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Mind Meld: Works for One Piano, Four Hands
Musical compatriots. Collaborators. Teachers. Friends. Pianists. These are the links that bound the four remarkable 20th century composers, whose one-piano-four-hands works are brought together by Sono Luminus on this first CD from the dynamic ZOFO duet. Whether performing public duet concerts together or using the piano four-hands form to explore their symphonic visions, Bernstein, Shapero, Debussy and Stravinsky all understood the musical power of sharing the bench.
When internationally acclaimed solo pianists Eva-Maria Zimmermann and Keisuke Nakagoshi joined forces to form ZOFO duet in the spring of 2009, their goal was to explore and enrich the one-piano-four-hands repertoire by performing and recording existing and new works at the highest level of musical excellence. The pieces they chose for their first public performance as a professional ensemble at the San Francisco Conservatory in the fall of 2009 were by Leonard Bernstein, Harold Shapero, Claude Debussy and Igor Stravinsky – four highly influential composers of the 20th century who knew each other, learned from each other, sometimes performed together, and embraced the piano four - hands form. Since their concert debut in 2009 ZOFO has performed dozens of concerts with repertoire ranging from Johannes Brahms to Tomohiro Moriyama, and in venues from San Francisco to Carnegie Hall to Osaka Japan. But for this, their first CD, Eva-Maria and Keisuke return to the four composers and magnificent pieces that launched them on their career as ZOFO duet.
“[The Rite] is less colorful than the “customary” orchestral version, but the effect is no less profound. The intrinsic rhythmic details are more starkly exposed in the more percussive piano presentation...there is no danger of the percussive keyboard impacts getting on your nerves. Overall, this is a very good disc.” MusicWeb International, April 2013
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Jonathan Darlington conducts Debussy & Stravinsky
Jonathan Darlington and the Duisburger Philhamoniker create a most exciting live recording of two key works of the twentieth century. This is part of the Living Concert Series.
“The playing is good throughout both performances...Darlington conducts both scores with understanding and conviction. He brings lots of energy and a sense of ebb and flow to the second movement of La Mer and there’s admirable vigour to his reading of the third movement.” MusicWeb International, 20th February 2014
Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring & Firebird Suite
“A fascinating chance to compare a composer's own interpretation with a brilliant newcomer. Ivan Fischer's new Rite of Spring is lean and hungry, razor-sharp and matches his description of it: "fresh, pagan, scary, new and beautiful"...Quite deliberate in places (Spring Rounds is surely too slow) it is full of piercing, unfamiliar detail and accumulates tremendous weight.” The Observer, 22nd January 2012
“The Rite of Spring remains a seismic event in the history of music, still astounding in a performance as gripping and as powerful as this live account by Fischer’s BFO. These Hungarians manage the remarkable feat of making this familiar music sound ever fresh and new — I love Fischer’s chamber-music textures in Dances of the Adolescent Girls, and his Dance of the Earth sounds positively volcanic.” Sunday Times, 19th February 2012
“This is one of the earthiest, most pagan accounts of the ballet around. It’s also one of the most carefully considered whenever Stravinsky writes in a slow tempo...Whenever the music jerks into high gear — the notes cascading, polyrhythms jabbing — the contrast is doubly thrilling.” The Times, 24th February 2012 ****
“Fischer and his Budapest forces possess the right ingredients: the orchestra is well drilled in an interpretation that's as straight as a Roman road; its strings are searing, and brass and wooodwind play in the clipped manner favoured by Stravinsky. In short, it's what the composer said he wanted from a performance of this music. The problem is that Stravinsky did not practise what he preached.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2012 **
“Fischer's The Rite of Spring is sensual and revealing...There's a elasticity to Fischer's conducting that keeps Stravinsky's score pliable...In a word, this is a 'musical' performance, one where every note seems an inevitable outgrowth of its predecessor. It's not the most viscerally exciting version on disc...[but it] avoids what Stravinsky himself labelled self-glorification.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2012
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Stravinsky: The Firebird, The Rite of Spring & Petrushka
Pierre Boulez’s name has always been closely linked with the three great early Russian ballets of Stravinsky – The Firebird, Petrushka and The Rite of Spring. Here are all three, in outstanding performances with the premier orchestras of Chicago and Cleveland.
DG Duo - 4790005
(CD - 2 discs)
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Stravinsky conducts Stravinsky
1940 & 1946 Recordings
Mark Obert-Thorn, producer and audio restoration engineer
This programme brings together the three great ballets which Stravinsky composed for Russian impresario Serge Diaghilev. These vibrantly atmospheric scores were all revised after their Parisian premières, and the 1945 version of the Firebird Suite was still brand new at the time of this recording. In what are widely considered to be the best of his commercial recordings of these works, Stravinsky the conductor brings out the expressive and vividly incisive rhythmic strengths of the Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York.
Igor Stravinsky made three sets of commercial recordings of his three great early ballet scores. The first was made in the late 1920s with rather ragged-sounding French and British ensembles and less conducting experience on the composer’s part. The last set was made in stereo in the early 1960s with a pick-up orchestra of Los Angeles musicians at a time when the conductor was at an advanced age. The present series, made midway between the other two, is generally considered his best. It features an ensemble of high quality (Barbirolli’s New York Philharmonic), and the composer is on his best podium form. These are generally considered to be the best of Igor Stravinsky’s own recorded versions of his great ballets. Collectors will want these historically significant audio documents in the most detailed sound possible, and renowned technician Mark Obert-Thorn’s tremendous work in audio restoration means this is exactly what they will find with this release.
“Invaluable new transfers of Stravinsky on top form as a conductor. This electrifying performance is the finest of his Rite of Spring recordings, and the 1945 Firebird Suite is gripping.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2012 *****
“they certainly are exciting, not least because you sense the virtuosos of their day still struggling to master incredibly demanding new music. Forget the recording quality and revel in the rhythmic pungency.” The Times, 25th February 2012 ***
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University of Houston at the Meyerson, Vol. 2
University of Houston Wind Ensemble, Eddie Green
(arr. for wind band)