Winamp Logo
New Classical Tracks with Julie Amacher Cover
New Classical Tracks with Julie Amacher Profile

New Classical Tracks with Julie Amacher

English, Music, 1 season, 112 episodes, 2 days, 12 hours, 12 minutes
About
Host Julie Amacher provides an in-depth exploration of a new classical music release each week.
Episode Artwork

Violinist Daniel Hope 'dances' through his latest album

On his latest album, violinist Daniel Hope explores dance music spanning seven centuries and various genres. Listen to — and watch — his interview with host Julie Amacher on the latest episode of ‘New Classical Tracks’!
5/29/202429 minutes
Episode Artwork

Cellist Hauser performs some of classical music's most beloved melodies on new album

On his latest album, cellist Stjepan Hauser — known simply as Hauser to his millions of followers — performs some of classical music’s most beloved melodies alongside the London Symphony Orchestra. Find out more on the latest episode of ‘New Classical Tracks’!
5/22/202426 minutes, 53 seconds
Episode Artwork

Tenor Jonathan Tetelman pays tribute to Puccini on latest album

On the latest episode of ‘New Classical Tracks,’ tenor Jonathan Tetelman pays tribute to Giacomo Puccini, whose 100th death anniversary falls in 2024. Find out more!
5/8/202424 minutes, 19 seconds
Episode Artwork

Violist Molly Gebrian and pianist Danny Holt celebrate three 'Trailblazers' of classical music

On the latest episode of ‘New Classical Tracks,’ violist Molly Gebrian collaborates with pianist Danny Holt on ‘Trailblazers,’ an album featuring sonatas by Henriette Bosmans, Ethel Smyth and Dora Pejacevic. Find out more!
5/1/202427 minutes, 39 seconds
Episode Artwork

Cellist Sophie Shao celebrates the joy of life through music inspired by France

On the latest episode of ‘New Classical Tracks,’ cellist Sophie Shao celebrates the joy of life through music inspired by France on her second solo album alongside pianists Ieva Jokubaviciute and Adrienne Kim titled ‘CanCan Macabre.’ Find out more!
4/24/202434 minutes, 46 seconds
Episode Artwork

JoAnn Falletta and Buffalo Philharmonic explore 'Echoes of Eastern Europe'

On the latest episode of ‘New Classical Tracks,’ conductor JoAnn Falletta leads the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in music by Antonín Dvořák and David Serkin Ludwig on their latest album, ‘Echoes of Eastern Europe.’ Find out more!
4/10/202424 minutes, 40 seconds
Episode Artwork

Baritone Will Liverman and pianist Jonathan King highlight women composers

On the latest episode of ‘New Classical Tracks,’ Will Liverman highlights women composers past and present on his new album with pianist Jonathan King, 'Show Me the Way.' Find out more!
4/3/202440 minutes, 27 seconds
Episode Artwork

Gao Hong and Ignacio Lusardi Monteverde improvise together on their new album

On the latest episode of ‘New Classical Tracks,’ pipa player Gao Hong and flamenco guitarist Ignacio Lusardi Monteverde improvise together on their new album, ‘Alondra.’ Find out more!
3/27/202430 minutes, 26 seconds
Episode Artwork

Vikingur Olafsson becomes the 'Goldberg Variations' on his latest album

On the latest episode of ‘New Classical Tracks,’ Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson explores, performs and becomes J.S. Bach’s 'Goldberg Variations' on his latest album. Find out more!
3/20/202433 minutes, 23 seconds
Episode Artwork

Neave Trio explores music by women — including Cecile Chaminade, 'the Taylor Swift of her time'

On the latest episode of ‘New Classical Tracks,’ the Neave Trio explores the music of Lili Boulanger, Cécile Chaminade, Germaine Tailleferre and Ethel Smyth on their new album, ‘A Room of Her Own.’ Find out more!
3/13/202436 minutes, 39 seconds
Episode Artwork

James Blachly and Curtis Stewart premiere Julia Perry's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra

On the latest episode of ‘New Classical Tracks,’ conductor James Blachly leads the Experiential Orchestra alongside violinist Curtis Stewart in the world premiere recording of Julia Perry’s Violin Concerto on their new album, ‘American Counterpoints.’ Find out more!
3/6/202443 minutes, 44 seconds
Episode Artwork

Conductors Diane Retallack and Eugene Rogers present 'Black Is Beautiful'

On the latest episode of ‘New Classical Tracks,’ conductors Diane Retallack and Eugene Rogers lead the Eugene Concert Choir and Orchestra play the music of Joel Thompson and Undine Smith Moores on their new album, ‘Black is Beautiful.’ Find out more!
2/28/202444 minutes, 15 seconds
Episode Artwork

Cellist Matt Haimovitz honors Thomas de Hartmann's music

On the latest episode of ‘New Classical Tracks,’ conductor Osmo Vanska and the Minnesota Orchestra present their recording of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 8 ('Symphony of a Thousand'). Find out more!
2/21/202426 minutes, 26 seconds
Episode Artwork

Osmo Vanska and Minnesota Orchestra present Mahler's 'Symphony of a Thousand'

On the latest episode of ‘New Classical Tracks,’ conductor Osmo Vanska and the Minnesota Orchestra present their recording of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 8 ('Symphony of a Thousand'). Find out more!
2/14/202430 minutes, 54 seconds
Episode Artwork

Lara Downes reimagines Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue'

On the latest episode of ‘New Classical Tracks,’ Lara Downes presents a reimagined ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ arranged by composer Edmar Colón in a performance alongside Edwin Outwater and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Orchestra. Find out more!
2/7/202425 minutes, 17 seconds
Episode Artwork

Angele Dubeau and La Pieta honor the music of Philip Glass with 'Signature'

On this week’s episode of ‘New Classical Tracks,’ violinist Angele Dubeau honors the music of Philip Glass alongside her ensemble La Pieta on her latest album, ‘Signature.’ Listen now!
1/31/202426 minutes, 23 seconds
Episode Artwork

Weiss Kaplan Stumpf Trio presents Beethoven's complete piano trios

On this week’s episode of ‘New Classical Tracks,’ the Weiss Kaplan Stumpf Trio present their latest recording featuring all of Beethoven’s piano trios. Listen now!
1/24/202444 minutes, 32 seconds
Episode Artwork

Tina Davidson connects with family, life and nature on VocalEssence's 'Hymn of the Universe'

On this week’s episode of ‘New Classical Tracks,’ composer Tina Davidson explores her connection to family, life and nature in her latest album, ‘Hymn of the Universe.’ Listen now!
1/17/202428 minutes, 56 seconds
Episode Artwork

John Jeter and Fort Smith Symphony honor composer Louis Wayne Ballard

On this week’s episode of ‘New Classical Tracks,’ John Jeter and the Fort Smith Symphony release an album featuring the music of Native American composer, performer and educator Louis Wayne Ballard. Listen now!
1/10/202428 minutes, 56 seconds
Episode Artwork

Guitarist Milos Karadaglic finds 'Baroque' sound on his new album

On this week’s episode of ‘New Classical Tracks,’ guitarist Miloš Karadaglić collaborates with UK-based early music ensemble Arcangelo and conductor Jonathan Cohen on his new album, ‘Baroque.’ Listen now!
1/3/202421 minutes, 57 seconds
Episode Artwork

Listen to New Classical Tracks' top episodes of 2023

On this week’s episode of New Classical Tracks, the vocal ensemble Chicago a Cappella, under the direction of John William Trotter, presents a wide range of music for the Hannukah season on its latest album, ‘Miracle of Miracles.’ Find out more!
12/27/202339 minutes, 20 seconds
Episode Artwork

Alyssa Reit offers a delightful collection of carols on 'A Christmas Feast'

On this week’s episode of New Classical Tracks, the vocal ensemble Chicago a Cappella, under the direction of John William Trotter, presents a wide range of music for the Hannukah season on its latest album, ‘Miracle of Miracles.’ Find out more!
12/20/202339 minutes, 18 seconds
Episode Artwork

Voces8 presents 'A Choral Christmas'

On this week’s episode of New Classical Tracks, the vocal ensemble Chicago a Cappella, under the direction of John William Trotter, presents a wide range of music for the Hannukah season on its latest album, ‘Miracle of Miracles.’ Find out more!
12/13/202334 minutes, 20 seconds
Episode Artwork

Chicago a Cappella celebrates Hanukkah on 'Miracle of Miracles'

On this week’s episode of New Classical Tracks, the vocal ensemble Chicago a Cappella, under the direction of John William Trotter, presents a wide range of music for the Hannukah season on its latest album, ‘Miracle of Miracles.’ Find out more!
12/6/202322 minutes, 14 seconds
Episode Artwork

Kellen Gray and Royal Scottish National Orchestra present 'African American Voices II'

On this week’s episode of New Classical Tracks, conductor Kellen Gray and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra explore the diversity and array of aesthetics among African American composers in their latest album, ‘African American Voices II.’ Find out more!
11/29/202336 minutes, 51 seconds
Episode Artwork

String ensemble Sybarite5 champions new music on its latest album, 'Collective Wisdom'

controls src="https://play.publicradio.org/unreplaced_ua/o/minnesota/classical/programs/new_classical_tracks/2023/11/22/new_classical_tracks_2023_11_22_new-classical-tracks-Sybarite_5_20231122_128.mp3"> New Classical Tracks - Sybarite5 by Sybarite5 – Collective Wisdom (Bright Shiny Things)“Over the pandemic, some members of the ensemble changed,” says bassist Louis Levitt, a founding member of the string ensemble Sybarite5. “People moved to different places, decided to do different things, and we decided to take that as a moment to step back and kind of reevaluate the ensemble. And it turns out that having five string players — two violins, viola, cello and double bass — works out just fine. And we kind of rediscovered what a cool thing our ensemble was.“In having the new members join, we've opened up some really interesting possibilities, pathways and gateways that just were not possible before. And I think that this album is a really good expression of that, because we're taking the group in different directions.”That new recording, Collective Wisdom, reflects the group’s commitment to new music. Levitt and two of the new members, violist Caeli Smith and cellist Laura Andrade, sat down to share their enthusiasm about their first recording together.You have a commitment to new music. Why? And why did you choose Collective Wisdom for the title of this recording?Levitt: “At the beginning, we realized that if we were going to have this career and decide to pursue this, we were going to need to work to expand the repertoire for a string quintet with double bass. And that meant we were going to be working with composers and commissioning new works.“Regarding the name of the album, right after we won the Concert Artists Guild competition, there was a prize given to us and that was to commission a new work from a young emerging composer. We chose Michael Gilbertson, and the piece he wrote for us was called Collective Wisdom.”The title track starts off with a snap pizzicati. Where does it go from there?Smith: “It is so dang hard, but when it comes together, both for a listener and for a performer, it is really gratifying. It's sort of like these shocks of lightning that are coming from different corners of the sky, and it requires this incredible alertness and precision from all of us at all times, which is really fun actually, when we can pull it off.”Andrade: “The process of putting that piece together is actually very gratifying because it's so rhythmically complex and we have to be super-laser-focused the whole time. That piece, in particular, is very much foundational to our virtuosity and our abilities as an ensemble.”You lead off with an energetic piece from the Punch Brothers, so I'm guessing you're big Chris Thile fans?Smith: “We are huge fans of Chris Thile and of the Punch Brothers. It is definitely one of our favorites to play. It sounds like something really dramatic happening in slow motion. We adore this track, and it's first on the album because it's one that we're the most proud of and excited about.”The piece is called Movement and Location, and Thile says that it's about retired baseball player Greg Maddux. Is that something you knew when you first heard the piece?Levitt: “When I first heard the song, I didn't think that's what it was about. And then I found out it's a song about baseball and perhaps a pitcher just trying to figure out the proper movement location for every one of their pitches. But you know what? That resonated with me because that's how I felt about every note that I played and articulated with the bow and just trying to get it to pop just right and be in time.”There are three folk songs right in the middle of this recording that reflect the heritage of one of your violinists.Levitt: ”Performing live on stage with someone from Armenian heritage is a really incredible experience because we're experiencing something really authentic. And I feel honored and privileged to be able to do that with Sami Merdinian on stage. The other thing is that, much like Béla Bartók, Komitas recorded these by writing them down, and in doing so he preserved history.“And I feel really similar to that when we make an album or we're doing a world premiere. If we don't document it and record it and release it, it may never exist; no one else may hear it.” Watch on YouTubeResourcesSybarite5 – Collective Wisdom (Amazon)Sybarite5 – Collective Wisdom (Bright Shiny Things)Sybarite5 (official site)Louis Levitt (official site)Caeli Smith (official site)
11/22/202342 minutes, 21 seconds
Episode Artwork

Violist Georgina Rossi and pianist Silvie Cheng explore Brazilian music in 'Chorinho'

controls src="https://play.publicradio.org/unreplaced_ua/o/minnesota/classical/programs/new_classical_tracks/2023/11/15/new_classical_tracks_2023_11_15_new-classical-tracks-Georgina_Rossi_and_Silvie_Cheng_20231115_128.mp3"> New Classical Tracks - Georgina Rossi and Silvie Cheng by Georgina Rossi (viola) and Silvie Cheng (piano) – Chorinho (Navona Records)“This music, it's so personal to us and I think you can really hear that in the recording,” says pianist Silvie Cheng. “It tugs on your heartstrings because we've poured in every ounce of soul and our love into it. Both our love for the music but also our love for each other.”Cheng is a Tokyo-born Chinese Canadian pianist. She and Chilean American violist Georgina Rossi met while they were attending the Manhattan School of Music in New York. That’s where they shared an apartment and discovered their love of Latin American music. Their second recording together, titled Chorinho, celebrates the sounds of Brazil.Cheng: “One of the pieces that we recorded by Souza Lima is called Chorinho, and so we just thought it was a nice way to not only enter into this world, but also pay homage to the traditions of music in Brazil.”Rossi: “The choro can roughly be translated into the idea of a lament or cry. But I also felt like it was the right title for the album because the viola tends to get assigned all of these melancholic and elegiac types of music. And so, to me, it felt perfect that everywhere in the world the choro or the lament is perfectly suited to the voice of the viola. It's a way of saying that this is an album of viola music from Brazil.”Let's talk about the other world premieres on this recording. One is a piece for solo viola. Georgina, I'm wondering, what does that mean to you to be able to include a solo work like this on this recording?Rossi: “Well, Ernani Aguiar is the only living composer on the record. I was so happy to get to communicate with him directly and share the CD with him when it came out. He was very happy about it. I think he liked it.”The largest work on this recording is the Sonata for Viola and Piano by Breno Blauth. Could you tell us what we're hearing in the piece and what you enjoy the most about playing it?Cheng: “There's actually many moments that reminded us of perhaps Shostakovich or even Hindemith because of the harmonic language. I think it's for sure one of the pieces on the album that treats the two instruments as equal partners, and it covers such a wide spectrum of human emotions. There's intimate, tender moments. There's exuberant, almost feisty moments. It's a wonderful journey for our two instruments to have this dialog together.”There's another fascinating composer who closes out this recording, and the piece you feature is is only a couple of minutes long. Her story, though, is so fascinating. I would love for you to tell us more about Chiquinha Gonzaga.Rossi: “She was a pianist and composer, and she was Brazil's first woman conductor. She was a descendant of nobility on one side and slavery on the other, and she was in an arranged marriage where she was pressured by her father and her husband to quit music. And instead of doing that, she abandoned that marriage.”Cheng: “And I think speaking to contemporary women musicians, we really felt it important to include a woman composer on this album, especially given the challenges that she faced in order to have her work be appreciated and heard. She wrote over 2000 songs and one of which, of course, is Lua Branca, which is featured on the album. It’s kind of the perfect way to close out this narrative that we've created.” Watch on YouTubeResourcesGeorgina Rossi and Silvie Cheng – Chorinho (Amazon)Georgina Rossi and Silvie Cheng – Chorinho (Navona Records)Georgina Rossi (official site)Silvie Cheng (official site)
11/15/202331 minutes, 3 seconds
Episode Artwork

Pianist Shai Wosner explores Beethoven's 'Diabelli Variations' on new recording

controls src="https://play.publicradio.org/unreplaced_ua/o/minnesota/classical/programs/new_classical_tracks/2023/11/08/new_classical_tracks_2023_11_08_new-classical-tracks-Shai_Wosner_20231108_128.mp3"> New Classical Tracks - Shai Wosner by Shai Wosner – Beethoven Diabelli Variations (Onyx Classics)“He was asked to provide one variation. And at first, according to the legend, he dismissed the whole project and decided, ‘This is beneath me. I don't need this, and I don't have time for this.’ I never quite bought that,” pianist Shai Wosner says about Ludwig van Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, which are featured on his latest release.Anton Diabelli was a publisher and a composer. He had the idea of commissioning several composers each to write one variation on his little waltz. He would then publish them as a collection.Wosner says Beethoven looked at this basic waltz and, in true Beethoven style, transformed it into something magnificent.“I'm convinced that he saw this as a way to channel the idea that in life,” the Israeli-born American pianist says. “It doesn’t matter what you start with, but rather what you do with it, what you do with yourself, what you do with your place in the world. I really think that by extension, this is the source of the idealism in Beethoven's music.“This piece, more than any other piece of Beethoven's, is about that idea. In other pieces, the impulse comes from him. He has the initial idea, his own motif. In this case, it's a rare example where he's getting something from someone else. And the impetus for writing the piece doesn't come from him.“The tradition of writing a set of variations usually leaves the theme in the center. Here we have something profoundly different. The theme is only a point of departure. You hear it once and it's very short, shockingly short. And already from the first variation, Beethoven is kind of stomping on it and casting it aside, because the very first variation is a sort of march.“And it's clear that Beethoven is aiming for us to feel like each variation is completely different from the last. It’s like he’s asking, ‘You didn't think we could end up here, did you? Starting with that little waltz? How about this?’ And that's really the point of of the whole thing. It's a series of miniatures, if you will. A whole journey.”What is the journey he's creating?“I would say the first 13 variations, which are a big chunk of the piece, are in the tongue-in-cheek vein. The mindset is a little bit closer to the waltz, which is really quite lively and doesn't take itself too seriously.“And then there's a turning point because there is Variation 14, which is very slow and much longer than any of the others that preceded it. It's like a reminder. You forgot this is late Beethoven; this is philosophical stuff. And it's like a meditation. Time comes to a complete standstill. And then after that the piece is never quite the same anymore. It gets much more ambitious after that.“And all of a sudden you have Variations 29, 30 and 31. Those three are the most touching and most personal confession that you can imagine. And especially Variation 31 is probably the closest we can ever get to being in the room with him as he's improvising.“It's really unbelievable. It's like it’s just you and the music — just you and Beethoven's endless imagination.”To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Watch on YouTubeResourcesShai Wosner – Beethoven Diabelli Variations (Amazon)Shai Wosner – Beethoven Diabelli Variations (Onyx Classics)Shai Wosner (official site)
11/8/202339 minutes, 23 seconds
Episode Artwork

James Newton Howard reimagines music from M. Night Shyamalan's movies on 'Night After Night'

controls src="https://play.publicradio.org/unreplaced_ua/o/minnesota/classical/programs/new_classical_tracks/2023/11/01/new_classical_tracks_2023_11_01_new-classical-tracks-James_Newton_Howard_20231101_128.mp3"> New Classical Tracks - James Newton Howard by James Newton Howard – Night After Night (Sony Classical), featuring pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, violinist Hilary Hahn and cellist Maya Beiser“I've been so lucky,” composer James Newton Howard says. “I've done over 140 movies at this point. Things for television, record and producing. I’ve been so lucky to get all these ideas writing concert music. I may have checked all the boxes that go on a bucket list with music, and I just want to keep going. I guess that's my bucket list: It’s to have remaining and continuing passion for what I do.”Newton Howard is a composer and pianist who made a name for himself in the late ‘70s by touring with and orchestrating for Elton John. He made his way into film score composition at a time when the field was wide open. He’s scored more than 140 movies, from Pretty Woman to the Hunger Games franchise. His latest passion project features eight suites from all the films he’s scored for M. Night Shyamalan, a director known for his emotional thrillers.How would you describe your signature style?“Strong melody is part of my signature. But I think also, and I say this with tremendous humility — although it may not sound like humility — that I'm very versatile. I think I've done a lot of successful romantic comedies, from Pretty Woman to My Best Friend's Wedding to Dave and all that. So when you do that, you become the ‘rom-com’ guy. And then I did The Fugitive, and I became the action guy. I suppose the clearest thing that I get back from people is my more emotional interior music.”In an interview that you did a few years ago you admitted to being a little arrogant on occasion early in your career, and then you said you became a good listener. What happened that allowed you to become a good listener?“Yeah, I was arrogant because I was always coming up with ideas and then I was just running into situations where I was getting a lot of rewriting requests from the director. And some of the rewrites that were getting made were really good ideas. And then it just occurred to me that the director might actually have important things to say to me. I'm much more collaborative now, and that's really the nature of the game; it's all down to being part of a team.”You’ve collaborated with director M. Night Shyamalan on at least eight films, and you've now taken music from those films and turned them into suites.“Night makes films that are about things that really interest me, such as revelation, catharsis, love, courage and triumph. There's always an element of these very strong emotions. That's what really appealed to me. But, surprisingly, all these ideas and feelings took place in movies that were somewhat creepy. But then there’s a very emotional core to it. I had never encountered that before.“And so, I took the scores, I took out all the scary bits and made it quite meditative. I got Jean-Yves Thibaudet to play the piano on every track. Hilary Hahn came in and revisited my score for The Village and played the beautiful violin solos throughout that piece.“But what I love about Night was the closeness of our collaboration and his appreciation for what I was doing. We just ended up having this connection from the very beginning where I felt challenged and I felt inspired and he felt inspired, and we worked so closely together that it just was kind of a dream relationship.” Listen on YouTubeTo hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.ResourcesJames Newton Howard – Night After Night (Amazon)James Newton Howard – Night After Night (Sony Classical)James Newton Howard (official site) Related Items Listen: Acclaimed classical pianist surprises with Elton John
11/1/202348 minutes, 13 seconds
Episode Artwork

Pianist Awadagin Pratt, A Far Cry and Roomful of Teeth collaborate in 'Stillpoint'

controls src="https://play.publicradio.org/unreplaced_ua/o/minnesota/classical/programs/new_classical_tracks/2023/10/25/new_classical_tracks_2023_10_25_new-classical-tracks-Awadagin_Pratt_20231025_128.mp3"> New Classical Tracks - Awadagin Pratt by Awadagin Pratt/A Far Cry/Roomful of Teeth – Stillpoint (Art of the Piano)“When I'm talking to a non-musician, they often say, ‘Oh, you’ve played in Carnegie Hall, sure, that’s great.’ But the only time they say, ‘Oh, well, you must be something!’ is when they find out I’ve been on Sesame Street,” says pianist Awadagin Pratt. “It was fun. I did a skit with Big Bird about sharing the piano. He was pecking away at the instrument, and then I entered the room and he said, ‘Do you play the piano?’ And I said, ‘Sure, I do.’ And he said, ‘Well, why don't you play a little something?’ The lesson was about sharing and turn-giving, so we took turns playing.”In the world of classical music, Awadagin Pratt has shared the stage as a pianist, a conductor and, on occasion, as a violinist. He grew up in Pittsburgh, lives in Cincinnati, and now commutes to San Francisco in his new role as a professor at the San Francisco Conservatory.Recently, he also shared the studio with two incredible ensembles, including the string orchestra A Far Cry and the vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth. Together, they bring to life six newly commissioned works which appear on his latest release, Stillpoint.“I was thinking two things. One, we have to have African-American composers. The second thing, in terms of the unifying element was the poem The Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot, which I love. So I decided to fight. I decided we would look at The Four Quartets and see if the composers could take inspiration from some of the lines as a unifying element.“The five lines that I chose are the lines that I love, and they seem to be the right ones:At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.” — T.S. EliotTime Past Time Future is the piece that Alvin Singleton wrote for you. He's an American composer who always hoped that one day he would hear you play his music. What was that experience like for both of you when you were playing his music?“It was great. I had met Alvin decades before and he has such a lovely personality, but he was also so generous. He liked what we were doing. The sound, it was demanding because of the dynamic range of four or five keys to the extreme of four or five fortes. It's challenging because of the stillness, but he loved it, which was really nice. It's always great when a composer is smiling when you finish playing, like, okay, that's pretty good!”The piece that Pēteris Vasks wrote for you is a solo piano work titled Castillo Interior, and it focuses on the past and future gathered. Can you explain what that means and how we hear that in the music?He wrote a piece for violin and cello called Castillo Interior, as well. And that's the piece that he transcribed for me with changes, and the title of the piece references Saint Teresa of Avila who has these seven castles built on the pathway to understanding God.You have, within religion, those opposites of ascetic and ecstatic, and maybe they're not exactly opposites, but there's sort of two opposing energies kind of working together as one. And so the piece is really compelling, people absolutely love it.” Listen on YouTubeTo hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.ResourcesAwadagin Pratt/A Far Cry/Roomful of Teeth – Stillpoint (Amazon)Awadagin Pratt/A Far Cry/Roomful of Teeth – Stillpoint (Art of the Piano)Awadagin Pratt (official site)A Far Cry (official site)Roomful of Teeth (official site)
10/25/202333 minutes, 58 seconds
Episode Artwork

Guitarist Plinio Fernandes combines Bach and Brazilian music on 'Bacheando'

controls src="https://play.publicradio.org/unreplaced_ua/o/minnesota/classical/programs/new_classical_tracks/2023/10/18/new_classical_tracks_2023_10_18_new-classical-tracks-Plinio_Fernandes_20231018_128.mp3"> New Classical Tracks - Plinio Fernandes (radio edit) by Plinio Fernandes - Bacheando (Decca)“For me, playing the guitar gives me a sense of identity, because it's something that I have been doing since I was very, very young,” guitarist Plinio Fernandes says. “I don't really remember my life that well before I was 6 or 7, which is when I started to play. Like brushing my teeth, drinking water, showering and breathing, I just have to play a couple of notes and feel like that grounds me.”Fernandes is a Brazilian guitarist who grew up surrounded by music. As his father’s guitar rested on the sofa, Fernandes would pluck a few strings. Before he knew it, he was headed to London to study at the Royal Academy of Music. That’s where he met his roommate, friend and musical colleague, cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason. Fernandes and Kanneh-Mason recently completed a tour in support of Fernandes’ second recording, Bacheando.Fernandes says the album’s name is just a made-up word inspired by the title of Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras and as an homage to the great German master Johannes Sebastian Bach.How does the music of Bach and the rich culture of Brazil come together on this recording?“Villa-Lobos, our greatest composer of all time, who really reshaped Brazilian culture, was massively influenced by Bach. His contemporaries were massively influenced by that connection between Villa-Lobos and Baroque music. In addition to taking the pieces that already existed, Sergio Assad was one of the arrangers and composer on the album. He wrote a piece inspired by that concept to pair with the Prelude, Fugue and Vivace.”One of your favorite pieces by Bach, the Prelude, Fugue and Allegro, is at the heart of this recording. Why is this one of your favorite pieces?“Very simply, it’s one of the most beautiful pieces of music I’ve ever heard. And I grew up listening to it. The three movements represent to me what perfection is.”How did the piece that Assad created for you come about?“I came to him and we were discussing the repertoire for the album and said, ‘Sergio, I would love to have you writing something specifically for that.’ And then he was very keen on doing something that he first wrote, the Prelude and Fugues. It's the first fugue that he has ever written, which is quite something and a privilege to have that. And then it just kept on growing until it became this little suite of three movements.”Can you talk about what it means when you're describing colors in playing the guitar? “I was basically trying to use everything that the instrument has to offer. I think it is a very specific thing to the guitar. One can talk about the colors that you create with the piano, but with the guitar … you use both of your fingertips to produce the sound, so it's a very personal thing. Depending on the size of your fingers or the length of the nails, each person will have a very particular and unique sound.” Listen on YouTubeTo hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.ResourcesPlinio Fernandes - Bacheando (Amazon)Plinio Fernandes - Bacheando (Decca)Plinio Fernandes (official site)
10/18/202327 minutes, 11 seconds
Episode Artwork

Simone Menezes honors the Amazon rainforest on her new collaborative album

Simone Menezes, Camila Provenzale and Philharmonic Zurich – Amazônia: Villa-Lobos - Glass (Alpha Classics) controls src="https://play.publicradio.org/unreplaced_ua/o/minnesota/classical/programs/new_classical_tracks/2023/10/11/new_classical_tracks_2024_10_11_new-classical-tracks-Simone_Menezes_20231011_128.mp3"> New Classical Tracks - Simone Menezes (radio edit) by “I think it's very funny that people think I am creative,” conductor Simone Menezes says. “I just I feel like the ideas are in the air and I just take them.”Menezes is a Brazilian conductor who is known for her creative approach. With her new recording, Amazônia, she says it was just “so obvious” that this project should focus on the Amazonian rainforest. Her goal was to make an important point with no speech, just music. In other words, it’s art that goes straight to the heart.The centerpiece of the recording is a suite by Heitor Villa-Lobos, Floresta do Amazonas. It’s a work that Menezes believes should be part of the standard repertoire.“My opinion is that this music has some very strong points,” she says. “The first one: It's an epic. It sounds somehow like Carmina Burana. It has this large aspect and sounds like monumental music. The second, because of Villa-Lobos’ lyricism, is very touching. Sometimes we think about Latin American music as happy music. But in this case, it's deep music and the melodies come from the influence of fado, which is a deep Portuguese song.”Why did you want to bring the rainforest to the forefront through this music?“For me, the Amazonia is one of the biggest treasures of humanity. We should consider that we are in a beautiful garden that is this Earth, and we have our job as guardians of this garden. This project aims to make people see how touching and beautiful this place is.“And it's very funny that Villa-Lobos, when he wrote many pieces at the end of his life, he wrote, ‘Maybe my music is our letters from the posterity.’ And I think this is the case with this piece now.”As you are leading this piece of music with the orchestra, is there a part of it that you really enjoy?“The most touching is the ending of the speech. It's called the ‘Epilogue,’ or the very last movement, because it sums up everything. And the melody is sung by soprano Camila Provenzale, but she did not sing with lyrics. It's just a kind of vocalese with the orchestra. I have conducted this piece maybe 11 or 12 times recently, and this was the first time that I saw musicians crying during the concert.” Listen on YouTubeTo hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.ResourcesSimone Menezes, Camila Provenzale and Philharmonic Zurich – Amazônia: Villa-Lobos - Glass (Amazon)Simone Menezes, Camila Provenzale and Philharmonic Zurich – Amazônia: Villa-Lobos - Glass (Alpha Classics)Simone Menezes (official site)Camila Provenzale (official site)Philharmonic Zurich (official site)
10/11/202329 minutes, 1 second
Episode Artwork

