows no generational, social, cultural, nor religious boundaries.

Violinist JONATHAN CROW is currently in his sixth season as Concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Between 2002 and 2006 Jonathan was the Concertmaster of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra; during this time he was the youngest concertmaster of any major North American orchestra. He continues to perform as guest concertmaster and as soloist with orchestras around the world.

Equally active as a recitalist, concerto soloist, chamber musician, and jazz performer, pianist GEOFFREY BURLESON has performed to wide acclaim throughout Europe and North America. The New York Times has hailed Burleson’s solo performances as “vibrant and compelling,” praising his “rhythmic brio, projection of rhapsodic qualities, and rich colorings.” Current recording projects include Saint-Saëns’ Complete Piano Works, on 5 albums, for the new Naxos Grand Piano label.

Cellist Matt Haimovitz Reaches New Heights in His Intense Engagement with the Bach Suites with Six Commissions and Premiere Recordings

PTC5186561_Coverart_SGPRMatt Haimovitz’s continuously-evolving and intense engagement with the Bach Cello Suites reaches a new zenith with Overtures to Bach, six new commissions that anticipate and reflect each of the cello suites. The new overtures expand upon the multitude of spiritual, cross-cultural, and vernacular references found in the Bach, building a bridge from the master’s time to our own. Overtures to Bach, released internationally on the PENTATONE Oxingale Series in August, follows the 2015 release of Haimovitz’s profound new interpretation of the Bach Suites, inspired and informed by an authoritative manuscript by Bach’s second wife and performed on period instruments.

“I’ve been playing and thinking about the Bach Cello Suites for over three decades,” says Haimovitz, “and with these new commissions – a culminating moment in my relationship with the Suites – I feel like I’m giving back to Bach. I’ve asked six composers, whom I admire so much, to engage with his music. It’s my form of time travel – going back into the mind of Bach through the compositional process of these composers today.”

Overtures to Bach pairs each of the new works with the Prélude, newly recorded here, from the Suite it introduces. Philip Glass simply and eloquently prepares the audience for the first Suite with his Overture, encouraging an open frame of mind. For the second suite, Du Yun creates a heartbreaking lament in The Veronica, referencing a Russian Orthodox prayer for the dead, Serbian chant, and central European gypsy fiddle music. Vijay Iyer’s Run responds to Bach’s third suite with infectious energy and kinesthetic rhythms that celebrate the natural resonance of the instrument as well as the composer’s jazz roots. Then, Roberto Sierra’s La memoria plays on our memory of Bach’s Suite IV, referencing motivic fragments while creating a kaleidoscopic musical perspective, underpinned by Caribbean bass lines and salsa rhythms. David Sanford’s tour de force, Es War, leads into the fifth suite, with a Mingus-inspired pizzicato intro, alluding to Bach’s epic fugue and quoting a Bach cantata. For the sixth and final suite, Luna Pearl Woolf is inspired by pre-Western Hawaiian chant, taking full advantage of the virtuosic properties of the 5-string cello piccolo and treating it operatically, from the low bass to the soprano stratosphere. Overtures to Bach spans more than time, linking us to far-flung corners of our musical world and offering an entrée into six distinct compositional voices. Then, as Philip Glass writes, “Just let Bach’s music begin. It’s there for the listening.”

PENTATONE – which has named Matt Haimovitz their Artist of the Season – has created an online enhanced booklet, with “In Session” videos of Haimovitz and each of the composers in the recording studio, where the new works were further developed and shaped. (The new videos – seven in total – will be available one every two weeks, starting August 1.) Also included as exclusive bonus material on iTunes is a three-movement reflection on Bach by Mohammed Fairouz called Gabriel.

The new album will be launched at Salon Christophori in Berlin on August 12 followed by select Overtures performed on tour in London, Oxford, and Bayreuth. Haimovitz’s “A Moveable Feast” – residencies that bring the Overtures and Suites to unusual locations before culminating in concert-hall performance – premiered last October at Miller Theater at Columbia University and featured in The New York Times, continue this season in cities in Arizona, Utah, Florida, New York, California, Kansas, Iowa, Connecticut, and Quebec.

