jeudi 31 octobre 2013

3rd recording day ~


3rd recording done !!!

Wanted to start this post with a funny animated gif, hope you will appreciate it :)))
Anway, let's talk about this great day : the 29th of october !
As some friends might have noticed it, the recording day changed. It was supposed to happen the 28th & 29th , 2 "half a day" sessions.
But since the Fazioli piano tuner (for i still don't know, or simply don't remember why) could come only the 29th morning.
I had to change my plan a little bit, manage with some "hardcore" students that "even during the holidays" want to have their lessons :)))


Day started with of course preparation of myself: since conditions were near to perfect, i used this oportunity to make "in a row" the promotion video.
At 11.30 am a very nice lunch with my favorite before every marathon:
       a nice steak tartare !                             a nice place ^^                      of course a nice dessert
            "italian style"                        alone at this time of the day   chocolat mousse+noisette coffee
So meeting in the studio was at 2 pm, and, as everytime, we took some time to set all the microphones. Yes we put 5 of them as Naxos requested a " Hi-Def Surround"master !!!
NB: the "upper microphones" were finally set near the Church Altar, as the reverb and bass were much better there. Also we added a 5th one under the piano.
Also i blurred the microphones as i promised.
With the tests and everything it took around 45 minutes. Also we were listening on a very "nice" headphones : the Grado !!!
Why do i focus on this little detail ? simply because it drives me back memories of my 16 when i was an Aspen Music Festival Student, and bought this headphone who was my very first "nice Equipment" i ever buy!
So we were able to start :
                                                             yes the piano is a Fazioli

The recording

The recording session was very simple. I performed 5 hours in a row, with no break , simply some short blank to make cuts on the recorded files.

Everything went very well, and i was very happy with all the music, and very much inspired with all the wonderful surrounding. In those conditions, why stop ?

what i saw from my piano bench point of view !
not bad isn't it ;)
I must confess that i felt in love with the column shadows,
they repeted in such a pattern that it echoes to
me as a "Philip Glass" repetitive pattern !!

Curiously i recorded everything in the "program" way. And to be sure that we would have enough material in case of 'strange noises in the background" , everything is recorded almost 4 times.

Time to time i had some "surprises" like in every recording sessions :

i think 5 or 6 times some pigeons felt that the music was romantic enough to come in couple ^^

And at 7 pm a strange face popped out of the front door ... the guy looked amused and smiled me a lot ... since i was recording i could not stop. Hours after i met him and learnt that he belived that tonight there was a concert . Luckily he did not do any noises !

Also a very funny things :

At 7.34 pm i finished all the "classical Glass music" ( means : Opening, Dreaming Awake & Orphée Suite). The Photograph Crew was supposed to be there at 7.30pm and gave no sign.

So .... since i was very "hot" and "in the mood" i said : let's do the last piece : How Now !! (it is the name of the piece). How Now lasts 15 to 20 minutes and it was the piece i feared the most. it is so dense that (with 600 lines) it can breaks your hand.

I did it, and it turned very well , but .... i could not belive that what i belived to be "mostly' 20 minutes turned to be 45 minutes !!!

But this is not the funniest. This piece is very "avant garde" (really far away from the Philip Glass we all know, he was very young at the time he composed it). As a result : an old lady complained pretty loudly, made a lot of noise, and argue a lot with the recording crew!
On my side, i did not heard anything, but i am very curious to see if it can be listenable on the sound files that i got. Of course it will be taken away, but ... i think i will keep for myself those parts if i can find it !! I might even post it for fun ;)

So at 8.50 pm everything was well recorded ! And so i was very free to rest a little bit when the Crew installed their video and photo material.

I could also enjoy this time to buy some well deserved food and drink, (but not much as i wanted to go to restaurent at the end) :
                                                                     éclair brestois !


The Promo Video

So as i was finally able to touch some food and drink, i saw the wonderful team of Jean-Lionel Dias preparing all their Equipment:

 For me everything was simple. I choosed the piece that gives the name of the cd : "Opening to Glassworks" as the promo video music.
This music is very popular and very well known, so i think the choice was not so hard.

