Featured Album: Cypress String Quartet’s Beethoven: The Middle String Quartets

Cypress

Cypress String Quartet

Cypress String Quartet from San Francisco, California has released their newest album, Beethoven: The Middle String Quartets, which features five quartets from Opp. 59, 74, and 95. Beethoven began writing these in 1806, just after he finished premiering his Eroica Symphony. These works are challenging and hard to understand. During this time period music for string quartet was a genre that was enjoyed privately among die hard music lovers, so these quartets are almost experimental in a sense. Cypress takes on these string quartets with ease, performing them beautifully.

Cypress recently stopped by our performance studio at Classical 90.5 to talk with Daniel Gilliam about their journey to record and perform all of the Beethoven String Quartets. They also treated us to a special performance of Erwin Schulhoff’s Cavatine from Divertimento for String Quartet. Members Jennifer Kloetzel and Tom Stone discussed their recordings of Beethoven’s middle and late string quartets, and their plans to record his early quartets this June. They also described their Call and Response program, which pairs a newly commissioned work from a living composer with a standard masterpiece. This program reaches out to students all over the San Francisco Bay Area, creating new classical music lovers of all ages. Members of Cypress include Cecily Ward and Tom Stone on violin, Ethan Filner on viola, and Jennifer Kloetzel on cello.

You can purchase Cypress String Quartet’s newest album Beethoven: The Middle String Quartets on iTunes, and you can also purchase their first release of the quartets, Beethoven: The Late String Quartets on iTunes. Stay tuned for their release of Beethoven’s early string quartets.

Here is a video of Cypress String Quartet performing the second movement of Beethoven’s String Quartet in Bb Major, Opus 130: II. Presto.

Nico Muhly’s Cello Concerto

Nico Muhly

Nico Muhly

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.

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Ernest Bloch

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.

Steve Reich’s Radio Rewrite

Radio Rewrite

Composer Steve Reich drew concepts for his piece Radio Rewrite from Composer Perotin’s Proverb, composed in 1995. He also allowed Radiohead songs Jigsaw Falling into Place and Everything in Its Right Place influence the piece as well. This is the third track on his 2014 album titled after the piece itself, Radio Rewrite. The piece is in five movements, alternating in Reich’s typical fashion: Fast, Slow, Fast, Slow and Fast. Longtime friends of Reich ensemble Alarm Will Sound recorded this work under direction of Alan Pierson. The work calls for flute, clarinet, two vibraphones, two pianos, electric bass, and string quartet.

Electric Counterpoint and Piano Counterpoint are also featured on this album. Electric Counterpoint was composed in 1987 and originally performed and recorded by Pat Metheny. On this album it is recorded by Radiohead’s guitarist Jonny Greenwood. Reich heard Greenwood perform his work live and enjoyed the performance and then became interested in Radiohead’s music.

Piano Counterpoint is an arrangement of Reich’s Six Pianos by Vincent Corver in 2011. It is recorded by Pianist Vicky Chow. In this arrangement, four of the six piano voices are played as a recording while the performer plays the two remaining piano voices live.

You can purchase Reich’s Radio Rewrite on iTunes or Amazon.

SOLI’s Portraits

Soli 3

SOLI Chamber Ensemble from San Antonio Texas recently released a new album titled “Portraits.” This album features four newly commissioned works from composers Erich Stem, Peter Farmer, Elliott Miles McKinley, and Diego Vega. Composer Erich Stem is also Associate Professor of Music at Indiana University Southeast and produced the album at New Dynamic Records. It was recorded in Louisville, Kentucky at TNT Productions. Daniel Gilliam interviewed Erich Stem and spoke with him about the concept for the album and the story behind each composer’s piece. You can listen to the interview below and you can purchase SOLI’s “Portraits” on iTunes and CD Baby.

Sebastian Chang and a New Symphony

Sebastian was commissioned by Teddy Abrams and the Louisville Orchestra for a new symphony. Mr. Chang was in town for the performance and talked with Daniel Gilliam about the creative process surrounding his first major work.