Jennifer Choi ~ On the Premiere of Daniel Felsenfeld’s Bad Coffee Serenade and Related Things

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Violinist Jennifer Choi, whom you know from having been a member of ETHEL, is out and about working on various things that will be coming up the pike in days to come–Among these things is the premiere of a work by Daniel Felsenfeld titled Bad Coffee Serenade with Ensemble 212 this Saturday, March 23rd, 8 PM at Good Sheperd-Faith Presbyterian Church. Click here or on the bottom link for tickets/info.
Jennifer spoke to me via Skype. Continue reading

Anne Akiko Meyers ~ On the Ex-Vieuxtemps Guarneri del Gesu and Related Things

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Violinist extraordinaire Anne Akiko Meyers is busy with many wonderful projects for us to look forward to, including some more premieres of a violin concerto composed for her by Mason Bates (which made its world premiere this past December in Pittsburgh w/Leonard Slatkin conducting) as well as a new CD that is in the works (she couldn’t tell me what’s on it, sadly, we’ll have to wait patiently), but the latest news is that she has recently been awarded lifetime usage of a Guarneri del Gesu from 1741 that was previously owned by Henri Vieuxtemps, and she is very excited to bring this instrument to the concert hall for the public to hear, and plans to use for not only the Bates Concerto premieres but also pieces like the Barber Concerto, of which a few minutes can be heard on the promo below (with the Guarneri). Continue reading

Jeff Myers

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Composer Jeff Myers, whose name you probably have seen because violinist Hilary Hahn had this thing called the In 27 Pieces project where she had new pieces commissioned from 26 composers. When it was apparent that there was a 27th that was yet to be announced, she then launched a contest where up and coming composers were invited to submit a piece for Hilary to be selected as the 27th encore–Jeff was the selected winner with a work titled “The Angry Birds of Kauai”, and sadly, I have not yet heard it, but Alain Matalon, who recently attended Hilary’s concert in Turkey, has heard it (Published in Seen and Heard International, 1/7/13):

“Jeff Myers’ ‘The Angry Birds of Kauai’ (no relation to the popular computer game), the winner among the more than 400 works that were submitted for the project, is built upon a wide range of influences from Filipino kulintang music to overtone music. Mostly dodecaphonic in style, this high strung music gives equal weight to both instruments where the violin mimics the sound of exotic birds while the piano provides the sound of nature in the background.”

Continue reading

Hilary Hahn’s Recital in Turkey ~ A Review

Hilary Hahn performing at the İş Sanat Cultural Center, Istanbul, Turkey (Photo courtesy of İş Sanat)hilaryinistanbul

Hilary Hahn–Recital
Selections from In 27 Pieces and music from Bach, Corelli and Fauré
Hilary Hahn, violin
Cory Smythe, piano
Istanbul Concert Hall at İş Sanat Cultural Center
Istanbul, Turkey
Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Written by Alain Matalon

It is not, and certainly should not be, exclusive to luxury brand sponsored male pianists to make a fashion statement on the concert stage. Before she dazzled our ears, Ms. Hilary Hahn, stunned our visual slant as she appeared on stage in a close-fitting nude-colored gown adorned with ethnic embroidery on top, and below the waist, ten rows of golden tassels (that, as a friend put later “danced a frenetic foxtrot, or a genial waltz depending on the music she happened to be playing”). Accompanying her was Mr. Cory Smythe on the piano for an evening celebrating the union of the very old, the old, and the very new.

The duo was in Istanbul for a special evening to mark the fruits of Hilary Hahn’s recent In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores project. Out of the eight pieces that were played, four of them were World Premieres (and, according to Ms. Hahn, the other four were “Northern Hemisphere debuts”). The program was designed to reflect as much contrast as possible with the encore pieces scattered around the traditional ones.

hilaryinistanbul5The Corelli Op. 5 No. 4 in F Major, a rather easy feat for the competent pair, kicked the evening to a jocund start followed by three encores from the project in their world premiere: James Newton Howard’s “133… At Least”, a fast and uneasy number dealing mostly with rising and falling chromatic melodies in Ms. Hahn’s expert hands; A.G. Abril’s “Three Sighs”: a peculiar amalgam of lush and lyrical violin against sharp, staccato piano attacks from Mr.Smythe and Mason Bates’ “Ford’s Farm”, a rhythmically structured dance music accentuating the perfect sync between the two musicians. Continue reading

Miranda Cuckson

Miranda Cuckson, violinist

Violinist Miranda Cuckson had a few minutes to talk about her latest CD: a new recording of Luigi Nono’s la lontananza nostalgica utopica futura which is going to be dropping this weekend. Miranda has not one but 2 events launching the CD–Friday, January 4th and Saturday, January 5th, 7 PM at Spectrum in New York.

