Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Leslie De’Ath writes of composer Nikolai Kapustin, "[He] has made a minor flurry in the classical music world in recent years, largely through the championing of his music by pianists Steven Osborne, Marc-André Hamelin and Nikolai Petrov. His musical training was traditional, with a good exposure to the Russian virtuoso piano repertoire. Jazz became a big influence during his teen years, and has remained so throughout his career. From the late 1950s he immersed himself in the Russian jazz world, forming a quintet, and playing with Juri Saulsky’s Central Artists’ Club Big Band in Moscow. Later, he toured with the Oleg Lundstrem Jazz Orchestra throughout the Soviet Union. Kapustin’s piano music is technically formidable, and as a pianist he possesses a technique to match. His style of writing is crossover, in the best sense of the term, and belongs to the ‘third stream’ trend of the later 20th century. Does his music sound more like jazz than classical? That probably hinges upon the ears doing the listening ..." Check out pianist Shan-shan Sun performing his Toccatina, op.40, no. 3 (1984).

Our COMPOSER PORTRAIT this week features an interview with Steve Reich. The Guardian (London) wrote recently that "There's just a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the direction of musical history, and Steve Reich is one of them." "Reich is among the great composers of the century," echoed The New York Times. Such adulation is a far cry from the initial reception Reich's piece Four Organs got at Carnegie Hall in 1973. "People were catcalling or holding their ears and shouting, 'Stop, stop! I'll confess!'" recalled conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, who recognized Reich's genius early and reassured him that his work was provocative and would eventually be heralded. He was right, of course. Reich's music is lauded for embracing the spoken voice and non-Western rhythms and virtually inventing "sampling" long before the computer or hip-hop. His compositions cross boundaries, attracting such admirers as minimalist composer Philip Glass, pop icon David Bowie, jazz guitarist Pat Metheny and remixing master DJ Spooky; AND his piece Double Sextet just won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize!

The Sea Hawk by Jack London is one of the most filmed stories in movie history. Erich Wolfgang Korngold's score for the 1941 film version, stark and brutally dissonant, shows the great film composer at his most dramatic - this week's PYTHEAS SIGHTING...

Lastly, FROM THE PYTHEAS ARCHIVES brings us a thrilling performance of the finale from Grazyna Bacewicz's Sonata for Solo Violin No.2 (1958). ENJOY!

Explore, Listen and Enjoy!
Vinny Fuerst

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