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Thursday, November 16, 2023

Stanley Grill, The Bridge


US composer Stanley Grill takes inspiration from Hart Crane's epic poem on his recent World Premiere recorded orchestral work The Bridge (self released digital) featuring Brett Deubner on viola and the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice conducted by Marek Stilec.

This is a long flowing. multi-movement work which has musical roots in the tone-poem world of classic Americana of the most descriptively evocative orchestral works by the likes of Ives, Copland and a select few others, yet it has such roots without exposing them in obvious ways. Rather there is sincere lyrical attachment to the subject matter from the Hart Crane epic, which as the composer suggests uses the bridge idea as a unifier of disparate US cultural-geographical diversity. Slow moving and feelingfully encompassing from the matter-of-fact yet evocative dawn on the harbor to the murky quagmires of mythic Atlantis, but then tempo pacing and presumably flow of water steps up on The River and expands and flows again more slowly with advancing worlds of sorts, resuming and re-attaining stately passage through a landscape musi-scape of Indiana, the steady wind for Cutty Sark, and then Cape Hatteras and its special presence brings back the expectant mysticism and the tolling of a fateful bell.

National Wintergarden has an altered jazzy feel and gives you a good example how originally inventive Grill can be. It goes from there. Suffice to say each movement has a distinct character rolling through an overall feeling of immediacy as experienced in rhapsodic lyricism and descriptive poignancy. Grill is a gifted symphonic narrator here and the more you listen the more you grasp of it all. Enthusiastically recommended

Stream the work in full at the following link:

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Marc Ponthus Plays Beethoven Hammerklavier sonata opus 106 and Stockhausen Klavierstuck X


It is not precisely usual to experience an album sequence that pairs Beethoven with Stockhausen, excepting perhaps an old album of Stockhausen's that dealt with Beethoven themes on a 1970  Stockhausen recording marking the 200th birthday of the 19th century composer. But here we have the two together in a pairing by lucid and articulate pianist Marc Ponthus (Bridge 9584).

We get to hear Ponthus's take on Beethoven's long-formed Hammerklavier Sonata opus 106 and Stockhausen's monumentally expressive but somewhat more terse Klavierstuck X. In pure statistical terms, there are far fewer recordings out there of Kavierstuck X than there are of Hammerklavier op 106, so that doubtless we should be especially grateful for the Stockhausen if it be good. In truth, these are worthy versions of both. Happily the Beethoven is undeniably symphonic in its consistently surcharged and continuously dramatic thrust as interpreted by Ponthus.

The Stockhausen likewise hangs together in a continuous unity that gives it a readily communicative power and visceral  accessibility it may not have quite as readily in some earlier versions.

Stream the album at the following links. for the Stockhausen, then the Beethoven and follow the movement sequence from there in the You Tube listings.

An important pianistic event, a nice stocking stuffer.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Sonic Alchemy, YuEun Kim, Mina Gajic, Coleman Itzkof Play Arvo Part, Peteris Vasks, Mozart


Sonic Alchemy (Sono Luminus DSL92261) gathers together the considerable interpretive and sonically advanced gifts of violinist YuEun Kim, pianist Mina Gajic, and cellist Coleman Itzkoff for a rather magical program of chamber gems by Arvo Part, Peteris Vasks and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. When you have a trio of the musical sensitivity you hear readily on this album, of primary importance perhaps are the commonalities one might sense between the composers and works covered in the seven dramatic and lyrically probing works heard here.

In many ways the central section of this program gives you a kind of remarkable kismet between the Mozart's Fantasias, in C minor and D minor, and the Part "Mozart Adagio." All have the motion of Mozart Classicism and the exploratory lyricism we especially appreciate in Part, but perhaps do not always underscore in a Mozart movement but of nevertheless can be touchingly present.

As bookended there is much to appreciate even in that movement from the outer, melodically immediate yet exotic quality of the Vasks and the Part of whirring summer "Fratres" and then in the end the Vasks lyric pulsation of "Castle Interior" and Part's classic "Spiegel im Spiegel." In the end you might as I do revel in the superior expressive excellence of the ideal in many ways for these works, as heard here. Bravo.

Listen to a free stream of the entire album at this link: