The latest episode of Cedille's Classical Chicago podcast features an interview with composer Mischa Zupko and violinist Sang Mee Lee, whose album Eclipse: Chamber Music by Mischa Zupko will be released on Cedille Records on November 11.
In the podcast, Mischa and Sang Mee discuss their partnership and the inspiration behind the album. Eclipse encompasses world-premiere recordings of inventive, virtuosic, and impassioned chamber works, written in a present-day musical language by the strikingly original American composer and pianist Mischa Zupko. Joining him are two close friends and accomplished colleagues, the sublime violinist Sang Mee Lee, who chairs the string department at the Music Institute of Chicago, and internationally renowned cellist Wendy Warner, a protégé of Mstislav Rostropovich. Zupko wrote some of the works expressly for these artists.
- Episode 7 — Dover Quartet
- Episode 6 — Jennifer Koh
In the sixth episode of Cedille's Classical Chicago Podcast, violinist Jennifer Koh sits down with Steve Robinson to discuss her latest release, Tchaikovsky: Complete Works for Violin and Orchestra. She describes the inspiration behind the album, growing up as the child of Korean immigrants, and reveals why her violin teacher lied to her when she was a young student.
Jennifer Koh, Musical America’s 2016 Instrumentalist of the Year, headlines an album of Tchaikovsky’s complete works for violin and orchestra. It’s the “remarkable . . . thoughtful and vibrant” (Strings Magazine) American violinist’s first recording of music by Tchaikovsky, who has figured prominently in her rise to the top ranks of violinists worldwide. Tchaikovsky’s Concerto in D Major is one of the most celebrated and daunting works in the violin repertoire. The subdued Sérénade mélancolique illustrates the composer’s ear for orchestral color. The delicate Valse-Scherzo melds old-fashioned elegance with spirited playfulness. Souvenir d’un lieu cher’s poignant, nostalgic mood gives way to a delightful finale.
Koh shared the top prize in the 1994 Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow, where she played the Tchaikovsky (and Brahms) concerto and won three special prizes, including for the best performance of Tchaikovsky’s work. The star violinist has a long history with her album collaborators, Denmark’s Odense Symphony Orchestra and its chief conductor, Alexander Vedernikov. In recent years, audiences have heard Koh perform the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the Munich Philharmonic under Lorin Maazel, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Carlos Miguel Prieto, Japan’s NHK Symphony under Vedernikov, and the Odense Symphony Orchestra under Christoph Poppen.
- Episode 5 — Lincoln Trio
How is the Lincoln Trio like an arranged marriage? The Trio answers this question while discussing its origins, why they enjoy playing work from "outsider" composers, and the inspiration behind their latest album, Trios From Our Homelands. The Lincoln Trio is renowned for creating “worthwhile programs of serious classical music that are wholly winning and simply delightful” (ClassicsToday.com). For its newest Cedille Records album, “the brilliant Chicago-based Lincoln Trio” (WRTI-FM, Philadelphia) has crafted a highly personal program of inventive 20th-century piano trios by composers from the individual players’ ancestral homelands of Switzerland, England, and Armenia, respectively.
Described by The Strad as "sensational" and "bewitching" and as "models of vibrancy and control" by Gramophone, the GRAMMY-nominated, Chicago-based Lincoln Trio —Desirée Ruhstrat, violin; David Cunliffe, cello; and Marta Aznavoorian, piano — takes its name from its home, the heartland of the United States, the land of Lincoln.
A one-of-a-kind album, Trios From Our Homelands offers stellar performances of substantial works that many listeners will be discovering for the first time. The 1922 Piano Trio by England’s Rebecca Clarke brims with attractive melodies presented with virtuosity and musical ingenuity. Armenia’s Arno Babajanian, whom Mstislav Rostropovich called “a brilliant composer,” is represented by his passionate Piano Trio in F-Sharp Minor from 1952. Swiss composer Frank Martin wrote his tuneful Trio on Popular Irish Melodies, the best-known work on the album, in 1925.
- Episode 4 — Fifth House Ensemble
Our fourth episode features an interview with flutist Melissa Sznoza and double bassist Eric Snoza, members of the cutting-edge chamber music group Fifth House Ensemble. In conversation with WFMT General Manager Steve Robinson and Cedille Records President Jim Ginsburg, they talk about the group's unique new collaboration with the Israeli folk band Baladino on Cedille's June 2016 release, Nedudim. Named after the Hebrew for “wanderings,” Nedudim is a world-premiere album of eleven new vocal and instrumental works created from a palette of international influences, including accents of Indian raga, plus fresh arrangements of folk melodies from the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East. The album’s title evokes its geography-hopping global perspective.
Praised by The New York Times for its "conviction, authority, and finesse," Chicago-based Fifth House Ensemble is defined by its limitless imagination and energy and an insatiable desire to bring transformative performance experiences to audiences of all types. Baladino's music comes from their homeland, Israel - a country comprised of Diaspora Jews who migrated through different parts of the world, bringing with them musical influences from the Middle East, Europe, and Africa. As Israelis born to immigrant parents from Middle Eastern countries, the members of Baladino hold a deep connection to their parents' countries of origin, both musically and culturally.
- Episode 3 — Cavatina Duo
Episode 3: Cavatina Duo
Our third episode features an interview with guitarist Denis Azabagic and flutist Eugenia Moliner — collectively, the Cavatina Duo. They discuss Sephardic music, their work with living composers, and the personal story behind their new release, Sephardic Journey with WFMT General Manager Steve Robinson and Cedille Records President Jim Ginsburg.
