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Monolithen: Debussy, Zimmermann, Stravinsky
piano duo huber|thomet: Susanne Huber & André Thomet
The piano works for two pianos or piano four-hands united here have quite a few inner connections. Each, in its own way, breaks down aesthetic conventions and involves vast historical and geographic horizons while demanding the highest level of virtuosity from the performers.
'En blanc et noir' [In Black and White] was created in the early days of the First World War. Claude Debussy made no secret of his disgust with the catastrophe of the war and the Germans who were responsible for it. He saw the German invasion as an attempt to destroy French culture. Therefore the title of the composition not only refers to the black and white keys of the piano keyboard, but primarily symbolises the two opposing sides in the First World War: white representing the French victims and black the German aggressors.
Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s 'Monologe' demands incredible technical skill from the performers. The independence of the two pianos presents a particular challenge, but so does the necessity of maintaining a sense of balance between the instruments. The composition is pervaded by a number of historical quotations. These quotations, ranging from the Gregorian chant “Veni Creator Spiritus” [Come, creative spirit] via Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Debussy to Messiaen, transport the evolution of European music into a new, specially created sound continuum. 'Le Sacre du printemps' [The Rite of Spring] expresses in constantly shifting rhythms the elemental experience of the Russian Spring and “the close connection of the people to the earth”. Igor Stravinsky composed the work at the piano, as the initial sketches clearly reveal. The spacing of the chords and the tonal range are characteristic of the piano, so that it is only partially correct to speak of the version for piano duet as a 'reduction', in fact, it reveals the original conception of the piece.
“the Swiss duo capture its elusive moods on this recording [Debussy En blanc et noir].” Herald Scotland, 8th March 2015
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Les Musiciens et la Grande Guerre Vol. 2
Au Carrefour de la Modernite
Jean-Sebastien Dureau (piano) & Vincent Planes (piano)
The incredible explosion of music at the beginning of the 20th century was confronted, during the Great War, with other explosions: military, social and political. The scandalous arrival of the Sacre du printemps in 1913 gave way to creations which were more interiorized, part of history, tradition: Debussy’s En Blanc et Noir, premiered in Paris on 22 January 1916 in the ‘hôtel de Polignac’ in a concert dedicated to ‘affectionate help to musicians’; Busoni’s Fantasia contrappuntistica presented a modernity in 1910 which was not cut off from its heritage but, on the contrary, fed from it, the better to transform it.
Jean-Sébastien Dureau first studied music in Lyon, then with Jean-François Heisser, Christian Ivaldi and Alain Planès at the Paris Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique. He graduated in 1996 with first prizes in piano and chamber music and pursued advanced studies with Géry Moutier at the Lyon Conservatory.
In 1998, he went to study in the USA with renowned Hungarian pianist and teacher György Sebök at the Indiana University School of Music in Bloomington. Over a two year period he had the opportunity to work with outstanding artists such as János Starker, Reiko Neriki, Franco Gulli and Leonard Hokanson. He was awarded the Artist Diploma.
An avid collaborative pianist, Vincent Planès performed in many prestigious venues in Europe and Amercia: Carnegie Hall in New York City, Jordan Hall in Boston, Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Wigmore Hall in London, Kumho Art Hall in Seoul, Auditorium du Louvre in Paris…
Born in Annecy, he came to pursue his musical studies in the USA upon his graduation from the Lyon Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique. At Indiana University, he had the privilege of studying with Menahem Pressler and to serve as János Starker’s class pianist. He then undertook doctoral studies in collaborative piano at New England Conservatory with pianist Irma Vallecillo. While in America, he collaborated with many prominent artists among which violist Kim Kashkashian and violinist Itzhak Perlman were major influences on his musical development. From 2007 to 2013 he taught at the Maurice Ravel Conservatory. -
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Raskatov: Piano Concerto 'Night Butterflies' & Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring
Alexander Raskatov is gathering an increasingly impressive international reputation, with performances of his opera' A Dog’s Heart' at English National Opera, Netherlands Opera and Milan’s La Scala.
His new Piano Concerto, written for pianist and performance artist Tomoko Mukaiyama and commissioned by the Seattle Symphony, is a major addition to the repertoire. By turns dramatic, poetic, startling and tender, it’s a journey into new sound-worlds, inspired by a childhood walk in the forest surrounded by butterflies.
The work is appropriately coupled with innovative music from a previous Russian generation - Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring - captured live in an electrifying performance in June 2014 in Seattle’s Benaroya Hall.
“Brilliantly orchestrated, this is as much a concerto for members of the Seattle Symphony orchestra as much as for the soloist...There is much that is excellent about Morlot and the Seattle Symphony's performance [of Rite]...Raskatov is worth hearing for those wanting to hear how Russian music has evolved from that seminal work.” BBC Music Magazine, Awards Issue 2015 ****
“Ludovic Morlot directs a vividly coloured performance, so much so that the opening 'Adoration of the earth' sounds almost more like Ravel than Stravinsky…the playing is undeniably brilliant, and expertly controlled by Morlot” Gramophone Magazine, June 2015
(also available to download from $10.00)
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Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring
As early as spring 1910 Igor Stravinsky had a vision of a "great pagan festival" the climax of which would be the death of a young girl who dies of exhaustion after a frenzied dance, surrounded by the elders of her tribe. A further eighteen months would elapse however, during which Stravinsky consulted with the archaeologist and painter Nikolai Roerich to produce several versions of a libretto, before the composer set about realizing his vision by writing the score for this, his most famous ballet.
