Bewundernswerte Intensität

Reichlichen Beifall erntete auch die Pianistin Maki Namekawa für ihre technisch souveräne und musikalisch überzeugende Interpretation von Igor Strawinskys “Concerto für Klavier, Bläser, Pauken und Kontrabässe” (1924) und Maurice Ravels Klavierkonzert in G-Dur (1932).
Ein Sonderlob gebührt hier auch den Bläsern des BLO für die hervoragend ausgeführeten Soli.
Zwischen den rasanten, rhytmisch markanten Ecksätzen in Ravels Konzert liegt ein ein sehr schönes, atmosphärische dichtes Adagio assai, das Maki Namekawa mit bewundernswerter Intensität interpretierte. Nicht einmal die hemmungslosen Dauerhuster im Publikum konnten ihre Konzentration stören.

OberÖsterreichischeNachrichten – 2.Juni 2017

Review – Kronenzeitung – Fulminantes Abschiedskonzert von DRD bei AK CLassics

Mit einem phänomenalen Konzert feierte Dennis Russel Davies mit dem groß aufspielendem Bruckner Orchester im ausverkauften Linzer Brucknerhaus einen glänzenden Abschluss der AK Classics-Serie.
Auch die Programmauswahl hob die Erwartungsatmosphäre: Begeisterung und Standing Ovations!

Bewundernswert, wie alle drei Leonoren-Ouvertüren mit faszinierender Intensität interpretiert wurden. Die selten gespielte 1. Ouvertüre wirkt durch die instrumentale Aufgliederung eher vorsichtig, doch blitzen immer wieder die bekannten Motive auf.

Die Nr. 2 und 3 bereiten den musikalischen Fokus der Oper “Fidelio” großmächtig vor und bejubeln die Befreiung von Florestan mit herrlichen Klangmetamorphosen, dieDavies mit “seinem” Bruckner Orchester zu einem triumphalem Begeisterungssturm emporhob.

Dazwischen erklangen das kraftvoll sprühende und rhythmisch belebende Concerto für Klavier, Bläser, Pauken und Kontrabässe von Stravinsky und das romantische, herrlich inspirierende Klavierkonzert von Maurice Ravel. Die grandios aufspielende Maki Namekawa faszinierte mit enormer Virtuosität und toller rhythmischer Sicherheit.
Kronenzeitung 2. Juni 2017

BBC Music Magazine

The works making up the two books of Etudes began to emerge piecemeal in the 1990s. Six studies from book one were composed in 1994 for the 50th birthday of pianist and conductor Dennis Russell Davies, whose association with Glass goes back some four decades. As further compositions emerged the second set began to build up, culminating in the commissioning of the final three by the Perth Festival to mark Glass’s 75th birthday in 2012.

In the first set Glass set out to challenge and extend himself as a pianist, while in the second he has said he sought to examine new ways of developing rhythmic and harmonic movement. In both sets typical Glass ostinatos are often infused with a very late-Classical/Romantic feel, and in places there are even hints of the French Impressionists. These aspects may well seduce listeners who have resisted the attractions of Glass’s music previously, while Glass’s fans will find all the things they enjoy about his work.

Even those who are sceptical about the music cannot help being impressed by the playing of Japanese pianist Maki Namekawa. She plays with flair, agility, conviction and clarity, and it’s all captured vividly by long-term Glass collaborator Michael Riesman behind the recording and mastering desks.

 

Barry Witherden

BR-Klassik | The Complete Piano Etudes (German)

“THE COMPLETE PIANO ETUDES”
18.02.2015 von Helmut Rohm
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Ein durchaus gewaltiger, ein suggestiver Sog vermag auszugehen von der Musik des Amerikaners Philip Glass. Überlässt man sich den Wiederholungsmustern langsamer Stücke, so kann man in eine meditative Trance verfallen; schnell pulsierende und metrisch vielleicht gebrochene Klanggeschiebe vermitteln oft fast zwanghaft etwas von der Hektik des modernen urbanen Lebens.

