Thursday, July 02, 2015
The opera focuses on a single evening as she struggles to complete her translation of Newton's Principia Mathematica while in the final stages of pregnancy. She's afraid childbirth will kill her (it did), and the conflict of emotions (love and fear) with scientific logic and order provides the inspiration for Saariaho's work.
The opera has but a single role, and soprano Karen Vourc'h fills it admirably. Her delivery of Émilie's inner thoughts is both thrilling and disturbing. If you want pretty arias, look elsewhere. If you want an authentic representation of a soul in crises, "Émilie Suite" delivers.
Also included on the disc are Terra Memoria, an orchestral work that slowly appears out of the silence (this would be a great choice for an SACD recording), and the Quator Instants. The latter is a work originally written for soprano and piano, recast by Saariaho for soprano and orchestra. The lyricism of the work makes it a logical companion piece to the Émilie Suite.
Marko Letonja leads the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra in sensitive and sure-footed performances of these works. Saariaho's music is all about the details, and Letonja and the SPO conjure up her delicate soundscapes seemingly at ease. An important addition to Saariaho's discography.
Kaija Sarriaho: Émilie Suite; Quatre Instants; Terra Memoria
Karen Vourc'h; soprano; Orchestra Philharmonique de Starsbourg; Marko Letonja, conductor
Wednesday, July 01, 2015
Starobin premiered Richard Wernick's "The Name of the Game" for guitar and chamber ensemble. When the piece started playing, I thought I was in for a dry, academic atonal work. But that's not the case. Although Wernick's piece moves in fits and starts, it actually has a strong tonal center. And once I got used to the language, I began to hear a more lyrical quality in the music.
"Schrödinger's Cat" by Poul Ruders is a set of 12 canons for violin and guitar that reflect the ambivalence of the title. The work was written for David Starobin, who gets right to the heart of the music. In quantum mechanics, Schrödinger's cat is a thought experiment illustrating the paradoxical concept that particles can be in two states simultaneously until observed. So, too, these canons seem to shift back and forth until they suddenly collapse into a final cadence.
Paul Lansky's 2009 guitar concerto "With the Grain" musically portrays the characteristics of various types of wood grains and was composed for Starobin. The Alabama Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Justin Brown give a credible performance, though the real star is Starobin and his masterful technique. The work is the most tonally conservative of the three, (although I'd think call it more post-tonal), expansive in parts, with a hint of jazz and nod to Copland. A great ending to the album.
New Music With Guitar, Vol. 9 David Starobin, guitar
Richard Wernick: The Name of the Game; Poul Ruders: Schrödinger's Cat; Paul Lansky: With the Grain"
International Contemporary Ensemble; Cliff Colnot, conductor; Amalia Hall, violin; Alabama Symphony Orchestra; Justin Brown, conductor
Bridge Records 9444
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Labels: spam roundup
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