Alireza Mashayekhi – Violin Concerto (1977)

Alireza Mashayekhi (born 1940) is a notable Iranian musician, composer and conductor. He is one of the first Iranian composers who has pioneered Persian Symphonic Music [source]

Maziyar Zahireddini – violin
Tehran Symphony Orchestra conducted by Edo Micic
1998
Live Recording

[Read more]

 

Buy the CD here

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Arvo Pärt – Fratres (1984)

The 1984 ECM album Tabula Rasa was the vehicle that introduced the revolutionary music of Arvo Pärtto audiences outside Eastern Europe and initiated what was to become one of the most extraordinary musical careers of the late 20th century. Like many of the first generation American minimalists, he limited himself to diatonic harmonies and generated pieces by setting processes in motion, but the radical simplicity he achieved was the result of religious contemplation that was at least as, if not more, formative than his quest for a new musical aesthetic. The result was music suffused by an unhurried, luminous serenity, and while it was distinctly contemporary, it had an archaic quality that tied it to the music of the very distant past.

Fratres, originally for chamber orchestra, is undeniably Pärt´s most popular work and exists in well over a dozen versions, two of which are included here. Gidon Kremer and Keith Jarret bring great nuance and sensitivity to the version for violin and piano. They play somewhat loosely with details of the score, but they are entirely in sync with the spirit of the piece, and it’s a gripping performance. The violin part is hugely virtuosic and Kremer is breathtaking, particularly in the crystalline purity of the outrageously high harmonics that end the piece. The arrangement of Fratres for 12 cellos is an altogether more lyrical and meditative version, and the cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra play it with gorgeous tone and depth. [source]

A1: Fratres : Piano – Keith Jarret / Violin Gideon Kremer (11:26)

A2: Cantus In Memory Of Benjamin Britten : Dennis Russel Davies – Conductor / Staatsorchester Stuttgart (5:00)

A3: Fratres: Performer – The 12 Cellists Of The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Performer (11:51)

B1: Tabula Rasa: Saulius Sondekis – Conductor / Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra / Alfred Schnittke – Piano (Prepared) / Gideon Kremer – Violin / Tatiana Gindenko – Violin (26:08)

Recording: Fratres, October 1983, Basel / Cantus in memory of Benjamin Britten , January 1984, Stuttgart / Fratres (for 12 celli), February 1984, Berlin / Tabula Rasa, November 1977, Bonn, (Live recording by West German Radio, Cologne) / Released on EMI Records

 

[Dedicated Ronnie Rocket, thanks for inspiration]

Morton Feldman – Piano (1977)

One of the most complex of Feldman’s major works for piano solo, “Piano” uses four and sometimes six separate staves for its dense contrapuntal passages. In terms of rhythmic and textural complexity this piece has more in common with the String Quartet (1979) and the other pieces of the “Berlin period” than the later piano works.

Roger Woodward, the dedicatee, performs.

Art by Mark Rothko.








Morton Feldman – Neither (1977)

Neither, opera in 1 act for soprano & orchestra (1977)

Sarah Leonard, soprano
Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra
Zoltan Pesko

The Rome Opera commissioned Morton Feldman to write an opera in 1977. In the same year, the composer collaborated with Irish writer Samuel Beckett, and Neither was completed and premiered. It is not an opera. There are no scene changes, no characters except for one unnamed female singer who performs only sixteen lines of text over the course of more than fifty minutes. There is neither plot nor chorus. However, with creative use of lighting, the work can be effectively staged despite the lack of operatic conventions. Many of Beckett’s late plays rely on little more than lighting to convey their visual worlds. Beckett and Feldman held each other’s work in high regard. Their first meeting was awkward, Feldman being the famously gregarious New Yorker while Beckett was a laconic, unsocial Irishman. They did not actually work together on the project. Beckett simply handed off completed text and the composer set it to music. It is a haunting work with a weird and sublime quality that does credit to both artists.

One of its most compelling qualities lies in the way Beckett and Feldman created and manipulated a text that demonstrates the variable effects of memory. Beckett began with a text that is broken up like poetry, and translated it into French. Then, retranslating one of the fragments into English, Beckett found that the line had been slightly altered from the original. He applied this operation to each fragment several times until the text was almost unrecognizable. This required him to forget what the original fragments said. Feldman’s mature music was likewise grounded in the moment, in the annulment of the listener’s memory of what has taken place beforehand; in the composer’s unique musical outlook, memory is of minor importance. What matters is sustaining the initial idea in a collection of moments until the possibilities of the initial idea have exhausted themselves. In art forms that traditionally depended so much upon memory, Beckett’s and Feldman’s approaches, and their confluence here, had revolutionary aspects.

Both the text and music are eerie in the extreme, suggesting a superficial comparison to Schoenberg’s Erwartung–which features a deranged woman singing of her confusion while the atonal soundscape suggests a Wagnerian treatment of dementia. Neither features a woman singing of something even more difficult to grasp, something unknowable, pointing toward an uncomfortable and unfamiliar world with music in which each moment erases the significance of its predecessor. Erwartung is an excellent example of expressionism, depicting the artist’s journey inward, confronting the inner torments of the subject, and Neither is a unique example of abstract expressionism, which rarely finds a voice in anything resembling an operatic format. The singer’s part conveys a feeling that does not have a name. Neither shocking nor conventional, she illustrates the character of the work. As in Erwartung, the singer in Neither is isolated, but the two states of isolation are different. Erwartung has a subject that cannot grasp the world due to a mental illness, which causes anxieties that unaffected people suffer to a lesser degree. Neither instead involves a truth: that there is no deferring death, whether one’s surroundings are familiar or unfamiliar. This is not madness, but rather a clear yet uncomfortable idea. Listeners learn nothing about the subject in Neither, and never know whether to feel sympathy or aversion toward her. The opposite is true in Erwartung; listeners experience both these emotions. Neither is a strikingly rewarding and original work that completely succeeds; indeed, it is probably almost-opera’s greatest statement. [Allmusic.com]

Art by Ouattara Watts

The first 10 minutes with visuals:




The complete opera:










Read more about the opera here and here.

Iannis Xenakis: Complete Works for Cello

Iannis Xenakis composed just two pieces for solo cello, both fiercely remarkable in their own right. Nomos Alpha, from 1966, is an example of what he called symbolic music, in which the order of musical events is determined according to mathematical rules, while Kottos, composed 11 years later, is a portrait of one of the giants from Greek mythology who fought with Zeus against the Titans. The most substantial of the other pieces here is Epicycles for cello and 12 instruments, an example of later Xenakis, which is far less visceral in its impact and almost archaic in its chant-like melodic writing. The remainder are smaller-scale and pair Arne Deforce’s cello with single instruments – violin, clarinet, double bass, piano. Perhaps the most interesting is Dhipli Zyia, for violin and cello; written in 1951, it’s a rare example of early Xenakis – Bartókian in style and using Greek folk tunes as its source material. [Source]