Kompositionen von Glass beruhen gern auf irregulär verketteten Repetitionstexturen. Sie haben etwas Mechanistisch-Stereotypes, wollen aber nicht verstören. In kleinen harmonischen Wendungen oder rhythmisch-metrischen Details spielen sie mit dem Irritationsmoment; trotzdem bleiben sie süffig, fluide, leicht zu konsumieren. “Easy Listening” wohl, nicht aber “Easy Playing”. Die japanische Pianistin Maki Namekawa hat nun auf einer beim Label Orange Mountain Music veröffentlichten Doppel-CD alle zwanzig Etüden für Klavier solo mitreißend eingespielt. Und zeitgleich sind auch die Noten der auf zwei 2003 bzw. 2014 fertiggestellte Bücher verteilten Stücke im Handel erschienen, so dass dem Vergnügen, sich den subtilen pianistischen Fallstricken und Unregelmäßigkeiten in den Webmustern dieser Musik zu stellen, nichts im Wege steht.

EHERNES PULSIEREN

Gewiss, nicht jede der Philip Glass’schen Klavier-Etüden konfrontiert den Pianisten mit neuartigen spieltechnischen Schwierigkeiten. Geübt werden kann vor allem das Gleichmaß der Bewegung in der Überlagerung von metrisch geraden und ungeraden Figurationen, die Anmutung eines ehernen Pulsierens bis hinein in die harmonische Architektur der Stücke, auch die schiere Ausdauer in der Egalité des zeitlichen Flusses. Vielleicht mag man kritisieren, dass nicht beide Hände des Spielers vor die gleichen Probleme gestellt werden. Aber dies alles betrifft natürlich nicht den Hörer der Musik. Er kann unter diesen Etüden Stücke finden, deren strukturelle Statik sich bei zentriertem Lauschen unversehens zu verflüssigen scheint. So, als ob Farben sich aus ihren repetitiven Mustern lösten und sie in den unbestimmbaren Weiten des Atmosphärischen verschwimmen. Schweben wird möglich.

PHILIP GLASS: ETÜDEN FÜR KLAVIER

The Complete Piano Etudes
Maki Namekava (Klavier)
Label: Orange Mountain Music

Philip Glass about his Etudes

The Etudes were begun in the mid-90s and new music is still being added to this collection as I write these notes in 2003. Their purpose was two-fold. First, to provide new music for my solo piano concerts. And second, for me to expand my piano technique with music that would enhance and challenge my playing. Hence, the name Etudes, or “studies”. The result is a body of work that has a broad range of dynamic and tempo. I intend to complete the second set of ten etudes, of which the first six are already composed, in the next few years.

– Philip Glass, 2003

The second set of 10 Etudes (now referred to as Book 2) has turned out quite differently. Just as Etudes 1 – 10 (Book 1) took up the technical matters of piano playing, Book 2 is an extension of a musical journey unterdaten in the last 10 years. The subsequent Etudes have been about the language of music iteself – developing new strategies regarding rhythmic and harmonic movement. The last Etude (No. 20) was composed just after Godfrey Reggio’s latest film, Visitors, and follows closely its music.

– Philip Glass, 2014

GLASS NOTES: PHILIP GLASS: DISCUSSES HIS ETUDES, PART 1

I had the chance to sit down with Philip Glass two weeks ago to discuss the upcoming release of his Complete Piano Etudes on album as well as printed sheet music on November 25th

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Richard Guérin: When did you begin to play piano?

Philip Glass:  Oh, probably around 6 or 7 years old. But I was just really taking flute lessons; my brother was taking piano lessons.  And we weren’t aloud to have two instruments at home. My parents would only pay for one music lesson per week for each kid, but I wanted to do piano too. The teacher would come to the house, give my brother lessons and I would sit in the room. When the teacher would leave, I would run to the piano play the lesson.  Then my brother would chase me around the house because he thought I had stolen his lesson. Which was true, I had. But I didn’t really begin practicing piano seriously until I was about fifteen.

R: What attracted you to it?

