Namekawa breathes this music… -> Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Review

Maki Namekawa and Philip Glass after the premiere of the Piano Sonata © Klavier-Festival Ruhr / Sven Lorenz

On July 4th, 2019 Maki Namekawa premiered the Piano Sonata by Philip Glass at Pianofestival Ruhr in the German town of Essen. The “Salzlager” in the “Zeche Zollverein” was sold out in anticipation of the first piano sonata by the great American composer. After the performance Maki Namekawa and Philip Glass received standing ovations by the exited audience.

 

CREATIVE MADNESS

Excerpts of a superb review of Maki Namekawa’s recital at the Piano Festival, Ruhr, Germany

In the Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung, July 6, 2019

The fact that Kissin’s sonata recital is followed the next day by a concert which dissects the sonata form, is successful dramatic scheduling.   This gives the Festival a unity in its programming, even though it is strewn across the entire Ruhr district.  Even the hall, where the Japanese pianist, Maki Namekawa performed, is a brilliant choice.   The Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex, a large former industrial site in Essen, seems, in comparison to the concert hall, like a lab, an experimental space.   What could possibly follow an evening of Beethoven?   

Mozart!  But not Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  Namekawa, wearing a yellow gown, opens her program with Sonatina No.3, composed by the Brasilian, Mozart Camargo Guarnieri.   Just to add to the confusion, Mozart Guarnieri’s Sonatina sounds like a work by Scarlatti, but with minimalistic Samba accents.  Namekawa does not seem to be linked to the music.  Instead, she observes it externally and from quite a distance.  The music seems well thought out and controlled.  This vision helps the momentous opus of the evening, Alban Berg’s Piano Sonata, composed in 1909.   The one movement piece contains a multitude of music history, and combines fragments of the music of Wagner, Beethoven, and Schönberg in concentrated form.   Namekawa’s performance swells in the oblique romantic gestures.  She recognizes the brutalities of individual moments, and presents the sonata as a lively cluster weighed down, in the end, by fate.  …..

The most memorable musical experience of the festival, however, happened at the Coal Mine.   Namekawa, now dressed in a fabulous black gown, has prepared us audibly for this moment: repetitions in the Guarnieri, dark bass fluctuations in the Berg, a shivering tremolo in the Mendelssohn.  Every one of these instances clearly points to Philip Glass’ first Piano Sonata, a minimalistic work, becoming the logical culmination of this sonata evening!

The Sonata’s construction is colorful, wild, with exciting leaps.  The first theme, which Glass had already used in his third Piano Sonata, composed in 2017, almost sounds the same as the halting middle-segment of a Rachmaninov Prelude.  The theme returns suddenly and is elaborated in the second movement.   This movement, filled with contrasting, counterrhythmic rhythms is Philip Glass’ pianistic showpiece, also displays many of the familiar elements found in the composer’s etudes and solo works.   Commissioned by this Festival, this wild kaleidoscopic version, premiered here in Essen, at the Philharmonie de Paris and the Ars Eletronica in Linz.  

It is Glass’ most demanding pianistic creation.  The virtuosic octave leaps, are, due to their incredibly fast passage work, at the edge of technical ability.  This music is the life and breath for Namekawa. It is a prime example of how a matchless unity ensues, when the composer and the interpreter work closely together, a situation hardly achievable when a pianist interprets time honored repertoire.  …..

….  Namekawa’s repeated simple accented four notes, however, became an unexpected small miracle, as did the triple accents in Kissin’s Beethoven.  Sometimes this is all it takes to create great artistry in exceptional piano recitals.

MALTE HEMMERICH

Folie créative

Beethoven et Philip Glass au Klavierfestival Ruhr (Festival de Piano de la Ruh)

Un petit secouage des bras, un pincement du pantalon, puis ça commence. Jewgeni Kissin joue une sélection des sonates de Ludwig van Beethoven au Klavierfestival Ruhr dans la Philharmonie d’Essen. Ce pianiste ne cause vraiment aucun problème, n’a même pas besoin de secondes pour se concentrer, commence et séduit son public immédiatement. Il fait de la musique grandiose.