To be able to make "enough" footages, i performed in a loop the "Opening" for 3 hours !!!!
i must also confess than time to time it was difficult to stay serious when a huge camera is almost kissing your cheek ^^


at 11.30pm everything was done, and it took 10 min to pack everything. With all the crew we found a very nice little bistro opened near le Collège des Bernardins, we enjoyed nice chat and finally a real dinner !!
I was really too much exhausted at this time to take any pictures. . .

PS :
When i came back, guess who was waiting for me ?

Also to end with a very funny thing , the day after a friend of me send me this image on Facebook :

I could not belive my eyes that my name was in the Akinator app !!!!
Thanks Charles you really made my day ;)


lundi 28 octobre 2013

3rd Recording preparation !

Tomorow is THE big day for me!

I am entering the studio for the 3rd time. This time with a quite big project : the complete Philip Glass piano music for Naxos Classical - Grand Piano label
For some it is quite big , but ... if you compare to the great Minimal Piano Music 30 cds (and more to come) of Jeroen van Veen, and ... the complete Franz Liszt on 99 cds with the great Leslie Howard...

Anyway, let's return to my humble project.

The program of this first volume (yes they will be others on their way ;) ) is :

Opening from Glassworks

Dreaming Awake     


the Orphée Suite (arr Paul Barnes)  

I. The Cafe

II. Orphée's Bedroom

III. Journey to the Underworld

IV. Orphée and the Princess

V. Return to Orphée's House

VI. Orphée's Return

VII. Orphée's Bedroom-Reprise

How Now      

I hope you will like my selection of pièces. Far away from the usuals Glass programs and also far away from what i am also doing during the Glass Marathon.

As a last day preparation, i just relaxed, did 6 hours of practice and prepared my scores and myself (sounds superficial but the wonderful photograph Jean-Lionel Dias will make a promotional video during the session)

And, since i am very gloutonous, i used this day to enjoy myself during a very large lunch.

I ate my favorite japanese food :

                                      Tempura Udon                       with some chicken and omelete
and of course, i ended with a nice desert :)
                                         Mille-feuilles à la framboise with a Chocolat Viennois

And to end my day, a Fellini night with La Strada and La Dolce Vita

tonight from my window                                     Lovely Erzsebet waiting for me

samedi 26 octobre 2013

Art inspired by my performances :))))

This is not much, but still i must confess that i am very proud to see that my performance could inspire.
And, as some of the bad mouthes out there ("bouches de vieilles" as my father would say) would think, none of them were made by friends, or people i know.
I simply was surprised to receive them in my mail box :)

So .... Enjoy !


                                     ©Jenya Tchaikovskaja          ©Christine Durand
  ©четыре руки

Hans Otte (1926 - 2007) : Die Kunst der Minimalism


Another newcommer into my repertoire.

I added Hans Otte pièces only last year. In fact this composer is very rarely present on the "usual minimalist composers" lists.

And this is thanks to the musicologist and friend David Sanson that i heard about this composer.
It happened just before my very first Philip Glass Marathon. We were eating a nice steak tartare and talking about our mutual tastes, when David was saying some names that i never heard of.
As a result he told me to check it on his blog : (do not hesitate to check it !! ).

Luckily, some months after, being contacted by the "New Music at Arsenal" a Kiev Festival, and dealing about a Glass Marathon, they asked me if i knew Hans Otte Music and will be interested in doing the Book of Sound as national Premiere.

And to prepare it, i searched a little more, and found out this excellent blog :

After when i organised the program of the Night of Minimal Piano in Collioure, i added Otte 's Book of Hours.

I must confess that this strange music, very minimalistic with an eerie feeling really attracted me. Curiously (for me) it did not sounds like everything i knew, but on the other hand it was just like a soft dream, out of space and time. Something that can reminds of Ancient Music with its slow gregorian like slow voices , but with a more modern shape. Highly spiritual , but really close to mankind.

Piano Music

Das Buch der Klänge (The Book of Sounds, 1979-82)


This piece deal mostly with repeat, endless repeat (if i had more time, i am sure that my performance would have been much longer, as i did with the 7 hours long Canto Ostinato in Monaco, i am dreaming to make a "very long version" of the Book of Sounds. But not all the movements would do the job. ). On the contrary of the recording available, i followed the "repeat again and again" signs. With those it can bring a hypnotic effect (i must have performed too much Vexations...).
I also tryed my best to make variations of touches and feeling. I still remember after the concert, some fans of Otte that were surprised with the result and i had to show the score to prove i was not "improvising" or making it "in my fantasies".