PG:  Well, I could play a lot of music on the piano, whereas the flute was limited.  The flute is a single line instrument, the range was limited, and the repertoire was limited. I couldn’t play enough music by myself that was satisfying; I could play some of the unaccompanied Bach Sonatas, but they’re not easy, and I was a kid. With the piano, I was attracted by the range of the instrument and the range of the music.

RG: Did you think that it would be a good thing to do if you were going to be a composer?

PG: Well I did it after I became a composer. I really started practicing at Juilliard where I was given an extra music teacher and I had time in the practice room. That’s where I put in hours a day, but I’ll never be able to play like Maki Namekawa can play. I think she practices five or six hours a day and she’s probably done that for thirty years. So when you hear people like Maki, they’re professional piano players. Most composers aren’t professional piano players. Gershwin could play well, but he had other people play his music. It’s nice to listen the piano roll versions because you can hear how he played it. Oscar Levant probably played Rhapsody and Blue far better than (Gerswhin) did. On the other hand, if you had a choice, which one would you want to go hear? If you could have heard Gershwin do it you would have. It’s not completely true with Rachmaninoff, who was a great pianist and a great composer. There are examples like that. There’s a story about Ravel who was playing, I think, his G major Piano Concerto once, he came off the stage, probably not having played it very well, he said “well fortunately the composer wasn’t in the house tonight!” So composers are forgiven to a certain degree.  There have been some amazingly good ones, certainly Liszt must have been, and certainly Chopin probably was. We know that Rachmaninoff was, but it’s a short list really.

RG: It makes me think, of the piano music that you play, the repertory ranges from Mad Rush, from 1979, through these new pieces.  What’s your relationship today to this music?

PG:  The point of the etudes, originally, was to strengthen my piano playing and that actually worked. I actually got to be a better player by learning those pieces – that would be the first ten. Those are the ones I recorded for Orange Mountain. Then I wrote the second ten. The first ten I wrote in the 90’s through 2001. The second ten I wrote in 2004 to the present. So the second ten are more recent. In the second ten I did not put restrictions on the technique. So, for example, Maki she can play the second ten; I can play the first ten and maybe a couple from the second 10.  I can play No.17 and maybe No.16… but here’s the pointIf I wanted to take 6 months off and really practice piano I could learn them. But at the same time I could write a string quartet or a film score (in that time). If I ask my musician friends what you would you rather have do: have me write some more music or play the piano? they would say, “please write some more music!”

On the other hand I enjoy playing the piano. I can play the pieces in a way that other people don’t. So lets take the first ten that I play: In the first ten I play with much more rubato, I play the tempos slower, phrase it differently, it makes you think what it would be like if I played the second ten…but guess what your never going to find out! (laughs)

But then, I heard Maki play number 20, and said oh, “I’m not going to play it better than that.” That will always be true, there will always be certain things that I can do better and there will always be other people (to play them). This is the first body of work that I’m really welcoming the world of pianists into my world. We’re doing these concerts in Brooklyn in the beginning of December and they’ll be nine pianists besides myself. So everyone will play two pieces.  In every city I go to, in Mexico or Poland, I get a young player they learn the new music. So the things I’m doing right now is that I’m meeting younger players and they’re learning the music and they all want to play the music. So what I’d like to see happen is that with this music, this piano music, a lot of people could play this music. I think that’s what we’re looking for.

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RG: I started considering the roll of a piano in your music.  Since you’re a composer that composes at the piano, unlike your other music – whether it’s orchestra or opera  – you are writing for other people.   In case of the etudes, at least the first book of etudes, you were writing for yourself. In terms of how you talk about your own music I’ve noticed things that certain pieces are very personally important to you. Now that you’re publishing the music is there a process of letting go?

PG: Well I was talking to Michael Reeseman this morning I asked him to look at the music before we print it and he had some suggestions he said well, “…Are you going to do the indications in English or Italian?” It could be “fast” or it could be “allegro.” In the end we are going to do a little bit of a mix, but a lot of it will be in English. There are a lot of questions like that that come up.