Au plus tard dans sa dernière pièce, une interprétation époustouflante de la Sonate “Waldstein”, cela devient clair pour toute la salle qui se fige dans la dévotion. Les premiers battements des huitièmes ne sont pas une rampe de lancement pour la mélodie, mais plutôt une masse organique. Les jolis fragments mélodiques au-dessus sont comme des perles, encore cachés dans leur coquille. Kissin demande l’attention de la salle pour la co-création spirituelle et nous permet en ce moment de participer à ce que c’est que d’être à la fois un prisonnier de Beethoven mais aussi une personne profondément inspiré par lui: Il joue cette Sonate op. 53 incroyablement vite… Une folie, au bord du chaos…

La force de Kissin est la mise en scène musicale du conflit intérieur. Personne n’imite sa capacité à imiter les changements d’humeur et son touche piano à la nanoseconde de cette façon. L’entrée dans l’allegro initial de la “Pathétique” ressemble à une tempête céleste, à mi-chemin, Kissin perd tout fardeau, toute base de basse solide. C’est seulement pour ensuite marteler au plus sauvage et noyer la salle dans des vagues sombres déchaînées par la main gauche étonnamment forte du piano à queue. Brutal.

Ses mains sont collées aux touches, tout est incroyablement dense et serré. La seule chose qui manque, surtout dans les mouvements lents, c’est parfois de l’air et un peu de sensation de liberté.

La clé de Kissin de la prison de Beethoven, dont il semble être en quelque sorte l’interprète, est toujours la romantisation, d’une manière rafraîchissante. Parfois, mais rarement, l’utilisation de la pédale brouille la frottement conflictuelle et est réinterprétée comme mystique, tandis que le rubato, c’est-à-dire le fait d’avancer et retarder dans le temps, est utilisé efficacement aux fractures de la forme.

Le fait que la soirée Kissin avec sonates pour piano soit suivie le lendemain d’un concert disséquant la forme sonate est un exemple de dramaturgie réussie. C’est ainsi que le programme du festival de piano, qui se déroule dans toute la région de la Ruhr, devient très concis. L’endroit où la pianiste japonaise Maki Namekawa se produit est très bien choisi. Comparée à la Philharmonie, la cokerie (die Kokerei) de la Zeche Zollverein à Essen ressemble à un laboratoire, un espace d’expérimentation. Qu’est-ce qui peut suivre Beethoven ?

Mozart ! Mais pas Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Namekawa commence sa soirée en robe jaune avec une Sonatina n°3 du Brésilien Mozart Camargo Guarnieri. Pour compléter la confusion, Mozart Guarnieri sonne un peu comme Scarlatti avec une touche de samba minimaliste. Namekawa ne paraît pas prisonnière de la musique, la regarde de l’extérieur et à bonne distance, tout semble bien intentionné et contrôlé. Cela contribue à une œuvre massive de la soirée, la Sonate pour piano d’Alban Berg, composée en 1909. Le seul mouvement contient beaucoup d’histoire musicale, réunit Wagner, Beethoven, Schönberg pour en former une synthèse. Namekawa se livre à des gestes romantiques qui ne font qu’un clin d’œil l’un à l’autre, reconnaît la brutalité des instants individuels et présente la sonate comme un tourbillon vivant avec un final fatidique.

Dans le cas de Kissin la veille à la Philharmonie le destin frappe aux portes que trois fois, d’une manière merveilleusement variée. Outre la sélection de sonates, il joue les variations moins connues: les Variations héroïques en mi bémol majeur op.35, qui contiennent des motifs accentués en trois tons dans la deuxième partie du thème.  Les coups en trois tons de Kissin, et ils se produisent très souvent, n’ont jamais le même son. Ils crient, parlent, affirment quelque chose ou grondent. Parfois la corde de basse gémit, parfois on croit entendre plus que les harmoniques possibles. Et quand le pianiste rate la ligne d’arrivée, c’est comme s’il s’agissait d’un affect et cela ne dérange pas. Au point que l’interprète est amalgamé à la pièce ici.