Conspirare and Miro Quartet collaborate on 'House of Belonging'

Conspirare – Miró Quartet/Craig Hella Johnson – House of Belonging (Delos) controls src="https://play.publicradio.org/unreplaced_ua/o/minnesota/classical/programs/new_classical_tracks/2023/09/27/new_classical_tracks_20230927_20230927_128.mp3"> New Classical Tracks - Craig Hella Johnson by “It's exciting, isn't it? It's hard to believe,” says Craig Hella Johnson, the artistic director of Conspirare. “I don't know how to understand the passage of time like this because it feels like we just got started.”The vocal ensemble Conspirare was started 30 years ago in Austin, Texas, by Johnson, who was inspired by the power of music to change lives. Their anniversary celebration is underway with the release of their latest recording, House of Belonging, which features a long-awaited collaboration with the Miró Quartet.“I spoke about collaborations early on and how we can partner with musical friends, both just for the sheer joy of it and also to really learn. It's how we keep a knife-sharp edge in terms of our own creativity. “The Miró Quartet, they're just stupendous players themselves, and they come together and create this astounding magic.”Can you explain the title, House of Belonging, and the music that lives within it?“I thought, ‘What music do we need to hear at this time? What am I sensing in our audiences, the people? What are they going through in their lives? What's meant to be expressed from Conspirare at this time?’ So, I chose these pieces, and it was quite an eclectic bunch initially. And I thought, ‘Oh, well, I don't see the thread yet.’ And then suddenly it just appeared to me. It felt like what I observe culturally, just so many elements that aren't feeling a deep sense of belonging.“David White has a wonderful poem called The House of Belonging. I decided to borrow that as a working title. And then in the process, which was kind of quick, I got in touch with Alex Berko and asked if he would consider creating an anchor piece, a multimovement work.“He created a beautiful work called Sacred Place, and that's at the heart of this CD. He used a Jewish service as a model for the piece, as well as texts from a lot of different places. Wendell Berry is in the first movement. Then there’s John Muir in a letter that he wrote to Teddy Roosevelt about preserving Yosemite.”You've said commissioning new works is important as part of the mission of Conspirare, and the recording opens with one of your pieces, Reaching.“For our Christmas concerts, we always sing in Austin and often in Houston. But in December 2022, we made a decision to reach out to the people in Uvalde, Texas, where that horrible school shooting took place in May 2022, to ask if they thought it would be helpful if we brought the concert on the road to Uvalde.“The whole team wanted to do this so deeply. The piece you're referencing is called Reaching, and it is the first track on this CD, just because it speaks to the yearning, the first lines of, ‘We are far away from home. We were turning away, oh, my unknown home. I love you. I'll never return.’ It just spoke to that sense of separation in a simple way.“ Listen on YouTubeTo hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.ResourcesConspirare – Miró Quartet/Craig Hella Johnson – House of Belonging (Amazon)Conspirare – Miró Quartet/Craig Hella Johnson – House of Belonging (Delos)Conspirare (official site)Miró Quartet (official site)Craig Hella Johnson (official site)
9/27/202339 minutes, 49 seconds
Episode Artwork

Violinist Rachel Barton Pine combines classical and metal in 'Dependent Arising'

Rachel Barton Pine/Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Tito Muñoz – Dependent Arising (Cedille Records) controls src="https://play.publicradio.org/unreplaced_ua/o/minnesota/classical/programs/new_classical_tracks/2023/09/20/new_classical_tracks_2023_09_20new-classical-tracks-Rachel_Barton_Pine_20230920_128.mp3"> New Classical Tracks - Rachel Barton Pine by “From age 10, when Santa Claus brought me my first transistor radio and I discovered all the other kinds of music out there on the airwaves, I was particularly drawn to metal,” violinist Rachel Barton Pine says. “It never occurred to me to play anything but classical on my own instrument. Actually, what changed it all was when I played the National Anthem for a Chicago Bulls playoff game.”That's violinist Rachel Barton Pine, who's been living at the intersection of metal and classical music most of her life. On her new recording, Dependent Arising, these two worlds collide in the best possible way. Pairing the Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1 with a new concerto written for her by a fellow metalhead, Earl Maneein. “I used to listen to metal to relax when I was a teenager, which sounds counterintuitive. And I thought that I was drawn to metal because it was so different from classical. But it turns out that I must have been drawn to it because it's so close to classical, which I literally didn't realize until I started playing some of it in my early 20s. And I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, here's a Vivaldi passage,’ or, ‘Here's this Brahms lick.’ So I thought, ‘How can I introduce people to this side of classical, to the more intense stuff?’ “That's when I started going on the rock radio stations. I would use a cover song kind of as a bridge, like, here's a tune you already know, but here's how it sounds played on the violin. Trying to really rock out. I was really inventing how to make some of these sound effects, which was really breaking new ground. Turns out that Earl Maneein, my friend who wrote this concerto, was literally doing the same thing in New York at the same time, but we didn't yet know about each other.” You paired this new concerto with Shostakovich's Violin Concerto. You've said that this concerto by Shostakovich holds a special place among metal enthusiasts. Why is that? “I think the reason that it connects so much is that it's full of some of the same emotions. We all know that Shostakovich was living under this repressive Soviet regime where he was afraid for his life, literally.”What about Shostakovich's Violin Concerto moves you when you're playing it?“The older I've gotten and the more aware of history I am and everything else, what moves me so deeply is particularly the first movement. It's the fear and the hiding and all of that that’s just so raw. There's something just so incredible about it going on and on and on until you almost can't take it.”The new concerto on your recording is called Dependent Arising. What is the emotional journey that the listener experiences?“Earl is a practicing Buddhist, hence the title of the entire piece, which is Dependent Arising, meaning that everything in life is connected to everything else, that nothing is independent of everything else. Something called the “Heart Sutra” is the last movement, where it's embodying wrath. It's like going and going until you achieve some kind of catharsis, and you definitely hear that in the music. It's relentless and feels very empowering by the end.” Listen on YouTubeTo hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.ResourcesRachel Barton Pine/Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Tito Muñoz – Dependent Arising (Amazon)Rachel Barton Pine/Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Tito Muñoz – Dependent Arising (Cedille Records)Rachel Barton Pine (official site)Royal Scottish National Orchestra (official site)Tito Muñoz (official site)
9/20/202331 minutes, 44 seconds
Episode Artwork

Clancy Newman and Natalie Zhu explore the beauty of America on ‘From Method to Madness’

Clancy Newman and Natalie Zhu – From Method to Madness: The American Sound (Albany) controls src="https://play.publicradio.org/unreplaced_ua/o/minnesota/classical/programs/new_classical_tracks/2023/09/13/new_classical_tracks_2023_09_13_new-classical-tracks-Clancy_Newman_and_Natalie_Zhu_20230913_128.mp3"> New Classical Tracks - Clancy Newman and Natalie Zhu by “I just love to play with Clancy because he challenges my mind,” pianist Natalie Zhu says. “This program was Clancy's idea. When I tried to plan for my festival, I asked Clancy if we should play a cello recital together. I asked him, ‘What do you want to play?’ And he came up with this program. I said, ‘Oh, my goodness, I don't know any of the pieces on the program.’ I had to learn every piece.” Zhu and cellist Clancy Newman have been performing together for over 20 years. During the pandemic lockdown, they created a virtual recital that evolved into their debut recording, From Method to Madness: The American Sound.Newman: “Natalie has always been very kind to go along with whatever I'm doing. She's so open-minded and willing to try whatever I might suggest. Playing with Natalie, I feel like I can do anything, and I have the freedom to be myself."This recording relates and showcases the element of friendship and/or collaboration between composers, performers and friends. And this was a time when you had to really be creative about how you were having those collaborations. How did this come together during the global pandemic?Newman: “The From Method to Madness part is the title of my composition that's on the album. And I thought, there's something about the idea of From Method to Madness that encapsulates both art in general and music. I think it reflects the idea that you need to have both the passion, which you could say is the madness, the irrational element and the emotion, but also the discipline, using some sort of method and structure.“You can see the madness in America certainly now. There's also these sweeping melodies that I think of as part of what America has — not to be cliché, but with the mountains and the valleys and just the beauty of America.”You wrote the title track in 2008, yet this is the first time you've recorded it. Why was it the last piece on the recording rather than maybe the opening piece?Newman: “The piece is 5 minutes long, and it's basically just one huge crescendo all the way to the end. It's a little bit like a cup of water boiling. And then gradually it starts to bubble until finally it's just boiling and boiling over onto the stove. And I think that this piece has that excitement to it. And I guess I thought it would be a good way to end the album after beginning it with the Barber sonata that starts in a more conventional and romantic manner.”Clancy, you gave the premiere performance of composer Kenji Bunch’s Broken Music in 2003 at Lincoln Center. It is a piece that was written for you, and again, this is the first time you've recorded it.Newman: “In 2001, I won the Naumberg Competition. Part of winning that was that I would get to premiere a piece that Naumberg would commission. By sheer luck, Naumberg chose Kenji to write the piece, and I knew Kenji because we were at Juilliard together. Every time I've ever performed it, it's always the audience’s favorite thing on the program.” Natalie, what strikes you about the piece Broken Music? Is there a section that is especially powerful to you?Zhu: “My favorite movement would be the “Broken Verse,” which is the slow third movement of the piece. It just touches your heart. It’s sad and it's lonely, but at the same time, at the very end I am still hopeful. The first moment I heard the piece, it took me somewhere else. Even though it is sad, it comforts me in some way. “Actually, it made me think about my childhood. I immigrated to America from China. I came to America when I was, I think, 10. America is a completely different place, and I feel like this piece really brings back those great memories in my life.” Listen on YouTubeTo hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.ResourcesClancy Newman and Natalie Zhu – From Method to Madness: The American Sound (Amazon)Clancy Newman and Natalie Zhu – From Method to Madness: The American Sound (Albany)Clancy Newman (official site)
9/13/202339 minutes, 47 seconds
Episode Artwork

Marc-Andre Hamelin and Cathy Fuller present 'Faure: Nocturnes and Barcarolles'

Marc-André Hamelin – Fauré: Nocturnes and Barcarolles (Hyperion) controls src="https://play.publicradio.org/unreplaced_ua/o/minnesota/classical/programs/new_classical_tracks/2023/09/06/new_classical_tracks_2023_09_06_new-classical-tracks-Mark-Andre_Hamelin_and_Cathy_Fuller_20230906_128.mp3"> New Classical Tracks - Mark-Andre Hamelin and Cathy Fuller by “The thing about him is that he's so honest and real and natural,” pianist and radio host Cathy Fuller says. “He never thinks about how he comes across so much as how the music gets to the other person, and you can even sense that in the way he converses. And that's one of the things that really struck me about him.”That’s what impressed Fuller when she first encountered pianist Marc-André Hamelin. He was on the other side of the microphone as she interviewed him for her classical radio program in Boston. That interview led to lunch, then long-distance phone calls and eventually marriage.  And now, for the first time, Fuller , who is also an accomplished pianist, performs with Hamelin on his new recording. It features the complete nocturnes and barcarolles by Gabriel Fauré, as well as the piece they perform together, the delightful Dolly Suite, for piano four-hands.Fuller: “I thought, ‘Playing with Marc-André Hamelin — oh, my God! I have to do scales with Marc. Forget it!’ But I remember, when I was studying the music, how much I loved being next to somebody. I think he made me better just by being next to him. But I really had to work at this. And it was he who asked me. I would never have asked to do this. And I was so touched that he had the faith and confidence in me to do this. And I really tried to rise to the occasion, but it was a ton of fun.“This was the first time we really played together. And I have a really hard time with the idea of giving up the pedal. That was difficult. And so does he — don't you, Marc?”Hamelin: “Oh, yes, absolutely. I was taking the bottom part in the duet that we were playing, and it's more logical for the bottom player to take the pedal. So, it takes two players who are really in sympathy with each other, you know? And we really worked at it. And the result really speaks for itself.”Why did you want to record the barcarolles and nocturnes of Gabriel Fauré?Hamelin: “To have all the nocturnes and barcarolles in one place was an especially attractive idea, I thought. And the more I delved into it, the more wonderful I thought it was. And you just go from one wonder to the next.”Nocturnes are often a night piece and therefore something that's more subtle or subdued. However, these nocturnes by Fauré are not like that. Can you talk about the sense of drama that he creates in some of these pieces?Hamelin: “Fauré’s publisher was mainly responsible for the titles given to his works upon publication, because he really didn't care much about what to call them. It's really what was expressed that was of prime importance to him.“So a nocturne is not necessarily nocturnal in his outlook, because some of them get quite dramatic. I'm thinking of the last nocturne, No. 13, which has a very stormy and anguished middle section that really rises to a big fever pitch.”If you were going to sit down and play one of those nocturnes right now, which one would you choose and why?Hamelin: “One of them, to my mind, stands out above almost all the others. And that's No. 6. The special atmosphere that he creates has always been very, very special to me, perhaps more than any other of his piano works.“Although if you put it on the CD with the nocturnes, the very beginning of the first nocturne is magical.”Do you feel that way about the barcarolles as well? Is there one that stands out to you?Hamelin: “The Third Barcarolle, which I learned when I was a teenager. I think I was maybe 16 or something like that, and I've always had a soft spot for it. And on a personal note, whenever I visited my mother, she asked me to play it because she just adored it.” Listen on YouTubeTo hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.ResourcesMarc-André Hamelin – Faure: Nocturnes and Barcarolles (Amazon)Marc-André Hamelin – Faure: Nocturnes and Barcarolles (Hyperion)Marc-André Hamelin (official site)
9/6/202341 minutes, 40 seconds
Episode Artwork

Sphinx Virtuosi ensemble uplifts Black and Latin American composers on 'Songs for Our Times'

Sphinx Virtuosi – Songs for Our Times (Deutsche Grammophon) controls src="https://play.publicradio.org/unreplaced_ua/o/minnesota/classical/programs/new_classical_tracks/2023/08/30/new_classical_tracks_2023_08_30_new-classical-tracks-Andre_Dowel_Sphinx_20230830_128.mp3"> New Classical Tracks - Andre Dowell, Sphinx Virtuosi by “My role with the organization as the chief of artist engagement is to really understand the talent that is out there and to be able to recruit the musicians who perform with the Sphinx Virtuosi,” Andre Dowell says. “Community engagement, in terms of how they are engaging their community, not just the youth, but also their audiences and educating them about our mission, which is transforming life through the power of diversity in the arts.”For the past 15 years, Dowell has watched the Sphinx Organization evolve as it strives for and achieves that mission. One way in which it’s doing that is with a professional, self-conducted touring ensemble of 18 members made up of freelance musicians and professors at universities. That ensemble is Sphinx Virtuosi, which has just released its debut recording, Songs for Our Times.“Over the past couple of years, we've had the great opportunity to have our programs be comprised solely of musicians who are Black or Latino. Because of that, we really wanted to have an album out that represented not only the Sphinx Organization, but the Sphinx Virtuosi. One thing that you'll find with our debut album is that every composer is a composer of color.”Why is this title, Songs for Our Times, so significant?“Songs for Our Times really digs into composers that we've worked with in the past, celebrating artists and composers who have paved the way. We talk about Florence Price, for example. We talk about Jessie Montgomery, Valerie Coleman, Carlos Simon, and we have a great arrangement of Beethoven's Bridgetower by Rubén Rengel. Songs for Our Times goes into the past, the rich history of the Sphinx organization, and explores how that intertwines with the composers of today.The album opens with Global Warming, by Michael Abels, who won the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Music. Can you talk about the history of this piece and why it fits in so well with this debut recording?“This piece really inspired us to feature Michael Abels as a composer. This piece just captures so perfectly what it means to be in this world today and going through COVID-19 and the pandemic. And what you'll find on the CD is George Floyd in the aftermath of that, in terms of what it means to reflect in this world today.” Watch on YouTubeThere's an unusual time signature in the piece by Ricardo Hertz. It's called Sisyphus in the Big City. Why do we have this 25/16 time signature?“It is great. And if you listen to the music enough, you'll be able to understand and feel the rhythmic structure of it. We have the great opportunity to play this piece in Brazil with Ricardo himself. It’s something that requires a lot of communication in terms of being able to play that type of time signatures while also keeping the groove.”Valerie Coleman's two-movement piece, Tracing Visions, is on this recording, and each of the movements is so powerful. Would you share the story behind them?“The first movement we talk about Emmett Till and other victims of domestic violence or terrorism, if you will. It's a remembrance of those times. And it ends with the second movement, which means power and is a celebration of where we have come in our society. And she takes this motif and really expands it to uplift the work that has been done, and that we continue to do, and the fight that we continue to have in our society.” Listen on YouTubeTo hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.ResourcesSphinx Virtuosi – Songs for Our Times (Amazon)Sphinx Virtuosi – Songs for Our Times (Deutsche Grammophon)Sphinx Virtuosi (official site)
8/30/202328 minutes, 44 seconds
Episode Artwork

Pianist Gabríel Ólafs explores the nostalgia of Icelandic lullabies

Gabriel Olafs and Steiney Sigurðardóttir: Lullabies for Piano and Cello (Decca) controls src="https://play.publicradio.org/unreplaced_ua/o/minnesota/classical/programs/new_classical_tracks/2023/08/09/new_classical_tracks_2023_08_09_new-classical-tracks-Gabriel_Olafs_20230809_128.mp3"> New Classical Tracks - Gabriel Olafs by “When you write a pop song today, you want it to be catchy. But with folk music, you want it to be catchy for hundreds of years. You need it to survive. I really like that,” pianist Gabríel Ólafs says. “I thought that was intriguing. And I thought of this idea of challenging myself to write new ‘folk melodies’ or new lullabies.”That’s the idea behind the third recording from the 24-year-old Icelandic pianist, featuring cellist Steiney Sigurðardóttir. It’s a collection of lullabies for cello and piano based on Icelandic folk songs. The pieces were inspired by a collection of melodies he discovered in an antique book shop in Reykjavik, Iceland.“I'm on a list at this old bookstore, and they often call me for stuff that comes in. And when they called about this one, I recognized it as something that I learned about in school studying music in Iceland. I had totally forgotten about it, and I had never seen the book. It’s quite rare, this book itself.“It contains our most important piece of musical history in Iceland. Basically, it was a priest that toured the country and collected them from families and churches, and he went to every part of Iceland around the island, and he collected these melodies. And I think what captured me was that many of these melodies, as I was just reading them and playing them on the piano, I thought they were surprisingly catchy.”How did you decide which ones you were going record?“I noticed very early on that most of the melodies that I really liked, my immediate favorites, were lullabies. I picked a combination of some lesser-known ones that I found for the first time in the music score, but then I also picked some that I recognized and were personally my favorites.“For example, Mama, which means mother or mom in Icelandic, is probably our most celebrated and common lullaby here in Iceland. And it's one that my mom, or rather my parents, would sing to me.“The opening track is called Fantasia, which is an original melody. It is sort of inspired by the Celtic side of Icelandic musical heritage. We have a sort of Irish Celtic population that arrived early on and very much influenced the musical sound of the Vikings, and it also celebrates my love of fantasy. I'm a huge nerd, and I've recently been able to admit this publicly. I'm really into The Lord of the Rings books.”Why is nostalgia important to you as you create your music?“Because of the nuance in this feeling of nostalgia. If you try to express nostalgia or create a nostalgic feeling in a piece of music, I feel like it translates well because of this nuance, because it's not too on the nose of a feeling. Ever since I started writing, I do very much chase a feeling of nostalgia in many of my pieces.“I would describe this record as maybe an a la carte menu. You know, in cooking, you can make a really complicated big dish, and it's amazing, but you can also make a really complicated big dish that doesn't taste very good. What I discovered about myself is me wanting to create a musical a la carte menu, where every small little dish does satisfy you.” Gabríel Ólafs - Lullabies for Piano and Cello ft. Steiney SigurðardóttirResourcesGabríel Ólafs and Steiney Sigurðardóttir: Lullabies for Piano and Cello - (Amazon)Gabríel Ólafs - official website
8/9/202340 minutes, 3 seconds
Episode Artwork

Joshua Bell and the Singapore Chinese Orchestra present 'Butterfly Lovers'

Joshua Bell, the Singapore Chinese Orchestra and Tsung Yeh: Butterfly Lovers (Sony Classical) controls src="https://play.publicradio.org/unreplaced_ua/o/minnesota/classical/programs/new_classical_tracks/2023/08/01/new_classical_tracks_2023_08_01_new-classical-tracks-Joshua_Bell_20230801_128.mp3"> New Classical Tracks - Joshua Bell by Joshua Bell is a world-class violinist who has also been music director of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields since 2011. With all his years of experience, it might be difficult to imagine insecurities creeping in on occasion.But that’s precisely what happened during the making of his latest recording, Butterfly Lovers, with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra.“To tell you the truth, I was a bit scared to walk out on stage at the first rehearsal,” Bell says. “[But] it was just very heartwarming, the reception I got from the orchestra and that sense of acceptance from a different culture.”In 2018, you said, “My new favorite orchestra besides the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields in London is the Singapore Chinese Orchestra.” What do you love about this orchestra?“I first went to them about seven years ago. At the time, they said, ‘We have these arrangements for Chinese orchestra, using Chinese instruments, of some classic violin pieces, like Introduction et Rondo Capriccioso, by Saint-Saens, and Zigeunerweisen, by Sarasate.’ I fell in love with the unique sound of a Chinese orchestra, with instruments like the pipa and the erhu. It was thrilling.”When did you decide you wanted to play Butterfly Lovers with the orchestra?“For years, I didn't take the time to really get to know the piece. I just kept hearing about it and then finally sat down and listened to it with the music. It is a gorgeous piece of music. And I had this new relationship with the Chinese orchestra in Singapore, and I thought the stars were aligned for me to learn this piece and to play with my new friends in Singapore. And that's what happened.”I know that you also have a special relationship with the conductor with whom you're working on this project and that you met him early in your career. How did you develop that relationship along the way?“Maestro Tsung Yeh and I actually met a few decades ago. He was the one who brought me to Singapore. The musical language of the Butterfly Lovers is rooted in the Chinese sound of Chinese instruments, although it's a weird hybrid of a piece in that it was ironically written for Western instruments in Western orchestra about 50 years ago. In our case, we've actually reverse engineered it back to Chinese instruments and Chinese orchestra.”What is the history of this piece, and why is it so popular and beloved?“The easiest way to describe the Butterfly Lovers is sort of like the Chinese Romeo and Juliet. It’s about a young Chinese woman who wants to study during a time where girls were not encouraged to study. So she dresses up as a boy to go study at the school, and she meets a boy who becomes her best friend. But she's secretly falling in love with him and he doesn't know that she's a girl.“The truth eventually comes out and they fall in love, but she's been betrothed to someone else. And because of this he becomes heartbroken, falls ill and dies. So on her wedding day, heartbroken that she's not with the man she loves, she decides to dig into his grave and out of the grave emerge two butterflies.“When I first heard it, I got goosebumps because the melody is so beautiful and it's very descriptive music. You can hear the strife between the families and all the longing. In the end, it's the two butterflies going away together, and you can feel all those things in the music.”Is there a moment in this work that really gets you every time you play it?“At the very end, the culmination of the piece features the opening melody, originally played by the violin solo, now with the whole orchestra, so 30 players playing in unison. It's quite dramatic, and it's one of the moments that first gave me goose bumps.” Joshua Bell - Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto: Allegro (Official Video)ResourcesJoshua Bell, the Singapore Chinese Orchestra and Tsung Yeh: Butterfly Lovers - (Amazon)Joshua Bell - official websiteSingapore Chinese Orchestra - official website
8/2/202318 minutes, 19 seconds
Episode Artwork

Carolyn Surrick and Ronn McFarlane share a part of their lives in 'And So Flows the River'

Ronn McFarlane and Carolyn Surrick: And So Flows the River (Flowerpot Productions) controls src="https://play.publicradio.org/unreplaced_ua/o/minnesota/classical/programs/new_classical_tracks/2023/07/26/new_classical_tracks_2023.07.26_new-classical-tracks-surrick-mcfarlane_20230726_128.mp3"> New Classical Tracks - Carolyn Surrick & Ronn McFarlane by “The music that we're doing is music that's really a part of us,” viola da gamba player Carolyn Surrick says. “It's like music inside of us, the way that the deciduous forest is inside of us, because this is where we're from.”Surrick and Ronn McFarlane have both lived in Maryland for most of their lives. Their careers have run somewhat parallel, with Surrick playing viola da gamba in the Ensemble Galilei, which she founded in 1990, and McFarlane playing lute with the Baltimore Consort and the folk trio Ayreheart, the ensemble he founded. Three years ago, when touring came to a halt during the global pandemic, they finally had the time to make music together, and they’ve been doing so ever since. They’ve just released their third recording, And So Flows the River.Surrick: “This is the music of our lives. We're both over 60, and we’ve had a lot of time to incorporate music into our lives, to have music become central to our being. And so I wanted to bring the idea that as our lives are flowing along, we're accumulating music, we're accumulating things that we love along the way and bringing them to this project.”How did you decide on the title And So Flows the River? How does it reflect what we're hearing on the recording?McFarlane: “In terms of flowing, the repertory itself was a real flow state for each of us. It brought music that each of us loved, regardless of the genre that it came from. So I think we kind of get into a flow state when we're deciding what to play, bringing up pieces from any memory, any part of our lives, anything we might have heard of, or maybe we're just discovering something for the first time.”The album features Erik Satie’s Gymnopedies. What is your relationship to the pieces?Surrick: “I think we both remember hearing them for the first time in the 1970s and thinking this music is so special. I mean, so simple and so beautiful. It has so much in it. So when we were casting about for what to put on this new recording, I said, ‘what about the Gymnopedies?’ And it was kind of like, ‘Well, why not?’”McFarlane: “My first experience of them was in the 1970s, but I didn't hear it on the piano at first. I heard it live in a guitar recital played by Christopher Parkening, who made some excellent arrangements of them. But I was so captivated hearing the first Gymnopedie for the first time that I really fell in love with it.”You both also heard about Bach’s Sinfonia in the 1970s. What is your relationship with that piece?McFarlane: “Yes, I first heard it when I went to a record store. That was back when they had records around 1968 or ‘69. I got the first Led Zeppelin album and the Walter Carlos, now Wendy Carlos, album Switched-On Bach. So I first heard this on a synthesizer with all its boops and beeps and whistles. So I think my idea of how it ought to sound was permanently skewed by hearing it that way. And it just sounded so fresh and great.”And now you have added your own arrangement of the piece, which you described as a revelation. Why did you describe it that way?Surrick: “We sat down to play it, and there was so much happening. You almost can't imagine that these two instruments could be doing all of this at the same time.”And you have a percussionist on the recording? Surrick: “Yes. Yousif Sheronick. He's fabulous. And so I call him up out of the blue, and he's like, ‘Yeah, cool. I'm free.’”Give me an example of his playing in this recording that you want to make sure we don't miss.McFarlane: “Well, I think the very first piece, W. Lee’s Reel, where Yusif is playing an ocean drum, is a great one.“This piece has kind of a Scotch-Irish flavor to it, which reflects my dad's background. It's a sort of adventurous piece because it has something in the flute part that sounds like a propulsive fiddle tune in the Scotch-Irish tradition. And yet that's not the lead voice. You would think so because of the beginning. But as it goes along, the gamba comes in and actually has the melody as the slower moving part. Somehow, it seemed to fit the personality of my dad.” W. Lee's ReelResourcesRonn McFarlane and Carolyn Surrick - And So Flows the River (Amazon)Carolyn Surrick - official websiteRonn McFarlane - official website
7/26/202335 minutes, 59 seconds
Episode Artwork

Hilary Hahn explores her heritage with violin works by Belgian composer Eugene Ysaye

Hilary Hahn - Eugène Ysaÿe: Six Sonatas for Violin (Deutsche Grammophon) Jump to giveaway form controls src="https://play.publicradio.org/unreplaced_ua/o/minnesota/classical/programs/new_classical_tracks/2023/07/12/new_classical_tracks_2023_07_12_new-classical-tracks-Hillary_Hahn_20230712_128.mp3"> New Classical Tracks - Hilary Hahn by “This was my grand homage. And I really put so much love and time and energy and respect into the recording,” violinist Hilary Hahn says. “I really wanted to focus on that aspect, almost like giving a gift to a relative on their birthday. This is my gift to my musical grandfather on his hundredth birthday.”Hahn is talking about her new recording featuring the violin sonatas of Belgian violinist and composer Eugène Ysaÿe. He composed these masterpieces 100 years ago this month. Each one was dedicated to a top violinist of the day.“I am one generation removed from him musically. He was born in the 1850s. I was born in 1979, but my teacher was born in 1907 and studied with him. So there was something about listening to him, listening to the early recordings of his I when I hadn't heard them for a while, that was very surprising for me.“I have spent most of my career trying to get closer to my own way of playing, my own sense of expression and my own sense of freedom within the instrument. And I realized that instead of getting closer to myself as an individual, I've gotten closer to myself as part of a long history. Because when I heard Ysaÿe, it was like opening a box in your grandparents attic and looking at a photo of an ancestor. But it is also like looking in the mirror, because they might be wearing different clothing but there's something about them that's just like you.“While listening to his recordings, I realized there is musical DNA. Somehow, deep in my soul, I have internalized a set of values in my playing that I must have inherited.“Ysaÿe also wanted to lift up some incredible violinists of his day, and he dedicated these sonatas to several of those. I don't know if it's obvious to the listener or the performer, but the deeper you get into the pieces, the more you realize it's customized for different players. The feeling of playing the instrument is different in each piece, and it's a bit of an insight into what it must have felt like to be that person. Also, there are lots of hidden messages in these pieces that were never written down in the music. So it's kind of a little game of Clue.“A very good example of that is the beginning of the Sonata No. 2, Obsession, which was dedicated to a violinist who played fast but also practiced in a very fragmented way. So he would kind of start with one thing and quickly work on a phrase of something else and go back to the other thing. A sort of free-flowing mentality is in practice that Ysaÿe brings that into his writing for that particular violinist.”You said listening back to yourself playing these pieces gave you goose bumps. What were you hearing that caused that?“I think the most goose bumpy thing for me was just listening to Ysaÿe’s own playing and then getting as close as I wanted to these pieces in a total immersion studio situation. Listening to the playback and drawing these connections back to the past, but also knowing that what I do now is very much geared toward the future. And so that feeling of inheriting this sense of mission, of passing things on from the past to the future generations.” Ysaÿe: 6 Sonatas for Violin Solo, Op. 27 - Sonata No. 6 in E MajorTo hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.GiveawayMaya Beiser New Classical Tracks GiveawayYou must be 13 or older to submit any information to American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio. The personally identifying information you provide will not be sold, shared, or used for purposes other than to communicate with you about things like our programs, products and services. See Terms of Use and Privacy. This giveaway is subject to the Official Giveaway Rules.ResourcesHilary Hahn - Eugène Ysaÿe: Six Sonatas for Violin (Deutsche Grammophon)Hilary Hahn - Eugène Ysaÿe: Six Sonatas for Violin (Amazon)
7/12/202323 minutes, 25 seconds
Episode Artwork

