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CD ECM Records Harrison Birtwistle: Chamber Music

Cod produs: CD2253
CD ECM Records Harrison Birtwistle: Chamber Music

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2014

Amy Freston - soprana
Roderick Williams - bariton
Lisa Batiashvili - vioara
Adrian Brendel - violoncel
Till Fellner - pian

Whatever the medium and the accretions of tradition you might expect a composer of Birtwistle’s independence of mind to react against - in composing a piano trio, for example – he finds something fresh to say and an accommodation for his intensely personal vision of the world. […] Roderick Williams is very fine in ‘Bogenstrich’ and the three instrumentalists, quite closely recorded, are in a class any composer would die for.
Stephen Plaistow, Gramophone

Prezentare generala CD ECM Records Harrison Birtwistle: Chamber Music

2014

Amy Freston - soprana
Roderick Williams - bariton
Lisa Batiashvili - vioara
Adrian Brendel - violoncel
Till Fellner - pian

Harrison Birtwistle:
- Three Settings of Lorine Niedecker
- Trio
- Bogenstrich - Meditations on a poem of Rilke
- Nine Settings of Lorine Niedecker

Image result for harrison birtwistle


This album of Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s chamber music and songs, mostly of recent vintage, is issued as the innovative Great British composer approaches his 80th birthday. It features an exceptional cast. Heard together and separately is the trio of Austrian pianist Till Fellner, Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili and English cellist Adrian Brendel. They are joined by London-born singers Amy Freston and Roderick Williams. The compositions include “Bogenstrich” written in 2006 as a short piece in tribute to Alfred Brendel and first played by his son Adrian together with Fellner. It was subsequently expanded into a cycle with the addition of settings of Rilke for baritone, cello and piano. The “Trio” is the newest piece, premiered in 2011, a 16-minute single movement work of elaborate patterning, gestures and responses, for piano, violin and cello. Settings of the writings of US Objectivist poet Lorine Niedecker (1903-1970), scored for soprano and cello in 1998 and 2000, begin and close the album. As Bayan Northcott writes in the booklet, “These concentrated songs demand the utmost of their performers in precision, expression and timing. As in Webern’s settings, the few words and notes on the page can seem to imply whole worlds of thought and feeling”. This highly-concentrated chamber-scale expressivity is felt throughout the entire album, recorded at Munich’s famed Herkulessaal, and produced by Manfred Eicher.

* * *

Harrison Birtwistle’s first album for ECM comprises small-group pieces of typically intriguing cast, performed by pianist Till Fellner, cellist Adrian Brendel and violinist Lisa Batiashvili. ‘Trio’ employs unsettling changes of musical topography, but congruency is sustained by Birtwistle’s ingenious balancing of the strings with the piano, as the piece tiptoes to a fractured climax and subsequent fall. The other works are settings of verse, with ‘Settings of Lorine Niedecker’ featuring a dozen rarefied pieces with the minimum of elements – an isolated groan or faint pulsing of cello – behind the stark beauty of soprano Amy Freston’s delivery of the modernist verses: words and music distilled into a powerful essence requiring just a few drops to convey the deepest flavour.
Andy Gill, The Independent

The 12 settings for soprano and cello of poet Lorine Niedecker were assembled about 15 years ago. Terse to the point of aphorism, they are perhaps the most Webern-like of all Birtwistle’s works, capable of opening up expressive vistas from a handful of notes: Amy Freston and Adrian Brendel catch that spareness perfectly. In Bogenstrich, for Baritone (Roderick Williams), piano (Till Fellner), and cello, three connected movements for cello and piano – one a song without words – are framed by two settings of the same Love Song by Rilke. As with the Piano Trio, it projects a sense of emotions kept tightly in check, and of surfaces that only occasionally reveal the forces that are moulding them.
Andrew Clements, The Guardian

This gripping disc of fairly recent chamber and vocal music is unexpectedly playful, tender, mysterious, mellow, sparse and elegiac. The performers are top-notch – violinist Lisa Batiashvili, cellist Adrian Brendel, pianist Till Fellner, soprano Amy Freston, and baritone Roderick Williams – and the interpretations intense and cogent.
Richard Morrison, The Times

The smallish-scale, darkly sensual, often eerily calm works on this disc, superlatively played, might surprise those who associate Harrison Birtwistle with dizzying orchestral explosions. Two sets of songs for soprano and cello set to poems by Lorine Niedecker, from 1998 and 2000, pass with brief, lovely intimacy. More expansive are a shifty, enigmatic 2011 piano trio and ‘Bogenstrich,’ a somber 2009 cycle for baritone, cello and piano inspired by Rilke and sung with perfect control by Roderick Williams.
Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times: Artsbeat

Whatever the medium and the accretions of tradition you might expect a composer of Birtwistle’s independence of mind to react against - in composing a piano trio, for example – he finds something fresh to say and an accommodation for his intensely personal vision of the world. […] Roderick Williams is very fine in ‘Bogenstrich’ and the three instrumentalists, quite closely recorded, are in a class any composer would die for.
Stephen Plaistow, Gramophone

Harrison Birtwistle’s 80th birthday falls this year – an occasion marked by the expected surge of performances and recordings, including this very fine one from ECM. […] Bogenstrich (‘Bow-stroke’) takes its name from an image in Rilke’s poem ‘Love Song’ (‘All that touches us, you and me, joins us together like the stroke of a bow, which draws one voice from two strings’). Two different settings of this flank three central pieces for cello and piano, together making up a half-hour sequence whose highlights are some beautifully poised singing by baritone Roderick Williams, and a remarkable contribution from Adrian Brendel: the second ‘Love Song’ sounds as if it is quietly accompanied by two cellists, at one point even three. The most appealing music here is the double group of settings of the American poet Lorine Niedecker – vividly re-imagined by Birtwistle as thumbnail musical sketches for soprano and cello, and performed with wonderful composure and precision by Brendel and soprano Amy Freston.
Malcom Hayes, Sinfini Music

That such a group of renowned musicians should have come together to record this music says much for the esteem in which the composer is held in his 80th year, and it is hard to imagine these accounts being bettered any time soon. […] This is unlikely to be the most high-profile Birtwistle release this year, though it is more than likely to provide the most absorbing and satisfying listening.
Richard Whitehouse, International Record Review

Lyrical, sensitive, restrained: they’re hardly adjectives you’d use to describe much of Harrison Birtwistle’s uncompromising output, but they ably sum up the recent chamber works on this remarkable new disc, given beautifully nuanced performances by a starry line-up of soloists. […] Brendel makes sure that everyone of Birtwistle’s scattering of notes has a story to tell, subtly adapting his tone, vibrato or attack to respond to the voice, and never sounding like a mere accompanist […] the disc’s true star is pianist Till Fellner, whose breathtakingly balanced, sensitive playing throughout the recording seems at one with Birtwistle’s understated, conserved aesthetic. The warm, generous, close recorded sound only enhances the disc’s highly expressive performances.
David Kettle, The Strad

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