Rolling Classical 2021

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I've listened twice to Abduraimov's recording of the Chopin Preludes. I've been conditioned by Pollini and Argerich to expect v expressive rubato interpretations of these so Abduraimov's comparative restraint and precision was almost disorienting at first. On the second listen, though, I could appreciate the elegance of how he was letting the lines and the pulse speak for themselves.

to party with our demons (Sund4r), Friday, 12 February 2021 14:16 (two months ago) link

Interesting. I wasn’t particularly struck by his restraint – he seems to have taken his cues from the Russian school above all – but now that I think back on Pollini’s and (especially) Argerich’s recordings, I see what you’re saying.

pomenitul, Friday, 12 February 2021 16:01 (two months ago) link

You know it sucks that people with corny-ass taste in music are still banging the (obviously incorrect) drum that “academia and the classical music Establishment is trying to shove atonal noise down audiences’ throats.” It may have had a grain of truth once in the 50s-70s (and at that, manly in Europe but definitely not North America or the UK where the warhorses are beaten into a pulp anew every subscription season). But the most popular living classical composers today are mostly melodic and tonal, and audiences seem to react well to the somnambulant Post-Minimalism that is being churned out by the yard these days, so I don’t know what those “let’s bring good music back” chuckleheads are reacting against unless they think like Nico Muhly or Jake Heggie is too avant-garde or something.

Mosholu Porkway (Boring, Maryland), Friday, 12 February 2021 16:34 (two months ago) link

It’s been all downhill since the tritone imo.

pomenitul, Friday, 12 February 2021 16:45 (two months ago) link

Happy birthday Fernando Sor!

to party with our demons (Sund4r), Sunday, 14 February 2021 01:31 (two months ago) link

Anyone who misses the arch-high modernist complexity of old should check out contemporary British composer Sam Hayden's piano works as played by the indefatigable Ian Pace. Disc 1 is devoted to a fittingly protean recent cycle, Becomings, that sustained my interest throughout despite my somewhat waning interest in the subgenre, while disc 2 focuses on older, more approachable yet equally relentless works, including one, Piano Moves (1990), that engages with post-minimalism.

pomenitul, Sunday, 14 February 2021 22:10 (two months ago) link

I'm not averse to minimalism or even post minimalism it's just very easy to become car commercial music.

Mosholu Porkway (Boring, Maryland), Sunday, 14 February 2021 22:12 (two months ago) link

Definitely, and Sam Hayden manifestly agreed as far back as 1990: Piano Moves sounds like post-minimalism for people who hate post-minimalism (my feelings towards it are not as belligerent, I just think it takes up way too much cultural space). Anyway, the other pieces are all at the furthest possible remove from US-style minimalism.

pomenitul, Sunday, 14 February 2021 22:16 (two months ago) link

Thanks for the recommendation will check out.

Mosholu Porkway (Boring, Maryland), Sunday, 14 February 2021 22:19 (two months ago) link

it's just very easy to become car commercial music.

Haha. I once found myself uttering "Can we switch to something else? We appear to have entered a merchant banking advertisement" while being driven through a deserted business district to a soundtrack of... not exactly sure now, some CD of numbingly circular orchestral music. It was too real.

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Sunday, 14 February 2021 23:55 (two months ago) link

I listened to the seven movement piece "Becomings". Oddly, I found myself more able to get into it after a couple of drinks, when I could let myself fall into the space of the piece(s) and give time to all the dynamics and textures without trying too hard to pick out the formal logic. I'm still not sure I completely have a handle on it but it's interesting and there's a lot happening, a bit like some of the early Boulez integral-serialist piano works.

to party with our demons (Sund4r), Monday, 15 February 2021 04:23 (two months ago) link

We were listening to Thomas Demenga's 2017 ECM recording of the six Bach cello suites this morning. The dark and smooth tone he got by using historically-informed instruments (18th- and 17th century cellos, apparently, Baroque-style bow, unwound gut strings tuned down a whole tone; not that much vibrato, compared to what I usually expect) is really pleasing, esp with the ECM recording.

to party with our demons (Sund4r), Monday, 15 February 2021 04:43 (two months ago) link

Glad you enjoyed the Hayden! I tend to approach self-consciously complex notated music in much the same manner as free improv (and composers/performers like Richard Barrett have explicitly sought to bridge that gap) so the moment-to-moment energy is what draws me in first and foremost. The underlying theory comes later, provided I’m even able to grasp its logic, which is almost never the case beyond the basics and, occasionally, the extramusical material that Inspired the work.