Mais le moment musical le plus fort a lieu dans la Kokerie. Maki Namekawa dans sa robe de concert noire nous a préparé de manière audible à ce moment. Répètements de Guarnieri, vagues des basses sombres de Berg, un trémolo tremblant de Mendelssohn, tout cela – clairement accentué – a pour but la première sonate pour piano de Philip Glass : une œuvre minimaliste comme culmination logique de soirée en sonates.
La sonate est colorée, sauvage, passionnément agitée. Le premier thème, déjà utilisé par Glasss dans son Troisième Concerto pour piano de 2017, sonne presque comme la section centrale cahoteuse d’un prélude de Rachmaninov; au second mouvement, le thème revient brusquement et retravaillée. Avec ses rythmes opposés, ce mouvement est un excellent exemple de la musique pour piano de Philip Glass, ainsi que de nombreux autres éléments familiers tirés des études du compositeur et de ses œuvres individuelles. Dans cette composition commandée par la Philharmonie de Paris, le Klavierfestival Ruhr et Ars Electronica Linz ils apparaissent pour la première fois dans un tel kaléidoscope déchaîné.

C’est l’œuvre pour piano la plus exigeante de Glass à ce jour, les sauts d’octave virtuoses, en raison de leur succession rapide, sont à la limite de la jouabilité. Namekawa respire cette musique. La pièce est un exemple de la façon dont l’étroite collaboration entre le compositeur et l’interprète peut créer une unité incomparable, comment ils peuvent difficilement atteindre les interprètes du répertoire traditionnel.

Jewgeni Kissin a pu le faire. Chaque simple son en quatre tons de Namekawa est un petit miracle inouï comme celui en trois tons de Kissin dans Beethoven. Il n’est plus nécessaire pour des récitals de piano réussis et des grands talents artistique.

Malte Hemmerich, FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)

「偉大な芸術性」 2019年第31回ドイツ・ピアノフェスティバル・ルールで開催された滑川真希・ピアノリサイタルの7月6日付フランクフルト新聞掲載の批評(抜粋)

キーシンのコンサートの夕べでピアノソナタが取り上げられた次の晩にソナタ形式を解剖する様なコンサートが開催されるのは、フェスティバル側の演出の良さのいい例えであろう。かくしてこのピアノフェスティバルの演目に深みがもたらされる。
エッセンで日本のピアニスト滑川真希が演奏した会場、世界遺産に登録されているツォルフェアアイン炭鉱、打ち付けのコンクリートとそそり立つ鉄に寄って再建築されたそのコンサートホールは、フィルハーモニーホールと比べてまるで巨大な実験室の如く、このようなコンサートにうってつけの場所である。
滑川はリサイタルをブラジルの作曲家モーツァルト・カマルゴ・グアルニエリのソナチネ第3番で幕開けした。彼女はこの曲の音楽だけに束縛されず、適度な距離から観察し、熟考してそれを操っているように見える。この方法はこの晩の力強いアルバン・ベルクのピアノソナタの演奏に好都合である。滑川は情緒豊かな動きに身をゆだね、また凶暴な瞬間を見て取り、このソナタを生き生きとした音郡と運命的な終末によって表現する。
ピアノフェスティバル・ルールに於ける音楽の力強いクライマックスは、フィルハーモニーホールではなく、ここツォルフェアアイン炭鉱のコンサートホールにて起きた。黒いドレスを身にまとった彼女はこの時を周到に準備していたようだ。グアルニエリでの反復音、ベルクのソナタでの暗黒の低音弦の響き、メンデルスゾーンでの鼓動するトレモロ、その全ての楽曲は明らかに後続する楽曲、滑川の為にフィリップ・グラスが作曲したピアノソナタ第1番、そのミニマルな楽曲こそがこのピアノソナタの夕べの歴然とした頂点・ハイライトである事を暗示していたのである!