Maya Beiser presents a feminine angle to Bach's cello suites

Maya Beiser – InfInIte Bach: J.S. Bach’s Six Cello Suites (Islandia Music Records) Jump to giveaway form controls src="https://play.publicradio.org/unreplaced_ua/o/minnesota/classical/programs/new_classical_tracks/2023/07/05/new_classical_tracks_2023_07_05_new-classical-tracks-Maya_Beiser_20230705_128.mp3"> New Classical Tracks - Maya Beiser by “I'll never forget. I think I was 10. My father said, ‘Maya, you have to decide: It's Carnegie Hall or Wimbledon,’” cellist Maya Beiser says, “And I remember telling him, ‘I don't think it's going to be Wimbledon, so why don't we do Carnegie Hall?’”Beiser did not disappoint her father. She has performed at Carnegie Hall many times over the years. She admits her father wasn’t all that keen on the crazy contemporary music for which she’s best known. However, he would have loved her latest recording, which is why she dedicated it to him. It’s called Infinite Bach,’ and it features the composer’s famous cello suites.“The earliest musical memory that I have is of Bach, specifically the Bach cello suites,” she says. “I grew up in the northern part of Israel, in the Galilee, at a time where there was constant threat of war. And we spent actually a lot of time in shelters during my early childhood. I grew up in a commune. It was called a kibbutz.“And my father would always just listen to music. He bought this old recording of Pablo Casals performing the cello suites, and that is the earliest memory of my childhood, is the pleasure of just listening to that music in my parents’ little house. It was the sense of safety and the connection that music always had for love.“I never thought I was going to record the Bach suites, because I always felt that there were enough recordings out there. There were wonderful cellists who have already done that, and I felt that I had a different mission. I'm 60 now. So it was kind of a big, momentous moment. For years, I had to juggle being a mother and a partner and all these things, and then the pandemic. During that time, my partner and I found this house in the Berkshires. We just fell in love with that place because it was inspiring. It had this separate converted barn; it just had the most incredible acoustics.“The first day I was there, I just took my cello and I sat in the middle of this empty space and just started to play the Bach suites. I all of a sudden realized that this is what I want to do for the next year. I imagined the cello as this sort of giant organ that takes over, and I wanted to create all these different reverbs and delays, but without any artificial electronics.  I wanted everything to be acoustic.”You say in your liner notes that some believe the suites bear a whisper of Bach’s wife. Why did you include this?“All my teachers were men; all my mentors were men. And they always told me, you need to listen to Pablo Casals and Rostropovich and Pierre Fournier. I can give you the list. They were all older men. There was no model of how a woman would think of this music.“There are people who claim that Anna Magdalena, Bach’s wife, was actually the one who wrote the suites. And whether it’s true or not, the idea intrigued me. So I just liked to think about it as if I'm presenting a feminine Bach.” Maya Beiser: InfInIte Bach (Official Music Video) Water, The Prelude in D minorTo hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.GiveawayMaya Beiser New Classical Tracks GiveawayYou must be 13 or older to submit any information to American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio. The personally identifying information you provide will not be sold, shared, or used for purposes other than to communicate with you about things like our programs, products and services. See Terms of Use and Privacy. This giveaway is subject to the Official Giveaway Rules.ResourcesMaya Beiser – Infinite Bach: J.S. Bach’s Six Cello Suites (Islandia Music Records)Maya Beiser – Infinite Bach: J.S. Bach’s Six Cello Suites (Amazon)Maya Beiser (official site)
7/5/202338 minutes, 53 seconds
Episode Artwork

Pianist Michelle Cann explores the music of Bonds and Price in 'Revival'

Michelle Cann – Revival: Music of Price and Bonds (Curtis Studio) Jump to giveaway form Pianist Michelle Cann has had a pretty incredible journey. Her path into the world of piano led her to the Cleveland Institute and the Curtis Institute of Music, which is where she teaches. In 2022, she was the recipient of the Sphinx Medal of Excellence. Now, her journey goes down another life-changing path with the release of her debut recording, Revival: Music of Price and Bonds. “Growing up, I didn't play any music by any Black composers other than church music. Nothing in the classical field was really ever assigned to me. I wasn't really aware of anyone except for Scott Joplin,” Cann says. “And it wasn't until 2016 that I was introduced to the Florence Price Piano Concerto and I was asked to play it. I'd never heard of her, never heard of the piece, and I read through it. You can only imagine that moment and put yourself in my shoes. I've never been aware of somebody like her in this field. “And I remember, at that point, I was reading her story. I was looking for anything I could find about her. I was looking to see, ‘What else did she write?’ And then one of the things that was out there at that time was her piano sonata. How have I never heard of this piano sonata? I’m a pianist! “I remember exactly where I was, sitting at the piano in my apartment at the time, and I was reading through it and there were tears going down my eyes. One of the most beautiful things ever written for piano is the second movement of that piano sonata. And I called my mother and I was emotional and my mom was getting emotional because I asked myself, ‘How could they deny this woman her place in history? Why did no one know to share this with me?’ “It was from there that I came across Margaret Bonds. I read that Margaret Bonds was actually one of Florence Price's most successful students. They met because Price moved to Chicago alone. She moved from Little Rock, Arkansas. She had kids, was divorced and had no connections. She was just starting to make them. And one of them was with the Bonds family. They actually took her in. “And Margaret Bond, of course, had her own story. She went on to become a great composer and pianist, and she premiered many of Florence Price's works as a performer. She didn't write as much for solo piano, not like Price. One of her most influential and important works is the Spiritual Suite, which is on this album. I had to include the suite because it is just so great what she does with these spirituals.” What do you feel like you personally bring to their music as a pianist? “I feel that I am on this journey with these composers, and the final thing I feel is a huge sense of pride. I feel so honored to be one of the conduits of their story. “So being part of this rediscovery and excitement about their story and their music and their voice in America that is everything to me. And when I perform their music, I perform it with that knowledge and that pride. “Because if I can do anything with this album, it’s to share this music with the world. These women deserve a place in the canon of great American classical music.” Spiritual Suite: I. Valley of the Bones To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Giveaway  Michelle Cann New Classical Tracks Giveaway You must be 13 or older to submit any information to American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio. The personally identifying information you provide will not be sold, shared, or used for purposes other than to communicate with you about things like our programs, products and services. See Terms of Use and Privacy. This giveaway is subject to the Official Giveaway Rules. Resources Michelle Cann – Revival: Music of Price and Bonds (Curtis Studio) Michelle Cann (official site)
6/28/202336 minutes, 17 seconds
Episode Artwork

Harpist Ashley Jackson and Harlem Chamber Players explore African roots

Ashley Jackson and the Harlem Chamber Players – Ennanga (Bright Shiny Things) Jump to giveaway form New Classical Tracks - Ashley Jackson by “I started thinking about this album in the summer of 2020. We were still living in Harlem, and the protests were happening just outside of our street,” harpist Ashley Jackson says, “And I really remember sitting and practicing and thinking, ‘What can I put on my music stand that's going to be able to speak to what's happening right now?’” Jackson is an assistant professor of music at Hunter College. She commutes to New York City once a week from her home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. That gives her time to hang out with the Harlem Chamber Players, who join her on her debut recording, Ennanga. “I started [playing] African American spirituals. For me, they're America’s first performing art form. We have so many different genres of music that stem from them.” Jackson says, “I started with two spiritual arrangements by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, and then I wanted to branch out to other genres. And so that's why I have a mixture. I have a piece by Alice Coltrane called Prima, and, of course, Ennanga, by William Grant Still.  “Ennanga as a piece that takes us on a journey through different American musical styles. And that's really what I was trying to go for in this debut album. Ennanga itself is a type of Ugandan harp, and I really wanted to focus and have listeners think about not only the African American roots of American music, but the West African roots of American music.” The album opens with a recording of a piece by Alice Coltrane. What inspired you to include it? “In the fall of 2018, I had the opportunity to perform an arrangement of Prima with the Urban Playground Orchestra, and it was one of those pieces where I thought, ‘I'm not finished with it, I still have more learning to do.’ So fast forward to now and I'm planning the concept of the album. I take out Prima and I'm thinking about the summer of 2020 and moments of healing and justice, and prima means love, pure love for the divine, which completely melts the heart. So, I said, this piece has to be on here.” There is a piece by composer and harpist Brandy Younger called Essence of Ruby in this album. Could you tell more about her and this piece?  “She's one of my harp sisters. Starting in 2020, she started to release solo harp arrangements of her compositions and I was really excited. I thought, yes, finally, something she’s composed that I can play, and Essence of Ruby was one of them. And I love the piece. I loved the groove-based rhythm that it has and I love how it draws from not only jazz but R&B, and that's my musical DNA, that's the music I grew up listening to.” There are two African American spirituals on this recording by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. One is called I'm Troubled in Mind, and it is the last track of the album. Why did you decide to close the recording with this piece?  “It’s one of those rare spirituals that uses the first person. ‘I'm troubled in mind’ speaks so clearly and plainly to how the enslaved channeled grief and pain on a daily basis. ‘The angels changed my name. I looked at my hands and my hands were new. I looked at my feet and my feet were new,’ so I wanted to close the album by asking us to consider how we can move forward towards the future in a way in which we are changed for the better, that we're looking ahead towards a brighter day, a moment of freedom for all of us.” Ennanga: I To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Giveaway Ashley Jackson New Classical Tracks Giveaway You must be 13 or older to submit any information to American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio. The personally identifying information you provide will not be sold, shared, or used for purposes other than to communicate with you about things like our programs, products and services. See Terms of Use and Privacy. This giveaway is subject to the Official Giveaway Rules. Resources Ashley Jackson and the Harlem Chamber Players – Ennanga (Amazon) Ashley Jackson and the Harlem Chamber Players – Ennanga (Bright Shiny Things) Ashley Jackson (official site) Harlem Chamber Players (official site)
6/21/202323 minutes, 51 seconds
Episode Artwork

Violinist Randall Goosby explores concertos by Price and Bruch

Randall Goosby with the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin — Max Bruch & Florence Price Violin Concertos (Decca) Jump to giveaway form New Classical Tracks - Randall Goosby by “This whole season, since January, I've been performing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto,” violinist Randall Goosby says. “I actually hadn't performed it with an orchestra prior to that. It's been a fun exploration of the piece from the stage.” He recently had a week off from touring and was out running errands in New York City. That’s what he was up to when he pulled over to the side of the road to talk about his new recording with Yannick Nezet-Seguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra, featuring violin concertos by Florence Price and Max Bruch. More From Randall Goosby 2021 PT Young Artist in Residence: Randall Goosby 2021 Violinist Randall Goosby finds inspiration in his heritage 2022 Listen to 2021 PT Young Artist Randall Goosby's Tiny Desk Concert How did this collaboration with Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra evolve? “It was one of those things where I just couldn't say no to it. I had been wanting to continue my exploration of Price's music after my first album, Roots, came out, so I was thrilled at the invitation. I then spent all of last summer really diving into both the Price concerti. “To make this recording with a conductor and an orchestra that have been dedicated and passionate champions of Price's story, not just her music, was really special. It was a privilege that I'll always look back upon with great gratitude.” What about Price’s Violin Concerto No. 1 resonates with you?  “One of the things that I think is very special about the Violin Concerto No. 1 is that it's modeled after the warhorse that is Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. It quickly becomes an example of what makes American music what it is, and that is the combining of influences from all over the place. “The piece presented her with an opportunity to shed a new light on some of the themes that Tchaikovsky laid out. I mean, Tchaikovsky had to go through some great challenges of his own at the time. But there were challenges that he had to go through that Price probably couldn't relate to. And there were certainly challenges that Price experienced and had to overcome that Tchaikovsky could never have conveyed in his music. And so I think it presents a unique opportunity to look at these two very different artists under the same spotlight.” Price’s Violin Concerto No. 2 is made up of a single movement. What are we learning about her in this piece? “There's a lot of athletics; there's a lot of very quick moving notes and very fleeting harmonies that keep you on the edge of your seat — until suddenly it gives way to the richest, chocolatiest and soulful singing quality found in some of those andante sections that are laced in between the athleticism. In terms of the structure of the piece, she just changed things up and went against the grain.” Why did you decide to pair these two works with Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1? “I fell in love with the violin because of music like the violin concerti by Bruch, Mendelssohn and Brahms, not because of the Price concerti. But the Price concerti have injected new life to me in terms of having some sort of a guiding purpose behind a lot of my programing.” Price: Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major - I. Tempo moderato To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Giveaway Time For Three New Classical Tracks Giveaway You must be 13 or older to submit any information to American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio. The personally identifying information you provide will not be sold, shared, or used for purposes other than to communicate with you about things like our programs, products and services. See Terms of Use and Privacy. This giveaway is subject to the Official Giveaway Rules. Resources Randall Goosby — Max Bruch & Florence Price Violin Concertos (Amazon) Randall Goosby — Max Bruch & Florence Price Violin Concertos (Decca) Randall Goosby (official site)
6/14/202320 minutes, 32 seconds
Episode Artwork

Lara Downes releases 'Love at Last,' an album of healing and hope

Lara Downes – Love at Last (PENTATONE) Jump to giveaway form New Classical Tracks - Lara Downes by Love at Last is a new recording by pianist Lara Downes featuring music of healing and hope. The album contains music that came out of the darkest period of the global pandemic. Downes recalls hearing those years referred to as unprecedented times, but that’s not entirely accurate, she says. “When we are immersed as classical musicians in a tradition that goes back so many centuries, and we know the stories behind the music, then we're very familiar with the cycles of war and plague, and all of the tragedies that humans endure. So I started thinking about the ways that music could support a feeling of connection across time and place and understanding of history. This continuum, this past, present and future continuum. And then I started amassing music, and it was a really beautiful process.” More From Lara Downes 2023 Lara Downes performs a spring-themed Tiny Desk Concert full of renewal 2022 Classical Woman of the Year: Lara Downes 2022 Lara Downes reflects on the music of Scott Joplin 2021 Pianist Lara Downes re-centers the music of the Great Migration 2019 Pianist Lara Downes celebrates the power and artistic legacy of women in new album What made you decide on the title of Love at Last for this collection of music? “It comes from a poem by 19th-century writer Shaul Tchernichovsky. He was a Ukrainian poet who later emigrated to Jerusalem. The poem had been set by a singer songwriter named Debbie Friedman in the ‘70s, and it was a song that we used to sing in temple when I was a kid. “He wrote the poem when he was a young man at the very turn of the century in Odessa. But he was about to witness so many terrible things, the antisemitism that was going to ravage his community in Ukraine, two World Wars. And this poem of his begins with, ‘Laugh at all my dreams, my dearest laugh. And I repeat anew that I still believe in man as I still believe in you. Let the times be dark with hatred. I believe in years beyond, love at last shall bind all people in an everlasting bond.’” The piece that opens this recording is Dawn, by Czech composer Jaroslav Ježek. It's a work that you performed at the Czech Embassy in Washington, D.C., a few years ago, and most of your audience was in tears. Can you talk about this song and why it has such an impact on those who hear it? “This song was played on the radio in Prague every day during the Nazi occupation, and it was kind of a secret message of resistance — a reminder to the Czech people that there would be another dawn, a brighter day. And I didn't know that history when I played it in this room full of people who had this visceral connection with that music that was handed down from their parents and grandparents. And the emotion around it just was staggering.” You created an arrangement of a piece by Margaret Bonds. It's the Credo No. 2, and it's from a larger work. Can you talk a little bit about this piece and how it is still relevant today? “She wrote her credo inspired by the text from W.E.B. Dubois, a prose poem that he wrote in 1904. In the 1960s, Bonds took that text and wrote a large piece for baritone soloist, chorus and orchestra, also called The Credo, bringing his words to life in the middle of the civil rights movement. And just thinking about all of the generations who have fought for this American promise and how we continue to do that. We're certainly living in times that are complicated and challenging when it comes to race All of the pieces on this record. They're all reminding us that tomorrow is a new day, and that means a new chance.” Tree of Life To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Giveaway Time For Three New Classical Tracks Giveaway You must be 13 or older to submit any information to American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio. The personally identifying information you provide will not be sold, shared, or used for purposes other than to communicate with you about things like our programs, products and services. See Terms of Use and Privacy. This giveaway is subject to the Official Giveaway Rules. Resources Lara Downes — Love at Last (Amazon) Lara Downes — Love at Last (Pentatone) Lara Downes (Official site)
6/7/202331 minutes, 39 seconds
Episode Artwork

Osmo Vänskä finds a message about life in Mahler's Symphony No. 9

Osmo Vänskä/Minnesota Orchestra – Mahler: Symphony No. 9 (BIS) Jump to giveaway form New Classical Tracks - Osmo Vanska by In the past few months, Osmo Vänskä has conducted from a wheelchair, a stool and now, finally, standing up after suffering a bad fall and shattering his pelvis. There’s a lot of metal keeping him going, he says, and that’s another reason he’s decided his motorcycling days are over. “I have decided to sell it, because I’m now 70, and I’ve had enough miles with the motorcycle,” he says. “… It will go to the Symphony Ball auction this June. I don't want to have anymore stupid risks in my life.” Vänskä has been a music director for almost 40 years. Nineteen of those years were with the Minnesota Orchestra. Recordings he made with the orchestra are still being released, and the latest features Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 9. More From New Classical Tracks 2017 Minnesota masters Mahler's Symphony No. 5 2019 Vanska shares insights into Mahler's 'Resurrection Symphony' 2020 Keeping the beat on Minnesota's recording of Mahler's Symphony No. 7 2021 Minnesota violist enjoys being an inner voice on Mahler's Symphony No. 10 What makes Mahler's Symphony No. 9 so powerful?  “[The piece was composed] at the time when his daughter had died, and Mahler knew in his heart that there was something wrong.  He thought he was coming to the end of his life. And even though he wrote about the world and about life when he was younger, those pictures were different than when he was an older composer. Death is much closer to this music. It’s a question about the whole life, the whole world, whatever those thing include.” Mahler was a conductor as well as a composer. Are you seeing something in the score that makes his intentions clearer because he’s so well versed in both of those roles? “It means for me that I have to take what he wrote very seriously. He's giving a lot of instructions in this score. Technically speaking, I don’t need to add anything to the score. I just try to do what he wrote there, and in my experience, that is how it works. But then it comes to the point where technical things are not the final say in the music. The final say is what my heart and the hearts of the players are telling them when they are playing this.” Can you give me an example? Is there a spot in this performance with the Minnesota Orchestra, with you conducting, where you followed your heart?   “From the first bar until the last bar. There is not one bar that is done without emotional feeling, not one bar that is done without the heartbeat and the understanding that comes from the music about life, about the world.” Mahler's protégé, Bruno Walter, conducted the premiere of this symphony over a year after Mahler died. Walter said that as he studied the score, he recognized the way that Mahler walked, his gait, in some of the limping rhythms of the first movement. And then, later, Leonard Bernstein said that it could have been Mahler's irregular heartbeat. What do you hear in that first movement? “I think both are right. And I believe that the reason why we like that music is because those details could be about our lives, too. I can easily say right now, after my accident, that I have much more understanding about people who cannot move, especially when I was in my wheelchair on the streets. It's difficult to go because the streets are not made for people who are using wheelchairs, those kind of things. And I also understand that I was very close to dying.  “We all have our dark moments, and we all have our hope, and then we are thankful and think, ‘Wow, this is a new chance.’ That is all coming from Mahler’s music. He sent a message about his life.” Symphony No. 9: I. Andante comodo To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Giveaway Time For Three New Classical Tracks Giveaway You must be 13 or older to submit any information to American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio. The personally identifying information you provide will not be sold, shared, or used for purposes other than to communicate with you about things like our programs, products and services. See Terms of Use and Privacy. This giveaway is subject to the Official Giveaway Rules. Resources Osmo Vänskä and Minnesota Orchestra — Mahler: Symphony No. 9 (Amazon) Osmo Vänskä (Minnesota Orchestra official site) Minnesota Orchestra (official site)
5/24/202332 minutes, 46 seconds
Episode Artwork

Mehmet Ali Sanlikol combines jazz with classical Turkish music

Mehmet Ali Sanlikol and A Far Cry — A Gentleman of Istanbul (Crier) Jump to giveaway form New Classical Tracks - Mehmet Ali Sanlikol by Mehmet Ali Sanlikol is a Turkish American composer and multi-instrumentalist who grew up surrounded by Western classical piano music. Then, he discovered jazz. He moved to Boston to study at the Berklee College of Music. And today, he’s a professor at the New England Conservatory. His life-changing journey comes to light in his new recording with the chamber orchestra A Far Cry, A Gentleman of Istanbul. “I came back to my roots seven years after moving to Boston,” he says. “When I reconnected with my culture. I realized that I was self-alienated, self orientalism. It was a very important moment. It took about 10 years for me to come out of it. “What I mean by that is I started picking up several traditional musical instruments, studying them in addition to piano and singing professionally in traditional classical Turkish style. It was around 2011 when I relaunched my career as a composer and jazz musician. I had developed a more confident and unique voice as a composer.” How did you come up with A Gentleman of Istanbul? “It wasn't that difficult for me to think about a theme because right then, Donald Trump had come forward with his Muslim ban. It wasn't in response because almost everyone I knew was arguing. What surprised me was how many people out there looking to defend Muslims happened to be putting out images that were also stereotypes. “This just kept hitting me one after the other. They once said, ‘Come on, this is not right. This is reductionism.’ Islamic geography is huge, from Morocco to Indonesia. It's a huge religion, and you're reducing that culture to just the mosque and the headscarf? “I said, ‘Let me show you cosmopolitanism within Islam.’ I went to this fantastic Ottoman intellectual Muslim traveler from mid-17th-century Istanbul. His name is Evliya Çelebi. I thought if I picked several excerpts from his traveling, I might be able to show the kind of cosmopolitanism I rarely see. Would his ideas of Islam be accepted now? “I think those kinds of attitudes still exist. However, he was devout, but at the same time, he had a lot of room for all kinds of Sufi dervishes, too. That's the cosmopolitanism that I'm talking about. It's striking, especially considering this is a 17th-century travelogue.” How have you created music that blends traditional Turkish Western classical jazz? “First, I selected four different sections out of the travelogue. The first one was the clocks and bell towers of Vienna. That first movement is a little bit more classical, if you will. I am playing the oud as the featured soloist — the middle of the first movement follows the sonata form. In the middle of that, there is a fugue. There is a sense of Vienna that I found different ways to express. “In the second movement, where he talks about the death of an Ottoman sultana, he becomes melancholic, dramatic and Homeric. I thought about Istanbul and the kind of violet or purplish tones you see that get reflected on the Bosporus Strait right around sunset. I imagine crossing the Bosporus with a ferry at that hour and seeing the seagulls fly before the Hagia Sophia or Blue Mosque. I had these images, and then I thought, ‘That's jazz.’ I said, ‘I'm going to score a jazz ballad.’ “The third movement is the funniest passage, because he says he sees two Bektashi Sufi dervishes, an order from central Turkey. One is riding a rhinoceros, and the other is on an animal with horns by the ears. I was like, ‘What's going on?’ It was so entertaining. When I go back to that, it puts a smile on my face, and it's fantastic. It's like a passage out of Star Wars, right?” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Giveaway Time For Three New Classical Tracks Giveaway You must be 13 or older to submit any information to American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio. The personally identifying information you provide will not be sold, shared, or used for purposes other than to communicate with you about things like our programs, products and services. See Terms of Use and Privacy. This giveaway is subject to the Official Giveaway Rules. Resources Mehmet Ali Sanlikol and A Far Cry — A Gentleman of Istanbul (Amazon) Mehmet Ali Sanlikol (official site) A Far Cry (official site)
5/17/202340 minutes, 44 seconds
Episode Artwork

Brooklyn Rider creates music out of opportunity

Brooklyn Rider — The Wanderer (Icy Cold Records) Jump to giveaway form New Classical Tracks - Nicholas Cords by “We think of the string quartet as a laboratory and learning experience of which there is no end,” says Nicholas Cords the violist for Brooklyn Rider. “We've done so much over our nearly 20-year history, and I think it would be as interesting to us if we only stayed in the world of what we knew.” Cords says Brooklyn Rider is a string quartet that always has irons in the fire. The ensemble’s latest album, The Wanderer, is its first digital-only release and live album. “These things often come about through happenstance and opportunity. One of those opportunities was that we knew we would be on tour in Europe last spring,” Cords says. “We would be in Lithuania. We had heard through a friend that there's this amazing place to record there called police. It's about ten kilometers from the Russian border. “This was a very interesting time to be there as the conflict in Ukraine was not so old at that point. Everybody was on edge,” he says. “But here we were in this amazing retreat that used to be a horse stable. It was enclosed in glass. It turns out this was an amazing place to record.“ Can you talk about the themes in the recording? “The album is called The Wanderer. We chose this title because it's a famous song by Franz Schubert. Also on this recording is his Death in the Maiden for string quartet. We've all experienced that life has changed over the last few years. This album combines certain dualities in life, such as memory, remembrance, melancholy and bliss, old and new, and life and death, as represented by Schubert's work. It's an album about life's journey.” Can you talk about Gonzalo Grau’s Aroma a Distancia? “Gonzalo is a Venezuelan composer but has called many places home. You can hear those influences, from Venezuelan music to Afro-Cuban music to the flamenco. “The more you dig into any work, you discover it's a web of influences that created that music. All these traditions we have musically are living traditions that continue to change and morph because of other outside influences. That is on display in Aroma a Distancia.” Can you talk about Osvaldo Golijov’s work he commissioned for Brooklyn Rider? “This five-movement work depicts a life story from morning to midnight and beyond. It's sort of a metaphor told in the day. A metaphor for life's journey that also ties to the theme of this album.” Is this the first time Brooklyn Rider has recorded Death and the Maiden? “Absolutely. It is our first time. This felt like a natural connection, especially with Osvaldo Golijov's music. We were workshopping both quartets at the same time. Osvaldo's favorite thing to do was sit in the room and be a fly on the wall as we rehearsed this Schubert quartet. Schubert is one of his favorite composers.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Giveaway Time For Three New Classical Tracks Giveaway You must be 13 or older to submit any information to American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio. The personally identifying information you provide will not be sold, shared, or used for purposes other than to communicate with you about things like our programs, products and services. See Terms of Use and Privacy. This giveaway is subject to the Official Giveaway Rules. Resources Brooklyn Rider — The Wanderer (Amazon Music) Brooklyn Rider — The Wanderer (Bandcamp) Brooklyn Rider (official site)
5/10/202327 minutes, 21 seconds
Episode Artwork

Conductor JoAnn Falletta has built a reputation championing American composers

JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra — Danny Elfman: Violin Concerto 'Eleven Eleven' & Adolphus Hailstork: Piano Concerto No. 1 (Naxos) Jump to giveaway form New Classical Tracks - JoAnn Falletta by “I've been doing a lot of American concertos and commissioning them for our players. I'd love to start a concert series of American concertos,” conductor JoAnn Falletta says. “What better way to start than with these two unbelievable pieces?” As the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra music director and music director laureate of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Falletta has built a reputation as a champion of American composers. Her latest recording features Danny Elfman’s first violin concerto, Eleven Eleven, with violinist Sandy Cameron, and the Piano Concerto No. 1, by Adolphus Hailstork, with pianist Stewart Goodyear. “I chose these works because they were from a different world than we normally associate with concertos. Adolphus Hailstork is African American and has intense training in classical Western music,” Falletta says. “Violinist Sandy Cameron comes from Danny Elfman, who had never written a classical piece until he wrote this amazing violin concerto. They are two very out-there concertos. I love them. They're destined to be classics of the 21st century.” The Virginia Symphony commissioned Adolphus Hailstork’s Piano Concerto No. 1. “That's right. It was commissioned right after I became music director. Part of the reason for the commission was that Hailstork lived in my apartment building. We both came to Virginia at the same time. I came to work with the orchestra, and he came to teach at Old Dominion University and Norfolk State University. “He wrote so many pieces and was very active as a composer. We played them all. He was also our composer in residence, and we got to do premieres of his pieces all the time. But we asked him to write a piano concerto, and he wrote this amazing piece. We took it with us when we made our debut performance at Carnegie Hall. “I thought it was time to record it with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. We have to record it because no one knows about this piece. It’s one of the greatest piano concertos ever written, after Gershwin.” Tell me about Eleven Eleven, by Danny Elfman. “He was working with Sandy on some of the Tim Burton films, and he had written some parts for solo violin. Sandy lived in Los Angeles and was playing them. Her virtuosity struck him. He said, ‘I want to write a violin concerto, and I want to write it for you.’ He had never written a classical piece. At 60, he said, ‘It's about time. If I'm going to do this, I must do it now.’ “They came up with this incredible idea of slightly amplifying the violin. Doing that allowed Danny to use the tremendous forces he wanted because the violin would be heard. People listening to the recording won't even be aware of that.  “Danny told me about putting in a Latin tango in the second movement and then wanted to take it out because he said, ‘Oh, no. That's too pop.’ Sandy talked him out of it, saying, ‘No, it's great. Our orchestra agreed it was one of their favorite spots.’ “It's similar to a film noir concerto if that makes sense. Danny's well known for his Batman music with a city noir soundscape where it's dark and a little threatening. It’s just so enticing this dark journey that he takes us on. I teased him when he was there by saying this is what Batman would sound like if you played the violin.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Giveaway Time For Three New Classical Tracks Giveaway You must be 13 or older to submit any information to American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio. The personally identifying information you provide will not be sold, shared, or used for purposes other than to communicate with you about things like our programs, products and services. See Terms of Use and Privacy. This giveaway is subject to the Official Giveaway Rules. Resources JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra — Danny Elfman: Violin Concerto 'Eleven Eleven' & Adolphus Hailstork: Piano Concerto No. 1 (Amazon Music) JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra — Danny Elfman: Violin Concerto 'Eleven Eleven' & Adolphus Hailstork: Piano Concerto No. 1 (Presto music) JoAnn Falletta (official site)
5/3/202326 minutes, 3 seconds
Episode Artwork

