Archive for strings

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.

The Eybler Quartet presents the World Premiere Recording of Vanhal’s Six String Quartets, Op. 6 on Period Instruments

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The Eybler Quartet, the acclaimed Toronto-based string quartet, praised for both their “poise and grace” (The WholeNote) and their “grit and urgency” (San Francisco Chronicle), releases a new album this month featuring the string quartets of Czech composer Johann Baptist Vanhal (1739–1813).  Immensely prolific – second only to Haydn in the number of string quartets and symphonies to his credit – Vanhal has emerged as one the most significant innovators in the development of the Classical or Viennese style, earning a place alongside its most well-known exponents, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. Vanhal’s six string quartets, Op. 6, are recorded here by the Eybler Quartet on period instruments for the first time. The Quartet will launch the new recording at the Heliconian Club of Toronto on Thursday, April 27 at 7:30, performing works by Vanhal as well as music by Mozart and Haydn.

Born into servitude in Nechanice, Vanhal’s gifts as a musician were recognized and developed from childhood. After achieving proficiency on the organ and violin, he relocated to Vienna where he quickly enjoyed enough success in the city’s aristocratic circles as a teacher and performer to purchase his freedom from bondage. The first composer to make a living free of a court or municipal position – a distinction often afforded Mozart – Vanhal was the most widely published Viennese composer from 1771–81, far outstripping the elder Haydn or the young Mozart.

“This is perhaps the cheeriest, happiest classical recording we will ever make – or that you might ever hear,” comments violist Patrick G. Jordan, “There are no quartets in minor keys. In fact, there are no movements that do anything more than briefly visit that darker side. And yet, there is huge variety in expression. In our rehearsal and recording process, we quickly exhausted the words “charming”, “delightful” and “sweet”, reaching for “sunny”, “bright”, “friendly” and in one case, a made-up word “nostohedon” or nostalgia with pleasure in place of pain. Among the moments of wistfulness, yearning and intensity, we drew our own characterizations, such as “kid’s party,” “slightly tipsy Maggie Smith sipping a Mimosa,” “gormless Prince Charming,” and, my personal favourite for one of the Presto final movements, “ocelots on the loose!”

The Eybler Quartet came together in late 2004 to explore the works of the first century of the string quartet, with a healthy attention to lesser known composers such as their namesake, Joseph Leopold Edler von Eybler. The group plays on instruments appropriate to the period of the music it performs. Violinist Julia Wedman and violist Patrick G. Jordan are members of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra; Violinist Aisslinn Nosky is concertmaster of the Handel and Haydn Society and Principal Guest Conductor of the Niagara Symphony Orchestra; Julia and Aisslinn are also members of I FURIOSI Baroque Ensemble. Cellist Margaret Gay is much in demand as both a modern and period instrument player. The group brings a unique combination of talents and skills: years of collective experience as chamber musicians, technical prowess, experience in period instrument performance and an unquenchable passion for the repertoire. Their most recent recording, a 2-CD set of Joseph Haydn’s Op. 33 String Quartets for the Analekta label was called “simply a treasure” by Early Music America, “the tempos are beautifully chosen, the ensemble perfect, and the intonation absolutely pure. This is music-making that reflects the deeply human and attractive qualities found in Haydn the composer—good humor, wit, and invention.”  The ensemble’s recording of Eybler’s Opus 1 String Quartets, also for Analekta, is the world premiere recording of these pieces.

eyblerquartet.com                      galleryplayers.ca

 

 

collectif9 plays Gustav Mahler

Montreal’s “Dazzling” 9-piece String Band Explores New Territory

After touring extensively across North America and in China with music from their critically-acclaimed debut album Volksmobiles, Montreal’s cutting-edge 9-piece classical string band, collectif9, brings an entirely new set list to the stage featuring the music of Gustav Mahler, including original arrangements of selections from Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2. The intimate ambiance of the Matahari Loft, delicately lit by Martin Sirois, lends a mysterious air to this acoustic evening of discovery on Saturday, April 8, starting at 8pm.

In revisiting Mahler’s first two majestic symphonies, collectif9 explores themes as profound as life and death, contrasting the torment of human existence with the immaculate splendor of nature. Whilst navigating through somber reflections and wry folk melodies, the group pays homage to Mahler’s distinct brand of irony. Despite the huge scale of instrumentation in Mahler’s symphonies, the individual voices are often woven as intricately as chamber music, and proved conducive to Thibault Bertin-Maghit’s new 9-voice reductions. Also included on the set list for April 8 are transcriptions of works by Gabriel Prokofiev, founder of London’s classical club-night series Nonclassical, and Canadian composer Derek Charke’s Falling from Cloudless Skies. (Night owls should stay late for a post-concert set from Want Slash Need.)

Since its 2011 debut, collectif9 has heralded a new age in genre-bending classical performance, attracting diverse audiences in clubs, outdoor festivals, and concert halls, often with staging, and amplification – as well as charisma – more commonly seen at rock shows. Their debut recording, featuring the world premiere of Canadian composer Geof Holbrook’s Volksmobiles was called “dazzling” (The WholeNote) and “an eclectic mix of five folk-inspired tunes, each attacked with vigor and verve … [from] an ensemble that has the potential to go very far indeed.” (La Scena Musicale) Recent appearances include an extensive cross-Canada tour, debuts in New York and several other US cities, and a 3-city tour to China.

collectif9 is: Thibault Bertin-Maghit, leader and bass; John Corban, Yubin Kim, Robert Margaryan, and Liz Skinner, violins; Scott Chancey and Xavier Lepage-Brault, violas; Andrea Stewart, and Jérémie Cloutier, cellos.

www.collectif9.ca

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