And then he said, “…Well this place here you have an accelerando that lasts for only two beats. I said if “I don’t put an accelerando no one will play it! (at all).” Riesman said, “That’s true. What about just saying something in English.” So we talked about how other people might play the music. I can’t tell people how to play it and surely people won’t play it 100% (as written).  There will be some things that I wish they had done differently.  It has to be that way. Tempos are like that, I wrote down very carefully the tempos that I play, but I doubt anyone will follow those tempos very strictly. That’s not the way pianists approach music and in a way their right. I was talking to a guy, very good player, I said, “I should give you a speeding ticket,” he was playing it much to fast and he said, “I can’t play it any slower.” I said, “why can’t you play it slower?” He said, “my heart beats that speed and I have to play with my heart beat.” He’s saying basically, physically the music has to fit his physical process. His physical process is different from mine. But then at the concert he played it even faster! and he said, “OK you can give me the speeding ticket now.”

Review – 20 Etudes and 20 Visuals Wound up the Ars Electronica Festival on a High Note

Linzer Festival Concluded Brilliantly with a Gesamtkunstwerk of Music by Philip Glass and Images by Cori Olan

An audiovisual Gesamtkunstwerk set amidst the industrial ambience of Linz’s PostCity brought the 2017 Ars Electronica Festival to a close on Monday evening. In this marathon performance of all 20 etudes by Philip Glass, pianist Maki Namekawa’s interpretations were accompanied by Austrian video artist Cori Olan’s visuals. This duo, which also staged this project’s world premiere in New York, conjured up a hypnotic experiment for the senses.

It is Linz’s great good fortune to be Namekawa’s new home-of-choice. A world-class specialist in Glass’ music and wife of Linz’s former general music director Dennis Russell Davies—whose 50th birthday Glass himself celebrated by writing some of the etudes—she has already performed several of the composer’s works, including the 20 etudes in 2014.

Between 1991 and 2012

They were created in phases between 1991 and 2012, whereby Glass initially wrote these exercises for himself but then composed increasingly advanced pieces for other artists of the keyboard. Thus, star pianist Vikingur Olafsson recently celebrated his Deutsche Grammophon debut with the etudes, some of which the composer had derived from other works.
Namakawa configured her interpretation somewhat less mechanically than her Icelandic colleague. She sometimes seems to flee from the melody line, only to abruptly return to it, whereby the fundamental theme of the interpretation as a whole remains high. At times, the Japanese woman cedes dominance to the left hand, shifts accents and rhythms, smoothes edges, underplays.
The interpreter understands that one cannot shuffle along in the cuddly flow of the repetition of these minimalistic works; rather, one must preserve the biting potency and the wealth of contrasts if one is to resist drifting off into arbitrariness. Glass creates a music that gyrates on the spot. Mostly, it does not move forward insistently, but rather lets the moment persist. It is a music that succeeds, if not in making time as such stand still, than at least making its passage a rather pleasant sojourn.

“Fantasia”

Cori Olan’s work superbly complements these sounds. Since Disney’s megalomaniacal “Fantasia,” visual artists have sought ways to translate instrumental music into images, and only a scant few have succeeded as paradigmatically as this Austrian. His visuals never insinuate themselves into the foreground or just react all too mechanically to the music; instead, they constitute the transposition of one world into the other. Three jumbo-format screens transformed the huge Gleishalle into an arc of imagery. Olan makes musical movements dance, expands a record album into a three-dimensional object and clockwork, dispatches blocks on their way into the endless expanses of perspective, and endows shingles with tiny feet so they can compete in a race.
Much of it corresponds to the associations immediately evoked by Glass’s always highly visual music—images such as fluid motions, water and wind. Often, though, these presumably organic forms also intentionally put their digital makeup on display and permit a glimpse of the grid behind the scenes. Here, like the etudes, one definitive creative signature cannot be ascribed to all the visuals. High-definition swaths of color are juxtaposed to graphics evoking the style of the 1980s, film sequences to abstraction, monochromes to colorful excesses. The spectator is occasionally reminded of the screen savers that used to pop up on monitors back in the old days, only to be overwhelmed once again by the plasticity of what is on display here, imagery coordinated to the music with consummate precision.

