Critically acclaimed piano trio Longleash releases a debut album featuring first commercial recordings of innovative piano trios, written by an international group of composers launching remarkable careers. This collection of works illustrates the inventive and experimental ethos that has shaped the evolving identity of this traditional instrumentation in recent years.
Passing Through, Staying Put for Piano TrioChristopher Trapani (b. 1980)
|01||I. Passing Through|
I. Passing Through
|02||II. Staying Put|
II. Staying Put
Il colore dell’ombra per violino, violoncello e pianoforteClara Iannotta (b. 1983)
|03||I. Passage, come un velo|
I. Passage, come un velo
|04||II. D’unfiato; III. Onirico|
II. D’unfiato; III. Onirico
|05||IV. Con precisione!|
IV. Con precisione!
|06||ver_flies_sen für Violine, Violoncello und Klavier|
ver_flies_sen für Violine, Violoncello und Klavier
|07||Strange Attractors Piano Trio No. 1|
Strange Attractors Piano Trio No. 1
|08||Corde Vuote per violino, violoncello e pianoforte|
Corde Vuote per violino, violoncello e pianoforte
Performed with inspired virtuosity by Longleash, the album includes Christopher Trapani’s Passing Through, Staying Put (2011), Clara Iannotta’s Il colore dell’ombra (2010), Yukiko Watanabe’s ver_flies_sen (2012), Juan de Dios Magdaleno’s Strange Attractors (2014) and Francesco Filidei’s Corde Vuote (2010).
The album’s title, Passage, alludes not only to the international backgrounds of these composers and performers (representing the United States, Mexico, Japan, Italy) but also to the presence of multicultural, pan-historic influence in this music (referencing colonial Brazil, 1910s France; present-day Austria, England, Cyprus, Italy). Most importantly, Passage refers to the continuing evolution of the piano trio genre itself. Each composer accesses novel modes of resonance and interplay here, redefining the instrumentation in five unique ways. From liner notes by violinist Pala Garcia: “within each work is an amalgam of multicultural influences and global journeys, sourcing inspiration from visual art, literature, and music from the past and present. This traditional instrumentation, with its classical ideals and high-romantic associations, gains a multitude of new colors, forms and textures in this passage forward.”Read More
Christopher Trapani’s Passing Through, Staying Put is a study in contrasts between motion and stasis, deriving its bipartite structure from “Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi,” the novella by Jeff Dyer. Clara Iannotta’s Il colore dell’ombra processes the trio’s resonance through a shadowy filter, sourcing inspiration and musical material from Ravel’s Piano Trio in A minor. In Juan de Dios Magdaleno’s Strange Attractors, principles of fractal mathematics rule over interrelated musical cells, which swerve along unpredictable trajectories. The multilayered musical surface of Yukiko Watanabe’s ver_flies_sen evokes images of tile reflected through water, inspired by the work of Brazilian painter Adriana Varejão. The ingenious simplicity of Francesco Filidei’s Corde Vuote is a paean to each instrument’s natural mode of resonance: the open string.
In his introduction to Passage, composer/pianist Nils Vigeland describes the album “as a collective contemporary response to the piano trio,” a reworking of “an instrumental form far removed from its classical origins.” Noting the celebrated origins of this instrumentation in Haydn and its storied legacy in Schubert, Mendelssohn and Brahms, Vigeland credits these five composers with challenging the piano trio’s historically accepted parameters and limitations. “Is it possible that the term ‘common practice,’ used to describe western music’s wildly differentiated four hundred year use of the tonal system, could now be used to describe an instrumental usage available to composers of very different expression? This album answers with a resounding yes!”
Recorded at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC)
Session Producer: Argeo Ascani
Audio Engineers: Jeffrey Svatek and Todd Vos
Editing, Mixing, and Mastering: Jeffrey Svatek
Recording Location/Dates: EMPAC, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY. April 25-28, 2016
Edited and Mixed at EMPAC
Album Artwork: Pink Lady (2015), Scarlett Hooft Graafland
Album Design: Laura Grey
Liner Notes: Pala Garcia, Nils Vigeland
Publishers: Corde Vuote, Edizioni Musicali Rai Trade (2010); ver_flies_sen, Universal Edition (2012); Il colore dell’ombra, Edition Peters (2010).
This album is made possible by the Artist Residency Program at EMPAC.
Longleash (Pala Garcia, violin; John Popham, cello; Renate Rohlfing, piano) is a group with a traditional instrumentation and a progressive identity. Inspired by music with unusual sonic beauty, an inventive streak, and a compelling cultural voice, Longleash extends a love of classical chamber musicianship to the interpretation of contemporary music, crafting performances that are both dynamic and thoughtfully refined. An “expert young trio” praised for its “subtle and meticulous musicianship” (Strad Magazine) and its "technical expertise and expressive innovation" (Feast of Music), Longleash has quickly earned a reputation in the US and abroad for innovative programming, artistic excellence, and new music advocacy. Longleash takes its name from Operation Long Leash, a CIA program designed to covertly support and disseminate the work of American avant-garde artists throughout Europe during the Cold War.