The piece has 12 différents movements, some have repeated chords, repeated like broken chords (arpeggios), silents notes that are fadding into nowhere ...

I never had the luck to see this piece on concert, but if the public receive the piece as i am receiving when i am performing, i must confess that it is really a strange journey. The kind of piece like Vexations or Canto Ostinato that you wish will never end. Something that can bring you into another sphere of consciousness.

Stundenbuch (The Book of Hours 1991-98)

This composition is in its essence totally different than the Book of Sounds.
The book is composed of 48 little pièces, very abstract in their essance, and almost gregorian like. No bars, few indications. It can be seen as a great great child of pièces like Liszt's Grey Cloud, or even more some abstract Liszt religious pièces like Rosario.
It is said that Otte inspiration came from the middle age Christian devotional book... (more détails : )
I must confess that i have a preferance for the Book of Sounds, it s hypnotic effect and the sounds possibilities. I am looking forward performing both of them at the same concert, it might help me to understand them, and maybe feel some echoes in those pièces that i might not being able to feel right now.
As with the minimalist music, it is of course "possible" to perform one movement, and not everything. But i really think that it will be pointless and will break all the effects that Otte had planned for the listener.
Of course, unlike some other minimalist composers, performing only one little part can be "ok" and can be mixed with regular composers. It will feel that Otte music is really contemporary, but nothing more. Exactly like performing only 1 or 2 Satie's Vexations!

Bio :

Hans Otte born Hans Günther Franz Otte (December 3, 1926, Plauen – December 25, 2007, Bremen) was a German composer, pianist, radio promoter, and author of many pieces of musical theatre, sound installations, poems, drawings, and art videos. From 1959 to 1984 he served as music director for Radio Bremen. From the early 1960s onwards,
Otte frequently presented contemporary experimental American composers in his Bremen radio festival pro musica nova, among them in those days completely unknown people like John Cage, David Tudor, Terry Riley, and Lamonte Young. From 1959 on, Otte lived and worked in Bremen, Germany. His catalogue of works contains more than 100 works.
Hans Otte had studied in Germany, Italy, and at Yale University in the United States. His teachers included the composer Paul Hindemith and the pianist Walter Gieseking.
Some of Otte's works, especially his extended suites for solo piano, are characterized by very minimal means but are nevertheless quite subtle and sophisticated in their architecture and expression. Das Buch der Klänge (The Book of Sounds, 1979–82) and Stundenbuch (Book of Hours, 1991–98) are his best known works in this vein, and Otte often performed them himself. His last public recital was given in Amsterdam in 1999. Recordings of these works, with Otte as performer, are available on CD.
In his works, Otte drew significantly on European and Asian spirituality, integrating various prayers into the fabric of the music.
In 1991 his work "KlangHaus" became a permanent interactive sound installation in the Neues Museum Weserburg Bremen in Bremen, Germany.
Pianist, composer and sound artist Hans Otte is still undervalued in Europe, and the Anglo-American cultural scene just starts to notice him, as Ingo Ahmels states in his bilingual study »Hans Otte – Klang der Klaenge/Sound of Sounds« (book+DVD+cd, Schott, ISBN 978-3-7957-0586-2). Dr. Ahmels' study of his biography and artistic work highlights Otte’s view of life and his aesthetical orientation, providing the fundamentals for an adequate reception.
At the centre of the book are the solo piano cycles »Das Buch der Klänge« (The Book of Sounds, 1979–82) and »Stundenbuch« (Hours Book, 1991–98) as well as the related sound installations »Atemobjekt« (Breath Object, 1970) and »NamenKlang« (NameSound, 1995).
In addition, the publication includes digital media containing sound examples and excerpts from the Otte Media Pool (OMP), and for the first time the authorized catalog of works (Otte Werkverzeichnis, or OWV)

Liszt Christus - presse review of my piano album

As i am sure you started to understand it by now, 8 months ago i released my 1st solo album, with the incredible piece of one of my beloved composer : Christus.
I deeply thank the wonderful Leslie Howard to have introduced me to this work some years ago as, when i met the master, i still didn't know about this piano version.

