Four Parts Five, by composer and pianist Gordon Beeferman, is a quintet tour de force that takes virtuosic rhythmic ensemble playing to a new level. It’s a densely harmonious, frequently hair-raising, and deeply groovy piece of music: imagine György Ligeti, Philip Glass, Igor Stravinsky, Steve Coleman and Conlon Nancarrow having a dance party – with Morton Feldman and Count Basie watching wryly from the corner. New York-based Beeferman has created a diverse body of adventurous work spanning opera, orchestral, chamber, and vocal music, avant-jazz, free improvisation, and collaborations with dance and other arts.
A very intriguing CD, since Karajan was almost the mirror opposite of Stravinsky as a conductor. We get a prime example in this Symphony in C from 1970 of turning an angular "secco" work of neocolassicism into something quite romantic. The softer parts are elegant and even pretty; the string sound is full and sweet; climaxes are heartfelt and dramatic. so many deviations from Stravinsky's own style could sound very wrong, and if you cock your ear a certain way, Karajan's reading seems foreign to the composer's intentions. But it's awfully impressive sheerly as music-making…
Un spectacle inoubliable autour de trois ballets de Stravinsky, avec notamment Le sacre du printemps dans la version originale de Nijinski.
A Russian folk tale in two scenes. Serge de Diaghilev heard Stravinsky for the first time on 6 February 1909, the day when his Fantastic Scherzo and Fireworks were created. Diaghilev was extremely impressed by this last work. Since his Ballets Russes had already performed for a season in Paris in 1909 and were a great success, he wished to repeat the experience the following year and include a brand new work inspired by the legend of the Firebird.
Violinist Benjamin Beilman makes his debut as an exclusive Warner Classics artist with Spectrum, an album uniting works by Schubert, Janáček, Stravinsky and Kreisler. With his regular duo partner, pianist Yekwon Sunwoo – a fellow alumnus of Philadelphia’s prestigious Curtis Institute – Beilman explores a multitude of colours and expressive possibilities, evoking them with the finest technical nuances.
Marios Papadopoulos plays Janacek's sonata with a gentle, romanticizing melancholy that is nature can well encompass, even if such an approach can diminish the work's sense of tragedy. It is a work with a tougher core than is here suggested. However, this is not an unattractive performance, and Papadopoulos seems more attuned to its manner than to the crisp assertions of the Capriccio or of Stravinsky's Concerto. It does not seem a good idea to attempt the Capriccio without a conductor. The admirable RPO players sound less than wholly comfortable, and their ensemble is a trifle precarious at times; moreover, the work's odd, sharp character does not emerge with sufficient definition.
Three 20th-century orchestral scores, Bartók’s Two Pictures, Debussy’s Jeux and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, all dating from 1910-13 and all linked (as the detailed CD booklet explains), are brought to life in the hands of two exceptional French pianists. The central interest is the ballet Jeux. One of the world’s outstanding Debussy interpreters, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet has added to his complete Chandos recordings with his own transcription for two pianos. Written late in Debussy’s life for Nijinsky, Jeux involves an emotionally erotic and harmonically daring game of tennis. Bavouzet and his well-matched partner, François-Fréderic Guy, play with nimble grace, capturing the works wit and mystery. This gripping album is dedicated to Pierre Boulez, guru and enabler, for his 90th birthday.