Charles Wuorinen is not only a formidable composer; he’s also a talented pianist. I remember well his playing during composition lessons I took with him at Rutgers: always up to tempo with nary a note dropped. Although his piano music is frequently quite challenging, it is also gratifying to play. Thus it is not surprising that estimable artists such as Garrick Ohlsson, Marilyn Nonken, and Alan Feinberg have championed his work. In recent years, Steven Beck has become another persuasive advocate on behalf of the composer. This Thursday at the Stone in downtown NYC, Beck will perform an all Wuorinen concert consisting mostly of solo works (cellist Jay Campbell guests on the duo Orbicle of Jasp).
Steven Beck plays the music of Charles Wuorinen
January 10 at 8 PM
Corner of Avenue C and 2nd Street
Orbicle of Jasp (1999) (with Jay Campbell, cello) Bagatelle (1988) Etude (for Chords and Dynamic Balance) (2011) – American premiere* Capriccio (1981) Josquin: Ave Christe (1988) Haroun Piano Book (2009)
Bach: The Art of Fugue
Andrew Rangell, piano
Steinway & Sons CD
Bach: Das Wohltemperiete Clavier
András Schiff, piano
ECM Records CD
Those who read this site likely already know that I have a soft spot for well performed renditions of J.S. Bach’s music. That said, I’ve seldom felt as strongly about a recording of The Art of Fugue that employs piano instead of harpsichord or ensemble as I do about Andrew Rangell’s recent disc for Steinway & Sons’ label. Let’s face it, even with all of the contrapuntal intricacies and rhythmic variety that Bach employs in constructing this late masterwork, it is still a whole lot of unabated d-minor to which to listen. In their interpretations, too many pianists go too far one way or the other: pretending that they are playing a harpsichord and supplying their recording with attendant quirks or instead ignoring period practices altogether and allowing their pacing to become inert, their tone stodgy, and the work as a consequence to seem bloated. Rangell’s got the “Goldilocks solution” for Art of Fugue; with lively pacing and rhythmic vitality but without ignoring the capabilities of the glorious Steinway grand at his disposal, the pianist’s recording seems “just right” yet still capable of affording surprises.
Another excellent recording released this year that seems “just right” in its approach to Bach is pianist András Schiff’s latest rendition of both books of the Well-Tempered Clavier for ECM Records. Schiff is a pianist I’ve long regarded as a musical touchstone: one of the finest interpreters of Bach at the piano and a necessarily solid counterweight to some of Glenn Gould’s extravagances and extroversion. His WTC for ECM demonstrates detailed preparation as well as intimate familiarity with all of the preludes and fugues; no doubt this is abetted by a rigorous performance scheduled incorporating these pieces. Schiff is also willing to take risks and try some different interpretations this time out. He never treats the Bach oeuvre as an ossified canon, but as an evolving document in which composer and interpreter can engage in a kind of dialogue, separated by centuries but united in this stirring music.
Thinking of pianist and author Charles Rosen, who passed away yesterday, and the recently deceased Elliott Carter, who would have turned 104 today. Collaborators, friends, and fearsomely bright intellectuals.
Fond memories of seeing Dave Brubeck at Berklee, Scullers, Newport, receiving his honorary degree at Manhattan School of Music, and, best of all, going with my brother Tyler Carey to the Iron Horse in Northampton, Massachusetts to hear him. Tyler encouraged me to go backstage and get an autograph. When Dave heard that I was a composer, he had me sit down and talk to with him about classical music for a good while. A very kind soul and talented pianist, composer, and group leader.
On Monday December 3rd, pianist Jenny Q Chai is giving her DMA lecture recital at my old stomping grounds: Manhattan School of Music. Chai has become a persuasive advocate for a wide range of repertoire, but, after meeting him in Darmstadt some five years ago, the piano music of Marco Stroppa has become one of her keenest passions. Her lecture recital, which she plans to give in a lab coat (!), will focus on Stroppa’s Innige Cavatina. Below, check out a recording of the work from Jenny’s SoundCloud.
Thrilled that Gina Izzo and Erika Dohi haven’t had their Righteous Girls performance at Cornelia Street Cafe thwarted by Storm Sandy. Then venue was kind enough to reschedule the show to January 14 at 8:30 PM. They will be giving the first live performance of my duo “For Milton:” written in memory of Milton Babbitt.
Event Details Classical at the Cornelia Righteous Girls- Gina Izzo, flute, and Erika Dohi, piano,
plus artist Zlata Kolomoyskaya and pianist Tristan McKay
Music by John Cage, Paul Brantley, Judd Greenstein & Randy Woolf
as well as new pieces by Christian Carey, Tristan McKay & Michael Patterson
Monday January 14 at 8:30 PM
Cornelia Street Café
29 Cornelia Street
New York, NY 10014
$10.00 cover plus $10.00 minimum
This past week, I received a recording of pianist Carl Patrick Bolleia premiering my short piece Gloss on Guston. Commissioned by the Montclair Art Museum, it responds to a late Philip Guston painting in their collection.
From tonight until Saturday, the Austrian Cultural Forum sponsored Moving Sounds Festival takes place. Thursday saw the Mivos Quartet perform new works by Carl Bettendorf and Reiko Füting while Christian Meyer and Franz Hackl gave a lecture recital entitled “Schoenberg and the notion of Avant-garde.”
On Friday, composer Annie Gosfield appears in a portrait concert at the Czech Center as part of Moving sounds. It includes the premiere of “Phantom Shakedown”. The piece for piano accompanied by a broken shortwave radio, a cement mixer, and tube noise. It’s one of the pieces on Gosfield’s latest CD, the just released Almost Truths and Open Deceptions (Tzadik). Dynamic and captivating, both the concert and CD embrace amplified industrial music and distressed chamber works, in a concoction that balances sonic seduction with formidable avant gauntlets.
Annie Gosfield in concert
September 14 and 9 PM
Bohemian National Hall at the Czech Center
321 E. 73rd St.
New York, NY 10021
For more Moving Sounds events on Friday and Saturday, check out the festival’s website here.
One of the keenly anticipated adventurous music releases of Summer 2012, Ancient Future, the latest collaboration of Ryuichi Sakamoto and Christopher Willits, sees its physical release via the Ghostly imprint on August 6th in the EU/UK and August 7th everywhere else.
To tide you over, our friends at RCRDLBL are sharing a premiere of the album stream here. You can also stream album track “Reticent Reminiscence” via an embed from the label’s SoundCloud page below.
Our friends at Ghostly are releasing Ancient Future, a collaboration by Christopher Willits and Ryuichi Sakamoto on July 30. Available only through the imprint is a limited pressing (300 units) of the release on clear vinyl.
Below is an embed of “Completion,” a track from the release shared via SoundCloud.