I can guess that you might think, how much pretentious of me it is to write on my blog, after introducting so great composers, all those press reviews.

Well i must confess that i really have to do that. As most of my fans already compain endlessly, my website is not updated since months, and no i am not dead and still continue my journey with the 88 teeth dragon as Raymond Lewenthal used to say (or Ronald Smith ???)

So with a totally outdated website, i am really not able to post all the press reviews, not giving any news and .... i agree with you, it should be the place.
Time to time i am doing it on Facebook , but not everybody has Facebook or has access to those data.

Enough useless talk those are the press review of my Liszt - Christus album !

a nice picture first :)
After 4 months after the release date, the 2nd press was sold out everywhere.
 I am still waiting for a 3rd press...

Anyway you can finally download it here :
or listen for free here:

all details :

Franz Liszt - Christus (version pour piano seul)
Nicolas Horvath
Label: Hortus

And now the press release (last update is octobre 2013):

Let start with the wonderful page Piano Bleu did on my recording (with an interview !), as it was a "cd of the week" on this great website !

ResMusica (11 Mars 2013) par Nicolas Mesnier-Nature. Note: 5/5 – A Emporter

Le pianisme sûr de Nicolas Horvath, remarqué par Leslie Howard, grand lisztien encyclopédique, réussit à construire un ensemble cohérent de ce qui aurait pu virer en mosaïque déstructurée. Des multiples facettes de cette fresque religieuse en ressort une musicalité générée par une aisance certaine à rendre nettes les parties chargées du texte et à éviter de remplir inutilement de son les plus volontairement dépouillées.
Un travail intelligent qui sort du quotidien destiné aux lisztiens avertis..

Diapason (Avril 2013) par Laurent Marcinik. Note: 4 Diapasons

Sens du récit, pédale économe, richesse de la pâte sonore et caractérisation intelligente des différents plans. Rien à redire aux rafales terrifiantes de la tempête du Miracle, ou au chromatisme titanesque de Tristis est anima mea, qui convient beaucoup mieux à la personnalité de Horvath. Coup de chapeau pour l'hymne O Filii et Filae conclusif, antipianistique au possible mais tendrement suggéré ici. Un artiste à suivre.

Fanfare (July 2013) par Jerry Dubins

Horvath’s playing is simply jaw-dropping. His dynamic range knows no bounds—you won’t believe it’s possible for one pianist playing one piano to make sounds like this—and there are moments where you’d swear that Horvath has to have more than 10 fingers. But he’s by no means all glitz and no substance. He penetrates and illuminates the quiet, contemplative passages with the intensity of a highly focused beam of light.
The recording has to be one of the most phenomenal piano recordings I’ve ever heard. This is not the sort of music or program that ordinarily shows up on my annual Want Lists, but this one might just be an exception. Urgently recommended.

Philadelphia Citypaper (26 decembre 2013) par Peter Burwasser  Top 10 classical albums of 2013
Liszt reduced his massive oratorio on the life of Christ to solo piano. For some reason, it is rarely performed, but it is a quietly powerful masterpiece. French pianist Horvath makes it sing.

Fanfare (July 2013) par Colin Clarke

This disc offers a unique contribution to the discography: more, it is a musical triumph.

Piano Bleu  

CD of the week 

Audiophile Audition (03 Juin 2013) par Gary Lemco Note : **** Rifle with wonder and mystery

Pianist Nicolas Horvath realizes Liszt’s monumental Christus oratorio as an eight-movement cycle of religious devotion and keyboard wizardry, always in epic proportions.

La Lettre du Musicien (Juin 2013 n°434) « Nicolas Horvath : un oratorio au bout des doigts »

Un enregistrement particulièrement cohérent qui rend justice à cette musique inspirée que Liszt considérait comme l'un des sommets de son art

Changez de disque (France Musique 03 Avril 2013) par Emilie Munera

Grand poème mystique qui représente vraiment le Liszt de la dernière période , on est loin de ce qu'on entend d'habitude, du grand romantisme , là on est plutôt dans l épure avec une musique qui se fait extrêmement moderne par endroits. Cette œuvre est connue Nicolas Horvath en a donc tiré trois extraits inédits
Choix audacieux, très intéressant fait par ce jeune pianiste, trois morceaux restés inédits. Pas le Liszt le plus facile, peut être plus pour les initiés. Et c'est l'occasion de découvrir Nicolas Horvath.