William Kanengiser and Alexander String Quartet relive British Invasion

William Kanengiser and the Alexander String Quartet — British Invasion (Foghorn Classics) Jump to giveaway form New Classical Tracks - William Kanengiser and Ian Krouse by “When I was in high school, I was in a rock band called Euphoria. We did all these covers. I had massive hair,” guitarist William Kanengiser says. “Even though I'm a classical guitarist, I have a background in rock, jazz, flamenco and world music. The whole vibe of this recording is something that comes naturally.” That vibe is the British Invasion of the ‘60s and ‘70s in guitar quintet form, featuring Kanengiser, best known as a founding member of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, and the Alexander String Quartet.  Kanengiser joins the Alexander String in their first album, British Invasion. It features incredible pieces inspired by Led Zeppelin, Sting and the Beatles. Kanengiser and composer Ian Krouse talk about how this project came together. How did the Led Zeppelin-inspired piece “Labyrinth” come about? Krouse: “I am also a guitarist, although I stopped playing many years ago. Growing up, I was interested in rock music and the Beatles, the Stones and Jimi Hendrix. I played in bands and learned how to do folk fingerpicking, which was my gateway to classical music. “I don't even remember how it started, but Bill and I were talking, and the idea of me writing a piece for the LAGQ based on a Led Zeppelin song came into view. We both thought, ‘Yeah, let's do this.’ I jumped right on it and wrote ‘Labyrinth.’ The original version was for four guitars. “A few years ago, Bill called me and asked if I would consider making a new version of ‘Labyrinth’ for guitar and string quartet. The words were hardly out of your mouth when I said, ‘Absolutely.’” Kanengiser: “Although it's a classical guitar, I strung a second guitar with specialized steel strings. I have steel strings on the trebles and play with a pick. I get to do a bottleneck slide solo in this open rock tuning. “He writes a passacaglia in a baroque form. There's a 12-tone fugue on the subject. It's an intense piece. That's the highest level of composition. This is a crossover pop tune and a serious, amazing contemporary composition.” Tell me about “Prims: Six Songs,” by Sting, and the composer who made it. Kanengiser: “Dušan Bogdanović has been my dear friend for decades. Sting did a project quite a few years ago where he approached the music of John Dowland. He worked with lutist Edin Karamazov, who is good friends with Dušan. Edin commissioned Dušan to write these arrangements. “There's this beautiful letter that Sting wrote to Dušan saying, ‘You took the broken fragments of my songs and turned them into a flight of nightingales.’” How did the work of John Dowland end up on this recording? Kanengiser: “He was like a rock star, the Jimmy Page of the Elizabethan age. I knew Ian had written this spectacular piece called ‘Music and Four Sharps,’ based on ‘Frog Galliard,’ by Dowland. Krouse: “I've always enjoyed the thrill of music that picks you up and takes you somewhere else over many minutes. In both pieces, the goal was to unleash energy and passion. “ British Invasion Official Trailer (William Kanengiser & The Alexander String Quartet) To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Giveaway Time For Three New Classical Tracks Giveaway You must be 13 or older to submit any information to American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio. The personally identifying information you provide will not be sold, shared, or used for purposes other than to communicate with you about things like our programs, products and services. See Terms of Use and Privacy. This giveaway is subject to the Official Giveaway Rules. Resources William Kanengiser and the Alexander String Quartet — British Invasion (Amazon) William Kanengiser and the Alexander String Quartet — British Invasion (Arkiv music) William Kanengiser (official site) Alexander String Quartet (official site)
4/26/202335 minutes, 5 seconds
Episode Artwork

Pianists Deborah Moriarty and Zhihua Tang bring many cultures together

Deborah Moriarty and Zhihua Tang — Connecting Cultures (BGR) Jump to giveaway form New Classical Tracks - Deborah Moriarty and Zhihua Tang by “When you're playing two pianos or when you're playing piano for four hands, you do not only have to listen, but you have an attack that happens,” pianist Deborah Moriarty says about herself and colleague Zhihua Tang’s recently released first album, Connecting Cultures. “You have to anticipate what the other person will do. You have to be in their head, heart and soul and know where they will go. That allowed me to work with Zhihua and get to know her.” The album presents four-hand piano music from around the world. What is it like to work with a former student who is now a colleague? Moriarty: “There's nothing more exciting than having a student become a colleague. I can't even describe it. To go from being the mentor and being the person who is giving them ideas to having an exchange of ideas. The roles shift. One of the great things about working with Zhihua is that we work as equals. We have fun. We have a good time.”  How did you decide which cultures you would represent on this recording? Tang: “We included music from all corners of the world. We try to pick pieces that are diverse in style but at the same time, they do share some commonalities. All the composers draw from their roots and express simple beauty in life.” Moriarty: “If you want to connect cultures, you have to do it in a way that will cause people to listen. When we chose the repertoire, we wanted works we thought people would listen to. Then they could move further into appreciating that particular culture.” Why did you choose Antonín Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances?  Moriarty: “Those are dances we've played quite a lot and enjoy. We wanted to choose two contrasting dances. The first one is the triumphant opening of the album, and the second one is one that we love to play.” Can you talk about the two Chinese composers on the recording? Tang: “Those two pieces are by two wonderful Chinese composers from two different generations, Wang Jianzhong and Gong Huahua. Jianzhong’s piece, Colorful Clouds Chasing the Moon, is more of a traditional folk song from the Guangdong province in Southern China, and it's joyful, peaceful and relaxed.” Moriarty: “Let me say also, as somebody who is not Chinese, I think that one of the great things about going to China and having a lot of students from there has been my exposure to this incredible music. Colorful Clouds Chasing the Moon is like colorful tripods chasing the moon. Every time we play, I think people are just amazed at the beauty of it.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Giveaway Time For Three New Classical Tracks Giveaway You must be 13 or older to submit any information to American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio. The personally identifying information you provide will not be sold, shared, or used for purposes other than to communicate with you about things like our programs, products and services. See Terms of Use and Privacy. This giveaway is subject to the Official Giveaway Rules. Resources Deborah Moriarty and Zhihua Tang — Connecting Cultures (BGR Store) Deborah Moriarty and Zhihua Tang — Connecting Cultures (Presto music)
4/19/202328 minutes, 26 seconds
Episode Artwork

Eric Whitacre wants you to feel at 'Home'

Eric Whitacre and Voces8 — Home (Decca) Jump to giveaway form New Classical Tracks - Eric Whitacre by “If I could travel back in time and tell my 20-year-old self, this will be your life; you'll be a classical choral composer. I just never could have imagined it,” Eric Whitacre says. “‘Go Lovely Rose’ is the first piece I wrote. I remember hearing it being sung live in the room. That's the day I knew I would be a composer,” he says, still realizing his dreams 30 years later. That first composition is featured on his new recording, Home, in collaboration with the British vocal ensemble Voces8. Why did you call the album Home? “On one level, it is referenced in a couple of the pieces on the album, specifically in Sacred Veil. It's the major theme and the final words of the entire piece. ‘Welcome home, my child. Welcome home.’” What do you admire most about Voces8? “It's their technical acumen. They're spectacular musicians. They sing with such purity and clarity. They sing so selflessly as a group. But there's this deeper thing going on, this kind of emotional intelligence that they have. I knew that from the albums, but I didn't really know until I was in the room with them.” Can you talk about the liner note, ‘This is how I always dreamed it would sound’? “About 32 years ago, I wrote something close to it, and a version in my head is always playing. It is ‘I always imagined it would be like this.’ I remember the first time we sang through the album, and I thought, ‘Oh, my God, that's it.’ It replaced the version in my head. So now I think about how it should sound. It's just that recording. “There's something about the transparency of just eight voices. It’s the strength of their purity. It causes these clouds of overtones that, while making the album, send chills down your spine that are just endless.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Giveaway Time For Three New Classical Tracks Giveaway You must be 13 or older to submit any information to American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio. The personally identifying information you provide will not be sold, shared, or used for purposes other than to communicate with you about things like our programs, products and services. See Terms of Use and Privacy. This giveaway is subject to the Official Giveaway Rules. Resources Eric Whitacre and VOCES8 — Home (Decca store) Eric Whitacre and VOCES8 — Home (Amazon) Eric Whitacre (Official Site) VOCES8 (Official Site)
4/12/202327 minutes, 23 seconds
Episode Artwork

Catalyst Quartet uncovers more musical gems in latest 'Uncovered' release

Catalyst Quartet — Uncovered, Vol. 3: Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, William Grant Still & George Walker (Azica Records) Jump to giveaway form New Classical Tracks - Karlos Rodriguez by “At the end of the day, the Catalyst Quartet is important because we’re trying to do something that matters to people.” Cellist Karlos Rodriguez is a founding member of the Catalyst Quartet, whose goal is to reimagine and redefine the classical music experience and the string quartet.  One way its members do that is through their multivolume series of recordings called Uncovered.  “We thought the series' inception, which started in 2018, would be one album,” he says. “Then, luckily, we called the thing Uncovered, because more and more music started to be uncovered, and it turned into this multivolume recording project. And in the end, I think it will probably be four volumes.” The third volume of Uncovered features works by George Walker, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson and William Grant still. Why feature these three composers on the same recording? “Their music is related wonderfully. One of the pieces is called the Lyric Quartet, which is by William Grant still. George Walker's quartet is referred to as the Lyric Quartet. … The middle movement has been published as the Lyric for Strings. [Another example is] William Grant, the dean of all great American music. There is a Jazz Age reference in that. [And] when you say American music, Perkinson has been inspired [and also] crossed the line into jazz-age harmony. Walker’s Lyric Quartet was his first major composition. He finished it while he was still a student studying in France. What is it about this work that makes it so significant? “As I spoke of earlier, the middle movement has been published as a standalone work called Lyric for Strings. It's beautiful. And so, many people play it that way, not even knowing that it's a whole string quartet, much like Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings. “We were in California playing a series of concerts. The Barber Quartet was on the program, and so was George Walker's Lyric for Strings. Now, we knew it was a whole string quartet. It's not that we didn't know that, but programmatically it was a good fit. So, we're driving from concert to concert on tour, and we get alerted to a tweet from George Walker, and he must have been well into his 80s at that point. “And he said, ‘Why does nobody play my whole quartet? Everyone only plays this Lyric for Strings, the slow movement. Are they not up to the challenge of the outer two movements of my string quartet? It's a shame…’ — or something like that. And so, we thought, ‘Oh, wow, good for him for getting on Twitter at his age,’ but also that he knew that people weren't playing this entire work. And so, I wish that he were still with us. But, finally, this album comes out of us playing his entire string quartet.” When Perkinson finished his String Quartet No. 2 (Calvary) in 1956, he was about the same age that Walker was when he finished his Lyric Quartet. Why is this work important to the ensemble? “For us, the work is important because of our connection to Perkinson himself through one of our early mentors, Sanford Allen. Sanford Allen is the first African American member of the New York Philharmonic. He's a violinist, and Leonard Bernstein hired him. Sanford is directly responsible for commissioning most of the smaller chamber works and solo works for violin, which often came from Perkinson. He used to call him Perky.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Giveaway Time For Three New Classical Tracks Giveaway You must be 13 or older to submit any information to American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio. The personally identifying information you provide will not be sold, shared, or used for purposes other than to communicate with you about things like our programs, products and services. See Terms of Use and Privacy. This giveaway is subject to the Official Giveaway Rules. Resources Catalyst Quartet — Uncovered, Vol. 3: Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, William Grant Still & George Walker (Amazon Music) Catalyst Quartet — Uncovered, Vol. 3: Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, William Grant Still & George Walker (Presto music) Catalyst Quartet (Official Site)
4/5/202330 minutes, 8 seconds
Episode Artwork

Violinist Tessa Lark goes back to her roots

Tessa Lark — The Stradgrass Sessions (First Hand Records) New Classical Tracks - Tessa Lark by “Smell is supposedly one of the strongest sensory responses to bring memories back. But for me, the sound of bluegrass may as well be the smell of bluegrass because it launches me back to a pure time and place every time I listen to it,” violinist Tessa Lark said about recording her latest album, The Stradgrass Sessions.  In this recording, she blends the sounds of bluegrass with classical music elements. She does that with the help of some of her idols, Michael Cleveland and Edgar Meyer.  What the heck is stradgrass? “I was using the old Stradivari violin for four years, which is the violin that Joseph Gingold owned and used until the end of his life. Now the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis owns it. It lets one of the prizewinners use it in the four years between competitions. That was me from 2014 through 2018. “My fiancee, Michael Thurber, when we first met and played together, played bass and accompanied me on a bluegrass number with my father, who plays banjo. In the middle of rehearsal, he said, ‘bluegrass on a Stradivarius is stradgrass.’” What did Michael Cleveland think when he played on the Stradivarius? “I just ran into him at a conference in New York, and he was there doing a showcase. I told him I was his biggest fan and had a Stradivarius with me. I asked, ‘Would you like to try it out?’ He said, ‘Of course.’ He said it growled. He got into the tone, playing many double stops and long notes. It sounded excellent in his hands. “The tune we played together is ‘Lazy Katie,’ and I was in nearby Louisville after we met at that convention in New York City. He lives just outside that in Indiana, and he invited me over to his place. We just jammed for a few hours at his house.” What was it like to make music with Edgar Meyer? “Talk about a dream come true. He has influenced the way I live in music in every way. It is a little bit of a shock when I step back for a second and think that this lifetime hero of mine is a colleague.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Resources Tessa Lark — The Stradgrass Sessions (FHR Store) Tessa Lark (official site)
3/29/202332 minutes, 53 seconds
Episode Artwork

Pianist Hélène Grimaud pays homage to one of Ukraine’s greatest living composers

Hélène Grimaud and Konstantin Krimmel — Silvestrov: Silent Songs (DG) New Classical Tracks - Hélène Grimaud by “His music is his poetry. It has exceptional transparency. It's simple in the language yet so expressive. Do you know what they say in French? This expression, à fleur de peau — ‘means I want to pull something on the skin's surface that reaches deep,’” says French pianist Hélène Grimaud about the music of one of Ukraine’s greatest living composers, Valentin Silvestrov. “It is pervasive and something that grabs you by the heart and hand and takes you quite far. It's a beautiful journey.” Her most recent recording, Silvestrov: Silent Songs, also features German/Romanian baritone Konstantin Krimmel as they pay homage to Silvestrov and perform 12 of his 24 ‘Silent Songs.’ What was it like performing these works in front of the composer? “We met just before the performance, which was the one to be recorded. To meet him afterward and get into his head was a gift. It is a privilege to ask a creator because we always hoped we would have the chance to do it. It's both intimidating and wonderful to have that possibility. “One thing that fascinated me was that he confirmed my suspicions. Part of the artistic process in the composition is about catching the music. It comes to him as something preexisting. I think there's something extraordinary about it.” Can you talk about some of the poets that are represented on the album? “There is a poem by John Keat. It has to do with the melody. The melody is equivalent to a smile, and it is what enables connection. He says you can connect through that smile when you meet another being. “Because of the hypnotic melody, every time it comes back, it has a different connotation. What better theme is there than love in all its déclinaisons?” What is the role of the piano in these songs? “I feel that the role of the piano in this cycle is that of confidence. How would one say that in English? It’s the person you confide in and comes with a higher responsibility because you must take in those secrets and nurture them. There's a beautiful give and take and the music has this ebb and flow, which becomes an integral part of the expression.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Resources Hélène Grimaud and Konstantin Krimmel — Silvestrov: Silent Songs (DG Store) Hélène Grimaud and Konstantin Krimmel — Silvestrov: Silent Songs (Amazon) Hélène Grimaud (official site)
3/22/202325 minutes, 25 seconds
Episode Artwork

Pianist Benjamin Grosvenor explores the relationship among Romantic composers

Benjamin Grosvenor — Schumann & Brahms (Decca) New Classical Tracks - Benjamin Grosvenor by “They're so interconnected as figures and personalities. There are so many ways you can bring them together, because their whole lives are just interconnected in this wonderful way,” British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor says about his latest recording, Schumann & Brahms, which explores the fascinating relationship among Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms. Can you tell us about the fictional character by E.T.A. Hoffmann that is the inspiration for the first track, Kreisleriana? “Johannes Kreisler was a romanticized idea of a tortured artist, a musician with really high ideals and obsessed with the music of Bach. A temperamental musician prone to mood swings and fits of inspiration and then depression. Robert Schumann identified with him as a figure. I mean, there were many similarities between them. The most substantial movement of the set is the second. He told Clara that this piece was about their lives together. This movement is intimacy, longing and love. “Clara only performed certain movements of it, and Franz Liszt did, as well. Although they admired the piece, they thought it was too much for the audience. I believe that Robert even suggested to Clara that when she plays the last movement, perhaps she should do a crescendo at the end so that the audience would applaud. The idea of a piece disappearing to pianissimo as it does was unusual for the time.” When you perform the work, do you do the pianissimo? “Yes. It's a magical effect.  Everything dissolves, like in a puff of smoke.” Why did you choose Robert Schumann’s Romance No. 2 for this album? “When they were married, he wrote these romances. Clara requested that he dedicate them to her, and she greatly admired this second piece. She said she knew of nothing more tender than this love duet. It remained a special piece for her throughout her life. It was the last piece she requested on her deathbed. A grandson played it for her.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Resources Benjamin Grosvenor — Schumann & Brahms (Presto music) Benjamin Grosvenor — Schumann & Brahms (Amazon) Benjamin Grosvenor (official site)
3/15/202320 minutes, 36 seconds
Episode Artwork

Violinist Lara St. John continues her fight for women

Lara St. John — ♀she/her/hers (Ancalagon Records) New Classical Tracks - Lara St. John by When Lara St. John was 14 and studying at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, she was abused by her violin teacher. When she reported it, nothing happened. That’s why she decided to reveal her story to the public. “Finally, I decided the only way to do it right was to scream from the rooftops,” St. John said. “I've been doing that since the 5,000-word article came out in July 2019 in the Philadelphia Inquirer.” Her fight for women in the world of classical music continues with a new recording that lifts the voices of a dozen women composers called ♀she/her/hers. “For years I've been trying to include music by women in programs. There's so much great stuff out there for solo violin I decided to make a recording of it,” she said. “For example, Sophie-Carmen Eckhardt-Gramatté, was a violinist, pianist and terrific composer. Nobody outside of Manitoba has ever heard of her. So I wanted to change that.” Can you talk about some of the extended techniques used on the album? “Milica Paranosic’s Bubamara is the first track. She and I have been friends for years and originally bonded over our love of Serbian Roma music. So she wrote this one for me and used traditional Macedonia rhythms. At one point, she said, ‘I want this effect here. How can you do this and can you do it? Can you do it with foot bells? Can you do it with this?’ I just figured out different ways of being able to play a theme. It's doing pizzicato with the left hand, which is kind of like accompanying oneself. “Laurie Anderson gave me carte blanche, basically. I set her Statue of Liberty for solo violin and Tibetan bells. The bowls make those beautiful sounds that go right into your solar plexus. I don't know how Tibetans do that, but it's an incredible sound. “I've been a big fan of Valerie Coleman for 20 years, and she wrote a gorgeous flute piece, which I figured out how to perform on violin. I can even do flutter tongue. I have the sound that I want to achieve in my head, and then I figure out how to do it.” Tell me about Ada Caplan's Whitewashed. “She was 14 when she wrote to me and said, ‘Hi, I don't know you, but I'm a composer and a violinist. I wrote a piece I want to present to a competition at my school. I wrote it a little bit too hard, and I don't sound good. Can you record it for me?’ “She's from Philadelphia. Of course, a 14-year-old from Philadelphia was a little more fateful than a coincidence. One of her composition teachers is Melissa Dunphy, who also wrote a great piece for solo violin called Kommós, which is also on the album. The whole thing just came together.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Resources Lara St. John — ♀she/her/hers (Lara St. John Store) Lara St. John — ♀she/her/hers (Amazon) Lara St. John (official site)
3/8/202336 minutes, 50 seconds
Episode Artwork

Classical guitarist Christopher Mallett celebrates a legend

Christopher Mallett — Justin Holland: Guitar Works and Arrangements (Naxos) New Classical Tracks - Christopher Mallet by “For me, it's not just American music. It's music that a Black American arranged,” classical guitarist Christopher Mallett said. “That's the most significant part of why I want to help spread this music and why I need to play it.” Mallett honors and celebrates the Black pioneer of American classical guitar music in his latest solo recording, Justin Holland: Guitar Works and Arrangements.  He initially discovered Justin Holland's music while studying classical guitar at his local community college. He went on to study at Holland’s alma mater, Oberlin College, and discovered more of Holland’s music as a student at Yale. For several years, Mallett has been carrying around a stack of Holland’s music playing it occasionally. “It wasn't until 2020 that people started to take notice of Holland's music. It was around the time of George Floyd,” he says. “People started looking up Black composers and classical guitarists. Suddenly, people are writing articles about Holland and reaching out to me and saying, ‘Can you record Justin Holland?’” “I sat down and read through every single piece,” he says about creating the album. “I spent days and days putting my wife through the torture of just sitting there and saying, ‘What do you think of this one?’ I was whittling it down from 50 to 60 pieces down to 14 of what I thought would be something that would catch the attention of listeners.” What piece did your wife enjoy the most? “The two that she said should be on the recording were ‘The Maiden’s Prayer’ and ‘Carnival of Venice.’ My wife is from Indonesia, and ‘The Maiden’s Prayer’ is prevalent throughout Asia and Southeast Asia. When I played it, she said, ‘Oh my gosh, I used to listen to that all the time when I was a little kid. You have to record it.’ “It's an amazing arrangement. I've seen other guitarists play other arrangements online that I feel aren't even half as good as Holland's. Hopefully, this innovation will get out more because it is a trendy tune.” What sets the “Carnival of Venice” apart from other arrangments? “There are variations with intricate and quick pull-offs reminiscent of metal music. He has variations with these quick, rapid arpeggios that fly up and down the neck. It's a culmination of all his method books into one piece. Everything he talks about scales, arpeggios, harmonics, pull-offs, slurs, it’s all within that one piece.” Why was Justin Holland so influential as a guitarist in 19th-century America? “It was his arrangements. He started making them for his students. They passed them around and they started becoming popular. It caught the attention of a viral publisher back then, S. Brainard & Sons. Any new popular tunes that would come out, Holland would be the person to arrange them. “What made him a household name to guitarists in America were his two method books. There's this famous method book now called Pumping Nylon by Scott Tennant. As I look through Holland’s method, I almost consider it the Pumping Nylon of the 19th century.” Watch now Resources Christopher Mallett — Justin Holland: Guitar Works and Arrangements (Presto music) Christopher Mallett — Justin Holland: Guitar Works and Arrangements (Amazon) Christopher Mallett (official site)
3/1/202337 minutes, 27 seconds
Episode Artwork

Calidore String Quartet tells the story of Beethoven by starting from the end

Calidore String Quartet — Beethoven: The Late Quartets (Signum Classics) New Classical Tracks - Calidore Quartet by Sometimes the best way to tell a story is to start at the end. That way your destination is clear. That’s what the Calidore String Quartet decided to do when recording all of Beethoven’s String Quartets during the pandemic and recently releasing their first 3-CD set, Beethoven: The Late Quartets. Cellist Estelle Choi said about the creation of the project, “It will be an interesting journey to go back and realize how much uniqueness and creativity was involved in every single one of his quartets. Each one is completely different from the other.” Why are these string quartets significant to you? “The Beethoven String Quartets span his entire career. You get work from every single period of his life. The importance of these works is immeasurable. It ushered in a completely new era and cemented the roots of the string quartet as a vehicle, not just for looking into the past but also looking far into the future. “Suppose you're coming into this not knowing anything about the string quartets. In that case, it represents an incredible body of work from somebody who pushed his creativity and did not feel constrained to fit the status quo. You can explore his compositional eras and find something that speaks to you because his music expresses the human condition.” How do these late quartets unite us as people? “In his struggles, you see how he made himself heard within the music. One particular piece which hits me personally is Opus. 132, Heiliger Dankgesang. This is Beethoven struggling to come to terms with knowing that he's towards the end of his life. But in the slow movement, he takes a moment to give thanks. “A visceral moment in learning this piece that stays with me forever is when we worked with the first violinist from the Alben Berg Quartet, Günter Pichler. He was describing this movement as going from this gorgeous chorale-like opening into the next section which is renewed force. “He described it as imagining somebody who had been belabored with sickness, suddenly being able to stand up and walk as a healthy individual. That has always stayed with me in imagining Beethoven feeling the burden of this illness and yet being able to stand up and say, ‘No, there is something to live for.’” Watch now Resources Calidore String Quartet — Beethoven: The Late Quartets (Signum Classics) Calidore String Quartet (official site)
2/22/202333 minutes, 8 seconds
Episode Artwork

Eldbjørg Hemsing shares a musical journey through the Arctic

Eldbjørg Hemsing — Arctic (Sony Classical) New Classical Tracks - Eldbjørg Hemsing by “It's hard to describe with words what the Arctic is like, and that's one of the reasons I wanted to create this musical journey through the region,” Norwegian violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing said. “I try to give an audio/visual experience with images when people listen to it.” Hemsing grew up about 60 miles from the Arctic Circle. In her new recording, Arctic, she offers a glimpse of its fragile beauty through the music of contemporary and traditional composers. “I come from a small village in the middle of nowhere. Six hundred people live in that area of wilderness, which is just beneath a big mountain chain. I grew up with my mom playing the violin,” she says. “My father was working in nature. So my upbringing was very much music and nature. That's the main inspiration for this album.” Many of the pieces on this album are trying to capture the beauty of the Arctic. “There are difficulties in the North regarding ice melting. The environment is changing. It's easy to lose hope and feel depressed. I wanted to try with this project to come from another angle and show the life and beauty that we need to preserve.” Could you walk us through Jacob Shea’s Arctic Suite? “In the Arctic, it's important to try to show all the different sides. That's the musical journey in the piece. It starts with a frozen world. Everything's very quiet, harsh and frozen. But then as the sun returns, which happens around January, you can see life return to this region. “Slowly but surely, it happens. There's inspiration from the aurora borealis, giving a musical expression to the polar regions. With this piece, you can get a sense of a whole year in the Arctic Circle.” Does he also sing on that piece? “Yes. He wasn't supposed to. But when we were preparing the piece, he had so much power while singing. I felt strongly we needed this in the recording because it's raw and real.” Why did you include Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Whispering? “I was thinking about the sound you get when you hear the winds howling up in the mountains. It carries so much meaning and expression, but it's quiet and round when it moves. It's almost like water in that sense.” Could you tell us about Henning Sommerro’s Vårsøg? “This is a piece I grew up with. It's well known in Norway. The piece was made over a poem written in 1945, just as the world was starting to become normal again after the Second World War. The poem talks about hope for peace and a new start.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Resources Eldbjørg Hemsing — Arctic (Sony Store) Eldbjørg Hemsing — Arctic (Amazon) Eldbjørg Hemsing (official site)
2/15/202325 minutes, 29 seconds
Episode Artwork

Guitarist David Starobin celebrates one of his musical idols

David Starobin — Giulio Regondi: A 200th Birthday Bouquet (Bridge) “I retired from playing four years ago,” guitarist David Starobin says. I didn't have all that much time to deal with my playing until I stopped playing. Despite retiring from performing, he still teaches at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and the Manhattan School of Music. He also runs an art gallery and produces records for his label, Bridge Records. One of those releases, Giulio Regondi: A 200th Birthday Bouquet, celebrates one of Starobin‘s musical idols, the Swiss-born composer, guitarist and concertinist Giulio Regondi. “As a composer, he wrote the finest romantic guitar music from the mid-1800s. This was when you had Mendelssohn, Schumann and amazing composers writing romantic music that we consider great repertoire,” Starobin says. “Everything about his music appealed to me,” he says. “His life story is unbelievable. He was a child prodigy who played before every European court by the time he was 9. He then emigrated with his stepfather to England and had a very successful career there, and then something strange happened. “He encountered a scientist, Charles Wheatstone, who had invented the concertina. Regondi was the first person to try this instrument when he was just 12. For the rest of his life, he alternated concerts between the guitar and the concertina, but he wrote most of his music for concertina.” Why did you transcribe his concertina etudes for guitar? “There's a real lack of repertoire, especially for my students who could play intermediate Regondi. This fills a gap in the guitar repertoire regarding learning romantic style and the necessary contrapuntal voicing that his music requires. “The best piece compositionally on the record is his second etude. It traverses all sorts of keys. It starts in a minor and works through a series of keys that ends in C-sharp major. That work, essentially a slow piece, offers the most opportunity to sing lyrically. “When I was listening to Fete Villageoise, for example, there’s a beautiful melody, but the way it's played and presented has a lovely sense of delicacy. I don't know if that's the right way to describe it, but that's what I'm hearing. “One of the main reasons that I fell in love with this man's music was the certain intimacy that he achieves in expression. What Regondi does is give enough harmonic variety in the music so that it colors what he's writing in a very different way for the guitar than other composers of that period.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Resources David Starobin — Giulio Regondi: A 200th Birthday Bouquet (Bridge Store) David Starobin — Giulio Regondi: A 200th Birthday Bouquet (Amazon)
2/8/202338 minutes, 45 seconds
Episode Artwork