The trio balances a full performing schedule with commissioning and recording projects alongside their proprietary summer concert series and composition workshop, The Loretto Project (KY). Performance highlights include concerts at Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC), the Ecstatic Music Festival (NY), the Green Music Center (CA), National Sawdust (NY), Scandinavia House (NY), Trondheim International Chamber Music Festival (Norway), and the University of Louisville. Longleash has conducted lectures and workshops at New York University, Manhattan School of Music, University of Nebraska, Ohio University, and Hunter College. The trio's work on behalf of American composers has been recognized and supported by Chamber Music America, the Alice K. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, and the Aaron Copland Fund for Music.
Cellist John Popham is a chamber musician and teacher based in Brooklyn, New York. His playing has been described as “brilliant” and “virtuosic” (Kronen Zeitung), “warm but variegated”, and “finely polished” (The New York Times).
Currently a member of Either/Or Ensemble and LONGLEASH, Mr. Popham has performed internationally with groups including Klangforum Wien, Talea Ensemble, and the Argento Chamber Ensemble. He has appeared as soloist with the Louisville Orchestra, the String Orchestra of Brooklyn, the Red Light Ensemble, and the Kunstuniversität Graz Chorus.
Recent festival appearances include Brücken (Austria), Open Musik (Austria), IMPULS (Austria), the Vermont Mozart Festival, USINESONORE (Switzerland), Bay Chamber (Maine), the Contemporary Classical Music Festival (Peru), Lucerne Festival, and Klangspuren (Austria).
Dedicated to new music performance, Mr. Popham has worked with composers including Pierre Boulez, Tristan Murail, Steve Reich, Nils Vigeland, and Reiko Füting. The recipient of a Fulbright research grant, Mr. Popham spent the 2013/2014 academic year in Austria, where he studied the performance practice of Klangforum Wien and worked with leading figures in contemporary Austrian music: Beat Furrer, Georg Friedrich Haas, Klaus Lang, and Pierluigi Billone.
Mr. Popham is currently cello faculty of the Extension Division of Rutgers University. He received his BM and MM from the Manhattan School of Music where he was a student of David Geber and David Soyer and was awarded the Manhattan School of Music Full Scholarship. He has recorded for Tzadik, Carrier, New Focus, Albany, and Arte Nova records.
Christopher Trapani was born in New Orleans. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music and English from Harvard, then spent most of his twenties overseas: a year in London, working with Julian Anderson at the Royal College of Music; a year in Istanbul, studying microtonality in Ottoman music on a Fulbright grant; and seven years in Paris, where he studied with Philippe Leroux and worked at IRCAM. Since 2010, Christopher is based in New York City as a doctoral candidate at Columbia University. He is the winner of the 2016 Rome Prize and the 2007 Gaudeamus Prize, and in 2015 was a fellow at Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart. His scores have been performed by Ensemble Modern, ICTUS, Talea Ensemble, Ensemble L'Itinéraire, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and the JACK Quartet, amongst others.
Born in Rome in 1983, Clara Iannotta spent her childhood as a flautist. At the age of twenty, she began taking composition classes in Milan with Alessandro Solbiati. After moving to Paris, she continued her training at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris with Frédéric Durieux. She has been a guest of the Berliner Künstlerprogramm des DAAD and is now a PhD candidate at Harvard University. Recent projects include new pieces for Duo 2KW, Arditti Quartet (Festival d’Automne), Ensemble Nikel (Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt), and an installation for the Münchener Biennale. She is the artistic director of the Bludenzer Tage zeitgemäßer Musik festival (2014–18) and lives in Berlin and Boston.
Yukiko Watanabe was born in Nagano, Japan in 1983. She recently graduated with her Konzertexamen degree from the Hochschule für Musik Köln and has also studied at the Kunstuniversität Graz. She has received numerous awards, including the Ö1 Talentebörse Composition Prize, scholarships from the Rohm Music Foundation, the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs, and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). In 2016 she won the Akutagawa Award for Music Composition with her orchestral work "gefaltet…". She has studied composition with Keiko Harada, Beat Furrer, and Johannes Schöllhorn. Currently, Yukiko is a stipendiary of the International Ensemble Modern Academy in Frankfurt.