Fanfare (September 2013) par Peter Burwasser

The apparently simplistic construction conquered me with stealth beauty. I’ll give Horvath, a very fine young French artist, a good share of the credit for his ability to portray an almost naïve sense of awe in the music, which can seem both child-like and wondrous.I did end up listening to the original full choral version of Christus (the Rotterdam/Conlon performance). I am glad to come to know this strangely beautiful work, but, somewhat surprisingly, it did not reduce my affection for this solo piano version, which I find to be mysteriously bewitching. If this were an LP, I would have worn it out by now.

Radio Notre Dame (Mars 2013) par Delphine Freyssinet - Disque du mois

Le pianiste  Nicolas Horvath présente ici  au disque une magistrale version pour piano solo en première mondiale : c’est une découverte passionnante qui permert de suivre et d’approfondir  les intentions les plus intimes et le message musical  le plus exact du compositeur dans ce cycle musical d’une superbe authenticité tant musicale que religieux. A recommander ...

Lexnews (Mars 2013)

Nicolas Horvath, brillant pianiste particulièrement inspiré par la musique de Liszt et remarqué par le grand Leslie Howard, s’est attaqué à cette œuvre monumentale, pour notre plus grand plaisir, car il n’est pas toujours chose aisée, même avec l’art de Liszt, de donner autant d’intensité à une transcription de 70 minutes en comparaison des trois heures de l’œuvre pour orchestre que l’on a en mémoire à l’écoute de ce disque… Et pourtant le résultat est saisissant, car le pianiste parvient à redonner souffle à une narration ciselée de nuances, où chaque tableau émerveille l’oreille autant que l’imagination. Nicolas Horvath surprend par cette grande maturité qui lui permet d’insister sur les instants précieux tels ce Chant des bergers à la Crèche digne des plus belles évocations de Lorenzo Costa dans la peinture de la renaissance italienne ou encore ce majestueux Tu es Petrus. Et que dire de ce passage si fort Tristis est anima, une douleur évoquée par les accords graves répétés, avec des accents qui préfigurent les dernières œuvres de Liszt (Nuages gris, Unstern...).

On-Mag (14 Mars 2013 ) par Yvette Laval. Note: 5/5

Au final, de même que Karl Valentin disait que toute pièce de théâtre doit raconter l’histoire du théâtre, de même ce « Christus » pour piano se révèle être, en même temps qu’un oratorio sur le Christ, un oratorio sur l’histoire de la musique liturgique. Et Nicolas Horvath l’a bien vu. La cohérence de ce CD est évidente.

Musical Toronto (13 juin 2013) par John Terauds - Nicolas Horvath’s brave journey through Franz Liszt’s Christus

Monégasque pianist Nicolas Horvath is building a career out of making sense of the difficult — be it new music or the later works of Liszt. In his début album issued on the Éditions Hortus label, Horvath does a double-Liszt with the composer’s own piano-solo transcription of his massive oratorio Christus, published in 1872. These transcriptions essentially meld choral and instrumental parts into plenty of work for 10 fingers. There are gorgeous moments when Liszt reaches back to the simplicity of plainchant. There also are extravagant dramatic outbursts with crashing chords and and virtuosic runs. But the bulk of the music is a quilt of meek-and-mild episodes sprung from the composer’s fertile imagination — more noodling than drama. Horvath approaches the music with breathtaking dexterity and gives it momentum wherever he can find some. Here is a pianist with a powerful sense of where his interpretation needs to go.

L’Éducation Musicale (Avril 2013) par Patrice Imbaud.

Superbe interprétation de Nicolas Horvath qui sait laisser place à la musique, ne sombrant jamais dans une vaine et quelconque virtuosité, exaltant par son jeu toutes les facettes de cette partition complexe, véritable parcours initiatique. Tour à tour orchestral ou confident, son piano, toujours juste et expressif, sait respecter les silences et les articulations pour donner à cette œuvre toute sa beauté, parfois aride, et sa transcendance. Un disque rare et indispensable à tous les amoureux de Franz Liszt.

