The PARMA Album of the Day: HAYDN AND THE ENGLISH LADY

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On his debut PARMA release HAYDN AND THE ENGLISH LADY, pianist Patrick Hawkins presents a collection of piano works by Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) and Maria Hester Park (1760-1813) illustrate the diversity and refinement of Classical repertoire. The Classical Reviewer says, “A most rewarding disc from Navona Records features pianist Patrick Hawkins in works by Maria Hester Reynolds Park and Haydn played on an 1831 William Geib Square Piano.”

Find HAYDN AND THE ENGLISH LADY on Amazon, iTunes, and Naxos Music Library.

The PARMA Inside Story: Alla Elana Cohen

Distinguished composer, pianist, music theorist and teacher Alla Elana Cohen, immigrated to the United States from Soviet Russia in 1989. Now living in Boston, Cohen is a professor at both Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory of Music. Today, Cohen is our next featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings of our artists and their personalities.

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Who was your first favorite artist(s) growing up?

My parents weren’t musicians, but they loved classical music very much – since when I was very young, I had the happiness to listen at home to many classical masterpieces on records, on radio and TV, and especially I loved piano music but also listened to a lot of orchestral and chamber music. By some reason, growing up, I much preferred instrumental music to vocal. My favorites when I was a child – and still now – great pianists Emil Gilels, Maria Yudina, Dinu Lipatti and many many others!

When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist/composer/creator?

I realized it very early. My parents bought a piano for me when I was 5, and I started piano lessons at 5, and a year later I started to compose music, and since then I have never wanted to do anything else in life – I always felt that being a composer/pianist is the greatest blessing, and is my true vocation. But my first creative experience started even earlier – I composed my first little poem when I was 4, and it was about my favorite candy that had a picture of bears near the pine tree in the forest on its foil, in Russian it had rhythm and rhyme, and if to translate it roughly into English, it will be something like:  “Naughty little bear-cub put pinecones in his mother’s tub; his younger sister is of the same sort: all day she wallows in the dirt”!

What was your most unusual performance, or the most embarrassing thing that happened to you during a performance?

My most unusual performance was in 2001, when 12-year old phenomenal prodigy cellist Sebastian Baverstam played with me my cello/piano duo in 3 movements at the concert of my music –a child played super-challenging cello part in a composition of extreme difficulty both interpretation-wise and technically, and he did it brilliantly, on the level of an adult master, and what is the most remarkable is that he received the music of this duo and learned it 10 days before the concert! I still have that amazing recording – from that concert. It was the beginning of our collaboration that lasts all these years and continues now – he played solo cello pieces and cello part in all the ensembles on my CD that PARMA releases now! And PARMA will release soon the CD, that consists of only cello/piano, solo cello and solo piano music, that we recorded with Sebastian.

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What was your favorite musical moment on the album?

For a composer all his/her works should be equally dear, otherwise, there is no sense to perform/record them! Each of the works on this CD highlights certain aspects and facets of my individual musical style, each piece has its own, unique character, so it is impossible for me to decide.

Was there a piece on your album that you found more difficult to compose/perform than the others?

“Inscription on a Bamboo Screen” for soprano and viola (with cup-gong in the last movement) was the most challenging for both the singer and violist – vocal part is very challenging and requires very flexible voice and excellent intonation, and not less difficult viola part has certain extended techniques, with which my violist wasn’t familiar.

What does this album mean to you personally?

The release of my CD by PARMA, Ravello label, is very important for me – not only because it is the next step for me in my creative work, but because it is a start of my collaboration with PARMA, that will make my compositions more known to broader circles of listeners.

Alla Elana Cohen’s RED LILIES OF BELLS, GOLDEN LILIES OF BELLS, WHITE LILIES OF BELLS is now available on Amazon, iTunes, ArkivMusic and is streaming on Spotify

The PARMA Album of the Day: JOHN CAGE: SONATAS AND INTERLUDES IN A LANDSCAPE

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On her debut Navona Records album, JOHN CAGE: SONATAS AND INTERLUDES / IN A LANDSCAPE, pianist Kate Boyd performs two pieces by John Cage (1912-1992) that exemplify his range of compositional intuition and invention. Gramophone says “Even if you had not kept up with all of the individual parts, you know that something big and beautiful has happened.”

Find the album on Amazon, iTunes, and Naxos Music Library.

 

The Inside Story: Andrew Schultz

Andrew Schultz, an Australian composer who is currently teaching music at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, studied music at the Universities of Queensland and Pennsylvania and at King’s College London, where he’s received awards and fellowships. In addition to Falling Man/Dancing Man, featured on Navona Records‘ most recent compilation album WINTER’S WARMTH, Schultz’s work Magnificat appeared on a past Navona Records compilation called FOUNDATIONSThe Music Trust declared that his piece “would sit well beside Bach.” Today, Schultz is our next featured artist for “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our artists.

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When did you realize that you wanted to be a composer?

I started improvising at the piano at an early age – say 7 or 8. It was something I loved to do for my own enjoyment – call it ‘play’ I guess. By my mid-teens, I was writing music and had totally caught the bug. Listening, improvising, filling books of music manuscript – it was highly addictive and completely absorbing. All aspects of the creative composing process fascinated me then and still do. It rarely feels like work.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Chocolate!  In my house there are no rules when it comes to chocolate: All’s fair in love and war and chocolate is my motto.

If you could spend creative time anywhere in the world, where would it be? And why?

I’m very happy in my studio at home in Sydney and have it well set up to allow me to compose without interruption or technical hitches. But new places, cycling, and skiing really help to keep the creative juices flowing. So a ski-in-ski-out studio on top of a mountain in the Swiss alps would also be OK!

