Voir mon panier
30 janvier 2013
Clarinettist Joaquin Valdepeñas, cellist David Hetherington and pianist Serouj Kradjian are joined by first-rate guests (Benjamin Bowman and Stephen Sitarski, violins, Steven Dann, viola) to perform a wide range of pieces which make up the passionately played program of this superb recording. The music of familiar composers such as Glazunov and Prokofiev sits alongside that of littleknown Gayané Chebotaryan, Solhi Al-Wadi, Marko Tajčević and other artists inspired by the “sounds and colours of the Middle East,” as explained in Kradjian’s informative liner notes. Highlights include Prokofiev’s Overture on Hebrew Themes, involving all the musicians and featuring Valdepeñas’ gorgeous clarinet sound, and the Seven Balkan Dances by Tajčević, a 20th century Yugoslav composer. The performance of these dances is highly spirited and showcases the artistry and virtuosity of the core ensemble. The program is punctuated by chants by the spiritual teacher George Gurdjieff, arranged for solo piano by Thomas de Hartmann. These contemplative pieces, sensitively played by Kradjian, act as a welcome foil to the larger, longer and more intense ensemble pieces.
The disc ends with a sensational solo piano work — Levante, by Osvaldo Golijov — brilliantly rendered by Kradjian. The string playing by Hetherington and guests is rhapsodic and committed and the whole disc exudes polish and thoughtful musicianship. Special mention should be made of Carlos Prieto’s engineering.
Larry Beckwith - The WholeNote
26 novembre 2012
On occasion an album will cross your path that takes you completely by surprise. Sometimes it's because of the rarity of the repertoire, or, at other times it's because the performers are not necessarily household names. Such is the case with Levant, an album of works inspired by the Middle East performed by the Amici Chamber Ensemble.
Of the nine composers on the album, three of them, Alexander Glazunov, Sergei Prokofiev and Osvaldo Golijov are well known. Glazunov's Rêverie Orientale for clarinet and string quartet opens the album and sets the tone with its slinky harmonies and perfumed Orientalism. The silky playing of violonists Benjamin Bowman and Stephen Sitarski, violist Steven Dann and cellist David Hetherington blends with clarinetist Joaquin Valdepenas's smoky tone. Valdepenas also stands out in Prokofiev's exotic Overture on Hebrew Themes, especially in its klezmer-fueled finale.
As fine as the performances of the Glazunov, Prokofiev and Golikov are, it's the music of the lesser-known composers that puts Levant high on my favorites list. The one movement Piano Trio of Gayané Chebotaryan (1918-1998) draws on her Armenian heritage and balances wild folk themes with a melancholy middle section. Solhi Al-Wadi (1934-2007) was an Iraqi-born Syrian composer who is represented by two movements from his Piano Trio. If the second movement Burlesque attempts to out-sardonic Shostakovich, its fourth movement Adagio is as bleak and beautiful as anything I've heard. Marko Tajcevic (1900-1984) was born in Osijek (in today's Croatia) and his Seven Balkan Dances for Clarinet, Cello and Piano draw on Serbian, Macedonian, Albanian, Slovenian and Croatian folk themes. Tajcevics settings are superb with some especially beautiful slow writing alongside the more antic passages. Rabih Abou-Khalil's (b1956) brief Arabian Waltz for piano trio hypnotizes with its pulse and improvisatory flavor. I would love to hear more from him.
Serouj Kradjian plays some meditative piano pieces by George Gurdjieff (1866-1945) and Thomas De Hartmann (1885-1956). Kradjian also stands out in Levant, a fantasy on a chorus from Golijov's La passion según sans Marcos.
This is a marvelously conceived and performed program. The recording has strikingly real quality thanks to the superb engineering of the ATMA crew of Carlos Prieto and the label's chief Johanne Goyette. Here's one for the best of the year list!
Craig Zeichner - ariama.com
14 novembre 2012
Most of the music on the latest album by Toronto’s Amici Chamber Ensemble is not well known. But thanks to brilliant, affecting performances, there isn’t a single piece among the 10 works represented that doesn’t deserve our attention.
The album’s title, Levant, suggests the Middle East, but in fact this music represents many different crossing and meeting points, like bridges and ferries crossing the Bosphorous. The album is released by Montreal label ATMA.
Some of the music represents the Middle East of the imagination, such as Alexander Glazounov’s Rêverie orientale or Sergei Prokofiev’s Overture on Hebrew Themes (although the Hebrew melodies are authentic).
But the real meat of the record comes from the melding of genuine Eastern traditions with Western musical means. There is a stirring trip into the Balkans, thanks to Marko Tajcevic and several entrancing forays into Armenian and Arab traditions.
None of the pieces or arrangements is cloying or artificial. They stand as self-sufficient pieces of music, played with utter conviction by Amici core members Joaquin Valdepeñas (clarinet), Serouj Kradjian (piano) and David Hetherington (cello), augmented by violinists Benjamin Bowman and Stephen Sitarski and violist Steven Dann.
I particularly enjoyed the evocative Piano Trios by Armenian composer Gayané Chebotaryan and Iraqui-Syrian Solhi al-Wadi as well as Argentinean composer Osvaldo Golijov’s splashy reworking for solo piano of a chorus from his Pasión según San Marcos.
John Terauds - Musical Toronto
13 novembre 2012
This new made-in-Toronto album makes an eloquent case for a wide range of pieces that bridge the cultural and religious divides of easternmost Europe and the Middle East. This isn’t music that’s known outside its countries of origin. But thanks to powerful performances by core Amici members — clarinetist Joaquín Valdepeñas, cellist David Hetherington and pianist Serouj Kradjian — as well as violinists Benjamin Bowman and Stephen Sitarski and violist Steven Dann, all 10 pieces on this disc beckon enticingly.
Although the emphasis is on the 20th century, most of this music is attractively tonal. All the performers manage to capture the roiling passions and exotic melismas in this eclectic program with power as well as elegance. Highlights include evocative Piano trios by Armenian composer Gayané Chebotaryan and Iraqui-Syrian Solhi al-Wadi.
John Terauds - Toronto Star