Utmisol (Mars 2013) par Danielle Anex-Cabanis Christus – poème symphonique pour piano

Nicolas Horvath, dont on connaît l’engagement pour la musique contemporaine dans laquelle il excelle, monte ici une nouvelle dimension de son talent par un jeu d’une grande richesse. Il alterne douceur et subtilité avec des effets sonores plus amples exigeant une maîtrise technique exceptionnelle, car l’œuvre est complexe, tant Liszt l’a chargée d’un message profond, une sorte de synthèse de tout ce qui est essentiel pour lui. Peut-être même que, même si six chants sont absents, ce condensé a une profondeur plus grande, parce la musique est plus épurée. C’est en tout cas un très bel enregistrement


Piano Addict – Great find


Larkreviews (Février 2013)

Christus is rarely heard in its oratorio form, and this arrangement of eight movements for piano is even rarer. However it draws on Liszt’s lifetime of experience as both composer and believer to bring a subtlety and conviction which in other works can appear bombastic. The simplicity of Pastorale , the might of the Foundation of the Church and the unexpected gentle warmth of the Easter Hymn all seem more persuasive in piano version than the full choral epic.

L'1nvisible (Mai 2013)

Dans ce merveilleux CD, toute la douceur du piano de Liszt nous fait pénétrer par les sens dans le mystère de la vie du Christ. Laissez vous faire: ça file des oreilles tout droit vers le coeur... L'âme est comme soulevée par l'émotion qui se dégage de ce poème symphonique. La foi pénètre aussi par la beauté.

Francis Benoît Cousté (Mars 2013)

De ce monumental poème symphonique en trois parties, retraçant la vie du Christ (Oratorio de Noël, Après l’Épiphanie, Passion et résurrection, 1862-1866), il existait une version pour piano solo, dont voici le premier enregistrement mondial. En huit parties, cette fois: Introduction, Pastorale, Chant des bergers à la crèche, Marche des rois mages, La fondation de l’Église, Le miracle, Tristis est anima mea, O Filii et Filiæ. Merci à l’excellent pianiste qu’est Nicolas Horvath de nous restituer ces pages de haute spiritualité. Sans les ordinaires "effets de manche", propres - chez Liszt - à tant de ses confrères...

Music Broadway World (14 Mai 2013)

French pianist Nicolas Horvath is heard in his recording debut with this fascinating solo piano version of Liszt's monumental oratorio Christus.

Église de Beauvais – revue diocésaine ( Juillet - aout 2013) par Jacques Yvert

Nicolas Horvath, jeune pianiste au talent exceptionnel, réussit à reproduire le dépouillement voulu par le compositeur pour cette fresque religieuse. Cet enregistrement du Christus de Liszt restera sans doute l'une des meilleures interprétation de cette œuvre.

Paulinus (21 Avril 2013) par Christoph Vratz - Oratorium für 20 Finger

Nun hat der monegassische Pianist Nicolas Horvath dieses Werk in Auszügen in einer Klavierbearbeitung vorgelegt – wer die entsprechenden Gesangstexte vermisst: Sie werden im Beiheft nachgereicht. So klingt das Oratorium in dieser rein instrumentalen Fassung natürlich schlanker, durchsichtiger, transzendenter.

Classical-Modern Music Review blogsite (31 Juillet 2013) par Grego Applegate Edwards

The end experience is quite moving and orchestral in breadth and expanse. Nicolas Horvath handles the music with all the versatility, sensitivity, passion and technical heroics the music requires. It's most definitely a revelation to hear the complete eight-part piano version performed in its entirety. And Horvath triumphs in so doing! Definitely recommended, for all Lisztians, solo piano aficionados and those who want to experience the bridging of romanticism into modernism. Fabulous!

L'Hébdo-Le Comtadin (17 Octobre 2013) par Philippe Gut - Cd coup de cœur: Christus

C'est une transcription pour le piano de huit des quatorze pièces de cet oratorio que l'on peut entendre sous les doigts d'une dextérité merveilleuse de Nicolas Horvath qui a une connaissance approfondie de l’œuvre pianistique de Liszt. (...) Une œuvre singulière, aux sonorités somptueuses, admirablement rendues par un pianiste d’exception.

vendredi 25 octobre 2013

l'Abbé Liszt - new videos from my Budapest recital 2013

I also felt that today was the perfect day to publish those videos, after the terrible new i recently learnt (and expressed in my previous post).