Cleveland Orchestra performs the music of George Walker

Cleveland Orchestra — Walker: Antifonys, Lilacs, Sinfonias Nos. 4 & 5 (Cleveland Orchestra) Jump to giveaway form New Classical Tracks - Eliesha Nelson - Walker by “Of course, it was important and meaningful for me to play a Black American composer,” said Eliesha Nelson who has been a violist with the Cleveland Orchestra for more than 20 years. She talked about the orchestra’s release, Walker: Antifonys, Lilacs, Sinfonias Nos. 4 & 5, which is also the first time they have recorded the music of George Walker.  “They're not that many Black violists in a major orchestra, and to have an African American tell their story through their words and pen is so meaningful to be a part of, “ she said. Nelson had the pleasure of meeting George Walker a few times after he asked her to play his viola sonata with him. That experience reinforced her enthusiasm for him and his music. “He's one of my musical icons. I so respect him in so many ways. He's just brilliant. He started college when he was 14 — got into Curtis after he graduated from Oberlin. His music is thorny, but there's a lot of beauty in it as well,” Nelson said about Walker. “He was very serious, and he wasn't one to joke around and try to make people feel good or pacify them. He just said things as he saw them and his music reflects that. He won a Pulitzer Prize for the piece Lilacs, which appears on this recording. That was in 1996. And even then, it was still difficult for him to get any traction with getting commissions or getting his music performed. That seems so heartbreaking to me,” she said about his career after winning the Pulitzer Prize. “He wrote about how winning that prize didn't do anything for him. No major orchestra in this country offered to play that piece or any piece he wrote. Basically, it was youth orchestras and smaller community orchestras that played his music.” Nelson said she hopes the Cleveland Orchestra’s album brings to light how wonderful a composer Walker is. “And hopefully, more people will start playing his music so it will become part of the canon.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Giveaway Time For Three New Classical Tracks Giveaway You must be 13 or older to submit any information to American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio. The personally identifying information you provide will not be sold, shared, or used for purposes other than to communicate with you about things like our programs, products and services. See Terms of Use and Privacy. This giveaway is subject to the Official Giveaway Rules. Resources The Cleveland Orchestra — Walker: Antifonys, Lilacs, Sinfonias Nos. 4 & 5 (The Cleveland Orchestra store) The Cleveland Orchestra — Walker: Antifonys, Lilacs, Sinfonias Nos. 4 & 5 (Amazon) The Cleveland Orchestra (official site)
2/1/202329 minutes, 38 seconds
Episode Artwork

Anthony McGill and the Pacifica Quartet tell the stories of America

Anthony McGill/Pacifica Quartet — American Stories (Cedille) Jump to giveaway form New Classical Tracks - Pacifica Quartet with Anthony McGill by “I don't remember the first time I played or performed the Mozart Clarinet Quintet. There's something about the first journeys into works that are especially memorable for me,” said clarinetist Anthony McGill when talking about how he and the Pacifica Quartet formed powerful memories as they learned and grew into the music featured on their new release, American Stories.  Can you talk about what we hear in James Lee III’s Quintet? “I've been thinking a lot about this because of my entire life as a Black musician. Lee’s piece interests me, particularly with his discussion about his inspiration from pictures of Native Americans or indigenous peoples, but also a blending of Black Americans who can trace their roots to indigenous populations in America.” Can you talk about the story behind Richard Danielpour’s Four Angels? “The thematic material is based on the Black American struggle and civil rights movement, which he has been a champion of through his musical voice for many years. This particular piece, which was dedicated to the four girls who were killed in the Birmingham bombing in 1963, is a dedication to the lives that have been lost for freedom in this country. “Recording it with the Pacifica Quartet worked perfectly. This concept of identity represents Danielpour. He always tells his story. We have individual stories of growing up. He grew up in Florida as a Persian American, but it always started in the civil rights movement. It’s about how you can feel the plight of other people and be a part of a movement in that way and then use your voice as a composer or creator to share the voices and the stories of others.” How about Ben Shirley’s High Sierra Sonata? Pacifica Quartet violist Mark Holloway: “It starts with this external sound, which is our breathing, waking up and starting the day. To start the recording, we had to breathe. McGill put some air through his instrument, and we were stretching to have a human side to the way the music opens peacefully and calmly. You can imagine the High Sierras. It's evocative music that marches to the beat of its own drum. He doesn't write music the way everyone else does, which is the mark of a very good composer.” McGill: “It's great to be on here with Halloway because we've never performed these pieces before, but we also haven't had long conversations. What Halloway says reminds me of my parents and family's visual art background. It reminds me of music that is similar to a collage. There are different pieces from different parts of one's artist's life within the work.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Giveaway Time For Three New Classical Tracks Giveaway You must be 13 or older to submit any information to American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio. The personally identifying information you provide will not be sold, shared, or used for purposes other than to communicate with you about things like our programs, products and services. See Terms of Use and Privacy. This giveaway is subject to the Official Giveaway Rules. Resources Anthony McGill/Pacifica Quartet — American Stories (Cedille store) Anthony McGill/Pacifica Quartet — American Stories (Amazon) Pacifica Quartet (official site)
1/25/202341 minutes, 20 seconds
Episode Artwork

Composer Christopher Tin and Voces8 team up to remember extinct birds

Christopher Tin/Voces 8 — The Lost Birds (Decca) New Classical Tracks - Christopher Tin by Composer Christopher Tin and the British vocal ensemble Voces8 were introduced to one another by their recording engineer about a decade ago. Ever since that first meeting, Tin has been looking for an opportunity to collaborate with the singers. They were finally able to come together on a project called The Lost Birds. “The main overture of The Lost Birds is actually a melody that I'd written years ago for a documentary about bird extinctions,” Tin said. “This subject has been on my mind for more than ten years. This one little tune that I wrote 11 years ago has stayed as something that I wanted to expand upon in a choral requiem format. I finally got the chance to do that with Voces8 during the pandemic.” Why is the loss of birds important to you? “I've been very captivated by the metaphor of the canary in the coal mine, which you may know comes from the 19th century practice where miners used to bring a canary down to the coal mines with them. If the canary died it meant there was a buildup of poisonous gases in the coal mine and the miners would be next. I thought there was no better metaphor for the impending change in the climate and what it could mean for our own civilization. I took this metaphor and I essentially made an entire choral piece out of it. “We talk about birds and celebrate their beauty in the first half. But over the course of the second half, the birds vanish and the texts become more suggestive of humans going extinct along with the birds. It’s a soft activist message about where these extinctions are leading us.”  Why did you decide to adopt a 19th-century musical vocabulary? “I immersed myself in the vernacular of the 19th century, both musically and poetically. The four poets that I chose to set to music are Emily Dickinson, Sara Teasdale, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Christina Rossetti. I really wanted to create a time capsule that was reflecting on where we are now.” What were you going for with the piece “Thus in the Winter”? “The way I think of writing choral parts is almost like the way that birds fly in a flock. The different voices are individual birds and they all have their own motion, but collectively they have a group motion to them. It's directional and it's made up of all these individual threads. A piece like ‘Thus in the Winter’ is a realization of that movement. It is a lot of individual lines weaving around, sometimes coming together with big cries, but often diverging and doing their own things.” VOCES8 & Jack Liebeck: The Lark Ascending - Ralph Vaughan Williams (arr. Paul Drayton) To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. More on Christopher Tin New Classical Tracks Christopher Tin's 'To Shiver the Sky' encourages listeners to take flight Composer Christopher Tin has a funky message for APA Heritage Month Resources Christopher Tin/Voces8 — The Lost Birds (Christopher Tin official store) Christopher Tin/Voces8 — The Lost Birds (Center Stage store) Christopher Tin/Voces8 — The Lost Birds (Amazon) Christopher Tin (official site) Voces8 (official site)
1/18/202328 minutes, 46 seconds
Episode Artwork

Pianist Leif Ove Andsnes shows his love for Dvorak’s ‘Poetic Tone Pictures’

Leif Ove Andsnes — Dvořák: Poetic Tone Pictures (Sony) New Classical Tracks - Leif Ove Andsnes by “It's similar to life with its highs and lows. That's what I love about this cycle. It's so contrasting and varied,” said Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, who recently fell in love with Antonín Dvořák's Poetic Tone Pictures. It’s an ambitious and unusual cycle of piano pieces by the Czech composer featured on Andsnes’ latest recording, Dvořák: Poetic Tone Pictures. “He has this reputation for not writing very well for the piano because he was not a pianist. He was a violinist and didn't own a piano until he was about 40,” he said about Dvořák. “It's strange. I've known these pieces since childhood because my father came home from London once and brought a bunch of his pieces. One of them was the cycle played by the Czech pianist Radoslav Kvapil. So I listened to these pieces when I was little, and I especially liked some of the first ones. I played some of them in a youth competition when I was 12. “I studied the whole cycle during the pandemic, and now I'll give the whole cycle a chance,” he said. “Let's see if Dvořák is right because he wrote in a letter to a friend that he thought one could only experience his real intentions about this music if one played the whole cycle, all the 13 pieces together. That's almost an hour of music. I do feel a difference. I feel it's a great journey when they are played together from beginning to end.” What pieces did you play at that competition? “I played the first piece, ‘The Night Journey,’ which is also one of the more ambitious pieces and one of the more difficult ones.” What did you find challenging when revisiting the cycle? “It's a mixture of homecoming and challenging passages that exist. It's such a wonderful piece because it opens like a novel. It's saying, ‘I'm going to tell you a story.’ It just opens this personal world to enjoy.” Can you give me an example of the range of unique colors in these pieces? “The second piece, ‘Toying,’ is unassuming. It's full of surprisingly short staccato notes in the main section, with a conversation between the right and left hands. Then it has, in contrast, a very legato middle section. That means that the notes are bound together, and it's full of pedal. It feels like a brook or river you might find in Schubert's music. It’s fluid with wonderfully beautiful bell-like colors.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Resources Leif Ove Andsnes — Dvořák: Poetic Tone Pictures (Amazon) Leif Ove Andsnes (official site)
1/11/202318 minutes, 22 seconds
Episode Artwork

Most coveted releases of 2022

On New Classical Tracks, we love sharing with you the most exciting new recordings every year. And, when you enter our weekly CD giveaways, you show us how excited you are about these recordings, too. Find out which albums made the list of 10 most coveted new releases of 2020.
12/27/202225 minutes, 56 seconds
Episode Artwork

Composer John Metcalfe reconstructs holiday classics

John Metcalfe — Carols Without Words (Platoon) New Classical Tracks - John Metcalfe by “I’m similar to Jim Carrey in Yes Man, where saying yes to everything can lead you to extraordinary situations,” says New Zealander violist, composer and arranger John Metcalfe. “And of course, if you don't try it and don't say yes, you'll never know. I've rarely turned anything down at all, ever.”  That’s how Metcalfe landed gigs with rock artists like U2, Coldplay and Peter Gabriel. Now he lives in Oxford and says he’s as British as the next person. However, his spiritual home is still New Zealand, where he grew up surrounded by music. His father was an operatic tenor. However, Metcalfe’s new recording, Carols Without Words, is all instrumental. “Much of the music I've written for my solo projects tend to be instrumental. I wonder if this might be pushing things a little bit too far, but I had wondered occasionally whether it was too painful to write for voice because it would have reminded me of my father, who passed when I was 11. Perhaps I was avoiding that when writing instrumental music. It allows you to wander, use your imagination and have your emotional response.” Can you talk about how you re-created these carols to the point where they are almost unrecognizable? “I composed from the inside out. I come to the melody last. When writing music, I often start writing from a perspective of sonics and texture. The point about the melody disappearing is quite deliberate because, particularly with some of the slower, more ambient reworkings, it was a deliberate attempt to make the melody disappear. I wanted to allow people to have their own memory. Perhaps they remember the melody of ‘Silent Night,’ but they're not engaged in listening to it.” Is there a special memory in any of this music? “If I were to push it, I would say it was the first Christmas after my father had died. That's the memory that springs to me when I've been listening to some gentler versions of these melodies.”  Can you talk about your arrangement of ‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel’? “It is a haunting melody, so I didn't want to do away with that completely. I performed that absolutely on its own at the start of the carol, to say, ‘Here is the material and now we're off to the races.’”  Which carol presented the biggest challenge for you? “It probably was ‘In the Bleak Midwinter.’ All of the others were very quick to do. They took care of themselves. ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ yielded its secrets much more slowly.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Resources John Metcalfe — Carols Without Words (Amazon digital) John Metcalfe (official site)
12/21/202238 minutes, 30 seconds
Episode Artwork

Vocal ensemble Cantus brings light to the holidays

Cantus — Into the Light (Signum) New Classical Tracks - Paul Scholtz and Alex Nishibun from Cantus by Each December, we find ourselves surrounded by the darkness of winter, as we prepare to say goodbye to the old year and welcome in the new. It can be a time of great promise. That’s Cantus’ idea behind their new holiday recording, Into the Light.  “We try not to take for granted that we were able to come together and sing, which is what so many folks based in singing community choirs couldn’t do,” says tenor Paul Scholtz. “But we had the privilege to do that because it is our full-time job. We wanted to bring that hopeful and celebratory energy to these performances.” Tenor Alexander Nishibun joins Scholtz to talk about their new holiday release. Tell me about Rosphanye Powell’s ‘Glory Hallelujah to the Newborn King.’ Alexander: “It has a killer opening solo by one of our great baritones, Rob Kelly Hines. One of the things we love about it is that Powell sets this beautiful poetry and creates this visceral excitement you feel in the music itself. It was also voiced for male voices by her husband, William C. Powell. So having that wonderful collaboration between these two artists and bringing it to Cantus was a real treat for all of us.” Tell me about Bebe Boykin’s ‘O Magnum Mysterium.’ Alexander: “That's one of my favorite pieces in this album. ‘O Magnum Mysterium’ is this wonderful response to a text in Latin that I was introduced to us by a renaissance piece by Vitoria, which is about 500-something years old. Hearing it from this modern voice is astounding because it has this gravitas and weight. There's a huge respect for the language, which you can hear in how Boykin sets it. You hear the influence of the 21st-century ear and the 20th-century artists. You can get that sense because of how she treats the text. That informs us how we approach that particular song because of how she sets the lyrics.” Do you have a favorite track on the album? Paul: “The first one that comes to mind is Joni Mitchell's ‘River.’ She's talked about it being a song she wrote for folks who feel lonely during Christmas. I think the way that consciousness can capture essentially what is a transcribed piano part underneath some soloists is beautiful. There's motion, which brings up and highlights the text.” Tell me about your reaction to premiering a new arrangement of ‘Silent Night.’ Paul: “Christopher H. Harris has been a friend of the ensemble for a few years. We've programmed some of his pieces. He's an emerging composer and getting a lot of attention now, which is well-deserved. He agreed to write this brand new arrangement of ‘Silent Night’ that allows us to explore some of the complex harmonies he put in here. It's one thing to see your line and to sing it, but then to have it come to life for the first time. This is a brand new arrangement, which means to have it come to life for you in that rehearsal room is an extraordinary moment.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. More on Cantus Christmas With Cantus Cantus celebrates their 27th anniversary Cantus and Chanticleer perform together in Minneapolis Resources Cantus — Into the Light (Signum Store) Cantus — Into the Light (Amazon) Cantus (official site)
12/14/202239 minutes, 33 seconds
Episode Artwork

Ukrainian pianist Nadia Shpachenko supports her native country

Nadia Shpachenko — Invasion (Reference) New Classical Tracks - Nadia Shpachenko by “People are still trying hard to stay positive. People are powerful there and they believe in victory. They're just trying to continue living their lives but don't want to leave,” says Ukrainian pianist Nadia Shpachenko. “The people that I talk to want to stay. They feel like this is their country and want to help as much as possible. Shpachenko wants to help, too. As a concert pianist from Ukraine, she became a hero to those in her homeland when she was the first and only Ukrainian to win a Grammy. She lives and teaches in California, but her heart is in Ukraine with her family and friends.  That’s why her latest recording, Invasion, featuring compositions from Lewis Spratlan, is dedicated to the Ukrainian people and all proceeds support them. The music reflects the many moods the Ukrainian people experience daily. “I wanted to do something more,” she said. “Not a one-time thing, but a project that would be ongoing where I could raise money, and awareness and promote the work of Ukrainian artists. I was already planning to release a CD with Spratlan, who wrote many pieces for me during the pandemic. But on the first day of the war, we talked and decided that he would write a large piece about this war.” Why did Spradlin choose a unique combination of instruments for the featured track? “He chose the mandolin because he wanted to have a folk element. There is a Russian folk song feature at the beginning. It signifies the Russian forces arriving before they invade Ukraine. The saxophone has such a specific character. It often has melodies that are heart-wrenching but also passionate and kind. Each instrument has an exceptionally unique sound that fits the character assigned to that instrument. With the piano, I sometimes play with my fists. It has a huge sound at times. “This piece is not what many people expect as a war piece. It is quite hopeful. It has many elements that describe Ukraine as a country or as it used to be. The middle section is very wistful, beautiful, and poetic, and it signifies nostalgia for what used to be. It is in remembrance of the beauty of Ukraine. “This war and my experience also influence the other works. I had been learning and recording the pieces since the invasion started. Many pieces are directly connected to the war. For example, there was a video of high school seniors in Kharkiv dancing in dress clothes in front of the ruins of their high school. They were dancing the waltz. So there is one waltz-like piece on the album.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. More on Nadia Shpachenko 2020 Grammy winners in classical and more Resources Nadia Shpachenko — Invasion (DG Store) Nadia Shpachenko — Invasion (Amazon) Nadia Shpachenko (official site)
12/7/202226 minutes, 47 seconds
Episode Artwork

Violinist Hilary Hahn makes her long-awaited return to the stage

Hilary Hahn — Eclipse (DG) New Classical Tracks - Hilary Hahn by Every 10 years or so, violinist Hilary Hahn takes a one-year sabbatical from performing. It’s a way for her to remove herself from the whirlwind of professional music-making, and re-evaluate what’s working, and what’s not. When she began her most recent sabbatical in September 2019, she had no idea what lay ahead. She’d always thought, as a creative person, she’d always find some creative outlet if she found herself unable to perform. It turns out that playing onstage with an orchestra for an audience fills her tanks. The absence of that emotional outlet wasn’t the only loss. She said she’d also lost her connections with colleagues around the world, her sense of self as a musician and her confidence. Her latest album, Eclipse, is a testament to facing that challenge with vulnerability and the support of trusted colleagues. The introduction you wrote for your new album revealed a vulnerability that artists haven’t always shared. “I made a huge change in how I perceived the way we communicate as artists with our audiences and our fellow musicians with the project 100 Days of Practice. In this project, I shared my practice, read the comments, and realized that there was a certain relationship to practice that was very vulnerable. When people also saw that vulnerability as normal for a professional, they felt much more connected to their own practice. That's what cued me into the idea of finality presented in our field as we learn the way to do it. But music is an art form about emotions and people. When we don't tell our emotions, we don't tell stories about people.” Why do you consider playing the Dvorak concerto as coming home? “The joy of playing together again was similar to being away from your home country, and then you come back. It’s as if you have an extensive lively family you haven't seen for two years, and you're all in the room together. That was the homecoming aspect. That was something that I had missed that I hadn't been able to replicate, and suddenly we were all in it together. It was great. The room's energy was dimensional. They were also returning to a format they hadn't had for a while. They didn't have to sit apart from each other. The return to the big stage with the home audience was significant in ways I don't think we had challenged before, so it was nice to be part of that.” Why do you describe Pablo de Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy as finicky? “You think you have the piece figured out and then practice it the next day. You're like, ‘Where did it go?’ In that sense, it is finicky. You have to play with a lot of accuracy, but also with a lot of spatial freedom around the instrument. That's a complicated combination. It's like walking on a balance beam that isn't just one balance beam. You're walking and then suddenly you're over in another area on another balance beam and then suddenly you're back. At the same time, the music is very free. You're trying to be a singer and virtuoso violinist at the same.” Watch: Sarasate - Carmen Fantasy, Op. 25: I. Moderato To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. More on Hilary Hahn New Classical Tracks Most coveted releases of 2021 New Classical Tracks Hilary Hahn memorializes her time in Paris Resources Hilary Hahn — Eclipse (DG Store) Hilary Hahn — Eclipse (Amazon)
11/30/202231 minutes, 12 seconds
Episode Artwork

Violinist Johnny Gandelsman explores the sounds of America

Johnny Gandelsman — This Is America – An Anthology 2020-2021 (In a Circle Records) New Classical Tracks - Johnny Gandelsman by “I was born in Russia into a family of musicians. Both of my parents are musicians. My only sibling, my older sister, is a violinist as well,” says violinist Johnny Gandelsman, who has been living in Brooklyn since 1999. “I've been playing since I was 5 years old, and my family moved to Israel when I was a kid. Then I came to the United States to go to school and have been living here ever since.” You might recognize Gandelsman as one of the violinists with the ensemble Brooklyn Rider. He also has played in the world music collective Silk Road Ensemble. Most recently, he has been commissioning new works for his three-CD solo project, This Is America – An Anthology 2020-2021. “This is a project that was born a few months into the height of the pandemic. I was just trying to think if there was anything I can do about the situation in the world. One thing that occurred to me was to commission new works from American composers,” he said about his inspiration for the project. “I wanted composers who live here and to ask them to reflect on the times.” Can you talk about the composers, pieces and themes we hear in the project? “One piece that comes to my mind is a work by a composer from Tatarstan, Adeliia Faizullina. Her piece is Dew, Time, Linger. When the pandemic struck, she was a student in Los Angeles studying composition. Her piece captures this incredibly beautiful feeling of isolation. She finds really beautiful ways to depict silence, such as a drop of water in the sink or a gust of wind. “I asked Rhiannon Giddens to write a piece. She created New to the Session. It was about her experience attending music sessions where people come together and play tunes. And her experience was that she was a beginner in that world. It's this succession of fiddle tunes, which are full of joy. “The opening piece is by Clarice Assad. It's simply titled O, which represents oxygen. That seems to encompass so much of what we were experiencing, people struggling to breathe, just being able to breathe and maybe a sigh of relief if you did feel safe.” Can you talk about O? “We were struggling to breathe. She also mentions the killing of George Floyd as forcibly denying his breath. It was not planned that way, but the piece that closes the album set is Breathe, by Kojiro Umezaki. His work also deals with the same themes but in a very different way of expressing them. It's a bookend for this almost four-hour release.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. More on Johnny Gandelsman New Classical Tracks: Yo-Yo Ma and Johnny Gandelsman Johnny Gandelsman, 'O' Resources Johnny Gandelsman — This Is America – An Anthology 2020-2021 (Amazon) Johnny Gandelsman — This Is America – An Anthology 2020-2021 (Bandcamp)
11/23/202235 minutes, 51 seconds
Episode Artwork

Amanda Lee Falkenberg's latest album is out of this world

Amanda Lee Falkenberg with Marin Alsop/The London Symphony Orchestra & The London Voices — The Moons Symphony (Signum) New Classical Tracks - Amanda Lee Falkenberg by Amanda Lee Falkenberg is an Australian-born composer and pianist who lives in Dubai. Five years ago she took a leap of faith that led to the creation of a choral symphony that merges science and art. After a random email to a NASA scientist, which opened an entire universe of possibilities, she started work on her latest album, The Moon Symphony, featuring Marin Alsop conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, and the London Voices. Can you talk about the article that started this project? “I instantly went, ‘Oh my goodness! These moons are not weird. They're absolutely wonderful and I need to change their course.’ I felt like after reading the article I just wanted to break them free and give them a voice. Knowing the power of music and being a film composer let me understand the persuasive and powerful qualities that music has more than any other art form. It can really manipulate the emotional landscape. It was so clear to me that that's what I wanted to do with these moons.” Why is it important for you to merge science and art? “I just couldn't ignore it. I felt like science was tapping me on the shoulder saying, ‘Hey, can we be part of this moon adventure with you?’ At that point, I wasn't planning on having a choir, but I thought if I did get the choir involved it would give more relevance and outreach and could really house the science better.” Which of these moons or movements presented the greatest challenge for you? “Titan. I had a field day choosing the science of that moon because of all the recent discoveries, and because of the legendary Cassini–Huygens space-research mission by NASA. One of the challenging moments was when I had been composing nonstop for seven days, and I remember just listening back to what I had come up with. I don't like it at all. I scrapped everything. I just literally deleted it. “The moon Miranda of Uranus was a challenge for different reasons. I felt the most emotionally affected by her meaning. I just got so involved in her world. I remember feeling like I was living in a nightmare. I just wanted to beam myself out of it because it just was so dark, scary and violent. “That's when I found the story of the seventh moon. I thought, ‘Oh, my goodness! This is what's missing from my symphony. The seventh story. Why don't we position Earth's moon, our moon, in this storytelling?’ It’s something to remind us that we actually do have a home in the solar system and it was the moon Miranda's story that brought me to that inspiration.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. More on Amanda Lee Falkenberg The Planetary Society Amanda Lee Falkenberg Resources Amanda Lee Falkenberg with Marin Alsop/The London Symphony Orchestra & The London Voices — The Moons Symphony (Presto music) Amanda Lee Falkenberg with Marin Alsop/The London Symphony Orchestra & The London Voices — The Moons Symphony (Amazon) Amanda Lee Falkenberg (official site)
11/16/202234 minutes, 4 seconds
Episode Artwork

Violinist Rachel Barton Pine rereleases a celebration of Black composers

Rachel Barton Pine — Violin Concertos by Black Composers Through the Centuries (Cedille) New Classical Tracks - Rachel Barton Pine by “You could say that the album that I've just rereleased is really the album that I would have made in 1997 had I only been able to back then,” violinist Rachel Barton Pine said about releasing a pioneering recording celebrating Black composers of the 18th and 19th centuries. “I couldn't be more excited.” Pine is reissuing and refreshing this recording 25 years later as Violin Concertos by Black Composers Through the Centuries. “We've all heard of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, the wonderful Afro-French composer who was the greatest swordsman in Europe and an inspiration to Mozart,” she said. “But there is another composer from the same time, Chevalier de Meude-Monpas. There's no existing visual image of him, but all the musicologists for decades assumed that he must be of African descent because he was always called Chevalier. “Years later they discovered that de Meude-Monpas had actually served in a regiment of the French army that all rode black horses. He was just a random white Frenchman, but he still composed an absolutely charming violin concerto,” Pine said. “I'm glad I got to perform it and record it, but it certainly no longer belongs on my album of violin concertos by Black composers. “Back in ‘97, when I was looking for repertoire among the various 20th-century pieces, I encountered a single page from a Florence Price manuscript. I was told that she had written two violin concertos, but they were considered to be lost to the world forever. There was no hope. They would never be found. They would never be heard,” she said about her search for music. “A few years ago, this treasure trove of her manuscripts was discovered in an old trunk in an abandoned farmhouse. Sitting in there among all the symphonic and chamber music were indeed both of her violin concertos.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. More on Rachel Barton Pine New Classical Tracks Violinist Rachel Barton Pine records 'headbanger' concerto Watch violinist Rachel Barton Pine perform a duet with her 7-year-old daughter Resources Rachel Barton Pine — Violin Concertos by Black Composers Through the Centuries (Cedille official store) Rachel Barton Pine (official site)
11/9/202226 minutes, 4 seconds
Episode Artwork

Horn player Sarah Willis learns to dance with second volume of 'Mozart y Mambo'

Sarah Willis — Mozart y Mambo: Cuban Dances (Alpha) Jump to giveaway form New Classical Tracks - Sarah Willis by When Sarah Willis travelled to Cuba two years ago to record Vol. 1 of her three-part series Mozart y Mambo, she wanted to make music and to make a difference. Thanks to profits from that first album, members of the Havana Lyceum Orchestra now have new instruments, and you can hear the difference those instruments make on Mozart y Mambo, Vol. 2, which was recently released. “Mozart y Mambo has become more than just an album. It's a real project. And we're looking after younger players in Cuba and trying to help them get better instruments and play in the Havana Lyceum Orchestra. So we're doing the same with album two. It's a lot of fun, and it's lovely to see how generous people are.” You start off the recording of Vol. 2 with Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 2. What made you decide to begin with this specific piece? “Recording that [concerto] in Havana with the Havana Lyceum Orchestra and seeing them dance this Mozart, because they literally dance when they play. I thought it could start the album really well, because we've we've called it Mozart Y Mambo: Cuban Dances in a reference to the Horn Concerto that's on the album. But I thought Mozart No. 2 was the most danceable of them all. Also, it's in the key of E-flat. And E-flat is a bit of a happier key for me than the first Concerto in D, and D is a little ‘fumbly’ on the horn, so we put that in a bit later.” Concerto No. 1 also appears on this recording. It’s a piece that requires a lot of slow practice with the metronome. Can you talk about why that is so critical to this work? “When you're playing in E-flat, you use a lot of your first and second fingers. Now, when you're playing in D, you use your second and third finger. Everyone listening to this, try wiggling your third finger. And now the ring finger. It's slower, isn't it? [It’s the same for us when] we are trying to play, like in the first movement of the First Concerto on a natural horn. For all of us, modern-day horn players, Mozart Concerto No. 1 means a lot of third finger work. And I had to really [practice]; it's like training my fingers for the ‘Horn Olympics.’” The music of Mozart frames Vol. 2, and nestled in the middle is a landmark original work. The original idea was to create the first Cuban Horn Concerto, but it really turned out to be more of a suite of dances. Talk a little bit about this suite and how it's also created this wonderful map of Cuba's musical heritage.  “It's all very well mixing Mozart and mambo together and doing this fusion that we love so much. But I really wanted to do something for future generations of horn players, and I also wanted to find out more about Cuban music. So each of these six dances [are] completely different, and I'm so happy that I have these six young composers. I mean, for me, it's a little bit like … a young version of the Buena Vista Social Club. “I still didn't feel like I was qualified to do these dances justice because I've heard Cuban music. It's really easy and loose and you just [have to] feel it in your body. And I was going, pa pa pa pa pa pa pa.  And I called on one of the composers to help me. He was in Germany at the time, Richard Egues, and he was like, ‘Yeah, you play really good horn, but that's not Cuban! What are you doing? Sing it to me.’ So, we sang it and it got a bit better. And [then] he said, ‘I'm sorry, “chica,” you're going to have to dance it.’ So he got me up out of my chair and we literally danced all these different dances, and I spent two or three months really learning these dances.” The recording sessions for this release took place in a church, and one of those late-night sessions produced a piece that's kind of a surprise ending to this recording. Can you talk about that? “When I was creating this with the arranger Edgar Olivero, who's a Cuban who now lives in Spain, I said, ‘Can you make it funny? Who should be my Papageno?’ And he came up with the idea of the baritone saxophone, which is one of my favorite instruments of all time. We've called it Pa Pa Pa, and we put a very famous Cuban contra dance in the middle of it. So, it’s yet another dance. I just wanted to send people out with a smile on their faces.” Mozart y Mambo - Cuban Dances Sarah Willis & the Havana Lyceum Orchestra To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. More on Sarah Willis New Classical Tracks Sarah Willis mambos with Mozart on project with the Havana Lyceum Orchestra Giveaway Time For Three New Classical Tracks Giveaway You must be 13 or older to submit any information to American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio. The personally identifying information you provide will not be sold, shared, or used for purposes other than to communicate with you about things like our programs, products and services. See Terms of Use and Privacy. This giveaway is subject to the Official Giveaway Rules. Resources Sarah Willis — Mozart y Mambo/Cuban Dances (DG store) Sarah Willis — Mozart y Mambo/Cuban Dances (Amazon store) Sarah Willis (official site)
10/26/202233 minutes, 9 seconds
Episode Artwork