Linzer Festival Concluded Brilliantly with a Gesamtkunstwerk of Music by Philip Glass and Images by Cori Olan

An audiovisual Gesamtkunstwerk set amidst the industrial ambience of Linz’s PostCity brought the 2017 Ars Electronica Festival to a close on Monday evening. In this marathon performance of all 20 etudes by Philip Glass, pianist Maki Namekawa’s interpretations were accompanied by Austrian video artist Cori Olan’s visuals. This duo, which also staged this project’s world premiere in New York, conjured up a hypnotic experiment for the senses.

It is Linz’s great good fortune to be Namekawa’s new home-of-choice. A world-class specialist in Glass’ music and wife of Linz’s former general music director Dennis Russell Davies—whose 50th birthday Glass himself celebrated by writing some of the etudes—she has already performed several of the composer’s works, including the 20 etudes in 2014.

Between 1991 and 2012

They were created in phases between 1991 and 2012, whereby Glass initially wrote these exercises for himself but then composed increasingly advanced pieces for other artists of the keyboard. Thus, star pianist Vikingur Olafsson recently celebrated his Deutsche Grammophon debut with the etudes, some of which the composer had derived from other works.
Namakawa configured her interpretation somewhat less mechanically than her Icelandic colleague. She sometimes seems to flee from the melody line, only to abruptly return to it, whereby the fundamental theme of the interpretation as a whole remains high. At times, the Japanese woman cedes dominance to the left hand, shifts accents and rhythms, smoothes edges, underplays.
The interpreter understands that one cannot shuffle along in the cuddly flow of the repetition of these minimalistic works; rather, one must preserve the biting potency and the wealth of contrasts if one is to resist drifting off into arbitrariness. Glass creates a music that gyrates on the spot. Mostly, it does not move forward insistently, but rather lets the moment persist. It is a music that succeeds, if not in making time as such stand still, than at least making its passage a rather pleasant sojourn.Philip Glass and Maki Namekawa © Andreas H. Bitesnich

Philip Glass and Maki Namekawa © Andreas H. Bitesnich

“Fantasia”

Cori Olan’s work superbly complements these sounds. Since Disney’s megalomaniacal “Fantasia,” visual artists have sought ways to translate instrumental music into images, and only a scant few have succeeded as paradigmatically as this Austrian. His visuals never insinuate themselves into the foreground or just react all too mechanically to the music; instead, they constitute the transposition of one world into the other. Three jumbo-format screens transformed the huge Gleishalle into an arc of imagery. Olan makes musical movements dance, expands a record album into a three-dimensional object and clockwork, dispatches blocks on their way into the endless expanses of perspective, and endows shingles with tiny feet so they can compete in a race.
Much of it corresponds to the associations immediately evoked by Glass’s always highly visual music—images such as fluid motions, water and wind. Often, though, these presumably organic forms also intentionally put their digital makeup on display and permit a glimpse of the grid behind the scenes. Here, like the etudes, one definitive creative signature cannot be ascribed to all the visuals. High-definition swaths of color are juxtaposed to graphics evoking the style of the 1980s, film sequences to abstraction, monochromes to colorful excesses. The spectator is occasionally reminded of the screen savers that used to pop up on monitors back in the old days, only to be overwhelmed once again by the plasticity of what is on display here, imagery coordinated to the music with consummate precision.

100,000 Visitors

The only thing to pan about this evening was the audience itself. It would be impossible to imagine less suitable listeners for these fragile piano pieces than some of the festivalgoers who gathered in this jam-packed venue. Your run-of-the-mill digital artist obviously isn’t well enough acquainted with instrumental music to know to show up on time and not leave before it’s over, to keep the chatter down and refrain from noisily stomping about during the performance. They’re a shoo-in for the Prix Ars Electronica in the Most Ignorant Concert Audience category.
Nevertheless, after five etudes, even the rudest offenders had settled down. And finally, the evening—and, with it, this year’s Ars Electronica Festival—ended peacefully with the long 20th Etude and a red thread dancing for the sake of its own life. This was a worthy conclusion to this year’s event, which attracted 100,000 visitors.

(APA, September 12, 2017)