Last year in January i was honored to be invited by the Liszt Museum in Budapest to give a recital.

For the program since it was packed with real Liszt specialists , i felt that a different program than the one everybody is doing, will be a perfect match for the place.

All the recital was centered around the religious aspect of Liszt and the sublime compositions he did and that unfortunately are very rarely performed.

I hope that, like me, you will really enjoy this "not usual" aspect of Liszt's créations :
 In Festo Transfigurationis Domini Nostri Jesus Christi S.188

 Rosario S.670

Sancta Dorothea S.187

O Sacrum Conivum S.674a

Ave Maria IV S.545

Via Crucis S.504a

Farewel Marianne ~ a conceptual photosession she did of me

Tonight i just learnt than Marianne, a long time friend and an outstanding electric bass player is no more.
I can really say that i was lucky to have cross her path and to have met her. We worked together in some bands in a distant past, and recently we worked together in my contemporary chamber music groupe, the SAI Ensemble.
She was really ahead of her time, allways with some terrific and crazy ideas. I feel now so sad to know that we will never be able to do them together.
I still can't belive she had to go to such extremities.

As an hommage to her, i am publishing a photosession she did of me during my very first exhibit in Brussels in June 2013. I know that she really liked those pictures, but me on the other hand, i was little affraid that they would be "too much" for Facebook.

Later of course i will do a post about this exhibit and its meaning. But I do not feel it would be the point nor the good day for it.

 And a picture of her on our very first concert of my S.A.I. Ensemble :

jeudi 24 octobre 2013

Jaan Rääts (b 1932) the unknown (in the west) genious from Estonia

If 2011 was the year of Brenet ; 2012, Jean Catoire ; my "big shock" of 2013 is the fantastic piano music of Jaan Rääts.

A short bio

born October 15th , 1932, in Tartu

Rääts studied piano at the Tartu Music High School and graduated in 1957 as a composition student of professors Mart Saar and Heino Eller from the Tallinn Conservatoire. 1955–1966 he worked as a recording engineer at the Estonian Radio, 1966–1970 as chief editor of music programs and 1970–1974 as chief director and music manager of the Estonian Television. From 1974 to 1993, he served as chairman of the Estonian Composers’ Union and was also a long-time member of high party and government bodies. 1968–1970 and again 1974–2003, Rääts has taught composition at the Estonian Academy of Music (professor since 1990). Among his many students there were Raimo Kangro, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Rauno Remme, Tõnu Kõrvits, Tõnis Kaumann and Timo Steiner.

Jaan Rääts is a composer with a fairly constant sound and style. The bulk of his work consists of instrumental music. From 1957–1993, Rääts completed ten symphonies. He has also written 24 concertos for orchestra and soloist(s) and two concertos for chamber orchestra, symphonic pieces and a lot of chamber music.
In the 1960s, a markedly anti-Romantic, active and playful style was brought into Estonian music by Jaan Rääts, a composer of neo-classicist orientation. His youthful and rhythmic Concerto for Chamber Orchestra from 1961 became a landmark achievement in Estonian new music.
With this piece, a huge tour of more than 2000 concerts happened, that brings him to Russia, North Korea, France (at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées!), USA (Carnegie Hall), UK...
His music was performed and recorded by high figures such as Neeme Järvi, Rudolph Barshai ...

Rääts’ rhythm-centred idiom, developed in the 1960s, was exerting an influence on Estonian music as a whole as late as in the end of the 1980s. Although he started as a composer during the era of (re)discovering modernism and avant-garde compositional techniques, his mosaic-like, playful personal style signified the advent of postmodernist thought in Estonian music.

More than 40 vinyl records and CD-s have been released by several companies including Melodija, Antes Edition, Finlandia Records, Capriccio Records, Kreuzberg Records and Eurodisc. By Antes Edition two personal collections (1995, 1996) have produced. Rääts’s works have been published by Sovetski Kompozitor, Muzõka, Estonian Music Foundation, Edition Peters, Sikorski Verlag, G. Schirmer Inc., Antes Edition, Edition 49, Eres Edition a.o.