Pianist Víkingur Ólafsson reflects on his contemporary inspirations

Víkingur Ólafsson — From Afar (DG) New Classical Tracks - Víkingur Ólafsson by “I'm not shy when meeting people. I have met many fantastic people in my life. But meeting György Kurtág felt different to me. I had this feeling of awe,” Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson said. He was starstruck last year when out of the blue, he was invited to Budapest to meet the 96-year-old Hungarian composer. Their 10-minute meeting turned into several hours of musical discovery. After, Ólafsson decided to send Kurtág a letter in the form of an album. That musical letter is his latest double album, From Afar. “When I got home from that life-changing experience, I did two things,” he said. “I silenced the notifications on my phone because I wanted to feel the kind of freedom of timelessness that is Kurtág. And the second thing was to start work on this album because I realized I wanted to send a letter in the form of an album. “All the musical ideas and eight pieces by Kurtág are spread throughout the album. I juxtaposed them with music that I thought connected very strongly to his esthetic,” he said. “But also include music that was from my own musical past. I was done recording the album on the grand piano on day two or three, and then I started to record it again on the upright piano, which was inspired by my quartet. Kurtág loves the upright piano. “I couldn't really choose between my two children, the grand piano recording or the upright piano recording for the whole album,” Ólafsson said explaining the mix of pianos. “I decided you should never choose between your children. I decided to release both versions simultaneously, which I think has never been done before.” Can you talk about performing on both pianos? “There's this one little piece, Sleepily, by Kurtág, which is an absolutely amazing piece of music. In that piece, he conveys the idea of going from consciousness to falling asleep. He has tone clusters and these incredibly soft glissandos that are supposed to be like a musical yawn. “For the grand piano, I would actually prefer Brahms. His Intermezzo, Op. 116, No. 4 is the crown jewel of Brahms' late works, in my opinion. There are many jewels there, but that is my queen. That's my favorite. I love the overtones, the richness of the bass and the bigger vibrations from the Steinway.” Can you talk about the pieces you and your wife, Halla, are featured on? “One is J.S Bach’s Trio Sonata No. 1 that's already been released as a single. It's just an amazing piece of music that Kurtág recently dedicated his transcription of it to me. It's one of my favorite arrangements. I'm beyond grateful for that dedication.” What are some of the personal secrets that are hidden within this recording?  “This recording has my first attempt at arranging or transcribing something that's not for solo piano. It's ‘Ave Maria.’ It's one of my favorite songs. It was dedicated to my now wife, but then girlfriend back in 2007 when she was only 20 and I was 23.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. More on Víkingur Ólafsson New Classical Tracks Pianist Víkingur Ólafsson wants to change how we think about Mozart Conversation between the keys: Vikingur Olafsson meets Debussy and Rameau Resources Víkingur Ólafsson — From Afar (DG store) Víkingur Ólafsson — From Afar (Amazon store) Víkingur Ólafsson (official site)
10/19/202233 minutes, 59 seconds
Episode Artwork

Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason expresses his artistic freedom

Sheku Kanneh-Mason — Song (Decca) New Classical Tracks - The Knights by “Song really speaks to the vocal quality I find in all the pieces of music that I selected for my instrument,” cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason said about expressing his artistic freedom on his latest solo recording, Song. ”The cello has such a wonderful ability to sing in all of these different styles and combinations of instruments in arranging while improvising. The cool singing quality of the cello is something I enjoy exploring. I enjoyed making this album and it is very personal for me.” Can you talk about the opening arrangement on the album? “There’s something very direct about these folk melodies. I made this arrangement just for solo cello with no harmony because I wanted to just appreciate the bare bones of the melody. I just wanted to play like that. “There's so much music on this recording, which uses the cello in different ways. I wanted to start with something very pure and the sound of a solo cello line. The voice of the cello develops throughout the disc and ends with a piece of pizzicato solo cello.” What was the title of the work you arranged for your grandmother? “The title is Myfanwy and I love the expressiveness of the falling intervals.” Are you playing this trio all by yourself? “Yes. I recorded three voices of just me. It's actually harder than I thought it would be to play with myself. Normally when I'm playing with other people, I'm in the room and I can physically feel what they are doing. But when it's coming through a headphone you're playing in a slightly different experience. It was a cool way to do it.” Can you talk about the Bach work arranged for four cellos?  “On that one, I was less lonely. I convinced four friends to play with me. I had my current teacher, one of my previous teachers and a couple of friends who have mentored me to join me on the album.” Can you talk about the world premiere of Edmund Finnis’ Five Preludes? “I love the first prelude. There's a conversational and intimate feeling about it. The music speaks to me. I feel that I'm able to speak with it because it's music that doesn't shout out to grab your attention. Rather, it draws you into this intimate conversation. This intimacy is something that I enjoy exploring and performing.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. More on Sheku Kanneh-Mason New Classical Tracks 20-year-old cello phenom Sheku Kanneh-Mason releases second solo album For classical stars Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason, representation matters Resources Sheku Kanneh-Mason — Song (Decca store) Sheku Kanneh-Mason — Song (Amazon store) Sheku Kanneh-Mason (official site)
10/12/202226 minutes, 17 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Knights reimagine the ideas of Beethoven and Tolstoy

The Knights — The Kreutzer Project (Avie) New Classical Tracks - The Knights by “Aren’t we all obsessed with time travel? Aren’t we all wanting to have dinner with that person that’s not alive anymore,” conductor of the Knights, Eric Jacobsen, asked when he fired up the time machine for their newest album, The Kreutzer Project. With his brother, violinist and composer Colin Jacobsen, they explore time-traveling dialogues between Beethoven in 1803, Leo Tolstoy in 1889, Leos Janacek in 1923 and most recently, Anna Clyne and Colin Jacobsen with their 21st-century pieces. What idea launched this project? Eric: “There were a couple of things that got this going. I can't remember if the Beethoven violin and piano sonata was the first thing that we said, ‘Oh, my gosh, this can be a concerto,’ or if we looked at the Janacek String Quartet and said, ‘Wow, this could absolutely have a harp, snare drum and woodwinds.’ We thought of all the works at the same time.” Is it true that Beethoven's sonatas are infamous for being hard on both the pianist and violinist? Colin: “The issue in this version is it’s a violin concerto, but the orchestra is playing the piano part, which is incredibly virtuosic. It’s really a concerto grosso grosso because everyone has to pull their weight with the virtuosic lines.” Eric: “When someone listens to this and doesn’t know that it was arranged and made today, I think one would probably assume that it was made during Beethoven's life because it fits that time period. We know that he didn't make this arrangement, but it almost feels like it could be. It is from a composer who only wrote one violin concerto. I feel like this is an incredible complement to that piece.” Tell us about the expanded version of Leos Janacek’s String Quartet. Colin: “A lot of Janacek’s music has a sense of beauty that is thwarted or interrupted. You can hear that in the very opening. There's this gorgeous yearning chorale and it contains the primary motif of the whole piece then immediately you get interruptions from different voices. I think this is part of the emotion from the Tolstoy novella, which is a yearning for something that gets thwarted all the time.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. More on The Knights New Classical Tracks The Knights - Golijov: Azul New Classical Tracks The Knights celebrate the holiday season with a Christmas album Resources The Knights — The Kreutzer Project (Avie store) The Knights — The Kreutzer Project (Amazon store) The Knights (official site)
10/5/202241 minutes, 16 seconds
Episode Artwork

Time for Three explores old and new compositions written for the string trio

Time for Three — Letters for the Future (DG) New Classical Tracks - Time for Three by “This is Kevin Puts; he’s our new member, our composer in residence — ‘Time for Four.’” The members of the string trio Time for Three — violinists Nick Kendall and Charles Yang, and bassist Ranaan Meyer — are talking about Puts and his involvement on their latest album, Letters for the Future, which also includes music by composer Jennifer Higdon. Meyer: “We've been on this journey for a while. When we started out, we were this band that was discovering a common ground with classical music. We had this desire and inquisitive nature of wanting to explore all different genres. “Now fast-forward to today, and we're here to talk about our recording with the Philadelphia Orchestra, which features Jennifer Higdon’s work that was also the very first concerto that was ever written for us back in 2008. Here is an exclusive performance for YourClassical MPR of the Cadenza from Higdon’s Concerto 4-3: Watch now “We're also super excited about our latest concerto, Contact, by Kevin Puts. In addition to being a sensational composer and writing gorgeous music that is incredibly storytelling in nature, he is like-minded to our group, which pushes us forward on our instruments.” How is this album a homecoming for the group? Kendall: “When Ranaan and I attended the Curtis Institute of Music in the late ‘90s, Mark O'Connor, Edgar Meyer and Yo-Yo Ma released Appalachian Waltz, which blew our minds. At that time, it also seemed natural for Time for Three to do the same. We had this incredible opportunity with the Philadelphia Orchestra with help from maestro Christoph Eschenbach. “Eschenbach saw this energy from us and thought if he could put these virtuoso musicians in the hands of a master composer, who would that be? We had a meeting with him, and both of our lists had Jennifer Higdon, who was a teacher at Curtis. That is the story behind Concerto 4-3.” Can you talk about the creativity behind Contact? Puts: “I thought it was an interesting idea to start with nothing but a three-voice chorale and then gradually elaborate on that. As far as there being a message, I didn't really think of it that way until later. We realized what we were working on a piece about all the different forms of contact.” Here’s an exclusive performance of Puts’ Gankino Horo, which is not featured on the album: Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. More on Time for Three New Classical Tracks: Time for Three Resources Time for Three — Letters for the Future (DG store) Time for Three — Letters for the Future (Amazon) Time for Three (official site)
9/28/202242 minutes, 33 seconds
Episode Artwork

Cellist Claire Bryant uses her voice to uplift incarcerated musicians

Claire Bryant — Whole Heart (Bright Shiny Things) Jump to giveaway form New Classical Tracks - Claire Bryant by “I chose to release my album at the Lee Correctional Institution,” said cellist Claire Bryant about her debut recording, Whole Heart. “It is one of the largest maximum-security prisons in South Carolina. “I chose to do that because my group, Decoda, has done a series of songwriting workshops every year over the past eight years at Lee,” she said. “The men and this experience working with them have made me the artist I am today. I don't think I would have had the courage and bravery to create my album if it weren't for my experiences working with incarcerated musicians. Being able to share music that I love and make music with people who need an outlet for expression has reminded me why music is important.” How is the title of the album connected to the music? “The title of the record came at the very end. I felt like these pieces explore how music can mirror all the different human experiences in unique ways. The cello has this human voice element and these pieces represent personal relationships. This was my way of saying I’m not just a cellist — this is my whole heart. I let myself go in these performances. It was cathartic.” Tell me about the two works influenced by the pandemic. “The first work is SEVEN. It was composed by the wonderful cellist Andrea Casarrubios, who is a friend of mine. It refers to the 7 o’clock hour in New York City when strangers and neighbors would open their windows and bang pots and pans or clap and cheer for the vital workers who where on the front lines keeping us safe and risking their own lives for us. “Composer Gabriela Lena Frank created a project for composers and solo artists to come together during the pandemic. In that project, composer Tanner Porter was paired with a cellist and wrote And Even These Small Wonders. In both of these pieces, the low string on the cello is tuned down one step to a B instead of a C. It gives the cello a different resonance. I like that two pieces on the record have a different tuning, giving a depth and earthy quality to the instrument.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. More on Claire Bryant Watch composer Max Richter's Tiny Desk Concert Resources Claire Bryant — Whole Heart (Bright Shiny Things online store) Claire Bryant (official site)
9/21/202237 minutes, 45 seconds
Episode Artwork

Pianist Orli Shaham continues her Mozart piano sonatas project

Orli Shaham — Mozart: Piano Sonatas Vol. 2 & 3 (Canary Classics) New Classical Tracks - Orli Shaham by “Through the course of this project, I got a taste of what it would have felt like to be Mozart,” pianist Orli Shaham said about recording all 18 of Mozart’s piano sonatas. “It was probably exhausting because he had so many ideas running through his system all the time. It must have been a difficult brain to live in.” Continuing her Mozart project, Shaham has released the latest addition, Mozart: Piano Sonatas Vol. 2 & 3. Volumes four, five and six will come out later this year.  Why is it important for you to record all of Mozart’s piano sonatas? “When I realized what the totality of the complete works signifies, a journey through his entire life, I was fascinated to see that journey. I’ve learned so much from this project that I would never have learned if I had just done a few sonatas.” What have you discovered about yourself during this project? “I'm from the school of classical piano. I play the notes that are on the page. That's how I was taught and raised. Then people talked about improvising. I never really understood what that meant. In doing 18 sonatas and adding a little ornamentation to every repeat, except for the ones that were already busy, I've gained so much experience. “It's completely transformed my way of looking at it. I feel informed by jazz musicians today who are always pushing boundaries and trying to figure out what fits without breaking the initial mold.” Can you talk about how Mozart brings the best out of performers? “Those first six sonatas have very different styles from each other. I didn't know this before, but they had been written as a set for his first big European tours. Something about the fourth one is intimate and simple, yet lyrical and beautiful. You can't help but be drawn toward the opening of the work. Once you're sucked in — he's got you.” How did you make these sonatas your own? “If I'm making a complete set, there should be at least one example of how to go wild. There's a deceptive quality to Sonata No.16. It's not as simple as it seems at first glance. The third movement is the precise repetition of the same simple idea. We know that Mozart would never have precisely repeated anything. But I just decided that if he were in a good mood at a party, he would not have held back.” What is interesting to you about Sonata No. 11? “I find the first movement of the sonata so special. It’s very unusual when Mozart writes a siciliana in variations. The first movement is the only one in variation form where he can plummet into the depths of our humanity.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. More on Orli Shaham New Classical Tracks: Pianist Orli Shaham finds joy in Mozart amid pandemic New Classical Tracks: Orli Shaham, 'Brahms Inspired' Resources Orli Shaham — Mozart: Piano Sonatas Vol. 2 & 3 (Amazon) Orli Shaham (official site)
9/14/202232 minutes, 18 seconds
Episode Artwork

World-premiere recordings honor legacy of William Grant Still

Avlana Eisenberg conducting the Royal Scottish National Orchestra with violinist Zina Schiff — William Grant Still: Summerland/Violin Suite/Pastorela/American Suite (Naxos) New Classical Tracks - Avlana and Celeste by ”It's crucial to remember this is not new music. These manuscripts have been around for generations. I'm aware that there are many more pieces from William Grant Sill and other composers who have been neglected over the years,” conductor Avlana Eisenberg said about Still, who has 13 world premieres on her latest release, William Grant Still: Summerland/Violin Suite/Pastorela/American Suite. “I think it's incumbent upon us to make sure that this is not a passing phase but momentum that gets carried forth.” Eisenberg is joined by journalist Celeste Headlee, who is the granddaughter of Still. Tell us about the relationship you have with your mother, violinist Zina Schiff, who is featured on the album. Eisenberg: “She has been, for as long as I can remember, my primary musical inspiration. So much of my notion of what it is to be a musician comes, whether I'm aware of it or not, from growing up with her. She's also the person who can press my buttons more than anyone else. It really is a special thing when we can come together in a musical context. I just feel a tremendous closeness, and I learn something every time. It's really a magical collaboration.” How has Still’s importance of family reflected in the music on this recording? Headlee: “His family life was his joy. When he wasn't composing and even when he was composing, he was at home. When he wasn't composing music, he was building toys for his children, like train sets. He composed a couple of pieces that he dedicated to his dog. It was about hearth and home for him. That started in his upbringing. He was raised by a mother who was fierce in her determination that he would make something of himself. “When I listen to any of these pieces that sounds like my grandfather, it's hard to point to one or another that sounds more like family to me. It all does.” Eisenberg: “I agree so much with what Celeste said in terms of his works being so varied, but they're also so quintessentially him. When I first started poring over the different scores I was sent, I was most struck by the variety. “In my very first conversation with Celeste, she told me that Mother and Child was one of her favorites. That was a real moment of connection. As you can probably imagine, getting to record this most intimate piece and standing up there with my mother was just remarkable. It continues to be one of the most emotional tracks for me.” Could you talk about Summer Land? Headlee: “He wrote this for my grandmother, his wife. She premiered it originally. She was of Russian-Jewish descent and an accomplished concert pianist. He wrote that she had this incredible spread in her hands for a tiny woman. She was around 4-foot-10 and could just flatten out her hands completely. When that gets translated into the orchestra, it becomes magic.” Do you believe that Still’s music has achieved its goal of serving a purpose larger than music? Headlee: “His mother was the first of the family born at the end of the Civil War. They both came from a generation that believed if white people knew how smart and accomplished Black people could be; if they could impress people with their accomplishments, intellect, taste and wit; and if Black people could prove that they were deserving of equal treatment, that would make racism disappear. They were wrong about that. “That was heartbreaking to my grandfather when he finally realized that no matter how talented he was, no matter what he achieved and attained, he would never be welcomed in the vaulted halls of classical music. He is now, but he wasn't when he died. He was forgotten. He was making his living writing pieces for elementary school textbooks, a job that Leopold Stokowski got him.” What can we do to make people more aware of who he is and what he accomplished? Headlee: “Avlana and her colleagues are doing that right now by seeking out those pieces that have not been heard or recorded before. We should listen to his music and feel the same kind of pride people feel when they hear [John Philip] Sousa. This is the sound of our soil. This is the sound of our nation.” To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Watch now More on William Grant Still Learning to Listen William Grant Still Rhapsody in Black William Grant Still, the dean of African American composers Resources Avlana Eisenberg conducting the Royal Scottish National Orchestra with violinist Zina Schiff — William Grant Still: Summerland/Violin Suite/Pastorela/American Suite (Amazon) Avlana Eisenberg (official site) Celeste Headlee (official site)
9/7/202241 minutes, 56 seconds
Episode Artwork

Double bassist Julius Darvas of the Janoska Ensemble talks about the big B's

Janoska Ensemble — The Big B’s (DG) New Classical Tracks - Janoska Ensemble by Two violins, double bass and piano is an unusual combination for a classical quartet, but it’s the perfect combination for the Janoska Ensemble.   “It's a new window that we want to open for classical music,” double bassist Julius Darvas said about the ensemble’s sound. “We want to bring a new wave of air in classical music that includes great improvisation, with fantastic arrangements and virtuosity” The other ensemble members are violinists Ondrej and Roman Janoska and pianist Frantisek Janoska. Darvas married their sister. “When I met my wife, she told me that she has relatives in Bratislava,” Darvas said. “We went there, and the whole house was full of music. Somebody had left a double bass at her family’s home. I took the double bass, and we were jamming together. Their father liked it very much and said, ‘You have to marry her because we need a good bass player in the family.’” Can you talk about how the ensemble respects Bach, Beethoven and Brahms? “We realized they are the big B’s in classical historical music. We were searching for other composers with the letter B. We also found Bartók, Bernstein and Brubeck. We took our favorite compositions from them and made it Janoksa style.”  How is Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins tailor-made for the ensemble? “We have the classical violin on one side, but the improvisatory jazz violin on the other. I'm playing the basso continuo, but sometimes some grooves. Frantisek accompanies the whole thing in a classical style combined with jazz and pop. Some new chords were added, which gave us a fantastic bassline to make new improvisations. Roman is playing the violin like a guitar. We also have flamenco technique in the piano.” Do you write pieces in honor of your family members? “Yes. It has become a tradition to write pieces for our family, usually for our children. It's a tribute to them. There are seven generations of musicians in the family. Ondrej Janoska’s first composition is dedicated to his two wonderful daughters, Valentina and Letizia. The piece is Bagatelle Pour Va-Le.” How did you condense Beethoven’s nine symphonies into just nine minutes? “We knew that we couldn't record all nine symphonies in this ensemble. The goal was to make it in nine minutes. We took one theme or melody from every symphony and arranged it for ourselves. The audience loves it. Some of them look at their watches during the concerts.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. More on Janoska Ensemble New Classical Tracks: Bach and Beatles go hand-in-hand in Janoska Ensemble's 'Revolution' Resources Janoska Ensemble — The Big B’s (Amazon) Janoska Ensemble (official site)
8/31/202231 minutes, 6 seconds
Episode Artwork

Violinist Itamar Zorman turned an idea into an odyssey

Itamar Zorman — Violin Odyssey (First Hand) New Classical Tracks - Itamar Zorman by Like many musicians during the pandemic, Israeli violinist Itamar Zorman found creative ways to continue performing. He and his wife, pianist Liza Stepanova, created a live-streamed video series, Hidden Gems. It was that video series that inspired Zorman’s latest recording, Violin Odyssey. Why are you calling this project Violin Odyssey? “Somehow the geographical scope of this music merged with time. I realized that I was featuring quite a few continents. Since this was a time where I could not travel, it was nice to do the traveling via music. I decided to go for something that evokes the journey.” How did you select the pieces on this recording? “These are all pieces that are personal favorites of mine by composers who deserve to be heard. Some have gotten more attention than others. For example, the composers of the first and last tracks of the CD are people who have rightly gained more attention. Polish composer Grażyna Bacewicz is a virtuoso violinist and great pianist. One of her pieces start the album and she has become more popular during the last couple of years. The same can be said about William Grant Still. I am playing this wonderful piece, arranged from the original called Summerland.” How does Wandering, a work composed by your father, Moshe Zorman, set the tone for the album? “Every journey starts from home. It was appropriate to do something by my father, especially something I had an influence on. He made the piece into a violin and piano duet because of me. He did that so I could play. He took the title from a collection of short stories by Hermann Hesse’s book Wanderings.” Tell me about Erwin Schule’s Sonata for violin and piano.  “The score is very funny. It has illogical meters and smiley faces. It is incredibly fun to look at. He also has a piece called Sonata Erotica. He really went all over the place with his compositions. He wrote this second sonata and became really interested in jazz and folk music in his 20s.” Tell me about Dora Pejačević. “Croatian composer Dora Pejačević is somewhat of a hero because of her music. She also volunteered as a nurse during World War I even though she was born to a noble family. She was really a part of her people. That is why she became a hero there.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. More on Itamar Zorman New Classical Tracks: After a Dream New Classical Tracks: Itamar Zorman celebrates music of Paul Ben-Haim in 'Evocation' Resources Itamar Zorman — Violin Odyssey (Amazon) Itamar Zorman (official site)
8/24/202225 minutes, 56 seconds
Episode Artwork

Leif Ove Andsnes continues his momentum with Mozart

Leif Ove Andsnes — Mozart Momentum: 1786 (Sony Classical) New Classical Tracks - Leif Ove Andsnes by “On stage you have to have a childlike openness,” Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes said. “There will be moments in concerts where I feel, ‘I’m creating now. It's actually happening in the moment.’ Also, there is nothing as beautiful as Mozart's music.” Andsnes is an artistic partner of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, an ensemble that has no home base. They’re constantly moving because it wants to make music that gets to the core of things. Together, they’ve taken a deep dive in the creation of The Beethoven Journey, and now they’re flowing in sync, with Andsnes conducting from the piano on his latest album, Mozart Momentum: 1786. What kind of momentum was Mozart creating? “It's about the piano concerto and what happened with that genre during Mozart's life. He writes a concerto in a minor key for the first time with very serious and dramatic music. He starts to separate the soloist from the orchestra. You have dramatic and restless music during the opening from the orchestra, but the soloist enters afterwards with completely different music. “That's the very first time this happens in any concerto. Mozart must have thought, ‘Oh, I'm on to something new here.’ For me, it's a revolution. It expands the storytelling and the narrative of what a piano concerto can be. You can look at soloists as an individual and the orchestra as a society. There is new psychological drama in it.” How did Mozart’s love of opera inspire his piano concertos that are on the album? “He was writing The Marriage of Figaro during this time and we hear it during the woodwind solos. He gives tremendous individuality and personality to each of the woodwind instruments. There are sections where I'm listening with pleasure to what they do in these concertos.” Can you talk about the energy in Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 24? “Normally we feel that it's very classical and balanced. The phrases are often eleven bars followed by five and then seven. He always makes sure we don't know what's coming next, so we have to guess. That guesswork gives the concerto its restless energy and drama.” Tell us about ‘Ch’io Mi Scordi Di Te?’ and the soprano who sings it. “The concert aria ‘Ch’io Mi Scordi Di Te?’ is text from Mozart’s opera Idomeneo. It’s unique how he makes the beauty of the soprano voice blend with the piano. It's like a duet. You know where one is without words and the other tells the story. There's no other piece like this in the literature. “ To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Watch now Resources Leif Ove Andsnes — Mozart Momentum: 1786 (Presto music) Leif Ove Andsnes — Mozart Momentum: 1786 (Amazon) Leif Ove Andsnes (official site)
8/10/202223 minutes, 49 seconds
Episode Artwork

Guitarist Frederic Hand celebrates outstanding 40-year career at Met and beyond

Frederic Hand — Across Time (New Focus Recordings) New Classical Tracks - Frederic Hand by ”I'm not sure why this happened, but he started to sing at a slower tempo. I had this moment of panic,” guitarist Frederic Hand said during one of the many stories he can tell about his role as the official guitarist for the Metropolitan Opera. “Here we are, and it comes down to the guitar player to make a decision whether to follow the conductor or to follow the most famous singer in the world. I remember all these things rushing through my head, ‘Why me?’ — I decided to follow Luciano Pavarotti.” Along with his role at the Met, which he held for decades, he’s written music for five soap operas, films and a vibrant solo career of 40 years, which is celebrated on his latest recording, Across Time. In general, what will we hear on this album? “Forty years ago, I did a recording called Trilogy. It was all original compositions, and that was the first time I used jazz harmonies and rhythms. That album was the beginning of solidifying my style. I was able to get the masters and have it digitally remastered. I'm happy because I can reintroduce that album to several other generations. “There are three new pieces written during the first couple of years of the pandemic. They really do reflect us being in a pandemic in terms of feelings, especially the first piece, “Renewal.” There was a time, especially when the vaccines first came out, that it seemed like a big ray of light was coming in. There was hope. That hope is expressed in the music with a very joyful jazz waltz. “Then the piece ends with contemplated harmonics. That's musically the representation of what I was feeling during the pandemic. If I were to write it now, I'm not quite sure what I would do, because it's so confusing.   “I also had three songs that I had recorded with my wife with texts by Shakespeare’s character Orsino. Those were done in my home studio, and they haven't seen the light of day until now. I'm excited about that. So that's the gist of the album, and that's why I called it Across Time.” How did your mentee inspire you to write a ballad for Astor Piazzolla? “His name is Federico Diaz, and he's a Piazzolla specialist. He devoted his doctorate to the music of Piazzolla. He told me at the end of his stay he wanted to do a concert of solo music by people who were influenced by Piazzolla. He asked people to create new music.” Tell us about “A Waltz for Maurice.” “I would say in terms of composers influencing the way that I voice chords on the guitar, Maurice Ravel is my main influence. I'm trying to imitate him. I said before I was imitating Bill Evans, but Evans is coming out of the Ravel tradition.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. More on classical guitar New Classical Tracks: Paraguayan guitarist Berta Roja honors the history of classical guitar Man with a mission: Miloš seeks the next great classical guitar showpiece Here are eight guitar composers for International Guitar Month Resources Frederic Hand — Across Time (Amazon) Frederic Hand (official site)
8/3/202242 minutes, 44 seconds
Episode Artwork

