Steinway & Sons record label recently released a new album featuring the world premiere recording of American contemporary classical Composer Nico Muhly’s Cello Concerto. The album was recorded by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Jun Märkl and features premiere cellist Zuill Bailey. It was commissioned by The Barbican, Europe’s largest multi-arts and conference venue and preimered by Britten Sinfonia with cellist Oliver Coates at the Barbican Center on March 16, 2012. It then was performed by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra on January 25, 2013. The concerto is 18 minutes in length and in three parts, alternating fast-slow-fast. When 33 year-old Muhly studied music at the Julliard School he worked with American Composer Phillip Glass who is known for his minimalist works. Muhly demonstrates minimalist techniques in this concerto beautifully with drones and steady motoric rhythmic and lyrical development.
Here is Composer Nico Muhly with his London Premiere of Gait.
Here is cellist Zuill Bailey performing on the NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert series.
Featured along with this premiere is Ernest Bloch’s Schelomo: Habraic Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra and Three Jewish Poems. Bloch was a Swiss-born American composer of the 20th century who passed away in 1959. He is most well-known for his works that reflect Jewish culture. His compositions are approachable, yet challenging. These two pieces from Bloch compliment Muhly’s Cello Concerto perfectly.
Here is cellist Sol Gabetta performing Bloch’s From Jewish Life: Prayer accompanied by pianist Andreas Kern.
You can purchase the world premiere recording of Muhly’s Cello Concerto on iTunes or Amazon.
Paul York, professor of cello and Dror Biran, professor of piano at University of Louisville joined Daniel Gilliam in the studio to talk about their upcoming concert on Sunday February 22nd at 3:00pm. The concert will take place in Comstock Concert Hall on UofL’s campus as part of The Music eX Series. They will perform Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cello Suite No. 2 in D Minor BWV 1008 and Felix Mendelssohn’s Sonata for Cello & Piano in D Major, Op. 58, No. 2.
Classical 90.5′s live music program, Lunchtime Classics, is on summer hiatus. In the meantime, we’ll look back at some notable past performers.
Sixteen-year-old cellist Anne Richardson is a veteran performer on WUOL’s Lunchtime Classics and a past winner of the Classical 90.5 Young Artist Competition. Anne made her solo debut at age ten with the Louisville Orchestra and has gone on to perform with the Blue Ash Montgomery Symphony Orchestra, Bryan Symphony Orchestra, and Massapequa Philharmonic.
Anne is currently enrolled in the Juilliard School Pre-College Division as a student of Richard Aaron. She recently won the Juilliard Pre-College Cello Concerto Competition and then she made her solo debut at Juilliard’s Peter Jay Sharp Theater with the Pre-College Symphony.
Enjoy this past performance from Lunchtime Classics:
And here’s a video from Ms. Richardson playing the first concerto by Saint-Saens.
Recently Daniel Gilliam talked with cellist Alisa Weilerstein about her new all-Dvořák album, released in January of this year. The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra led by Jiří Bělohlávek joins her in the Cello Concerto in B minor, and the rest of the album consists of some of Dvorak’s songs arranged for cello and piano, which she performs with Anna Polonsky. Alisa also talked about her work as an advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Cello-lovers everywhere rejoice! Here are two recent releases featuring cello music:
Beethoven Cello Sonatas
The title pretty much says it all. This release on the Hyperion label covers all five cello sonatas written by the beloved German composer (as well as some of his variations on works by Handel and Mozart, plus an arrangement of his Horn Sonata in F major for cello and piano). The cello sonatas of Beethoven span all three of his composition periods, making this survey album not only a collection of great pieces for cello, but also an interesting look at the musical growth of the composer himself. Beethoven’s sense of humor and drama remained constant throughout his career, and pianist Robert Levin and cellist Steven Isserlis truly let these qualities shine in their interpretation of each sonata. Levin and Isserlis play dynamically together, making for a truly captivating performance. Both use period instruments, which allows for closer adherence to the score and greater expressiveness within the framework of Beethoven’s original intentions.
If you were looking to add quality recordings of the Beethoven cello sonatas to your music library in one fell swoop, this album is perfect.
The cellistic drama continues on this Telarc release. Along with the North Carolina Symphony under Grant Llewellyn, Zuill Bailey performs the Cello Symphony of Benjamin Britten. Originally written for the great cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, the work is intensely dramatic, beginning with an ominous rumble in the tubas before the cello enters, moaning. The most transfixing moment of the piece is the cadenza leading from the third to fourth movement, which is nothing but the lament in the cello and Bailey’s concentrated breathing.
Bailey also tackles the Cello Sonata in C major with pianist Natasha Paremski. This piece predates the Symphony and was the first that Britten wrote for Rostropovich. Like the Symphony, it is a virtuosic work which requires great technical precision from the performers as well as expressive playing. Paremski and Bailey meet both these demands, giving a tight yet moving performance.