As for Demenga, that set was a pleasant surprise when it came out. I had enjoyed his previous series for ECM, pairing Bach with various contemporary composers, and found his takes on the latter as persuasive as his readings of the former were not. The re-recordings are something else entirely, just marvellous stuff.

pomenitul, Monday, 15 February 2021 16:58 (two months ago) link

As a final addendum to 2020, two albums I missed out on last year:

David Chaillou’s Légendes as played by Laura Mikkola, a beautiful piano cycle that melds post-minimalism (that word again!) with the post-Debussyan French tradition, so you’ll hear echoes of Dutilleux and, to a lesser extent, Grisey. Lovely and accessible yet never simplistic.

Four recordings from the Donaueschinger Musiktage 2019 that only just popped up on streaming services despite their official (physical) release last October: works by Mark Andre, Johannes Boris Borowski, Eva Reiter and Alberto Posadas. Andre – a French (ex-French?) student of Lachenmann’s who makes residually ‘religious’ music inspired by his Lutheran faith and his fascination with etymological word-fragments – and Posadas – a Spanish post-spectralist with a gift for poetically imaginative writing – are among my favourite living composers, so this one was a no-brainer for me, but all contributions here are very much worthwhile if you care for the continental European scene.

pomenitul, Wednesday, 17 February 2021 15:10 (one month ago) link

I listened to the Chaillou disc in the background. It seemed pretty and well-crafted but didn't make an extremely strong first impression - that's not necessarily a bad thing, though. I will come back to it since it's the kind of thing I've been wanting more of.

to party with our demons (Sund4r), Wednesday, 17 February 2021 20:53 (one month ago) link

It’s nothing earth-shattering but I’m partial to this idiom and Chaillou does justice to it, I think. Also, fwiw, I liked my second encounter with it better – my first was closer to your assessment (and, who knows?, perhaps my third as well).

pomenitul, Wednesday, 17 February 2021 21:11 (one month ago) link

György Kurtág just turned 95!

To mark this, a new recording of The Saying of Péter Bornemisza, with Tony Arnold and Gábor Csalog, was released today.

BMC records, the Hungarian label, is hosting a four-day Kurtág festival:

Amsterdam's Muziekgebouw and Pierre-Laurent Aimard will also be streaming several works of his:

pomenitul, Friday, 19 February 2021 17:14 (one month ago) link

Livestream concert at 8:30 Eastern time by Twin Cities new music org 113 Composers:

to party with our demons (Sund4r), Saturday, 20 February 2021 23:05 (one month ago) link

It's at a significant remove from my own preferences, but I'm glad they're doing this. The O'Rourke in particular is incredible.

pomenitul, Friday, 5 March 2021 14:11 (one month ago) link

Characteristically terrific, semi-improvised electroacoustic duos between Richard Barrett (composition and electronics) and five musicians: Daryl Buckley (electric lap steel guitar and electronics), Ivana Grahovac (cello), Lori Freedman (bass clarinet), Anne La Berge (flute) and Lê Quan Ninh (percussion):

Rewards, even requires close listening, of course. Tim Rutherford-Johnson wrote about it on his Rambler blog:

pomenitul, Sunday, 14 March 2021 20:51 (one month ago) link

Wow, "Dysnomia" is certainly promising, for starters...

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Sunday, 14 March 2021 22:25 (one month ago) link

Dudamel's Ives set won the Grammy for orchestral performance.

to party with our demons (Sund4r), Monday, 15 March 2021 02:42 (one month ago) link

A deserving winner, especially since Concurrence by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra & Daníel Bjarnason came out in 2019…

pomenitul, Monday, 15 March 2021 02:48 (one month ago) link

Dudamel's Ives set won the Grammy for orchestral performance.