Jaan Rääts has received the honorary titles of Estonian SSR Merited Art Worker (1965) and People’s Artist (1977). He has deserved the Prize of Soviet Estonia (1972), Literature and Art Award of the Estonian Soviet Communist Youth Organisation (1970) and Annual Music award of the ESSR (1974). In the Republic of Estonia he has been awarded the Estonian State Cultural Award (1995), the Annual Prize of Endowment for Music of Culture Endowment of Estonia (2002), the Annual Award of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia (2007), The Lifetime Achievement Award of the Estonian National Culture Foundation (2011), The Lifetime Achievement Award of the Republic of Estonia (2011) and the third class order of the White Star.

At this link you can listen to his famous "Concerto for Strings Orchestra Op 16" :

And here his Concerto for 4 Pianos and 8 Pianists :

his 8th Symphony :

Unfortunately, only part of his favorite piece: The Konzert für Violin und Organ

How i discovered it

In fact, i really discovered his music totally by chance.
I will skip many personnal and not interesting détails, and to sum up the discovery of Rääts music is linked to my huge admiration of Arvo Pärt music.

Last year, after an invitation to participate to the Dynasty festival in Kiev, i had to compose a recital program that would complete a big concert i had with the Kiev Soloist orchestra to premiere nationally the 2 Philip Glass concerti.
My first idea was to make a Mirror recital, the french avant garde with some minimal music, this time not Glass, but Pärt.
As many knows, Pärt piano music is extremely thin ... maybe ... 10 minute in total (of course you can still add the pièces he wrote before the "Für Alina"revelation , but ... it is not really the same composer.

So with Pärt i got an idea to make half my program with the Estonian music (yes, Pärt is estonian ). Like everytime i went to a list of composers that i got from the Neeme Järvi website,  -> Google  -> youtube ... and if i like it, i perform it. Quite simple!
So for Rääts i found out a pretty nice music, specially the Estonian Preludes who are good. Very few infos on internet and few videos. Some italian pianist did a recording with a pretty good quality, but nothing more.

The concerts i did with Rääts music (up to this day)

For Kiev, i could not prepare the program, as with the 2 concertos and a big 1.30 hours program to prepare in Monaco the forthcoming week, i could not do it.

On the other hand i still kept the idea in mind, and performed it for my Night of Minimal Piano in Collioure

and since the public answer to it was very good and positive, i programmed it again on 2 more récitals :

in Lantosque for the 'Les Estivales' festival :
and in La Sainte Baume during the Summer University :

In both concert, public reception was allways very good, as they liked the eerie touch of the music.

From my concerts :

Estonian Prélude n°13 Op 80

Madrigal n°1 Op 65

Bagatelle n°1 Op 50

Meeting with the Maestro

As a result, i had the honor to be invited to meet the composer and if it could fit, even to his own 81st birthday.
Luckily, i was free at this time (since i am now preparing some recordings, i have more free time than last year), and so i could come!

In Tallinn where the Maestro lives, i had the luck to have a visit with him all around the very nice old city and the Conservatory

But what was really the point of my visit (even is Tallinn is really a cute and nice city i would definitively recommand ) was to have a look at all his scores.
And ... i did very well to come. I was shocked to see how great Rääts compositions are ! A kind of missing link in between Shostakovitch and Steve Reich. Imagine the power of the repetitive structures of the americans mixed with the harmonies of the russian ! I was totally Under the spell of his Sonatas and his Piano concertos.
And also there is a very nice sense of humour (it can reminds a little bit Prokofiev) , and some very peacefull moment with right after some clashing harmonies.

Curiously, the Maestro is very shy and will talk very few about his influances and his compositions wishies (I still don't know if it was "ok" to perform in such a romantic way as i did, the only think i knew was, that the maestro really liked my performances). I had to ask very strongly to his wife, the very nice Ebba Rääts to know that in fact the Estonian Preludes are composed with an influance of estonian traditional folk songs. Of course it could be easy to guess, but on the other hand ... no proof of it ! The name could really means in both way "preludes from Estonia" or "preludes influanced by estonian trad" !

I was Lucky enough to listen to a very lot of recording. Sadly we could not find his Electroacoustic compositions, as ... yes ! he is also the very first composer from Estonia to have done Electroacoustic !

Now i am looking forward to receive his 10 sonatas ! If everything is going well, there should be some surprises and nice concerts on their way ;) Let's cross fingers :))))