Aznavoorian Duo celebrates the sounds of Armenia

Aznavoorian Duo — Gems From Armenia (Cedille) New Classical Tracks - Aznavoorian Duo by “It's like watching French films. It’s the simplest thing, yet you're bawling your eyes out,” pianist Marta Aznavoorian said. “These pieces are like that for us; they're memories. They're examples of what it means for us to be Armenian.” The Aznavoorian Duo, which also features her sister, cellist Ani Aznavoorian, makes its debut with the album Gems From Armenia. “Most Armenians have an extraordinarily strong sense of being Armenian, even if we weren't born there. We both have a strong sense of what it means to be Armenian,” Marta said about their heritage. “This music is like little windows to our memories of our grandparents, and recording it was quite cathartic.” Why did you dedicate this recording to your grandfather? Ani: “He was the godfather of our family. All decisions went through him, but he was an extremely loving grandfather, very present in our lives. He'd come over every day. He would have loved these Armenian tunes that reminded him of his childhood, of the sacrifices his parents made when they left Turkey and came to the United States. “He would have related to all of Komitas’ music that starts the CD. Komitas is thought of as the grandfather of Armenian music. He's the one who created that Armenian flavor that we think of when we hear Armenian music.” Can you talk about how the album is divided into three Armenian musical eras? Marta: “Aram Khachaturian was very celebrated while he was alive. He discovered Arno Babajanian, another composer on our disc. Babajanian’s Elegy is one of the piano solo pieces on this disc that was for Khachaturian’s funeral. “After Babajanian, we move to Alexander Arutunian, who was around the same generation of composers as Khachaturian. Ani and I grew up playing Arutunian’s Impromptu, which is also on this album. It’s become a part of us, so we really couldn't change anything. We could only play it the way we've always played it since we were little kids. Tell us about Peter Boyer. Ani: “Boyer is a wonderful composer. It was an interesting curveball for all of us when this idea came up. Everyone is used to him writing American themes and having this American sound. We wanted to surprise everyone. “To make it work, we thought, why don't we have this American composer write something based on Armenia. What is a bigger symbol of Armenia than Mount Ararat?” To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Watch now Resources Aznavoorian Duo — Gems From Armenia (Cedille Store) Aznavoorian Duo — Gems From Armenia (Amazon) Ani Aznavoorian (official site) Marta Aznavoorian (official site)
7/27/202235 minutes, 46 seconds
Episode Artwork

Cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianist Inon Barnatan tackle Beethoven's sonatas

Alisa Weilerstein / Inon Barnatan: Beethoven Cello Sonatas (Pentatone) New Classical Tracks - Alisa Weilerstein by “It takes organization. But it is more than possible, and it's fantastic.” That’s cellist Alisa Weilerstein talking about what it takes to integrate family with an active career. About five months ago, she and her husband, conductor Rafael Payare, welcomed their second daughter, Elina, who joins big sister Ariadna. But not only did Weilerstein expand her family during the global pandemic; she also created a new recording with her longtime musical partner, pianist Inon Barnonton: a collection of Ludwig van Beethoven’s cello sonatas. The two of you have been playing these works for the entirety of your collaboration, which dates to 2008. Why was now the right time to make this recording? “Nothing is like the Bach cello suites in terms of, let's say, people's reverence for them and the fear of putting one’s sort of permanent stamp on them. This comes close. And so the Beethoven sonatas were pieces that we didn't want to rush into recording. 2020, of course, was also supposed to be the big Beethoven year. And, obviously, that got a bit overshadowed by world events. I mean, we had been talking about doing it eventually. It's like, well, OK, now is the perfect time. Let's just do it. So we did. It's the most visceral music I can think of. It combines some of the most structurally interesting and beautifully crafted music with primal, rhythmic drive and energy, which is present even in the most tender moments. When Beethoven becomes vulnerable, it's almost unbearable in terms of how moving, how touching it is. One of the coolest things about Beethoven's sonatas for cello and piano is that in five fairly concise works, we get to hear how his relationship between the piano and cello was redefined. Can you talk about that evolution and how we hear it in these works? “And I'm really glad you brought that up, because historically, in terms of our canon, it was a very important trajectory that we're following. “The first two sonatas, the first one, in particular, are really more of piano and cello sonatas. In other words, the piano is really the main voice, and the cello is having a kind of obbligato voice. I'm just kind of floating around and the piano is just wailing away, basically. “And then the Third Sonata is the first one where the cello and piano are truly equal partners. And it's announced from the very first note, which is played by the cello alone. That, historically, was a really big deal. It's fascinating to see how he just broke all the rules. “This is like therapy, just to make music and to communicate these really profound ideas and emotions in a way that we didn't have to use our words for anything. We could just make music. And it was kind of a reminder of why we both do what we do and why we love what we do so much.” To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Cello Sonata No. 3 in A Major, Op. 69: I. Allegro ma non tanto More on Alisa Weilerstein Learning to Listen: Alisa Weilerstein discusses the cello SymphonyCast: Alisa Weilerstein performs at the BBC Proms Resources Alisa Weilerstein / Inon Barnatan — Beethoven Cello Sonatas (Weilerstein store) Alisa Weilerstein / Inon Barnatan — Beethoven Cello Sonatas (Pentatone store) Alisa Weilerstein / Inon Barnatan — Beethoven Cello Sonatas (Amazon) Alisa Weilerstein (official site) Inon Barnatan (official site)
7/13/202222 minutes, 38 seconds
Episode Artwork

Marc-André Hamelin explores William Bolcom's piano rags in his new album

Marc-André Hamelin – William Bolcom: The Complete Rags (Hyperion) New Classical Tracks - Marc-André Hamelin by “In 1985, I won the Carnegie Hall competition for American Music. One of the prizes was an invitation to the Cabrillo Festival in California, which is still going on, I think. And the two composers in residence that year happened to be Arvo Pärt and William Bolcom. So, I got to meet him.” Pianist Marc-André Hamelin not only got to meet Bolcom, the American composer whom he’d been admiring since he was 16, but he also got to make music with him. For his latest release, Hamelin has recorded a two-disc set of The Complete Rags of William Bolcom.   There's a lot of diversity in Bolcom’s rags. Can you talk about the many moods that we experience throughout this two-disc set? “I think his first rags were a little more Joplin influenced, even though he was adding some touches of his own. “There is one of them, which is a kind of a joke, actually, it's called Brass Knuckles. And it was written in collaboration with the late William Albright. They decided to write that together one day as sort of an antidote to the overdelicate rags that they'd each been writing. It's just a joke, of course, but it's full of clusters and very violent piano writing. And that's why I put it at the very end of the two-disc set. “One of the rags from the Garden of Eden Suite, which is called the Serpent's Kiss and is actually one of the ones that's more often performed, asks for the same kind of percussive sound on the piano. And I couldn't do it fast enough. So I just developed a system of tongue clicks. And Bill was so amused by this during the recording session that he allowed me to keep that.” The opening rag, Eubie’s Lucky Day, is dedicated to American pianist Eubie Blake, whom Bolcom considers to be his last great teacher. Can you tell us more about that correspondence? “The fact that he [Bolcom] connected with Eubie Blake is really extraordinary for him, because Bill knew so much about the history of American popular music, and, of course, performing with his wife, Joan Morris, during all these years. So, it was wonderful to be in contact with someone who was there from pretty much the very beginning. The first track of the album is called Tabby Cat Walk. Bolcom makes use of silence effectively in the piece, kind of catches us off guard, maybe the way a cat would. Can you tell us more about that? “They called it stopped time. The music would stop for a bar or two and then it would start again. But the rhythm would always be going on behind, regardless, you know? Just recently I got an early LP of his, which is just his own rags, and Tabby Cat Walk is on there. And of course, you know, I couldn't say it was a CD player because it was vinyl. But I asked myself the same thing. There's something going on here. But no, it's just written like that, and it's quite an effective little thing.” Is there another rag on this two-disc set you’d like to talk about? “Well, there's a couple, actually, that sort of distinguish themselves from the others because rather than having straight ragtime rhythm, they have more of a dotted rhythm. So, a ragtime would be ‘Da Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo.’ But a dotted rhythm would be more jagged. So, there's one called Knight Hubert, as in Eubie Blake, [also known as] Hubert Blake, and [an]other one is called the Brooklyn Dodge, and they're both wonderful and very swingy.” To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Twelve New Etudes-Book III: Rag infernal (Syncopes apocalyptiques) More on Marc-André Hamelin and William Bolcom Pianist Marc-André Hamelin Composer William Bolcom at 80: A varied career of 'musical illuminations' Resources Marc-André Hamelin — William Bolcom: The Complete Rags (Hamelin store) Marc-André Hamelin — William Bolcom: The Complete Rags (Hyperion store) Marc-André Hamelin — William Bolcom: The Complete Rags (Amazon) Marc-André Hamelin (official site) William Bolcom (official site)
7/6/202227 minutes, 44 seconds
Episode Artwork

Conductor Michael Repper releases debut album with the New York Youth Symphony

Michael Repper and the New York Youth Symphony — Works by Florence Price, Jessie Montgomery, Valerie Coleman (Avie) New Classical Tracks - Michael Repper by “Maybe it's because I come from the Marin Alsop school of conducting and how I was taught, but we want to build community,” conductor Michael Repper said. “We want to make the world a better place, and we want to be connecting people.” In 2017, it was Repper’s mentor, Alsop, who recommended that he be the next conductor of the New York Youth Symphony. “The age range of the orchestra is between 12 to 22,” he said. “That means each year we have many members of the orchestra who are students at the local conservatories and colleges, including the Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music and Columbia University. That also means they may not be from New York; they come from all over the world.” Why did you decide to feature works by three Black women composers? “We were scheduled to play the Florence Price Piano Concerto on our concert at Carnegie Hall. It was actually going to be the Carnegie Hall premiere of that work. I still don't think it's been played there. In May 2020, we called [pianist] Michelle Cann, and I said, ‘Hey, would you like to do this?’ That was the first thing that went on the album. “Also, we didn't rehearse with her. We were so concerned that if we scheduled a rehearsal in the week before the recording, somebody would get sick. Not only did we not want somebody to get sick, but we didn't want to jeopardize the project. We rehearsed with Cann for only an hour or so before we hit record.” Can you talk about the principal oboist featured in the Piano Concerto? “Her name is Kara Poling. She is one to watch. The middle section is a lyrical duo, and it gives me chills every time. She plays it so well. “In 2020, particularly with the tragic murder of George Floyd, it was a moment to highlight music that dealt with inequities and oppression. I had always loved Price's Ethiopia’s Shadow in America. I was amazed that there hadn't been a recording of an American orchestra performing the work. I said that it has to be on the album for sure. “This was the first time I conducted all four of these pieces, and I will continue to program them. I fell in love with the music the same way that everybody else did.” To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Watch now More on youth orchestras Youth orchestra strikes back at car ad that pokes fun at young players School Spotlight: Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies Resources Michael Repper and the New York Youth Symphony — Works by Florence Price, Jessie Montgomery, Valerie Coleman (New York Youth Symphony direct) Michael Repper and the New York Youth Symphony — Works by Florence Price, Jessie Montgomery, Valerie Coleman (Avie store) Michael Repper and the New York Youth Symphony — Works by Florence Price, Jessie Montgomery, Valerie Coleman (Amazon) New York Youth Symphony (official site) Michael Repper (official site)
6/22/202227 minutes, 10 seconds
Episode Artwork

Paraguayan guitarist Berta Roja honors the history of classical guitar

Berta Rojas — Legado (Onmusic) New Classical Tracks - Berta Rojas by “I named her La Rojita, the little red one, because she travels in a red case and my last name is Rojas,” Paraguayan guitarist Berta Roja said about her newly returned guitar, which was stolen the day after she recorded her latest release, Legado.    This recording illuminates pieces written by or as a tribute to two of the most illustrious and influential players in the history of classical guitar — Ida Presti and María Luisa Anido. “I feel that these women who pioneered classical guitar paved the way for many of us to consider this a profession,” Roja said. Why is Anido a revelation for you? “Because I know all of her. I heard an interview where she talked about the difficulties she had traveling. The custom is that a woman playing guitar would travel by herself. She had to wait until both her parents died in 1950 to start playing concerts around the world. “I find that her music is sincere and honest. I was blown away by the beauty of pieces like El Misachico, which is a tribute to her mother. It has a traditional rhythm from Argentina. It is a ritual dance. You can almost feel the body being carried to its final resting place in the drum accompaniment. The way she describes the passing of her mother with one single note is simple, yet very powerful. “Presti is another pioneer of classical guitar. She was born in 1924 in France. She lived to 42, but those 42 years were enough for her to be considered the greatest classical guitar virtuoso of the 20th century.” Why did you decide to create a video out of John Duarte’s Idylle Pour Ida Legado? “It's one of my favorite pieces. I am touched by the beauty of this lament. When we where thinking of a piece that could symbolize or synthesize what we were trying to do with Legato, we thought that this could be a good piece to have a video of. “That is what I intend to do with this album. I wanted to contribute more names to be a part of the conversation about the history of classical guitar. It is not only the names of great male composers and guitarists, but also the women.”  To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Watch now More on Berta Rojas Cleveland.com Berta Rojas’ guitar returned after being stolen in Cleveland Resources Berta Rojas — Legado (Amazon Music) Berta Rojas — Legado (Berta Rojas site) Berta Rojas (official site)
6/15/202233 minutes, 40 seconds
Episode Artwork

Catalyst Quartet continues its 'Uncovered' series with composer Florence Price

Catalyst Quartet — Uncovered, Vol. 2: Florence B. Price (Azica) New Classical Tracks - Catalyst Quartet by “She just wanted a chance, and she never really got it,” violist Paul Laraia said about composer Florence Price. “It's so fulfilling that we were able to release all of this chamber music. Four of these works have never been recorded.”   Last year, his group, the Catalyst Quartet, launched its first album in a series of recordings commemorating historically important Black composers. The group’s latest CD, Uncovered, Vol. 2: Florence B. Price, is the second recording in that series. Why is the title “Uncovered” significant? “Back in 2018, when we were formulating this project, we thought about that title. We felt that it best described the reality in which these composers’ music never went away. We needed to focus attention back onto them. “In the case of some of these works, like the works of Florence Price, there was a little bit of detective work. We had to go to the actual library in Arkansas and collect manuscripts in order to make this recording, because the publishing companies that own the rights just aren't pumping out the music fast enough for it to be heard.” Can you tell me about the featured guest, Michelle Cann? “She's just incredible. She is a consummate chamber musician and has all of the incredible facilities and musical intellect to solo. She also separately was taking up her own mission involving the music of Florence Price. “Having her perspective was a really great thing for us, even for all four of us when we play the other pieces that didn't have piano. For instance, one rehearsal we were working on the ‘Juba’ movement from the long Piano Quintet in A minor. We were asking Michelle what her take was on swinging some of the rhythms. “To the nonexpert, it can sound like ragtime, but Michelle told us that we needed to listen to the Robert Nathaniel Dett version to get the idea of what was in Price's ears when she was writing those rhythms.” Can you talk about what we hear in 5 Folk Songs in Counterpoint? “There's an emotional and conversational aspect to every one of the entrances and voices that take us with a through line. In the case of the five folk songs, I think there's a through line that spans the entire work. We feel this journey going all the way through. The third movement is a slow chorale that’s really gorgeous, and I think it serves as an emotional center point. “The goal is not for our recording to be the only definitive set. The music is so dense that it can be interpreted so many ways. It deserves a collective effort in order to move us closer to having better and stronger interpretations of her music and for her music to be more widely available and known.” To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Watch now More on Florence Price and the Catalyst Quartet Rhapsody in Black Florence Price meets Frederick Stock New Classical Tracks Catalyst Quartet honors Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Resources Catalyst Quartet — Uncovered, Vol. 2: Florence B. Price (Amazon Music) Catalyst Quartet (official site)
6/8/202232 minutes, 27 seconds
Episode Artwork

Soprano Nadine Sierra is 'Made for Opera'

Nadine Sierra — Made for Opera (DG) New Classical Tracks - Nadine Sierra by “My grandmother was born and raised in Lisbon, Portugal. She had a beautiful voice and always loved music, especially classical and opera,” soprano Nadine Sierra said. “She wanted to become an opera singer, but my great-grandfather didn't allow her to pursue any kind of career. My whole life has been prepared and made for opera.” Sierra dedicates her latest recording, Made for Opera, to her grandmother. It explores the operatic heroines that include Lucia from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, Juliette from Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet and Violetta from Verdi’s La Traviata, who all had little control over their own destiny.  “We find that female roles played by women in opera are about women that cannot make decisions for themselves despite being these iconic figures. These are also women who are in a social prison. My grandmother grew up in that social prison. Today I have the power and the privilege to choose my destiny.” Tell us why you're careful about choosing a role at the right point in your career. “I didn't start to sing Violetta until recently. I felt that in my own life I had not experienced enough to play this character as believably as possible. I felt I needed to live a few more years in order to understand her.” Tell us about the story and sections you've chosen to highlight on this recording from La Traviata. “I decided to showcase Violetta in Act One and Three. In Act One she has her famous aria starting from ‘È Strano! È Strano’ and ending with ‘Sempre Libera.’ In the aria she meets Alfredo for the first time, and he tells her that he's in love with her. “I also highlight her last aria, where she's dying. Alfredo has a sister and the more time he spends with Violeta ruins his sister's reputation and her possibility of marrying into a good family. So, Violetta makes the sacrifice. She lies to Alfredo telling him she's not in love with him anymore and she can't be with him. She sacrifices herself for another woman's love, which I love about Violetta. She's a special and empathetic character.” How did working with a woman director give you a different perspective on Donizetti's character Lucia? “This particular female director and I have both experienced things in our personal lives that are similar. Whether it be in a relationship or even a situation with a family member, we were able to better communicate what we wanted with the audience about Lucia.” To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Watch now Resources Nadine Sierra — Made for Opera (Amazon) Nadine Sierra — Made for Opera (DG Store) Nadine Sierra (official site)
6/1/202234 minutes, 30 seconds
Episode Artwork

Lara Downes reflects on the music of Scott Joplin

Lara Downes — Reflections: Scott Joplin Reconsidered (Rising Sun Music) New Classical Tracks - Lara Downes by Pianist Lara Downes is reconsidering Scott Joplin, who he was and what he did. Joplin was an incredible innovator who really brought American music into the 20th century. Downes digs deeper into his legacy in her latest recording, Reflections: Scott Joplin Reconsidered. Why did you want to learn Joplin’s music, which many of us learned about from the movie The Sting? “Even by the age of 7, I was pretty deep into classical music. My sound world was classical music. I heard his music and thought it was really exciting. It's really fun. There was also Paul Newman in the movie. That didn't hurt. So I learned ‘The Entertainer,’ and I think it was kind of a treat. In my world, my early training was pretty rigorous. “It's really clear to me now that this whole journey into American music has transformed the way I hear and understand it. It's fun. It's reconnecting with my little girl self, but through a different lens.” Can you talk about the arrangement of ‘The Entertainer’ you created? “It was easy and obvious to me what I wanted to do with many of these pieces, but I will admit that ‘The Entertainer’ kind of posed a problem. We've heard it so many times and I realized the answer had been literally staring me in the face. On the title page of the piece Joplin dedicates ‘The Entertainer’ to James Brown and his mandolin club.”  Where did you find ‘A Picture of Her Face,’ which you world-premiered with baritone Will Liverman? “This is such an example of the music sitting right there for everyone to find, and we're somehow not finding it. There's this huge digital database of public domain sheet music, IMSLP. We all use it. I was just going through all the Joplin stuff to make sure there was nothing I overlooked, and there's this art song called ‘A Picture of Her Face.’ “That same day I was texting with my friend Will Liverman, and we were checking in about some things. ‘What are you up to?’ And I said, ‘I'm going to the studio. I'm working on this Joplin project,’ and he's like, ‘Oh, I love Joplin!’” Are you really the only performer on ‘Eugenia’? “Oh, you're hearing a lot of stuff inside the piano that we put in there, because I kept saying to [producer] Adam [Abeshouse], ‘I want to play around with different sounds and colors.’ He said, ‘OK, hold on a second.’ He goes and gets all these rolls of tape and some chains, and he's putting it in the piano. He said, ‘OK, sit down, and try it again.’ I think it ends up sounding like one of those saloons where Joplin would have played.”  How does this music reflect who you are? “I'm lucky enough to be what Joplin wanted to be. No one's getting in my way. It’s amazing for those of us, especially artists of color, who are living now. We are having for the first time the incredible experience of bringing the music of Black artists who came before us to the general public and having that be welcomed.” To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Watch now More on Lara Downes Lara Downes creates Black-focused label Rising Sun Music Pianist Lara Downes re-centers the music of the Great Migration Resources Lara Downes — Reflections: Scott Joplin Reconsidered (Lara Downes’ Website) Lara Downes — Reflections: Scott Joplin Reconsidered (Amazon Music) Lara Downes (official site)
5/25/202238 minutes, 57 seconds
Episode Artwork

Amit Peled loves the warmth of his new cello

Amit Peled — Solus Et Una (CTM Classics) New Classical Tracks - Amit Peled by “The instrument I'm using for this recording helped me to feel more intune with myself because it's a cello that I received during the pandemic. It's a Grancino that was made in 1695,” Israeli-born cellist Amit Peled said. “Just before the pandemic, I had to return Pablo Casals’ cello, which I used before. The moment I touched this cello, I felt it. I'm basking in an imaginary hot chocolate bath. I'm not kidding.” Peled calls his new cello, ‘Shoko.’ In Hebrew it means, hot chocolate. It brings out a special sense of warmth and comfort in the music on his latest recording, Solus Et Una. “Solus Et Una means alone and together, which basically describes my time during the pandemic,” continued Peled. “I was artistically alone at first and throughout the middle. Towards the end of it I found ways to make music together with others. “We found in the bubble situation we were basically isolating ourselves as a group in the mountains of Montana. This was a place where we could be mask less with no vaccination and do nothing but just walk and make music the way we used to. The nature and the ability to make music together again was a transformative revelation for all of us. Of course, this was inspired by the NBA bubble. My love for basketball showed me the light.” How did this arrangement of Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 3, II. Andante happen? “I did what I usually do when I want to get inspiration. I stop thinking and I went for a walk. This Brahms symphony came to my mind while I was walking, which I love. I am also a conductor, and he is my favorite composer. I started hearing it in my mind. When I got back from the walk, I put it on Spotify. When I got to this movement, I could totally hear the cello sound. “I have a conductor friend who arranges music, and he has a friend, who is on the album, that also does arrangements. He lives in Serbia. I contacted him and he sent me back the arrangement. He said it was easy. It's fit for eight cellos and piano. When we got to Montana, we rehearsed it every single day making changes to make it sound as close as possible to the symphony.” Can you talk about Bach’s Cello Suite No.4? “I had so much time to just play that suite. I said to myself, ‘Ok, stop judging yourself, just play.’ I played it every day until I fell in love with it. I played it as a song of love. “I remember reading an interview with Yo-Yo Ma, where he said on his 60th birthday, ‘All I want now is to play and feel again like when I was a child and played the cello without any judgment.’ I never understood what he meant until the pandemic. You play, think and practice to your standard. But in a way, you must let go and do it. When we were kids, we play as if we were outside with friends. That's how I want to play the cello now.” To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Watch now Resources Amit Peled — Solus Et Una (Amazon) Amit Peled (official site)
5/18/202238 minutes, 2 seconds
Episode Artwork

Los Angeles Guitar Quartet celebrates 40 years

Los Angeles Guitar Quartet — Opalescent (Lagq Records) New Classical Tracks - Los Angeles Guitar Quartet by “One could argue that the original goal was that we needed to get an ‘A’ in this classical guitar ensemble we signed up for,” guitarist William Kanengiser said about how the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet started. “We're still working on it.” LAGQ was formed 40 years ago at the University of Southern California, and its members are celebrating that occasion with their new release, which highlights the varied colors of the guitar, Opalescent. “It started with a friendship I formed with Scott Tennant at one of Pepe Romero's master classes,” Kanengiser said. “This was before he arrived at USC, and Pepe was a member of Los Romeros, the most famous guitar quartet. He told Tennant and I that we should have a quartet. “It wasn’t until two years later that we went from being the USC guitar quartet to the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. That's why we're celebrating our 40th anniversary now.” Can you talk about Matt Greif, your newest member, who also studied with Pepe in Spain? “Greif joined our group, and we call him the new guy. He's only been with us for 16 years. We're still breaking him in. He was my student at USC and has done beautiful arrangements for us, one of which is featured on the new recording. “It was heartwarming to see the arrangement of Michael Hedges’ Aerial Boundaries. I hadn't realized he'd been gone for 25 years. To hear that piece of music brought back to life by four guitarists makes Hedges sound like he was actually playing four guitars.” Why is it so important to have Hedges’ Aerial Boundaries on this recording? “Hedges had a groundbreaking recording on Windham Hill called Ariel Boundaries. It just blew the socks off everybody. It changed finger-style guitar forever. “The funny thing is, quite a bit of this arrangement is a straight cover of what he did. It speaks to his amazing virtuosity and creativity that it takes four of us to do what he did on one guitar. Greiff went off the beaten track in the arrangement with a minimal 12/8 section that also beautifully adds his voice to the piece. It seamlessly works its way back to the original Hedges’ track later on.” Why did you dedicate the album to Australian composer Phillip Houghton? “He's most famous in the guitar world for his suite for four guitars called Opals. It attempts to portray the glints and reflections you see when you rotate the Australian national stone, the opal. “He passed away three years ago and when we had started playing Opals, we thought we should record this beautiful piece. That work started the whole idea of what other pieces can reflect on the intersection between light and sound, or between the colors of the guitar and the colors you would see in your mind.” How does Frederick Hand’s The Chorale turn your quartet into a choir? “It's unusual for us to have each person playing a single line as if we were singing. It's probably the hardest thing to do with four guitars. “John Dearman liked to say, ‘You know, it took us half our career to figure out how to play together and the other half to figure out how not play together, but to be together.’ That requires years, and a lot of telepathy.” To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Watch now More on Los Angeles Guitar Quartet Listen to the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet's recent Twin Cities concert New Classical Tracks Los Angeles Guitar Quartet Resources Los Angeles Guitar Quartet — Opalescent (Amazon) Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (official site)
4/27/202239 minutes, 21 seconds
Episode Artwork

Harpist Yolanda Kondonassis celebrates Earth

Yolanda Kondonassis — Five Minutes for Earth (Azica Records) New Classical Tracks - Yolanda Kondonassis by “I had such a great time practicing new stuff,” harpist Yolanda Kondonassis said. “It rewires your neurons when you're sitting there for hours absorbing new music, new material, new techniques and new everything.”During the pandemic Kondonassis had time and space to learn 15 new solo pieces for harp inspired by Earth for her latest album, Five Minutes for Earth. How does this album fit into the mission of your nonprofit? “My foundation, Earth at Heart, will sponsor and finance all ongoing performances of these five-minute pieces that are on the album every time they're performed. Any harpist anywhere in the world, if they can upload their performance and info to the Earth at Heart website, a contribution will be made to an Earth conservation organization. “The idea was not only to inspire through the arts, but in the case of Five Minutes for Earth, it gives artists a way to contribute through their performances.” Why is five minutes the magic number? “Five minutes started as a construct. I asked myself, ‘What can I realistically ask composers to do or donate?’ I thought five minutes was a great metaphor for the time we have as a global community to get our act together.” How would you describe Maximo Diego Pujol’s piece, Milonga Para Mi Tierra? “Diego says it's a love song for my Earth, and I love that ownership. It's not just the Earth. It's my Earth. That's an important part of the title and subliminally threaded throughout. It's nostalgic and melancholy while remaining hopeful. It's awe inspiring to watch that work in progress.” Can you talk about the composer and piece that opens the album? “Takuma Itoh, who is based in Honolulu, Hawaii, composed Kohola Sings. He wrote this piece using the stunning effect. It's a string-bending maneuver that can imitate the songs of whales.” Can you talk about Michael Daugherty’s Hear the Dust Blow? “The initial idea came from the Dust Bowl period. The Grapes of Wrath and all that came from a convergence of elements. It was a combination of weather patterns and an abuse of the land. We learned something back then in the 1930s, but we need to learn it again. “There are gorgeous, aching moments in this piece. The idea of wishing, hoping and dreaming of a new day and a better life are woven through his piece. It is the glue. “Each piece has a small element of both looking back and forward. They are all so different from one another. But, if I were to try and narrow down a common thread with each work, it is that they all have a touch of melancholy combined with lots of hope.” To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Watch now More on Yolanda Kondonassis From NPR Tiny Desk: Jason Vieaux And Yolanda Kondonassis Performance Today In studio with Yolanda Kondonassis and Jason Vieaux New Classical Tracks Yolanda Kondonassis premieres new harp concerto by Jennifer Higdon in 'American Rapture' Resources Yolanda Kondonassis — Five Minutes for Earth (Amazon) Yolanda Kondonassis (official site)
4/20/202238 minutes, 34 seconds
Episode Artwork

Claremont Trio celebrates 20 years of music making

The Claremont Trio — Queen of Hearts (Tria) New Classical Tracks - The Claremont Trio by “The Claremont Trio started in 1999. Currently, our incredible pianist is Andrea Lam. She's from Sydney and is such a beautiful pianist and wonderfully fun collaborator,’ violinist Emily Bruskin said. “We've had a great time. The first pieces we learned together are works commissioned for our new CD, Queen of Hearts.” Bruskin and her twin sister, cellist Julia Bruskin, formed the Claremont Trio while they were living on Claremont Avenue in New York City. They were students in a joint program between Columbia and Juilliard. Their new recording marks the group’s 20th anniversary, albeit a little late due to COVID. It features works that the Claremont Trio commissioned over the past two decades. “It's fun for us. It takes us back to pieces from 2008, and then something from 2012 or 2016. It brings us back to memories from different points in our career when these pieces were written, when we were working on them or when we played them often. It was a fun way for us to revisit experiences over our 20 years together.” How does the piece Queen of Hearts represent the Claremont Trio? “Queen of Hearts is what Kati Agócs wrote for us, and it's an amazing piece; it's all in one movement. It's a spiritual journey from a very heartfelt, intuitive spiritual composer. She's a singer herself, and the piece is a long emotional journey. I think it's something that we enjoy playing. We're an all-women group, and she likes the symbolism of the Queen of Hearts. Its powerful resilient femininity made for a fun title for the disc.” How is the concept of resilience represented in the music? “She uses a chaconne in the music, which is basically a repeating bassline that goes throughout the music. When she was writing the piece, there were challenges in her personal life. She found the idea of returning to something familiar or dependable helpful. It's a beautiful way to write a composition, because even when you're wandering very deep in the woods, in the middle of the piece, you feel like you know where you are and where you want to get back to.” Where does the title of Nico Muhly’s piece, Common Ground, come from? “He was using the ground bass, which is like the chaconne. He also uses the piano and strings as opposites of each other in the piece. Common Ground is referring to two elements finding common ground. It is the piano on the strings, finding ways to work together.” Could you talk about the three little pieces by Helen Grime? “We were commissioning pieces to commemorate the grand opening of a concert hall in Boston at the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum. She wanted art from the museum to inspire her works, and she picked out three Whistler miniatures. They’re little watercolor paintings that are incredibly beautiful, impressionistic, with subtle color palettes. Grime's music is kind of like that. It's evocative and as soon as it starts, you feel like you're in another world. “It's so exciting to commission a new piece and to play music that nobody's ever heard before. It’s fun to collaborate with composers figuring out what inspired them and what's cool, exciting or gorgeous about their new piece of music.” To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Watch now More on the Claremont Trio Claremont Trio, 'Serenata' Resources The Claremont Trio — Queen of Hearts (Amazon) The Claremont Trio (official site)
4/13/202226 minutes, 36 seconds
Episode Artwork