Still haven't gotten around to listening to it but oi tlk be hard to dislodge Bernstein and MTT from their leading positions. We as a culture are only getting further away from the kind of soumdworld that Ives drew on, and I feel like Bernstein, although of a different background, understood that world.

Bruno Ganz and Babaloo Mandel (Boring, Maryland), Monday, 15 March 2021 03:19 (one month ago) link

A covid-era concert of chamber music by the Ensemble InterContemporain, featuring works by Debussy, Kurtág, Saariaho and Sinnhuber:

pomenitul, Wednesday, 17 March 2021 00:48 (four weeks ago) link

A few more Q1 favourites if anyone's interested:

Alberto Posadas – Veredas (Ricard Capellino Carlos)

Daniele Pollini – Schumann, Brahms, Schoenberg

Danish String Quartet – Prism III

Ferenc Stnétberger & Keller Quartett – Hallgató

György Kurtág – The Sayings of Péter Bornemisza (Tony Arnold & Gábor Csalog)

Johannes Brahms – Sonatas op. 120 (Antoine Tamestit & Cédric Tiberghien)

José Luis Hurtado – Parametrical Counterpoint (Talea Ensemble, José Luis Hurtado)

Jurgis Karnavičius – String Quartets Nos. 1 & 2 (Vilnius String Quartet)

Michaël Jarrell – Orchestral Works (T. Zimmermann, R. Capuçon, Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire, P. Rophé)

Richard Barrett – binary systems

Toshio Hosokawa – Works for Flute (Yoshie Ueno)

pomenitul, Wednesday, 17 March 2021 17:08 (four weeks ago) link

Posadas: six bottomlessly inventive pieces for solo saxophone that I shouldn't care for on paper but that sustain my interest throughout because Posadas is just that good.

Pollini: the son of you-know-who, also a pianist of note and no less remarkable an interpreter, here tackling Carnaval, the Klavierstücke op. 119 and three sets of piano pieces by Schoenberg. Incredible stuff.

Danish String Quartet: the first couple of volumes, pairing Beethoven with Bach and another composer were EOY highlights, and this third entry (featuring Bartók's early 1st SQ) is no exception.

Snétberger (apologies for the typo in my previous post) & Keller Quartett: features excellent performances of weepy classics by Shostakovich (8th SQ), Barber (Adagio) and Dowland, as well as more recent, equally wistful pieces for guitar and string quartet by Snétberger himself. One for the Weltschmerz heads.

Kurtág: a seemingly definitive performance of one of his most important early song cycles, somewhere between Bartók, Webern and Beckett. Hungarian is a notoriously difficult language, and Tony Arnold is astounding here.

Brahms: one of the best living 'star' violists paired with an excellent pianist takes on Brahms's late sonatas, which I personally can't get enough of. The bonus lieder with none other than Matthias Goerne are a nice touch.

Hurtado: MODERNISM'S NOT DEAD says this Mexican-American composer who studied under Davidovsky, Czernowin, Lindberg, Ferneyhough and Lachenmann, and he's damn right about that if these typically demanding works for chamber ensemble are anything to go by.

Karnavičius: an obscure early 20th century Lithuanian composer presented as the missing link between Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich. I was skeptical at first but these are very good works in that late Romantic / early modernist vein I love so much.

Jarrell: Swiss composers are stupidly underrated and Jarrell is no exception, yet there is so much to like about the aesthetic liberalism of these works, which draw as much upon the postwar French tradition as upon its German counterpart. This is music that aspires towards the condition of poetry (whatever that means!).

Barrett: one of my favourite living composers, just relentlessly exploratory in his approach to music-making and one of the few imo whose interest in the intersection between aesthetics and politics comes across as genuinely thought out and convincing. Follow that Rambler link I posted upthread if you're curious.

Hosokawa: another year, another Hosokawa release (in fact the second this year for Kairos), which is of course a very good thing if a less lush and more austere Takemitsu sounds appealing to you (it certainly appeals to me!).

pomenitul, Wednesday, 17 March 2021 18:55 (four weeks ago) link

Re: Kurtag is there any legal way to hear or watch fin de partie with English translation/subtitles?