Juan de Dios Magdaleno was born in 1984 in Colima (Mexico) where he became active in music at the age of 10, initially through his Mexican folk heritage. He completed his bachelor’s degree in composition at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam under the tuition of Fabio Nieder and Richard Ayres, and received his master’s degree in composition at the Kunstuniversität Graz under the supervision of Pierluigi Billone and Gerd Kühr. His music has been performed by ensembles such as Ensemble Intercontemporain, Arditti Quartet, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Asko|Schoenberg Ensemble, Nieuw Ensemble, and Nouvel Ensemble Modern. Recently, Juan de Dios was invited to CURSUS at IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique) and has been a resident at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. He completed his postgraduate studies under the guidance of Beat Furrer and lives in Helsinki, Finland.
Born in Pisa in 1973, organist and composer Francesco Filidei graduated from the Conservatory of Florence and the Paris Conservatoire. His music has been performed by the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Linea, 2E2M, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Les Percussions de Strasbourg, Klangforum, Musikfabrik, Ensemble Recherche, Next Mushroom Promotion, Tokyo Sinfonietta, and Neue Vocalsolisten, among others. He was commissioned by the IRCAM Reading Committee, and awarded the Salzburg Music Forderpreistrager, the Takefu Prize, the Siemens Forderpreistrager, the UNESCO Picasso/Miró Medal of the Rostrum of Composers, and the Abbiati Prize. His works are published by Rai Trade. Francesco has taught composition courses at Royaumont (“Voix Nouvelles”), the University of Iowa, Takefu, the International Young Composers Academy in Tchaikovsky City, and at the Darmstadt Ferienkurse. In 2016 he was appointed Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture.
From the beginning, chamber music and the chamber ensemble have been mainstays of the Western art music tradition. And like the larger tradition, they have undergone periods of evolution, stability, and rapid if not disruptive change—not only in the structure and content of the repertoire, but in the very definition of what constitutes a chamber ensemble as well. Two new releases on the New Focus label bring new perspectives to this venerable and profoundly fluid format.
Transient Canvas is the duo of bass clarinetist Amy Advocat and marimbist Matt Sharrock, whose Sift is their first full-length recording. Seen close up, the duo’s makeup is unusual—the marimba doesn’t really appear in Western classical music until Darius Milhaud’s 1947 Concerto for Marimba and Vibraphone, and bass clarinet is traditionally not a solo instrument. But from a larger perspective, Transient Canvas is an oblique variation on the piano-wind duo, the marimba being just another tuned percussion instrument. The pairing of these two low-compass, decidedly un-Stentorian instruments is inspired, as are the five compositions, all written within the last four years, that are presented here.
The slightly melancholy side of the duo’s aggregate sound is effectively brought out in the title track, a 2014 work by composer Daniel T. Lewis. The piece has a gently rueful feeling to it, with phrases trailing off into silence like a reflective speaker’s unfinished sentences. Adam Roberts’ impeccably constructed Nostalgia Variations (2015) occupies a similar affective space, with a plaintive melody built around a four-note kernel. Although subjected to elongation, compression, bisection and other creative deformations, the basic profile of the melody almost always is discernible. The other three compositions, by Tina Tallon, Curtis Hughes and John Murphree, also play to the two instruments’ ability to evoke the emotional ingathering of the downward glance.
The more conventional chamber ensemble of piano, violin and cello is the protagonist of Passages, a recording by the Brooklyn-based trio Longleash (pianist Renata Rohlfing, violinist Pala Garcia and cellist John Popham). Passages is a cosmopolitan collection that contains five works by five younger contemporary composers from Europe, Japan and North America, four of whom are under 40. Although the group’s instrumentation is traditional its sounds aren’t; the three, and particularly the strings, draw on the expanded repertoire of timbres and gestures that composer Nils Vigeland, in his liner note, suggests constitute a new “common practice.” In fact, while the pieces vary in their sources of inspiration and in their method of composition, all make intelligent--and above all artistic—use of a broad palette of techniques and sounds. For example, Rome-born Clare Iannotta’s evocatively-titled Il colore dell’ombra (2010) uses microtones, diverse bow articulations and percussive and damping piano gestures to bring out multiple shadings of individual and composite sound colors. American Christopher Trapani’s Passing Through, Staying Put, a two part work of 2011 whose themes of motion and rest were suggested by Geoff Dyer’s paired novellas Geoff in Venice/Death in Varanasi, contrasts the strings’ glissandi and harmonics with more conventional piano chords. Mexican composer Juan di Dios Magdaleno’s Strange Attractors (2014) weaves its sound events into a discontinuous texture mimicking the behavior of a chaotic system, while Yukiko Watanabe’s ver_flies_sen (2012) constructs its texture out of staggered cells made up of harmonics and abrupt piano interventions. And as its title implies, Pisa native Francesco Filidei’s 2010 Corde Vuote is scored for violin and cello playing exclusively with open strings; the piece creates a sense movement through the superimposition of voices and through the controlled use of dynamics and bow placement. — Daniel Barbiero, 10.12.2017, Percorsi Musicali