The PENTATONE Oxingale Series, a new collaboration between the two labels, was launched in January 2015 with BEETHOVEN, Period., the complete Beethoven Sonatas and Variations with Christopher O’Riley. Gramophone said “Haimovitz and O’Riley play the living daylights out of these works” and included it among its list of Top Ten Beethoven Recordings. This was followed by the ORBIT, a new compilation of contemporary solo cello works, which The New York Times called “fascinating … heartwarming, scary, playful and groovy, this recording reveals worlds inside a single instrument.” PENTATONE has also released newly-remastered SACDs of Schubert recordings by Haimovitz, with Itamar Golan and the Miró String Quartet, and Haimovitz and O’Riley’s genre-blurring double-album Shuffle.Play.Listen. The 2015 release of J.S. Bach: The Cello Suites According to Anna Magdalena was critically-acclaimed. Gramophone said: “Those who want to be challenged without compromising tone or tuning, both of which are impeccable here, should look no further,” and ICI Musique concurred, “Matt Haimovitz has made us well aware that this music is alive, breathes, and refuses to be walled up in a stylistic protective shell. And that is the greatest achievement of this exceptional musician.”

MATT HAIMOVITZ is praised by The New York Times as a “ferociously talented cellist who brings his megawatt sound and uncommon expressive gifts to a vast variety of styles” and by The New Yorker as “remarkable virtuoso” who “never turns in a predictable performance.” He has been closely associated with J.S. Bach’s Cello Suites since the year 2000, when the former child prodigy jump-started the alt-classical revolution by taking his cello on the road across the U.S., playing the Suites in bars and coffeehouses, including New York’s now-defunct punk palace CBGB’s. Additional performance highlights this season include concerti with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, the Atlanta Symphony, and Tokyo’s New Japan Philharmonic. Haimovitz will also lead the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie at the Berlin Philharmonie, and perform a concerto by Isang Yun – marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Korean composer and political prisoner – with the Bruckner Orchestra with Dennis Russell Davies on tour in Austria.

Two Schubert Masterpieces and Matt Haimovitz Favorites Beautifully Remastered for PENTATONE

Schubert cover_SGPRTwo of Schubert’s great masterpieces – as well as two of cellist Matt Haimovitz’s most personally significant recordings – are now remastered and rereleased in SACD surround sound on the PENTATONE Oxingale series – the fifth release since PENTATONE and Oxingale Records joined forces at the beginning of 2015. For this 2001 recording of Schubert’s Sonata for Arpeggione and Piano in A minor, D. 821, Haimovitz is joined by renowned pianist Itamar Golan. The Sonata is paired with Schubert’s final and most revered chamber work, the String Quintet in C Major, D956, in a 2003 recording by Haimovitz and the Miró Quartet. These recorded performances have been praised by The Strad as “deeply considered and eloquent” and by The Philadelphia Inquirer as “smart, fun, loving, and beautifully recorded.”

The Sonata for Arpeggione and Piano in A minor was written for a six stringed instrument similar to the viola da gamba, which was invented in 1823 but soon fell into oblivion. Haimovitz recalls how he once stumbled upon an arpeggione in a Parisian instrument shop and gave it a try: “The sound that emerged from the slender frame between my legs was a heaving, animal rasp akin to the sound of cat claws scraping against sandpaper!  It is no wonder the instrument faded into obscurity.” Happily, Schubert’s virtuosic song cycle-without-words is heard today in the transcription for cello. “The composer spins a narrative at once autumnal and introspective, yet full of bohemian life,” says Haimovitz.  Haimovitz and Golan have enjoyed a close and long collaboration – they were in fact born just a few blocks away from each other in Bat-Yam, Israel – a highlight of which was a tour throughout Europe with violinist Shlomo Mintz.