Sephardic Journey, the duo’s third Cedille Records album, features five world-premiere recordings of new works — not arrangements — written expressly for them. All are based on early Sephardic melodies in the way Bartók, for example, used Hungarian folk music in his own compositions. Alan Thomas’s Trío Sefardí for flute, cello, and guitar draws on melodies from the Sephardic diaspora. Joseph V. Williams II’s Isabel for flute and guitar pays tribute to a tragic victim of the Spanish Inquisition. Carlos Rafael Rivera’s Plegaria y Canto (al Bodre de La Mar) for alto flute, violin, and guitar depicts an intimate scene of despair and hope on the Spanish coast. David Leisner describes his Love Dreams of the Exile for flute, guitar, and string quartet as “stream-of-consciousness meditations on Sephardic folk music.” Clarice Assad’s Sephardic Suite for flute, guitar, and string quartet evokes contrasting aspects of romance and family life. Stellar guest artists include Cedille label-mates violinist Desirée Ruhstrat and cellist David Cunliffe from the Lincoln Trio and the Avalon String Quartet.
Sephardic Journey is available from iTunes/Apple music here.
- Episode 2 — Eighth Blackbird
Episode 2: Lisa Kaplan from Eighth Blackbird
In our second episode, Eighth Blackbird pianist Lisa Kaplan discusses the ensemble's latest album, Hand Eye. Lisa tells Steve and Jim about the origins of Eighth Blackbird, how the ensemble pushes artistic boundaries, and the inspiration behind the album. Eighth Blackbird has won Grammy awards its last four Cedille recordings, dating back to 2007. Its September 2015 Cedille release, FILAMENT, won the GRAMMY for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance at this year's award ceremony. On Hand Eye, the new-music sextet joins forces with Sleeping Giant, a collective of six young American composers “rapidly gaining notice for their daring innovations, stylistic range and acute attention to instrumental nuance” (WQXR Radio).
Pianist Lisa Kaplan is a founding member of Eighth Blackbird. Born in Motown, Kaplan specializes in performing new works by living composers. She has won numerous awards, performed all over the country, and premiered new pieces by hundreds of composers, including Andy Akiho, Derek Bermel, Jennifer Higdon, Amy Beth Kirsten, David Lang, Nico Muhly, George Perle, and Steve Reich. Kaplan has collaborated and make music with an eclectic array of incredibly talented people, including Mario Batali, Jeremy Denk, Bryce Dessner, Glenn Kotche, Gustavo Santaolalla, Steve Schick, Robert Spano, Dawn Upshaw, and Michael Ward-Bergeman, to name just a few. Recently, she has greatly enjoyed the opportunity to do some composing and arranging for Eighth Blackbird.
Hand Eye is now available from iTunes/Apple music here.
- Episode 1 — Third Coast Percussion
Episode 1: David Skidmore from Third Coast Percussion
Our first episode features an interview with David Skidmore from Third Coast Percussion. In conversation with WFMT General Manager Steve Robinson and Cedille Records President Jim Ginsburg, David talks about the group's founding, its relationship with Steve Reich's music, and their new album on Cedille Records. In February, Third Coast Percussion made their Cedille label debut with Third Coast Percussion | Steve Reich, an 80th birthday salute to visionary American composer Steve Reich, a Pulitzer Prize winner and founding father of musical minimalism. An album of sonic delights, the recording offers four of the composer’s most celebrated works for percussion. In the magical Mallet Quartet, vibraphone melodies unfold over marimba rhythms. Sextet, almost symphonic in scope with two pianos added to the percussion battery, is full of surprises. The short, Japanese-commissioned Nagoya Marimbas exhibits pentatonic coloration. Third Coast Percussion is joined by eighth blackbird’s Matthew Duvall for Music for Pieces of Wood, played on five wooden slats tuned to specific pitches for an astonishing variety of sounds.
David Skidmore is an ensemble member and Executive Director of Third Coast Percussion. As a chamber musician, David has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center Festival, Kimmel Center, EMPAC, June in Buffalo, Klangspuren Schwaz, the Ojai Music Festival, the Bang On a Can Marathon and three Percussive Arts Society International Conventions. David was a member of the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble from 2007-2011 and Ensemble ACJW from 2008-2010. David has performed and collaborated with many of the world’s finest musicians including conductors Pierre Boulez, Lorin Maazel, David Robertson, and Michael Tilson Thomas, composers Steve Reich, Steve Mackey, Matthias Pintscher, and Peter Eötvos, and chamber ensembles So Percussion and eighth blackbird. David has performed as a soloist in Europe, Asia, and the United States. David has also performed as a member of the Lucerne Festival Academy, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Pacific Music Festival, and the National Repertory Orchestra. David is also a composer, and his works are performed regularly in concert halls and universities across the country. David taught for four years on the percussion faculty at the Peabody Conservatory. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Northwestern University and a Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music. His teachers were Michael Hernandez, Shawn Schietroma, Michael Burritt, James Ross, and Robert Van Sice.
Part 1: About Third Coast Percussion and Steve Reich, with movement from Mallet Quartet (11 1/2')
Part 2: About Steve Reich's impact, and interpreting and recording his music, with movement from Sextet (15 1/2')
Part 3: About Third Coast Percussion's Steve Reich mobile app and TCP's collaborations, with excerpt from Negoya Marimbas (11')
Part 4: Music for Pieces of Wood as example of TCP's way of interpreting Reich with excerpt, plus information on TCP's upcoming performances (9')