Bruno Ganz and Babaloo Mandel (Boring, Maryland), Thursday, 18 March 2021 01:32 (four weeks ago) link

Not to my knowledge, I'm afraid. You could follow along with a copy of Beckett's own English translation (Endgame), but that's hardly ideal.

pomenitul, Thursday, 18 March 2021 01:37 (four weeks ago) link

Hope ECM or someone gets on that.

Bruno Ganz and Babaloo Mandel (Boring, Maryland), Thursday, 18 March 2021 16:20 (four weeks ago) link

I assume Manfred Eicher is waiting for Kurtág to complete the work. Time's running out, though...

pomenitul, Thursday, 18 March 2021 16:24 (four weeks ago) link

Vested interest since I'm involved with several events but I think the 21st Century Guitar Conference, entirely virtual this year and starting tomorrow, may be of general interest as well. A lot of performances, new premieres as well as talks and discussions:

to party with our demons (Sund4r), Sunday, 21 March 2021 19:20 (three weeks ago) link

Looks cool. I'm too swamped to attend anything these days but thanks for the heads up and have fun!

pomenitul, Monday, 22 March 2021 14:25 (three weeks ago) link

Speaking of the 21st (and 20th) century guitar, DaCapo just released a monograph devoted to Danish guitarist-composer Lars Hegaard and it's quite lovely, on the gentler, more impressionistic end of high modernism.

pomenitul, Monday, 22 March 2021 15:43 (three weeks ago) link

Oh thanks, I'll look for that.

to party with our demons (Sund4r), Monday, 22 March 2021 16:20 (three weeks ago) link

Another recently released record that I feel the need to stan for is Caeli by Bára Gísladóttir & Skúli Sverrisson, which is an epic (2h+) sky-touched duo for double-bass and electronics that draws on Scelsi, spectralism, Stefano Scodanibbio, ambient and noise. I'll need to look into Sverrisson's other duos (there's one with Bill Frisell from 2018, for instance).

pomenitul, Monday, 22 March 2021 16:34 (three weeks ago) link

Alejandro Tentor killing Murail's Tellur rn.

to party with our demons (Sund4r), Tuesday, 23 March 2021 17:30 (three weeks ago) link

Free/PWYC Angela Hewitt livestream concert at 4:00 EDT today:

Thinking about it myself.

Just Another Onionhead (Sund4r), Sunday, 28 March 2021 14:50 (two weeks ago) link

New Adam Cicchillitti/Steve Cowan album Intimate Impressions/Impressions intimes is all arrangements of music by Ravel, Debussy, Tailleferre, Jolivet, and Mompou: . Much softer than Focus but pretty, intricate, and really precisely played and recorded. Adam also played Benjamin Dwyer's first etude at 21CG, which was great.

Just Another Onionhead (Sund4r), Sunday, 4 April 2021 22:33 (one week ago) link

Here's a video of that Dwyer study, actually:

Just Another Onionhead (Sund4r), Monday, 5 April 2021 14:03 (one week ago) link

I'm a fan of the repertoire so I'll check out the album for sure.

pomenitul, Monday, 5 April 2021 14:04 (one week ago) link

*micropolyphonically* Nice.

— Robert Komaniecki (@Komaniecki_R) April 8, 2021

Sequel to Sadness (Sund4r), Thursday, 8 April 2021 13:10 (one week ago) link

I wonder if Beethoven also had it in mind when he wrote his third cello sonata?

pomenitul, Thursday, 8 April 2021 15:28 (one week ago) link

I am so, so into the Netherlands Bach Society videos. They're recording and uploading every single thing that Bach ever wrote. I.. have yet to hear anything that they've uploaded that hasn't immediately become "my favourite performance of this work".

^ this is transcendent; I am going to replace their principal violist tho

Jesus fucking Christ

Jesus fucking Christ
This dude, Shunske Sato, also the artistic director of this group, is serving my favourite-ever performances of solo Bach and I've listened to literally thousands

btw? that famous part of the E-major prelude (0:37)? I just learned that there is a word for that technique: bariolage.

zaddy’s home (flamboyant goon tie included), Thursday, 15 April 2021 15:48 (yesterday) link

Ha, yeah, I started learning the lute version and then put it down when things came up Should pick it up again.

Sequel to Sadness (Sund4r), Thursday, 15 April 2021 15:54 (yesterday) link

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