RighteousGIRLS will be celebrating their new disc gathering blue with a release party at Joe’s Pub at 7 P.M. this Friday, August 7th. Flutist Gina Izzo and pianist Erika Dohi will, of course, be there to throw down with their exciting and inventive program and they will be joined by Kendrick Scott & Andy Akiho as well!
RighteousGIRLS collected an exceptional collection of genre-blending works using flute, piano, electronics, guest performers, improvisation, and all the things that make today’s contemporary music engaging and exciting.
A video of Pascal Le Boeuf’s piece GIRLS as well as audio of Andy Akiho’s KARakurENAI can all be found on the gathering blue site.
At the risk of sounding like an Internet meme, one does not simply perform Olivier Messiaen. A performer must take certain risks, and prepare for the very real possibility that the performance may not show the mysteries of the piece. Minnesota-based pianist Matthew McCright, a member of the piano faculty at Carleton College and pianist for the new music group Ensemble 61, has proven to be an intrepid explorer of new music, and knows where to go to find the inner machinery of Messiaen’s works. In his fifth CD release, Contemplations: The Music of Olivier Messiaen (available from Albany Records), McCright tackles six of the Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus (Twenty contemplations of the infant Jesus), as well as the eight Préludes from Messiaen’s early output.
The six Regards chosen by McCright work well as a sub-unit of the full collection (which would take nearly two hours). McCright opens the CD with the ten-minute “Regard du Père” (“Contemplation of the Father”). This piece, the first of the Vingt Regards, requires a deft, sustainable touch, and McCright proves equal to the task, never letting the sound overwhelm the listener. This is Messiaen at his most introspective, and McCright lets the music breathe and meditate. McCright does get a chance to show off impressive technique with the sixth track, “Noël” (“Christmas Day”), which depicts the joy of the Nativity and the sounding of bells throughout all Christendom. The pianist has done his homework throughout the Vingt Regards, bringing Messiaen’s many leitmotivs to the listener’s attention without being pedantic.
In the Préludes of 1929, Messiaen is paying tribute to Debussy, but goes beyond Debussy’s vocabulary to lay the foundation for the language and mysticism we find in the later Vingt Regards. The backwards chronological focus of the CD provides a nice contrast to the “this happened then this happened then this happened” path that many performers have taken in the past with recordings of these works. McCright approaches the Préludes in a manner that is both appropriately athletic and musical; this is most obvious in the final section of the third movement, “Le nombre léger” (“A light number”). McCright proves that for Messiaen, “light” need not mean “insubstantial.”
McCright gets Messiaen, and that is no small feat.
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Inna Faliks (piano)
Clarice Assad (piano and vocals)
Samantha Malk (soprano)
and Irina Mashinski (poet)
Cornelia Street Cafe, NYC
April 22nd, 2012
Written by Kyle Lynch
Last Sunday evening, pianist Inna Faliks closed the fourth season of her Music/Words series at the West Village institution, Cornelia Street Café, in New York City. It was an intimate affair in the Café’s cozy basement theatre, and Inna was joined by soprano Samatha Malk, Brazilian pianist and singer Clarice Assad, and poet Irina Mashinski. The potpourri of solo piano, songs, and poetry readings hearkens back to old European salons of the turn of the century. Yet the evening was thoroughly enjoyable and modern.
Irina Mashinski set the mood of the first half of the concert with the opening poem “The Room” preceding piano works by Ludwig van Beethoven and Arnold Schoenberg. In the poem, a lady carefully furnishes and arranges a room—only to prepare for “an explosion.” Beethoven’s Fantasia in G minor, op. 77 presents a loose set of variations that continually drifts abroad to far reaching keys, different tempos and moods. If Beethoven was preparing later generations of composers to push the limits of tonality, then Schoenberg set the explosion of tonality with the early atonal work, Three Pieces for Piano, op. 11, when he “emancipated the dissonance” the year before in 1908. Read the rest of this entry »
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Ear To Mind
Pianist Jenny Q. Chai in Recital
Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, NYC
April 19th, 2012
Jenny Q. Chai walked out onstage for the first half of her Carnegie Hall debut in a red and black dress and performed for the first half of that first half a mix of Debussy‘s and György Ligeti‘s piano etudes (Debussy: #’s 3 & 6; Ligeti: #’s 2 & 1, Book I). Despite the huge generation gap between these two, the intertwined listing of Debussy and Ligeti had the two composers’ styles offsetting one another in such a way that an unassuming listener would have thought this was one cycle of pieces from the same composer. Read the rest of this entry »
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New music pianist Jenny Q. Chai is making a special appearance at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall on April 19th at 7:30 PM playing some great pieces by
Ligeti, Marco Stroppa, György Kurtág, Messiaen, and even Schumann (guess they’re trying to make him sound young again) as well as two world-premiere pieces by composers Ashley Fu-Tsun Wang and Inhyun Kim.