Cellist Matt Haimovitz focuses on future generations

Matt Haimovitz — Primavera II: The Rabbits (Pentatone) New Classical Tracks - Matt Haimovitz by “Being immersed in this project confirms my belief that we are in a golden age of music,” cellist Matt Haimovitz said. “There's such a range of languages and talent out there. It's really extraordinary.” Haimovitz has taken a few risks in his career. He’s tried different things to introduce people to classical music. His latest endeavor focuses on future generations of cellists. It’s a large-scale commissioning project, where 81 contemporary composers are invited to share their musical response to two paintings. The second recording in this six-album series, Primavera II: The Rabbits, was recently released. “It centers on two paintings,” Hamiovitz said referring to the inspiration for the album. “One is Sandro Botticelli’s Primavera, an iconic painting in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. When my partner, Jeffrianne Young, and I encountered this painting, we became obsessed with it. We started reading all about its mysteries, stories, narratives and symbolism. “Around that time, we also discovered the Hirshhorn Gallery. We walked into a one-woman show by the great artist Charline von Heyl and were blown away by her work. We met with Charlene and talked about the Botticelli and the state of the world. She created Primavera 2020, a response to the Botticelli, for us. For this album, we asked all the composers to respond and engage those two paintings in any way they want.” Why did you choose to commission 81 works? “It was supposed to be nine, and it was supposed to be tone poems for cello and orchestra. All my orchestral dates dried up, and I was going nuts not having work. Basically, we changed the idea into a solo cello project. The nine composers that we started with recommend the next nine and so on. It became a viral commissioning project, which got nine layers deep.” Can you give an example of where we might hear new and interesting sounds from the cello on this album? “One interesting piece is by Niloufar Nourbakhsh, an Iranian composer. It's called Cyclical Rabbits, and I begin with plucking that sounds like an oud. It sounds like a Persian instrument. She gets that effect by using sticky tack on the string. “I realize how important it is to advocate for these composers and to bring this music to life. I want to be part of the fabric of making sure that classical music is a vibrant living entity.” To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Watch now More on Matt Haimovitz Matt Haimovitz welcomes back his cherished cello Matt Haimovitz on residency, Bach and Beethoven Resources Matt Haimovitz — Primavera II: The Rabbits (Pentatone store) Matt Haimovitz — Primavera II: The Rabbits (Amazon music) Matt Haimovitz (official site)
4/6/202230 minutes, 13 seconds
Episode Artwork

Violinist Angèle Dubeau's new album celebrates womanhood

Angèle Dubeau and La Pietà — Elle (Analekta) New Classical Tracks - Angèle Dubeau by “After 25 years of playing together, we can recognize the sound, color, texture and characterization of La Pietà very well, but I'm looking for that extra sparkle I call energy,” violinist Angèle Dubeau said about the passion each member has brought to this all-female ensemble over the years to include its new release, Elle. When Dubeau formed La Pietà in 1997, her goal was simply to assemble a dozen musicians for a new Vivaldi recording. When she realized all the musicians were women, she named the ensemble after the orphanage for girls where Vivaldi taught in Venice, La Pietà. Is there more to the record’s title? “Yeah, it's ‘she,’ or ‘elle,’ in the singular, because I thought that each woman is unique. That's a little detail, and this album marks the 25th anniversary of La Pietà. I wanted to have an album conceived, played and composed all by women. It makes me proud to be a woman when I listen to this album.  “All women on the album, except one, are contemporary composers. The exception is Hildegard von Bingen, because I thought if we have wonderful composers of today why not showcase one of the first composers of the 12th century?” Can you tell me about the commissioned work and who composed it? “That’s Ana Sokolović. I asked her to write a suite of movements. She decided to do a suite of dances called Girandole des Danses imaginaires. Each movement is a different dance and tells a unique story. “There's also another work composed for the album from Katia Makdissi-Warren; she’s also from Montreal. It’s called, Mémoire, and it’s from an Inuit tradition that has been handed down from mother to daughter.” Tell me about Elena Kats-Chernin’s ‘Re-Inventions.’ “It's a piece that she first wrote for recorder and strings. Now it's for violin and strings. It's just a small re-orchestration of the piece. The work is based on a two-part invention by Bach. It's bubbly and really fun.” What has surprised you the most about what you and this ensemble have achieved? “What makes me most proud is to know that our music accompanies people while they endure daily life, whether it’s happy or sad, or small or great moments.” To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Watch now More on Angèle Dubeau Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà perform Ludovico Einaudi and Brubeck Angèle Dubeau offers meditative music from contemporary composers Resources Angèle Dubeau and La Pietà — Elle (Archambault store) Angèle Dubeau and La Pietà — Elle (Amazon music) Angèle Dubeau (official site)
3/30/202235 minutes, 1 second
Episode Artwork

Cellist Jennifer Kloetzel conquers the Beethoven sonatas

Jennifer Kloetzel and Robert Koenig — Beethoven: The Conquering Hero (AVIE) New Classical Tracks - Jennifer Kloetzel by “People don't often think of Beethoven as this stormy, moody composer, but I think there's such sweetness, depth and cleverness in his music,” cellist Jennifer Kloetzel said. “The dialog between instruments fascinates me. Every time I come back to a work of his, I want to learn more about it and dig a little deeper. That is a sign of a great composer.” Kloetzel has been crazy about Beethoven for as long as she can remember. As a founding member of the Cypress String Quartet, she spent 20 years performing and recording his music. Together, with pianist Robert Koenig, she has recorded the composer’s complete works for cello and piano, on a new three-CD set called, Beethoven: The Conquering Hero. “At the beginning, there's a lot of piano. It's very piano heavy,” Kloetzel said about the Beethoven sonatas. “The cello is not an accompanying instrument necessarily, but there are moments. So for example, in the first set of variations the cello does not get the main theme until the 10th variation. “But as we advance through the time period, you see the two instruments become more equal. Sonata No. 3 in A Major is considered the first true partnership of cello and piano. It starts with a long cello solo. I think Beethoven was saying, ‘Here it is! The cello is going to carry this, and the piano will come in later.’” Why was it bold for your childhood teacher to place Beethoven's Sonata No. 2 on your music stand? “It is the one sonata that Beethoven wrote for cello and piano that is in a minor key. One of the greatest things about him is how he plays with contrast and context. You have this very dark introduction, which you get released from and it feels like the sun has come out even though it's still in a minor key. There's something about those contrasts and how he creates an experience for the listener that I find just constantly interesting.” Why is Beethoven the conquering hero in your mind? “The composer himself conquered a lot of things in his life from losing his hearing to never finding love. There were many struggles for him. Yet, he kept writing music and he kept bringing us his cleverness and beauty. “Beethoven once said in German, ‘Art demands of us that we shall not stand still.’ I love that idea, and I feel like that's what happens when I'm in the recording studio giving it my all. Then I walk out of there and I need to find fresh ideas so I'm not doing exactly what I've been doing before.“ To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Watch now More on Jennifer Kloetzel New Classical Tracks Cypress String Quartet add two for Brahms New Classical Tracks Cypress String Quartet - Beethoven: The Early String Quartets Resources Jennifer Kloetzel and Robert Koenig — Beethoven: The Conquering Hero (AVIE Store) Jennifer Kloetzel and Robert Koenig — Beethoven: The Conquering Hero (Amazon) Jennifer Kloetzel (official site)
3/23/202231 minutes, 14 seconds
Episode Artwork

Pianist Simone Dinnerstein finishes her pandemic trilogy

Simone Dinnerstein — Undersong (Orange Mountain Music) New Classical Tracks - Simone Dinnerstein by “It was a very funny afternoon because I was lying on my bed with my dog, Daisy, watching it on my phone,” pianist Simone Dinnerstein said about learning her recording American Mosaic received a recent Grammy Nomination for ‘Best Classical Instrumental Solo recording.’ “When they announced my name, I couldn't believe it. I almost fell off the bed. It was a hysterical moment”. American Mosaic was one of two recordings Dinnerstein released last year. Now she’s releasing her third album composed during the pandemic, the final in an inspired trilogy of recordings titled Undersong. “Undersong is a beautiful word that I discovered. I was looking around for words that would speak to the idea of a refrain, because every piece of music on this album has a refrain,” said Dinnerstein. “The has an almost rondeau form to it with its returning theme. “I also thought that under song has also been used as the underlying thread that holds together our world. I think that's why composers and people are drawn to refrains. It connects us to something quite deep. We like to return. We like to go home. We like to revisit things and this music is doing that.” Can you talk more about the overall cohesion of the album? “I think a lot about how pieces of music from different time periods can speak to each other, and this particular program is one that I conceived a few years ago. I was touring it before the pandemic started. It has Couperin, Schumann, Glass and Satie on it. “One part that I find particularly striking is I have performed Schumann's ‘Arabesque’ and then I go into Philip Glass's ‘Mad Rush.’ In this ‘Arabesque',’ that final epilogue is like Schuman stepping out of time and writing something that we could hear composed today. The way it flows into ‘Mad Rush’ feels like it could have been the same person who composed both of those pieces.” What is the importance of François Couperin’s tracks on the album? “‘Les Barricades Mysterieuses,’ is a piece that I first discovered in a film that I really love called The Tree of Life. That film is all about family. The music is used loosely as a theme throughout the film and I associated that piece with family. “The under song for me is my connection with my family, husband, son, parents and my roots here.” To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Watch now More on Simone Dinnerstein Performance Today An American Mosaic New Classical Tracks Simone Dinnerstein makes the most out of lockdown Resources Simone Dinnerstein — Undersong (Simone’s Website) Simone Dinnerstein — Undersong (Amazon Music) Simone Dinnerstein (official site)
3/9/202236 minutes, 53 seconds
Episode Artwork

Pianist Steven Beck celebrates composer George Walker

Steven Beck — George Walker: Five Piano Sonatas (Bridge)   New Classical Tracks - Steven Beck by “No one had recorded all of the sonatas on a single disc before,” pianist Steven Beck said about his new album, George Walker: Five Piano Sonatas. “Although Walker recorded the first two himself.” That’s one reason Beck decided to record the piano sonatas. He lives and performs in New York City with the new music group Da Capo Chamber Players. Contemporary music has been a passion of his, but the music of American composer George Walker has been stirring in his bones. “My mother is a pianist. She went to Peabody in the ‘70s, when Walker was teaching there. I knew about his music from her,” Beck said. “Then one of my teachers at Juilliard, Seymour Lipkin, had been a classmate of Walker’s at Curtis. Walker was the first black graduate of that school.” Why do you think it has taken so long for someone to record all of these sonatas on an album? “It could be that some of them are quite difficult and have not been played, except by the people for whom they were written. Walker studied with the same teacher as Samuel Barber. It was Italian composer Rosario Scalero. There's a family resemblance between Barber and Walker's early music. I especially hear it in the first two sonatas. I hear something that reminds me of the Barber piano sonata sometimes.” Can you talk about the evolution of Walker's sonatas? “The first two sonatas were written while he was still a student. He did his doctorate at Eastman. It was a more conscious project in a way. Whereas the latter three, they get more personal. They're different formal solutions to things. “I really enjoy the Third Sonata. Its second movement, ‘Bell,’ is just one very complicated chord repeated 17 times. The last movement is ‘Chorale & Fughetta.’ It has a very specific texture. The chorale plays long notes with very short chords underneath. The fughetta is a very personal modern take that doesn't sound academic at all. It's very free and organic.” What makes the shortest sonata, No. 5, so significant? “I like the Fifth because it's short and has variety. It begins very emphatically. It's actually a very good opening for a concert. When I do them all in one show I like to start with the Fifth. “These are very worthy pieces, and I hope that this recording will inspire people to learn them. I think they're great.” To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Watch now Resources Steven Beck — George Walker: Five Piano Sonatas (Bridge Store) Steven Beck — George Walker: Five Piano Sonatas (Amazon) Steven Beck (Steinway & Sons)
2/23/202214 minutes, 4 seconds
Episode Artwork

Violinist Francesca Anderegg explores the Americas

Francesca Anderegg and Matthew McCright — Brave New Worlds: Music from the Americas (Proper Canary)   New Classical Tracks - Francesca Anderegg by “I had carpal tunnel syndrome, so playing through the piece was really hard. Actually, some pieces we had to record in sections because I just physically couldn't play through it and have pictures of recording it,” said violinist Francesca Anderegg about recording sessions with pianist Matthew McCright. “I had bandages on my wrists. I almost couldn't do it.” She developed carpal tunnel syndrome due to her pregnancy. Fortunately, her wrists are now back to normal and all of her hard work you’ll hear on her new recording, Brave New Worlds: Music of the Americas.  Can you talk about the broken social barriers and international connections the composers on this album made? “Many of these pieces were written when there was great interest in Pan-American, or a collaboration between North and South America. “Not all these composers were related to each other necessarily. I just had this idea about reaching out beyond a limited sphere and expanding your reach internationally or socially. It was this idea of expansion.” Can you talk about Alberto Ginastera’s Pampeana No. 1 and how it reflects the style of his homeland? “Pampeana No. 1 is the first of a set of pieces written for various instruments. It is influenced by the Pampas, the grasslands of western Argentina. It's meant to evoke this idea of spaciousness in the music, and you can hear that in the first phrase. The violin has this soaring free rhapsodic line.” Why does this arrangement of Aaron Copeland’s Duo for Violin and Piano have a special place in your heart? “My teacher, Robert Mann, had a sense of humor. When I look at this arrangement and some of the chords, especially the chords in the first movement, there's a series of three chords that sound like the last part of the piece followed by silence. Then, like nothing happened, there's another louder one followed by another even louder chord. Those chords are so true to what I knew of his sense of humor. He enjoyed music that was sometimes abrupt, a little bit funny or had a punchy quality to it. I also enjoy music when it's a little bit unexpected.” Do you think that Amy Beach’s Violin Sonata would have entered the recital repertoire if it had been composed by a Central European male? “I can certainly see that, but I don't want to elevate Amy Beach by saying, ‘Oh, it's so similar to Brahms.’ Being so familiar with the Brahms violin sonatas, I see a lot of commonalities there. But, Amy Beach’s is technically difficult for the violin. She will just take the whole line and put it two octaves higher. “At the very end of the third movement there's a section where the whole pitch range of the piece goes higher and higher. It evaporates into a twilight texture. You have a sense that the piece is going on forever. It's a magical phrase that has many striking and deep moments.” To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Watch now Resources Francesca Anderegg and Matthew McCright — Brave New Worlds: Music from the Americas (Amazon Digital) Francesca Anderegg (official site)
2/16/202228 minutes, 43 seconds
Episode Artwork

Pianist Marc-André Hamelin shares his love for C.P.E. Bach

Marc-André Hamelin — Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Sonatas & Rondos (Hyperion)   New Classical Tracks - Marc-André Hamelin by “They shouldn't expect anything quite as exciting as drum and bass. Give it a minute or two, because the riches that some music offers may not be apparent at first,” said pianist Marc-André Hamelin, encouraging you to check out his latest two-CD compilation, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Sonatas & Rondos. “I can tell you how it all started. My wife, Cathy Fuller, was a classical radio host in Boston in 2008 or 2009. She chose to play a little Sonata in E Minor, which is not even eight minutes for the three movements,” he said. “Suddenly, the composer decides to finish the piece. It just cuts off in the middle of a phrase. “This was absolutely what Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach wrote, and I thought this was worth exploring. I started sight reading at the keyboard, and I was just fascinated by how daring and delightful it was.” Can you talk about how this composer was the first one you performed? “The first time I was on a stage was at a local competition in Montreal when I was 9. I played a group of five pieces, but the first piece was a little work in G Major. The score said it was by J.S. Bach. It has since been determined that it was composed by C.P.E. Bach. So in essence, C.P.E. Bach was the first composer I ever played in public. “I just strolled to the piano confidently and played my music from the very beginning. From that instant I realized that I just didn't have any kind of stage fright.” Did you write a piece based on the Solfeggio in C minor? “Yeah, I've written three pieces specifically for the player piano. It’s like Conlon Nancarrow, who devoted his whole life to the player piano. It was partly inspired by him and the fact that I grew up with a player piano as a medium because my grandparents had one.” Can you give us examples of the evolving mechanics of the keyboard through C.P.E. Bach’s compositions? “There was one piece that was written for ‘A’ [his] clavichord where, while the title is very explicit, he is bidding farewell to an instrument that he had owned for decades. He was giving it as a present to somebody. This piece is slow and wistful. “He said in the letter to the future owner, this piece is absolutely impossible to play on any other instrument. It would be interesting if it had survived, which I don't believe it has. If you played the clavichord, as I have tried to do, it's not easy. You get a sense of what this piece could sound like.” To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Watch now Resources Marc-André Hamelin — CPE Bach Sonatas & Rondos (Hyperion Store) Marc-André Hamelin — CPE Bach Sonatas & Rondos (Amazon) Marc-André Hamelin (official site)
2/9/202229 minutes, 23 seconds
Episode Artwork

Conductor JoAnn Falletta shares her feelings about the pandemic

JoAnn Falletta and the BPO — Light in a Time of Darkness (Beau Fleuve)   New Classical Tracks - JoAnn Falletta by “I found that the smaller concerts we did all the time during the 2021 season were fantastic for us in developing new skills,” said JoAnn Falletta, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. “We learned how to listen and lead each other in repertoire that we never played. “We made a recording of some of our favorite pieces from that time, because they were meaningful. Every concert is meaningful, but, somehow, when you're playing in the middle of something as dark as what we lived through, it meant ‘life,’’’ she said about their new recording, Light in a Time of Darkness. “Six pieces made it onto the disc, and I think we'll always treasure, in our memories, the idea of being together and knowing that somehow we would get through this.” Why did you choose to start the album with Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis? “Time gets suspended in this piece. Vaughan Williams, on his way back to Thomas Tallis, chose one of his hymns to recast for strings. It feels ageless or timeless. That was what the pandemic was like, time standing still.” How did you discover Ulysses Kay’s Pieta? “I have to give complete credit to my English hornist, Anna Mattix. She is a sleuth for English horn pieces, and she's fabulous. She rediscovered this piece, and there was no recording when she brought it to me. I thought it was extraordinary. “Kay was the first Black American to win the Prix de Rome. When he was in Rome, he went to see Michelangelo's Pieta and wrote this piece about it. It is filled with his personal reflection on that work of art.” What do you love most about George Walker's Lament? “I'm so glad we did this piece. I think this is an American classic. We talk about Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings, but this is a similar piece. It's a piece of mourning and in Walker's case, it is more intimate. It has a lot of inner feeling of mourning, but it's unforgettable.” To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Resources JoAnn Falletta and the BPO — Light in a Time of Darkness (BPO Store) JoAnn Falletta (official site)
2/2/202229 minutes, 32 seconds
Episode Artwork

Director Matthew Culloton shares the Singers' nature-inspired collection

The Singers — Come to the Woods (Arsis Audio) New Classical Tracks - Matthew Culloton by   “We are all loud or pensive about things,” said Matthew Culloton, artistic director of the Singers, talking about the ensemble’s 10th recording. “At times, we may be lonely, but also reflective and hopeful. Naming the album Come to the Woods, after Jake Runestad's piece and John Muir’s words, was a great launching point.” Can you tell us why it took so long to release this recording? “I actually edited and produced the CD on my own computer software years ago. We finally had time to get back to our engineer, David Trimble, and really work with it. Even though I had already assembled and listened to it, it was also a start over with fresh ears. The pandemic gave us time.” Is there a section in the piece Come to the Woods that you look forward to? “There's a section later in the piece where Runestad pays a small musical tribute to Dominick Argento, one of his favorite composers. He does this by quoting a very special cadence point in the poetry. That's a spot where I find myself taking more time over the years with each new performance of the work. “The choir sings, ’The setting sun filled them with amber light and seemed to say. And when he sets and seemed to say.’ That’s the final sung cadence of Walden Pond, and I get goose bumps thinking about it. I remember the first time I heard it. I ran to the piano with my score just to make sure I heard it right.” Can you tell us about Dominique Argento's Seasons? “I thought it was important to put Dominic’s last work in this collection. I get choked up a little bit thinking about the final movement, ‘Summer,’ and it being his last work. I don't know if he wrote them in that order poetically, but I love the idea that he wrote ‘Summer’ last. His last words were, ‘Soon, the goddess of summer sees that all is proceeding as planned, though reluctant to leave, she nods and sadly bestows her loving benediction.’” Why did you chose Moira Smiley's Stand in That River? “She is such a breath of fresh air in her approach to writing, sharing and recognizing global traditions in her music. This piece definitely comes back to American folk music. “On this recording, the departure for us wasn't so much the piece itself, but that we included a bass, guitar, guiro, cajon and mandolin. Those five instruments are all played by one of our baritones, Paul Winchester. The end result was infectious, which is not the best word to use these days, but I think it’s very likable.” To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Watch now Resources The Singers — Come to the Woods (The Singers Store) Matthew Culloton (official site) The Singers (official site)
1/26/202235 minutes, 20 seconds
Episode Artwork

Violinist Daniel Hope embarks on his most creative project to date

Daniel Hope — Hope (DG) New Classical Tracks - Daniel Hope by “Music doesn't let me go. I always knew that it was the focus of my life, but it became a lifeline,” violinist Daniel Hope said about the pandemic. “It became a lifeline to the outside world. It was the luxury of time and connections to so many musicians that were willing to experiment and improvise that helped me find hope.” That resulted in his most creative project to date, his new recording with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Hope. “I've been music director of the Zurich Chamber Orchestra since 2016,” he said. “I've known them since I was a little boy. I heard them when I was 3, and it was the first orchestra that I experienced a violin concerto and symphony. An explosive and emotional orchestral sound came from the ensemble. I never dreamed that 40-odd-years later, I would be the music director, and we've grown enormously together since.” How did the idea for this album emerge? “Throughout the lockdown, we started an online series concerts, Hope at Home. Our message was to rediscover hope through music. The connection between these ideas of positive feelings, energy and music was so strong that we decided to make an album which tries to tap into them. I did feel there was a tremendous connection to the people, and that meant a lot to me during the lockdown. That's really how this album came together.” Why did you focus on songs and the human voice on this new recording? “It was very hard for musicians not to be able to perform and travel during the pandemic. But for vocalists, in particular, the idea of singing was banned, more or less. You were just not allowed to sing. The images of people singing from their balconies and connecting via Zoom was so powerful and moving. I thought, let's put the idea of the human voice at the center of this album.”  Can you talk about the evolution of the opening work by Argentine composer Ariel Ramirez? “I heard this piece as a child. I became obsessed with this gorgeous recording of it by Jose Carreras. I said to myself one day I want to play this on the violin. I actually wanted to sing it, but I realized my voice wasn't good enough to do that. I thought, why not create a version with violin? I had this idea for decades.” Watch now To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Resources Daniel Hope — Hope (Amazon) Daniel Hope — Hope (DG Store) Daniel Hope (official site)
1/19/202236 minutes, 13 seconds
Episode Artwork

Clarinetist Anthony McGill and pianist Gloria Chien are 'Here With You'

Anthony McGill and Gloria Chien — Here With You (Cedille) New Classical Tracks - Anthony McGill and Gloria Chien by   “It’s not just the two of us as musicians together or as musical partners, but Here With You also means that performers are with the audience,” said clarinetist Anthony McGill about his first album as a duo with pianist Gloria Chien. “We're with the listener. We're also with the composer. It’s about us all here with each other, together.” Fifteen years ago, the duo made a special connection over the music of Johannes Brahms at the Music@Menlo festival. Chien was a participant and McGill, principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic and artistic director of the Music Advancement Program for young students at the Juilliard School, was her coach. How did the two of you bond over the music of Brahms? McGill: “It goes back to our original meeting with Brahms. Pianists and clarinetists throughout history have loved these particular works because these two sonatas by Brahms are some of the greatest chamber pieces ever written.” Chien: “We talked about doing this album for a long time, and with these pieces. The Brahms and Weber grew with us. We had the space and time to really spend with this music. The Brahms has a timeless quality that almost suspends time.” What in Brahms’ music do you feel can provide hope for the future? McGill: “There's something about the way he puts together the narrative in music. The way the harmonies roll by in the storyline that he weaves in his pieces enables you to reflect. In Brahms’ music you hear all of these waves of emotion and expression. “In the end of the first movement of the second sonata, there's a part where the tension is building. It is then released into this gloriously beautiful soft tranquil section where the harmonies show us the joy and sweetness of life. They are revealed right after the most intense moment of pain and passion.” How does Jessie Montgomery's composition fit into the concept of the album? McGill: “We knew that this work, Peace, needed to be on the album to make a stamp. The stamp is a very large mark of where we are in the world. ‘Who are we with? How do we feel?’ It helps to bring people into where we are.” Chien: “What we all learned we are missing the most is that craving for connection. Here With You, is really a tribute to this time.” To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Watch now Resources Anthony McGill and Gloria Chien — Here With You (Cedille Store) Anthony McGill and Gloria Chien — Here With You (Amazon) Anthony McGill (official site) Gloria Chien (official site)
1/12/202231 minutes, 26 seconds
Episode Artwork

Pianist Víkingur Ólafsson wants to change how we think about Mozart

Víkingur Ólafsson — Mozart and Contemporaries (DG) New Classical Tracks - Víkingur Ólafsson by   “I think the good thing about Iceland is that you have a certain sense of freedom and you have to find your own path,” said pianist Víkingur Ólafsson about how he experienced growing up in Iceland in the 1990s. “My mother was a piano teacher and a very good one. But she never pushed me. She would rather have me go out and play football with my friends and be a normal kid.” That sense of freedom has extended into his live performances and his recordings. This past summer, Ólafsson made his long-awaited debut at the BBC Proms, where he offered a preview of his new release, Mozart and Contemporaries. Why are you trying to change people's perceptions of Mozart? “I think we all come to Mozart with a certain amount of baggage. For instance, if you're a piano student and play the easy pieces of Mozart when you're 7 or 8, then your teachers are sort of indoctrinating the myth of Mozart upon you. They're telling you about his unparalleled genius and scaring you with the idea of him. I went to see the Magic Flute when I was 7. It was the first opera I had ever saw and I remember just being pale afterwards thinking, ‘Oh my God, he must have written this when he was 7. What have I done with my life?’ “The whole album is an exploration of not Mozart-the-Wunderkind, but rather the mature Mozart. I believe that is the Mozart that we know today and what we think of when we think of him.” To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Watch now Resources Víkingur Ólafsson — Mozart and Contemporaries (Center Stage Store) Víkingur Ólafsson — Mozart and Contemporaries (Amazon) Víkingur Ólafsson (official site) More on Víkingur Ólafsson Víkingur Ólafsson wants to change your mind about Mozart
1/5/202225 minutes, 33 seconds
Episode Artwork

Most coveted releases of 2021

On New Classical Tracks, we love sharing with you the most exciting new recordings every year. And, when you enter our weekly CD giveaways, you show us how excited you are about these recordings, too. Find out which albums made the list of 10 most coveted new releases of 2020.
12/27/202131 minutes, 18 seconds
Episode Artwork

Lute and Viola Da Gamba Duo Ronn McFarlane and Carolyn Surrick Celebrate the Holidays

Ronn McFarlane and Carolyn Surrick, with Jackie Moran — A Star in the East (Flower Pot Productions) Jump to giveaway form New Classical Tracks - Ronn McFarlane and Carolyn Surrick by Last year around this time, Ronn McFarlane and Carolyn Surrick, who are usually quite busy with their early music ensembles, had the time and space to finally make music together. That special musical connection has just produced their second recording, A Star in the East. It features more original music, and a fresh look at some familiar Christmas melodies. How do we hear Christmas throughout the album? Carolyn: “I don't think Christmas will ever be the same after 2020. We're transforming the music the way our lives and Christmas have been transformed. One beautiful way this CD and music came together was in the ‘Carol of the Bells.’ Ron did a beautiful arrangement, which gets overlaid with ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.’ “You also have the  ‘L’Homme Arme,’ which is a piece of music that most people have no idea what it is. It's part of our musical history because it was an incredibly popular tune in the 16th and late 15th-century. “‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ is definitely not a gamba and lute piece. I'm sure that this piece has never been recorded with gamba and lute before. We were in the process of looking at pieces that we love that have something meaningful to say.” Can you tell me about ‘What Wondrous Love Is This/ Walking In The Air’? Ronn: “I brought ‘Walking In The Air’ to one of our rehearsals. It's something that I had loved for a long time because it was from the animated Christmas movie The Snowman. The idea of putting it together along with ‘What Wondrous Love Is This’ and creating a sort of bridge between the two was completely Carolyn's inspiration.” Can you talk about the title track that you wrote for Carolyn? Ronn: “I actually wrote it before we recorded our first album, Fermi's Paradox. I felt so happy and excited to play with Carolyn. I wanted to create some music specifically for us and also write for viola da gamba in a way that exploited what it can do.” Carolyn: “I can tell you exactly what it was like the first time we played it. ‘Oh, this is so beautiful!’” To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Watch now Resources Ronn McFarlane and Carolyn Surrick, with Jackie Moran — A Star in the East (Amazon) Ronn McFarlane (official site) Carolyn Surrick (official site)
12/15/202131 minutes, 35 seconds