Ultra-eclectic new music blog Burning Ambulance raves about the newest CD from Miranda Cuckson and Blair McMillen:
Carter Sessions Eckardt, the new disc of American music for violin and piano or solo violin by Miranda Cuckson (with pianist Blair McMillen) should go a long way towards providing a corrective to [the] misunderstanding [of what “American Expressionism” is]. … The highly charged phrases and structure of [Elliott Carter's Duo] are clearly characterized by Ms. Cuckson and Mr. McMillen in a performance of power and charm. … I’ve heard some other pieces by Jason Eckardt, and I think he’s a composer worth keeping an eye on. … The real revelation of this disc (the high level of playing is not a revelation, because I’ve heard Cuckson and McMillen before, and they are always this good) is Roger Sessions‘ magisterial Sonata for Solo Violin, composed in 1953. … Cuckson’s performance is direct, authoritative, and probing. In her extremely well-written and informative notes, she tells us that it was this piece, along with the Carter Duo, that set her on her artistic path. We can all be grateful that she is following the path with such grace and artistry.
Elliott Carter: Duo for violin and piano (1973) [21:56] Roger Sessions: Sonata for solo violin (1953)
1. Tempo moderato, con ampiezza, e liberamente [10:53]
2. Molto vivo [6:57]
3. Adagio e dolcemente [10:22]
4. Alla Marcia vivace[4:53] Jason Eckardt: Strömkarl [12:51]
Miranda Cuckson, violin Blair McMillen, piano
Produced by Gene Gaudette
Engineered and edited by Ryan Streber, Oktaven Audio
The Examiner‘s Stephen Smoliar relates his experience listening to the new recording of Luigi Nono’s La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura with violinist Miranda Cuckson and electronica master Richard Burns some years after having heard a live performance by Gidon Kremer:
A recent release of this composition by Urlicht has taken a rather unique approach to capturing that sense of journey. Violinist Miranda Cuckson and “projectionist” Christopher Burns made a recording after having given a performance in New York. This was a multi-track recording for playback on a 5.1 Surround Sound system, and it was released as a Blu-ray audio disc. For those who lacked the necessary technology, that disc was packaged with a more conventional stereophonic CD. As one who lacks that “necessary technology,” my own listening experience involved playing the CD with full knowledge of my previous spatial experience.
With that disclaimer I have to say that there is much to be gained from the CD in spite of its limitations. Without the spatial effects one is more inclined to attend to Nono’s motivic vocabulary. While this may make the journey less “physical,” one can still appreciate that sense of peregrination through the six sections of the piece (conveniently marked as separate tracks on the CD). Furthermore, those who understand the semantics of “madrigal” in its Renaissance context will probably be more likely to appreciate why Nono chose this noun to categorize this particular composition.
Nevertheless, the other significant disclaimer I must make is that I had the advantage of listening to this recording with the benefit of past experience. There is no doubt that this is complex music, the result of scrupulous attention to both the notations encountered on the music stands and the sounds on the recorded tracks. It is probably more than most listeners will be able to manage on first contact. Nevertheless, it does not take many exposures for mind to encounter familiarities as the performance peregrinates. The listener willing to let this music work its magic on its own terms is likely to be well rewarded.
Luigi Nono: La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura (1988-89)
Miranda Cuckson, violin / Christopher Burns, electronics
Produced by Christopher Burns and Richard Warp
Recording engineer: Richard Warp
Recorded at A Bloody Good Record Inc, Long Island City NY
Mixing engineer (stereo CD): Richard Warp
Mixing engineers (DTS 5.1 surround mix): Paul Special and Richard Warp
Assistant mixing engineer (DTS 5.1 surround mix): Dillon Pajunas
DTS 5.1 surround mix produced at Sonic Arts Center, CCNY, NYC
Produced for New Spectrum Recordings, NYC
Executive producer: Glenn Cornett
Composer Patricia Leonard informs us that Strangely Close, Yet Distant, her trio for viola, cello, and piano included in the New York Piano Quartet’s Songs for Mahler in the Absence of Words, has been nominated for the American Prize for Composition.
Urlicht AudioVisual congratulates Patricia along with the members of the New York Piano Quartet along with recording engineer John Baker and his team!
Another rave review for the New York Piano Quartet:
“Joseph Marx’s Quartet in the Form of a Rhapsody, to give its full name, dates from 1911, the year he also wrote his superb Rhapsody, Scherzo, and Ballade for the same forces. … Marx’s control over his resources is everywhere apparent. The piece struck me as first-rate in every respect. … We need to stop thinking of Korngold as merely a skilled vendor of Hollywood bon-bons. His chamber music not only shows a deeper aspect of his personality, but in retrospect lifts the average of his entire output. Performances of both works are terrific, completely vindicating their value.”
- Don O’Connor, American Record Guide, June 2013
“Abas pretty much is calling the shots here, and what he produces is unlike any other recording of the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15, you’ve ever heard. You can dive in pretty much anywhere, but try the opening movement, where Abas careens through startling contrasts, imperious gestures, and generally extreme phrasing. You might object that this isn’t Brahms, but rather Liszt experimenting with a slightly more classical approach to form. Yet Abas is clearly a highly charismatic player, and there is absolutely no possibility of boredom here.”
– James Manheim, All Music Guide
Brahms: Piano Concerto No.1 in d minor, Op. 15
Maestoso–Poco piu moderato (22:28)
Elisha Abas, piano
National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba Yoel Gamzou, conductor
Recorded December 9, 2009.
Produced and engineered by Andrea Tommasi.
Special thanks to Simona DeFeo, whose hard work and assistance made this recording possible.
Art direction: Andre Hilz
Copyright 2009, Elisha Abas. Issued by Urlicht AudioVisual under license from Elisha Abas.