ドイツのピアノフェスティバル・ルール、フランスのフィルハーモニー・デ・パリ、そしてオーストリアのアルス・エレクトロニカの共同委嘱作品であり今回世界初演を迎えたこのソナタは、色彩豊かで、ワイルドで、エキサイティングで、飛躍的なエレメントからなるが、作曲家フィリップ・グラス特有のエレメントがこの様に目まぐるしく変化する万華鏡の様に表現されているのは初めてである。

 この曲は演奏不可能に近いオクターブの跳躍の連続などがあり、フィリップ・グラスのピアノ作品の中でも最も難曲に位置するであろう。にもかかわらず、彼女はこの音楽を「呼吸」するように演奏する。作曲家と演奏者がいかに共同して創り上げた楽曲が、歴史上のレパートリーを演奏する際には到達し難い、作品と演奏に於ける比類のない一体感が得られるという例えであろう。

キーシンの演奏するベートーヴェンの三和音のタッチのように、彼女の演奏するどの単純な四和音も、初めて耳にする小さな奇跡のようである。この様な優れたピアノリサイタルとその偉大な芸術性を聴いた後には、他に何も欲することはない。(マルテ・ヘンメリッヒ筆)

NYTimes Review

New York Times, Nov, 20 2019, by Zachary Woolfe, Photo by Hiroyuki Ito

 

Review: Philip Glass, at 82, Unveils His First Piano Sonata

Thousands of people took in the bronzed, glacial grandeur of Philip Glass’s “Akhnaten” at the Metropolitan Opera on Tuesday evening. A couple of miles downtown, a far smaller group heard a very different Glass — lively and sly; intimate and changeable — as Maki Namekawa gave the American premiere of his new piano sonata, his first venture into that genre, at the Morgan Library & Museum.

Mr. Glass may not care about his legacy, but he’s hardly unaware of the dynamics that shape a composer’s reputation. “If I’m to be remembered for anything,” he is quoted as saying in the program notes at the Morgan, “it might be for the piano music, because people can play it.”

As his career took off, he was increasingly asked to play solo concerts. So, simply enough, he began to write piano pieces to perform at them. For a while, he kept these mainly for his own use; if people wanted to hear them, he reasoned, they’d have to hire him. And, as he observes, they were eminently playable; while a good pianist, Mr. Glass was never a virtuoso.

These works — like the first book of études, the five parts of “Metamorphosis,” “Mad Rush” — have since been published and widely recorded, and they are what Mr. Glass means when he says that his piano music is what’s most likely to be remembered among his massive output. But gradually, and especially over the past decade, his piano compositions moved beyond the level of what he could plausibly perform, their technical demands perhaps culminating — at least for the moment — in the new sonata.

The first movement begins with gently surging, triumphal motifs, passing swiftly between major and minor moods before settling into bustling activity and, suddenly, a mournful tenderness that carries into the start of the second movement: an oscillating pattern in the left hand, familiar in Mr. Glass’s music, and a deliberate melody in the right.

Dissonances creep in, but nothing too troubling, especially in a passage of serene chords that’s the prettiest part of the sonata. For all the work’s switches of mood — between major and minor, churning and calm — the stakes feel low, though not unagreeably. Even when it’s headlong, as in the chugga-chugga perpetual motion of the third movement, the work is light, even superficial, a revue of Glassian riffs that’s pleasant and passing. While it’s imposing, at nearly 30 minutes, the sonata feels larky.

Ms. Namekawa is an old hand at all this; she was the first to record Mr. Glass’s complete études, and is the wife and piano-duo partner of the conductor Dennis Russell Davies, this composer’s most notable champion. She visibly grooved throughout the performance, emphasizing the dancing youthfulness of a piece by an 82-year-old composer.

