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May 23 , 2014

Reviews of the week

More British reactions to Tigran Mansurian’s Quasi Parlando, with Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Anja Lechner and the Amsterdam Sinfonietta

Most imposing is the Double Concerto, in which violin and cello combine over two movements - the first building to a febrile confrontation before withdrawing into the shadows, then the second bringing a sustained and intense discourse, with the soloists inexorably drawn into the enveloping string textures. Both shorter pieces sound tailor-made for the soloists in question: ‘Romance’ unfolds as an initially lyrical dialogue whose poise is not regained after an agitated central phase, while ‘Parlando’ pursues a more discursive exchange well suited to the thoughtful artistry of Anja Lechner.
The emotional acuity of Patricia Kopatchinskaja’s playing is further demonstrated in ‘Four Serious Songs’ [… ] Those intent on exploring the music of this arresting figure could well start here.
Richard Whitehouse, BBC Music Magazine

There’s real beauty here. Patricia Kopatchinskaja’s sublime solo line weaves in and out of the narrative, sometimes cooperating and elsewhere at odds with the orchestra. […] Equally marvelous is the 2012 ‘Quasi parlando’ for cello and strings, Anja Lechner’s flawless cello line communicating ever more closely with its spare accompaniment. Mansurian’s melodic gift dominates in these two recent works […] ECM also give us his ‘Double Concerto’ for violin and cello. Composed in 1978, it’s a tougher, more formidable listen, though still compelling.
Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk

BBC Music Magazine on Erkki-Sven Tüür’s Piano Concerto and Symphony No. 7

Dense, complex, mysterious, passionate, spellbinding, sometimes strange and always original, Tüür’s Piano Concerto and choral Symphony receive stunning performances enhanced by superb sound quality.
Barry Witherden, BBC Music Magazine

The new recording by Italian Duo Gazzana with music by Schnittke, Poulenc, Silvestrov, Walton, Dallapiccola is acclaimed in Austria and the US

Wie schon bei ihrem Albumdebüt ‘Five Pieces’ stellen Natascia (Violine) und Raffaella (Klavier) Gazzana auch auf ihrem zweiten, großartig gelungenen Album Raritäten aus dem Repertoire der klassischen Moderne vor. Zum Auftakt erklingt Alfred Schnittkes elegant-verquere, barock anmutende Suite im alten Stil, gefolgt von Francis Poulencs hochexpressiver Sonate für Violine und Klavier, die dem Andenken des Dichters Federico Garcia Lorca gewidmet ist und hier mitreißend musiziert wird.
Miriam Damev, Die Bühne

These works call often for considerable interpretive and technical excellence. The youthful dash of Duo Gazzana give us plenty of both in a program of unity within great diversity. What seems at first a potpourri of varying modern period masters and their works comes together to give us a sort of survey of the ways tradition has not always been overturned in modern times but sometimes also has aided and forwarded the search for new sounds within expressive and structural models that date back centuries. Duo Gazzana brings us performances of vivid musicality. One could not ask for much better than this.
Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review

A German reviewer is charmed by Maestro Myung Whun Chung’s first album for ECM Piano

Sein Spiel, im noblen Ambiente von Venedigs Teatro Le Fenice aufgenommen, zeichnet sich durch schlanke, biegsame Tongebung und eine hochsensible Nachzeichnung der melodischen Linienführung aus. Es setzt eine breite Skala der klingenden und dynamischen Schattierungen ein und entwickelt jedes der zehn auswählten Stücke von Beethoven ‚Für Elise‘ bis Debussys ‚Clair de Lune‘ mit viel Sinn für Form und Stimmung. Die Skalen in Schuberts Es-Dur-Impromptu verlieren unter seinen Händen alles Etüdenhafte, Schumanns ‚Träumerei‘ erklingt völlig unaffektiert und frei von Routine, und die ‚nachsinnenden‘ Passagen in dessen ‚Arabeske‘ sind mit anrührender Verinnerlichung gelungen. Schöner kann man all dies kaum spielen.
Ingo Harden, Fono Forum

British website Marlbank on Wolfgang Muthspiel’s new album Driftwood with Larry Grenadier and Brian Blade

Balancing careful understatement with intense and involved group interplay, ‘Driftwood’ packs a considerable punch in the way atmosphere is built and improvisational direction unfolds […] the sound is simply stunning, Muthspiel combines two aspects of his playing personality here, the acoustic classical guitar side (beautifully gathered on the engrossing ‘Cambiata’) and the electric, the little effects like garnish, on an album mostly made up of his own compositions although the title track, at producer Manfred Eicher’s suggestion, is a piece of free improvisation. […] many moments of sheer pleasure.
Stephen Graham, Marlbank

Ketil Bjørnstad's Sunrise, a cantata based on texts by Edvard Munch, is reviewed in an English Sunday paper

As a pianist/composer who is also a novelist and biographer of Munch, Bjornstad is the perfect interpreter of this legacy and the 19 separate sections subtly move through myriad Munchian moods before ending with the transfiguring light of the closing ‘Sunrise’.
Phil Johnson, Independent On Sunday

A British reaction to Jacob Young’s Forever Young

ECM have kept faith with Young, after ‘Evening Falls’ (released in 2004) and ‘Sideways’ (released in 2008) two albums that cultivated the guitarist’s great talent in settings that favoured bass clarinet and trumpet, but is now let grow wild to express itself more directly. Producer and label auteur Manfred Eicher must have just felt deep down that Young will deliver something that would mean that bit more, somewhere, some time, and that trust is
rewarded by one of ECM’s most beautiful albums in years. With a melodicism that draws you back to the well of Miles’ modal period drawing much from the Cool School sensibility the performance is just magical, there really isn’t another word, the recorded sound by legendary engineer Jan Erik Kongshaug so very human and warm. […] Wasilewski is one of the world’s great jazz pianists and there really is something special here, the rapport between piano and guitar instant, and Seim seems to have found the playing situation that suits him at last, the freedom to be himself.
Stephen Graham, Marlbank