CM: Can you talk about your latest CD of the Luigi Nono piece?

Miranda: This is basically a very late work of Nono’s. It’s for violin and 8-track tape, and much like Nono’s work as a whole, it involves a lot of elements of theatre and a lot of political themes and undercurrents to it. Basically, in the piece, the violinist moves from various stations within the performing space for each of the sections, and there are also 8 speakers, and it involves a live performance by the sound engineer, who controls the material on the tapes to decide which of the tracks are going to be heard at whatever time and from which locations in the hall.
The violinist is basically supposed to embody this figure of a wanderer, so, the character is kind of a symbol of both any human being wandering through life, but he was also at the time very concerned about fascism in Europe and refugees from wartime and all those kinds of things. There’s a lot of strange sounds on the tape like thumping and crashing–a sense of the real world around this person. A very eerie, not really comfortable environment. Continue reading

Lisa Germano

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Lisa Germano (wow, more than a singer-songwriter, she plays a variety of instruments as you well may know) is releasing a new album titled No Elephants in February of next year, and having heard it, I am blown away by her music yet again. Taking the path to a very self-made musical place has really taken her seemingly so far apart from the days when she was mostly playing sideman to John Mellencamp and appearing with artists like Billy Joel, Simple Minds, etc. Her efforts as a musician showed a person of prowess, but her music revealed much more complex pictures and a vulnerability that couldn’t always be fully expressed by a full rock band.
She had a few minutes to speak with me about some of this.

CM: I had a chance to hear the new CD No Elephants–For me, It is very hard to describe your music, even ever since your first album! I really enjoy it, and this new one is already a classic (My favorite tracks so far are “A Feast” and “Strange Bird”). It’s interesting for its brevity at 35 mins. and it leaves one wanting more. The thing that catches me a good deal of the time is your use of non-musical things and making them musical, and here the most obvious thing is the cell-phone interference static noise on a few of the songs. Can you talk about this and where you came up with this idea?

Lisa: On my new record No Elphants, I wanted to convey my confusion and frustration relating to people on cell phones, our abuse of communication and how this affects our relationship to the earth and its beings. So many people on their cells or computers. Not communicating is sad to me, so Jamie Candiloro and I found all sorts of sounds relating to this and added them into many parts of the record sometimes to me funny in a tragic sort of way. The communication with the animal sounds, cell and computer sounds dancing together is the point here..
Jamie is awesome–always finds what I’m hearing. Continue reading

Hilary Hahn with Trail of Dead ~ “To Russia My Homeland” (Live in Moscow, 2006)

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead
Hilary Hahn ~ violin
“To Russia My Homeland” (written by Conrad Keely)
Live at unknown venue, Moscow, Russia; 4/22/06
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Apologies for the shaky camera, this was shot in a rock club in Russia by either a roadie or a band member, not sure)

This is something I decided to post for Hilary Hahn’s birthday, and since I wasn’t too sure if most people had ever seen this clip,  I thought now would be a good time. It’s something that continues to give me a very odd feeling for some reason. I’m not sure why since there are other classical violinists that play more than one kind of music all the time, but maybe it’s because I’m so used to the angelic image that Hilary Hahn puts out there whenever we see the classical performances that when I got a load of this, I was stunned. I knew that she’d played this piece on the album Worlds Apart and I even bought a copy of it (this was in 2005, so it was long before I ever became interested in downloading anything), but to see the way she moves here versus the way she moves in a regular fashion, you get the impression that she was possessed by something that combines Paganini with Jimi Hendrix (and it’s his birthday too, so, this is perfect for that as well).  Between all that and this rather dark rocker-chick look with the loose hair and black jeans (and electric violin), it’s a moment in Hilary’s career that continues to provide great bewilderment, fascination and merriment for me, among so many other things she does, so, in a way this is the status quo.

Happy Birthday, Hilary Hahn!