The first half of the program was a kind of joke on this point: Berg wrote his noirish Piano Sonata when he was in his early 20s, and Mozart Camargo Guarnieri was 30 in 1937, when he wrote his genial Sonatina No. 3.

Most astonishing, Mendelssohn was still in his teens when he wrote his first piano sonata. Played by Ms. Namekawa with sprightly sensuality and exuberant wit, it burst with precocious energy — and outdid in profundity much music written by composers many decades older.

Maki Namekawa

Performed on Tuesday at the Morgan Library & Museum, Manhattan.

Ars Electronica Festival 2019 | Music Monday | Press Review

Credit: tom mesic

Three very favourable reviews (in German) for the Namekawa/Davies concert as well as the Austrian Premiere of the Piano Sonata by Philip Glass.

 

Volksblatt, 11.09.2019

Namekawa Dialog mit Glass

“Die Japanerin nach außen impulsiver, körperlich die Intensität ihres Spiels.
Das Glass-typische Fließen, die “Wassermusik”, versehen mit halsbrecherischen Sprüngen, die nur mit der Virtuosität einer Namekawa zu bewältigen sind. Der Mittelteil intim, ein Auskosten der Stille auch, in schönen Bögen schwebt die rechte Hand über die Tasten. Ein sensibler Dialog, als hätte der Komponist ein Zwiegespräch mit der Pianistin vor Augen gehabt.
Wilder Schlussakkord, Jubel in der Gleishalle. Die Begeisterung gilt ihr, der hinreißenden Musikerin.”

(Chris Pichler)

Kronen Zeitung, 11.09.2019 (S. 46)

Ein pianistisches Superereignis

Das perfekt harmonisierende Piano-Duo Maki Namekawa und Dennis Russell Davies begeisterte beim Abschlusskonzert des Ars Electronica Festivals mit dem Projekt “Piano Music meets Digital Images”. Die kreative und farbenprächtige Visualisierung von Cori O’lan geleitete die Musik.

Die österreichische Erstaufführung der “PianoSonata” for Maki Namekawa von Philip Glass wurde zum pianistischen Superereignis.
Maki Namekawa faszinierte mit Virtuosität sowie leidenschaftlicher Hingabe und meisterte das sprunghafte mit aufregenden Rhythmen gespickte Paradewerk bewundernswert.
Die direkte Begegnung zwischen dem musikalischen Klang und den farbenprächtigen digitalen Bildern von Cori O’lan lieferte ein Spannungsfeld von kreativer Vielfalt. Staunenswert war, dass der Klang in Echtzeit von einem Computer analysiert wurde und die Parameter für die Grafiken lieferte.”

(Fred Dorfer )

 

____

 Salzburger Nachrichten, 10.09.2019

 

Ars-Electronica-Abschluss: Klaviermusik mit Visualisierung

Mit einem digital visualisierten Klassikkonzert hat Montagabend in der Linzer PostCity das 40. Ars Electronica Festival geendet. Auf dem Programm des von Maki Namekawa und Dennis Russell Davies gespielten Klavierkonzerts stand die von Davies für vier Hände bearbeitete Ballettmusik “Der Feuervogel” von Igor Strawinsky sowie “Piano Sonata No.1 for Maki Namekawa” des Erfolgskomponisten Philip Glass.

Das 40. Ars Electronica Festival ist beendet Die beiden Programmpunkte wurden vom österreichischen Visualisten mit Künstlernamen Cori O’Lan mit spektakulären Videos begleitet. Den Angaben zufolge erfolgte alles in Echtzeit und ohne vorbereitete Bildsequenzen.

Lediglich der Klang des direkt über zwei Mikrofone aufgenommenen Klaviers sei am Computer analysiert worden und habe so die Parameter geliefert, mit denen die Grafiken erzeugt, animiert und verändert wurden – live im Moment der Aufführung. Dem Laien blieb der Vorgang unerklärlich. Das Ergebnis war jedoch sensationell.