She had some time to talk with me about that upcoming show and her musical path. Read the rest of this entry »
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Cory Smythe and Amy X Neuburg; Photos courtesy of Glenn Cornett
Amy X Neuburg/Cory Smythe
Dec. 13, 2011
It’s East Meets West…coast, that is.
On the stage of the old-school charming Roulette in Brooklyn was yet another creatively edgy program, put on this time by the pairing of West-coast avant-cabaret artist Amy X Neuburg and New York’s own pianist-composer, ICE’s Cory Smythe. Presented without an intermission, the show was almost entirely electronic or electro-acoustic in nature (with the exception of a refreshing burst of Fats Waller’s “Handful of Keys” from Mr. Smythe), and most of the pieces were composed and/or arranged by both of them. Read the rest of this entry »
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On Tuesday, December 13, Bay-area artist Amy X Neuburg will collaborate for one-night only with NY-based pianist/composer Cory Smythe at Brooklyn’s Roulette on Atlantic Ave.
Neuburg’s brand of music, which has been dubbed “avant-cabaret”, promises to be an interesting blend with Smythe’s improvisational work as they will play a majority of the evening together, as well as some portions solo.
AMY X NEUBURG
Amy told us recently in an interview what to look forward to in this unique show:
We’re each performing a few solo songs, but the bulk of the evening will be brand new and collaborative. Much of our music leaves room for improvisation, and most of it involves live looping of the piano and the voice. You’ll hear a “cabaret improv” song about rat experiments, a completely whack song Cory has written which I am to sing in a country twang while looping piano chords in multiple odd time signatures, a duo of new songs (about personality disorders) constructed of simple layered lines, two composed songs that we played earlier this year in Milwaukee, and an unusual interpretation of “Gretchen am Spinnrade” that we have convinced ourselves Mr. Schubert would appreciate.
Keys to the Future will present an evening of Minimalist solo and duo piano works on Sunday, April 5 7:30PM, at Le Poisson Rouge (158 Bleecker Street, between Thompson and Sullivan).
Pianists Stephen Gosling, Blair McMillen, Lisa Moore, Molly Morkoski and Joseph Rubenstein will present a wide range of Minimalist solo and duo works, including Steve Reich’s seminal Piano Phase (1967) and John Adams’ Hallelujah Junction (1996). As the date approached, I thought I’d write a few words about a couple of the pieces on this concert.
I will open the concert with 6 selected works of Howard Skempton. Skempton has worked for decades in England as a composer, accordionist, and music publisher. He studied in London with Cornelius Cardew in 1967 and Cardew helped him to discover a musical language of great simplicity. Since then he has continued to write unaffected by compositional trends, producing more than 300 works – many of which are miniatures for solo piano or accordion. Skempton calls these pieces “the central nervous system” of his work. Many of his compositions have been recorded, including selected piano works performed by John Tilbury on the Sony Classical label. I will be performing 6 works from the 1970s and 80s, the last of which – Well, well Cornelius (1989) – was written as a tribute to Skempton’s teacher.
Lisa Moore will then play Ryan Brown’s Ceramics (2002) – here are some notes by the composer: “My grandmother had an enormous collection of fancy old teacups that she kept in a large glass china cabinet in an immaculate, incredibly quiet, and primarily white-toned living room. I used to clean every single cup by hand when I stayed with her during the summer. The image of all those cups shining in that large, bright, glass-and-mirror cabinet kept coming to me while I was writing Ceramics. This is music for teacups.”
Blair McMillen and Stephen Gosling will conclude the program with Steve Reich’s Piano Phase (1967), which was Reich’s first attempt at translating his famous “phasing technique” from recorded tape to live performance. In Piano Phase the performers repeat a rapid twelve-note figure, initially in unison. As one player keeps tempo with robotic precision, the other speeds up very slightly until the two parts line up again, but one sixteenth note apart. The second player then resumes the previous tempo. This cycle of speeding up and then locking in continues throughout the piece, casting a hypnotic spell.
I’ll try and post here again tomorrow about a couple of the other pieces on the program, which are John Adams’ “Hallelujah Junction” (1996), Ryan Brown’s “Ceramics” (2002), Nico Muhly’s “A Hudson Cycle” (2002), and David Lang’s sublime “Wed” (1997).
“SPOTLIGHT on Minimalism,” takes place this Sunday, April 5, at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City at 7:30PM. Admission is $15. Le Poisson Rouge is on 158 Bleecker Street, between Sullivan and Thompson St. For complete information about this concert and our upcoming 3-day festival of contemporary solo piano music (May 19-21), please check out our newly updated website: http://www.keystothefuture.org/
“Keys to the Future: SPOTLIGHT on Minimalism” is made possible in part with public funds from the Manhattan Community Arts Fund, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and administered by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.