Alpha is launching a collaboration with the Ensemble Intercontemporain and its new artistic director, composer-conductor Matthias Pintscher. This new series will alternate 20th-century landmarks and new works, providing an opportunity to show to advantage the great quality of the EIC musicians in the major masterpieces of the last century and to discover scores by composers of the 21st century.
Indian-born percussionist Trilok Gurtu pays homage to avant-garde trumpeter Don Cherry with 2013's Spellbound. As a member of Cherry's band from 1976 to 1978, Gurtu experienced Cherry's cross-cultural approach to music firsthand, an approach that greatly influenced his own musical direction. Bookended by two tracks Gurtu recorded with Cherry prior to the pocket trumpeter's death in 1995, Spellbound picks up on Cherry's mix of groove-oriented sounds from Indian to Afro-Cuban music to funk, free jazz, classical, and ambient improvisation. Spellbound is an engaging, stylistically varied album that truly evokes the magic of Cherry's music.
The opening evening of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, Das Rheingold is the prologue of the cycle, which is followed in turn by the music dramas Die Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung. The first instalment in Jaap van Zweden's projected Ring with the Hong Kong Philharmonic – an undertaking he regards as central to his tenure with the orchestra – is a promising beginning that may surprise many experienced Wagnerians. Van Zweden is ambitious in presenting the Ring with this orchestra, which plays it for the first time, though in fairness to the musicians, they offer an intensity and vigor that more than makes up for any minor scrappiness.