In unglaublich perfekter Synchronisation mit der Musik bewegten sich im “Feuervogel” die einem echten Ballett nachempfundenen Figuren und Bildelemente auf der rund 20 Meter langen und vier Meter hohen Videowall. Die knapp einstündige Präsentation nahm die rund 500 Besucher total in Bann.

Die pianistische Leistung von Maki Namekawa und ihres Mannes Dennis Russell Davies stand den Visuals in keinem Moment nach. Davies, der von 2002 bis 2017 Chefdirigent des Bruckner Orchesters Linz und Linzer Generalmusikdirektor war, hatte ab 2003 die Zusammenarbeit des Orchester mit der Ars Electronica betrieben, deren jährlicher Höhepunkt die “Große Konzertnacht” in der einstigen Gleishalle des Postverteilungszentrums in Linz war.

Die künstlerische Freundschaft zwischen Glass und Davies hatte in seiner Linzer Zeit zu zahlreichen Konzert- und Opern-Aufführungen des amerikanischen Komponisten geführt.

Die im heurigen Sommer in Deutschland uraufgeführte Klaviersonate Nr. 1 folgte in ihren drei Sätzen den von Glass’ früheren Arbeiten vertrauten Stilelementen – durchaus melodisch, mit wiederholten Themen und perlenden Tastenläufen und so auch für die digitale Visualisierung geradezu perfekt. Maki Namekawa, mit dem Schaffen von Philip Glass bestens vertraut, nahm sich dem ihr gewidmeten Werk mit Virtuosität und innerer Anteilnahme an. Es herrschte große Begeisterung bei den Zuhörern.

→ Review Salzburger Nachrichten

Th

VIDEO: Rehearsing with Philip Glass

In June ’19 Maki spent a week in her home in New York to rehearse with Philip Glass for the premiere of his first Piano Sonata on July 4th at Klavierfestival Ruhr.

Pasticcio Award for Isang Yun | Sunrise Falling

Isang Yun SUNRISE FALLING SACD 5.1 PENTATONE Oxingale Series

The Ö1 “Pasticcio” award of the month June

The Korean composer Isang Yun experienced an unimaginable period of torture and repression in the late 1960s, he was kidnapped by the South Korean government in Darmstadt and charged with no proof of espionage for North Korea and subsequently sentenced to death.

His music was and is an up-to-date vision of an undivided country, the unity of North and South Korea, for which he has dedicated his life.

Dennis Russell Davies has been very committed to the work of Isang Yun, so it is only logical that he released this impressive review with the Bruckner Orchestra Linz, Matt Haimovitz (cello), Yumi Hwang Williams (violin) and Maki Namekawa (piano ) on Pentatone.

The orchestra is phantastically disposed for this double album titled “Isang Yun: Sunrise Falling”. Particularly special and inspiring is the interpretation of Fanfare & Memorial, the orchestra shimmering in all colors and presenting world-class sound. Dennis Russell Davies leads the Bruckner Orchestra with his keen sense for the floating in this solitary music, which does not shrink from great drama and roughness, but never lacks elegance in his hands.

A Flypast of Musical Minimalism

Press Review by Brno Music Friendly City

The piano recital by the chief conductor of the Filharmonie Brno Dennis Russell Davies and his wife the pianist Maki Namekawa yesterday in Besední dům offered three works by three significant figures from American minimalism.
The concert included minimalist works by Steve Reich in the shape of Piano Phase, the composition Hallelujah Junction by John Adams and Four Movements for Two Pianos by Philip Glass.

For a number of years musical minimalism has been unusually popular with listeners. This trend can be taken as the clear antithesis to the extreme heritage of expressionism, dropping the period’s musical approach and setting out on its own path of short repetitive motifs branching out into broader passages of gradually changing music. The early form of musical minimalism reflected the desire of composers in the fifties and sixties for radical change not only in the composition process itself but mainly for the way music was perceived in general. A minor change in the motif, which many would have not noticed, here becomes the centrepiece of the work. The meditative, and even hypnotic character, of these works stands in contrast to the musical production of the time. As composition developed however this revolutionary approach began as a result of becoming interwoven with the original musical culture to change and develop. For many contemporary composers the original concepts of minimalism often function as a springboard that gives rise to the synthesis of several different musical styles and compositional approaches. The wisely assembled programme for Saturday’s concert tried to illustrate this compositional development chronologically with the works of the leading composers of American minimalism.