Initially, the score bore the working title The great sacrifice, but was then renamed The Rite of Spring, and marked the international career breakthrough for the composer, not yet 32 years old, following his two earlier ballets for Sergei Diaghilev and his Ballets Russes, Firebird and Petrushka. And it has to be said that that breakthrough came with a mighty drumroll: when Le Sacre was premiered on May 29, 1913 at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, choreographed by the young Vaslav Nijinsky and under the musical direction of Pierre Monteux, the ballet caused one of the greatest scandals in the history of music and theatre ever – though it has to be said that Nijinsky's choreography, with its stamping, twitching body movements that seem to truly mock the ideal of weightless grace normally expected in dance, was at least as much to blame as Stravinsky's music. That said, this was not a performance suited to those of a nervous disposition, since the composer had transformed the orchestra to a great extent into a gasping, snorting, and above all hammering monster producing a sound that bore no resemblance whatsoever to the elegance of traditional ballet music.
“Stravinsky designed the four-hand version as a rehearsal-aid, but as played here it fascinatingly brings out elements not obvious in the orchestral score.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2015 *****
“Russell Davies doesn't give us fast-lane Stravinsky. The Introduction to 'The Adoration of the Earth' approximates a slowly evolving undergrowth...this isn't the sort of performance you're likely to five up on then return to, or sample. It draws you in for the duration...Fascinating...and what's more important, utterly new.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2015
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Zubin Mehta conducts Stravinsky and Mahler
In 2012, conductor Alex Briger brought together for the first time Australia’s orchestral diaspora - musicians born, bred or trained in Australia, now largely working overseas – and the Australian World Orchestra was born. AWO based out of Sydney, is now an annual event and this recording is the result of the orchestra working under Zubin Mehta in 2013. These performances take Briger’s original idea to a whole new level, this musical offering achieving a quality which unites musicial and artistic aspirations. Under Mehta, the AWO produces a richly coloured reading of The Rite of Spring, heard here in a revelatory pairing with Mahler’s first symphony in its original five-movement version. Mahler is a composer synonymous with Mehta. Zubin Mehta has conducted Mahler in concert extensively for over five decades the world over including orchestras sharing a direct hertitage with the composer the New York Philharmonic, of which Mehta has been their longest serving Principal conductor, and Vienna Philharmonic being two such orchestras. Mahler’s Symphony No.1 is the symphony Mehta chose to program when celebrating his 50th anniversary debut with the Berlin Philharmonic in 2012. AWO attracts Australian musicians from far and wide. Notable Australian’s violinist Natalie Chee, concert-master of the SWR Orchestra in Stuttgart, through to violist Toby Lea, principal viola in the Vienna Philharmonic are two of over 50 attracted back along with musical colleagues from the Bavarian Radio, Singapore Symphony, Philadelphia, Osnabruck Symphony, Comiche Opera, Chicago Symphony, and Gewandhaus Orchestras.
To the delirious Sydney Opera House audience at the conclusion of the concert and pointing to the orchestra behind him Mehta said: “Do you realise what you’ve got here?” After a resounding “Yes” from the audience, the 77-year-old maestro added: “Don’t let go of them!”
This whole project is put together in 7 days and if nothing else it is clearly evident that maestro Mehta extracts impressive energy from the assembled forces!
For downloads, see ABC359622A (Stravinsky) and ABC359622B (Mahler).
“the sense of occasion in both performances is inescapable, whether you warm to their demonstrably grandiose manner or not. The Rite of Spring throws its credentials down from the get-go...It's a lumbering beast of a performance...The Mahler is writ similarly large but, drawing upon Mehta's Viennese credentials, it has an echt authenticity and turn of phrase that is never less than enticing.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014
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Stravinsky: Le Sacre du Printemps, Petrouchka
recreation of the 1913 premiere
One of the biggest scandals in the history of music stirred Paris as the Ballets Russes created the new ballet by Igor Stravinsky and Vaslav Nijinsky, 'The Rite of Spring', conducted by Pierre Monteux. To celebrate this anniversary, François- Xavier Roth, with special permission from Boosey & Hawkes and with the assistance of musicologist Louis Cyr, have endeavored to restore the 'Rite' as it was given on the evening of May 29 1913.
“Those who heard Roth and his orchestra perform The Rite of Spring at last year's Promswill remember the lithe transparency they brought to the score...But it's the Petrushka that's the real revelation here. Roth's restraint, and the elegance his woodwind players bring to their contributions, pays real dividends.” The Guardian, 29th May 2014 ***
“It’s certainly hard to imagine the first performance, under Pierre Monteux, being as well played as this...The sound of their French-made turn-of-the-century (mostly 1880s to 1920s) instruments throws fresh light on these modern masterpieces.” Sunday Times
“The textures are more pellucid, the woodwind timbres more characterful, and the music sounds springier and less brutalistic – though François-Xavier Roth could have unleashed more wildness in places.” The Times, 5th July 2014
“plenty to admire in the playing from Les Siecles … this disc is mandatory listening.” International Record Review, September 2014
“there’s a heart-lifting sense of renewal and rediscovery...these are very worthwhile performances; indeed, those who think they know these scores will be surprised at how much other performers seem to miss...Illuminating and individual.” MusicWeb International, 19th January 2015
BBC Music Magazine
Orchestral Choice - September 2014
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