As a young pianist, András Schiff earned wide esteem for his 1980s recordings of the major keyboard works of J.S. Bach; in recent years, as part of his long-term relationship with ECM, he has gone back to Bach as a sage veteran, earning more acclaim for his New Series recordings of the Goldberg Variations (2001) and the Six Partitas (2007). The New York Times said, “Mr. Schiff is, in Bach, a phenomenon. He doesn’t so much perform it as emit, breathe it.” In August 2011, Schiff turned his focus to the 48 preludes and fugues of The Well-Tempered Clavier, making studio recordings of both books in the Auditorium Radiosvizzera Italiana, Lugano. An iconic inspiration for composers from Mozart and Beethoven to Chopin and Brahms and beyond, The Well-Tempered Clavier has long been considered the "Old Testament" of the keyboard literature (with Beethoven’s piano sonatas as the "New Testament"). In his liner notes to this four-CD set, Paul Griffiths underscores the suitability of Bach’s timeless keyboard work for the modern piano: “Bach’s inquiry into so many nuances, of touch, of interplay between hands and between contrapuntal lines, of character and of expressivity, has helped form keyboard technique as we know it, and his music belongs to the instrument of Beethoven, of Chopin, of Debussy, of Kurtág – especially when that instrument is played with the mastery and sensitivity of Schiff in these performances (...) Noteworthy is his floated melody and his rhythmic sense – his realization that so much of Bach’s music is song or dance. Grandeur and intimacy are also here. Wit, too.”
Kim Kashkashian has long been one of the most outstanding protagonists of modern composition and this bold and subtle account of solo music by the great Hungarian composers Kurtág and Ligeti is a landmark recording. Kurtág’s Signs, Games and Messages (1989 – in progress) in its nineteen aphoristic sections is as demanding as Ligeti’s Sonata for viola(1991-94), but Kashkashian surmounts the very different challenges of the works, and points towards the qualities that unite these composers. As ever, she gets to the heart of the music, and unravels its secrets.
A fresh approach to one of contemporary composition’s most iconoclastic and inventive figures, issued on the occasion of John Cage’s 100th birthday. Early Cage is the subject here, strikingly original songs and piano pieces from the 1930s and 1940s. Songs in which Cage sets words by writers whose vision was as independent as his own – James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, E. E. Cummings. As Paul Griffiths writes, “The music exists in singing that has a raw, living edge, and it exists in piano tone that can be utterly simple and utterly remarkable. There is also a third presence that of the producer, bringing forward the extraordinary resonances that come from Lubimov’s piano, with preparation or without.” Lubimov championed Cage’s work in Russia and later had a close working relationship with the composer. He grasps both the playfulness of the music and its message of freedom. Recorded December 2011 in Zürich.
It was only after Michael Jackson’s death that Italian trumpeter Enrico Rava gradually became aware that he had for many years been ignoring, in his words, “one of the great protagonists of 20th century music and dance. A total artist. A perfectionist. A genius. I felt the need to delve more deeply into Michael’s world. There was only one way to do that: play his songs.” Thus this live album, recorded at the Rome Auditorium with the Parco della Musica Jazz Lab. Enrico’s trumpet is at its most extroverted here, vaulting above the spirited arrangements by Mauro Ottolini. Michael Jackson’s protean pop songs have never been heard quite like this. Rava is currently playing European festivals with this programme.