Finished only a few months before his untimely death in 1828, Schubert’s String Quintet in C major is set for the unusual combination of string quartet plus a second cello. Considered one of the greatest masterpieces in the chamber music repertoire, the work also has a special significance in Haimovitz’s career: he played the Quintet for his Carnegie Hall debut at the age of thirteen. In extraordinary circumstances, he was asked by his teacher, the legendary cellist Leonard Rose, to replace him at the last minute and perform the work with none other than Isaac Stern, Shlomo Mintz, Pinchas Zukerman, and Mstislav Rostropovich. Adding to the intensity of the occasion, “Slava” – one of Haimovitz’s great cello idols – decided that he wanted to switch to the second cello part the day before the concert, leaving the young cellist one all-nighter to study the first cello part. Twenty years later, Haimovitz joins an established quartet, the Miró, for this incredible music – a work they have also played together in both conventional and alternative venues.

Matt Haimovitz is praised by The New York Times as a “ferociously talented cellist who brings his megawatt sound and uncommon expressive gifts to a vast variety of styles” and by The New Yorker as “remarkable virtuoso” who “never turns in a predictable performance.” A highlight of this past season – which included performances in New York, Madrid, Los Angeles, Washington DC, and Montreal – was the release of The Cello Suites According to Anna Magdalena, for the PENTATONE Oxingale series, Haimovitz’s profound new interpretation of the Bach Suites, inspired and informed by an authoritative manuscript by Anna Magdalena, Bach’s second wife. Gramophone, says: “Those who want to be challenged without compromising tone or tuning, both of which are impeccable here, should look no further,” and ICI Musique concurs, “Matt Haimovitz has made us well aware that this music is alive, breathes, and refuses to be walled up in a stylistic protective shell. And that is the greatest achievement of this exceptional musician.” The culmination of Haimovitz’s re-immersion in the Bach suites is Overtures to Bach: six newly- commissioned works to anticipate and reflect each of the suites, by Philip Glass, Du Yun, Vijay Iyer, Roberto Sierra, David Sanford, and Luna Pearl Woolf. Overtures to Bach, on the PENTATONE Oxingale series, will be released internationally this August.

 Itamar Golan has established himself as a chamber musician in high demand, paired with the virtuoso Russian violinist Maxim Vengerov, as well as Barbara Hendricks, Shlomo Mintz, Mischa Maisky, Matt Haimovitz, Tabea Zimmermann, Ida Haendel, and Julian Rachlin, among others. He performs as a soloist with the Israel Philharmonic and the Berlin Philharmonic under conductor Zubin Mehta. Golan is professor of chamber music at the Paris Conservatoire.

The Miró Quartet is consistently praised for their deeply musical interpretations, exciting performances, and thoughtful programming. Each season, the Quartet performs throughout the world on the most prestigious concert stages, garnering accolades from critics and audiences alike.  Formed in 1995, the Miró Quartet took first prizes at several national and international competitions including the Banff International String Quartet Competition and the Naumburg Chamber Music Competition. In 2005, it became the first ensemble ever to be awarded the Avery Fisher Career Grant. The Quartet has served as the quartet-in-residence at the University of Texas at Austin Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music since 2003. The Quartet’s two most recent recordings also feature music by Schubert: Schubert Interrupted and Transcendence.

 

THIS SUMMER: Matt Haimovitz will launch the album Overtures to Bach in a series of venues in Berlin in August. He will be in residence at the new Tippet Rise Art Center& Festival in Montana in July, where his performances will include the Bach Cello Suites paired with the new Overtures, an all-Russian recital program with pianist Christopher O’Riley, and the Schubert Quintet in C with the Dover String Quartet. He will also appear in the UK for a three-concert tour with the British trio VOICE in early August, in addition to performances in Edmonton, Alberta, Burlington, Vermont, and elsewhere. For a complete schedule please see:

WWW.MATTHAIMOVITZ.COM