Reich’s piece Piano Phase from 1967 is from what was still the early phase of American minimalism. The introductory motif drawn from a twelve-tone series is first played by one pianist and then by the other, who however after a short while imperceptibly speeds up. This then leads to a “phase shift”, which can also be found in others among Reich’s works. The concept requires an unbroken rhythmic precision from both interpreters, since the uniqueness and complexity of the musical structure arises precisely from this constant shift in both piano lines. Dennis Russell Davies and his spouse Maki Namekawa have great experience with minimalist compositions and so were able to sustain the constant melodic shifts completely without difficulty. While Reich’s Piano Phase his built on an almost monotonous repetition of short musical motifs, they managed – especially Maki Namekawa – to introduce to the work elements of lyricism and personal expression. Subtle, yet noticeable in the little things, the phrasing supplied the work with a significant new musical dimension.

The following work Hallelujah Junction by John Adams showed a newer face of minimalist music. In comparison with the uncompromising pulsing composition by Steve Reich it came across as much more traditional, even though it contained within itself a sharp minimalist ostinato. It was in Adams’ piece that the synthesis of the old and new musical worlds was most apparent – the stretching hypnotic musical passages alternating with unexpected melodic and harmonic twists and the dialogue between the two pianos offered space for a wide variety of compositional techniques. Dennis Russell Davies and Maki Namekawa brought the lyricism and toughness of the work to the surface – especially in the sudden contrast between aggressive utterances and the unexpectedly fragile and romantic entry in pianissimo which were brilliantly mastered by the pianists and were highly suggestive in their effect. Dennis Russell Davies generally chose a rather moderate approach, while Maki Namekawa went for a more exposed one. It should be added that this was what was required by her part.
The closing piece of the evening was the composition by Philip Glass Four Movements for Two Pianos, which the composer wrote for the couple in 2008. Glass does not only work with so-called “classical music”, but in certain places draws inspiration from popular music. This dichotomy is clear in Four Movements for Two Pianos, where the harmonically more colourful parts swap with classical chains of cadences ending clearly on the tonic, all accompanied by arpeggios. However it would be short-sighted to assess the value of the piece only on the basis of harmonic complexity. Glass’ work despite its flirtation with popular culture remains on the territory of classical music. The listener could be convinced of the possible colour and expressive shades that can be found in Glass by the performance of Maki Namekawa. The pianist skilfully passed from jubilant runs and attacked the milder parts of the romantic lyrical, expressive interpretation changes propped up by excellent work with dynamics. Dennis Russell Davies chose, as in the preceding composition, rather a more mumble, less emotionally expressive approach, which created a pleasant contrast to the other piano part.

This exceptional concert for the Chief Conductor’s Series very briefly outlined the development of American minimalism from its beginnings to more or less its current shape. However it would be wrong to think that this is the only form of musical minimalism. There also exist other more extreme musical experiments, hidden in the shadow of the better-known faces. Nevertheless, it is commendable that the Filharmonie Brno under the leadership of new chief conductor has offered this opportunity and enriches the cultural life of the city of Brno also with popular works that are rarely performed locally.

STEVE REICH Piano Phase
JOHN ADAMS Hallelujah Junction
PHILIP GLASS Four Movements for Two Pianos

Maki Namekawa, Piano
Dennis Russell Davies, Piano

Photo by Vojtěch Kába

→ read on BRNO Music Friendly City

On Apple Musics’ A-List

The Track Orphée from Namekawa/Davies’ new iTunes release “Three Pieces for four Hands” is on Apple Musics’ Classical A-List.