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What would you say to an artist performing your work that nobody else knows?

As little as possible – it’s all in the score and hopefully, the music will communicate itself.

What was your favorite musical moment on the album?

The passion and energy that Karel Martinek (organ soloist), the Moravian Philharmonic and Petr Vronský (conductor) brought to the second movement of my work, Deep Crossing.  There was no need to explain it to them – all the players picked it up straight away and played from the heart. The final moments of that movement with off-stage clarinets playing like distant sirens were powerful for me. I hope listeners can connect with the musical symbolism in this movement.

What does this album mean to you personally?

Works for solo organ and orchestra are rare so finding a way to see the work reach a wider public outside Australia was important to me. I hope that people will listen with open ears and minds and find enjoyment and some connection to the artistic ideals of expressive communication and technical delight that drive my work.

The compilation album WINTER’S WARMTH, featuring contemporary works for orchestra has been released on Navona Records and is now available to purchase on Amazon, iTunes, ArkivMusic, and is streaming on Spotify

The PARMA Album of the Day: IN THE KEY OF C-SPAN

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THE KEY OF C-SPAN, Vol. 1 is the premiere release of the digital music collections featuring works from PARMA Recordings’ audio catalog which have been used in C-SPAN‘s programming. The Washington Post says “The dulcet tones of the new music collection “In the Key of C-SPAN: Great Works as Heard on C-SPAN Television, Volume One” isn’t just music to nerd out to, it’s the soundtrack to neutrality.”

Find THE KEY OF C-SPAN, Vol. 1 on Amazon, iTunes, and Naxos Music Library.

DRESS CODE Featured in Spotify’s Hand-Picked Playlist

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The past few release months have been exciting for PARMA and our artists. The music streaming giant Spotify has picked up on the past three PARMA releases and have been featuring tracks from our artists’ albums in their hand-picked playlist “Classical New Releases,” which has over 160k listeners.

Korean concert violinist Moonkyung Lee started the trend back in February with her release of TCHAIKOVSKY, which features the London Symphony Orchestra, and now has over 50k streams. The trend continued with New York pianist Beth Levin and her March release BRIGHT CIRCLE, featuring the works of Brahms, Schubert, and Del Tredici, which since the release, has over 75k streams.

Last Friday we released our April releases and as luck would have it, the trend continues with the award-winning Colorado-based string ensemble Altius Quartet and their debut PARMA release DRESS CODE.  Now up to over 9k streams, we are excited to see where Altius and DRESS CODE will be in the coming weeks.

You can find DRESS CODE on Amazon, iTunes, and ArkivMusic.

 

The Inside Story: Jeffrey Jacob

Long-time PARMA artist pianist and composer,  Jeffery Jacob,  has had his works performed worldwide by several high-profile ensembles, including Raymond Leppard and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and most recently by the Cuban National Symphony. Today, Jacob is our next featured artist for “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalites of our artists. Read on to find out what his favorite musical moment was!

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Who was your first favorite artist(s) growing up?

Like most young children, I listened to the music my parents listened to.  They were passionate about Lawrence Welk, and we never missed a TV show.  I began piano lessons at the age of 5, and shortly thereafter various aunts and uncles would bombard me with the question, “Do you think you’ll ever be good enough to play with Lawrence Welk?”  My parents both sang in the church choir, and I could sense their deep love and profound response to music, although they never ever listened to Classical Music and were quite intimidated by it.  Later, as a pianist, I fell under the influence of Vladimir Horowitz’s recordings and was totally blown away by the rock star status of Van Cliburn after he won the first Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow at the height of the cold war.  I still vividly remember the newsreels of his New York City ticker tape parade.  During this period–middle school and high school–I thought it would be wonderful to have a career creating, performing and teaching music.

What was your most unusual performance, or the most embarrassing thing that happened to you during a performance?

My most sensationally memorable performance occurred in Warsaw, Poland.  I was performing George Crumb’s Makrokosmos, Vol. IV for piano duet with a Polish pianist.  Like all of Crumb’s piano music, much of the work is performed inside the piano with the pianists plucking, muting and playing glissandos over the strings.  At one point during the performance, I looked down at the keys.  Some of them were covered in blood.  The other pianist had nicked a finger on one of the sharp edges inside the instrument.  We finished the movement, and he produced two handkerchiefs and wiped up the blood.  The piano was turned so that most of the audience could see what was happening, and there were audible gasps.  When we finally finished the piece, the audience erupted in applause celebrating the fact that we had literally sacrificed the flesh for the sake of contemporary art!

What is your guilty pleasure?

My guilty pleasure is writing music that is unabashedly tonal, romantic, and relentlessly melodic.  Although I have great admiration for serial and post-serial music (I’ve recorded three CDs of exclusively serial piano works by American composers), I’m troubled by the fact the complexity of this music is inaccessible to the general public.  A Spanish composer told me recently that young composers throughout Europe are furious with Boulez and Stockhausen for “destroying” (his word) the audience for new music in Europe.  And of course, when Boulez was appointed Music Director of the New York Philharmonic he promised to prove to the world that the general musical public would come to appreciate and embrace serial music.  During his tenure there he proved exactly the opposite.

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What was your favorite musical moment on the album?

My favorite musical moment on the album REAWAKENING was the recording of the signature work, “Awakening for Piano and Orchestra” with the Cuban National Symphony under its Music Director, Enrique Perez Mesa.   It was a great thrill to travel to Cuba and perform and record with this excellent ensemble and first class conductor.

Was there a piece on your album that you found more difficult to compose/perform than the others?

This work was by far the most difficult to compose.  I wanted to convey the sense of struggle and triumph in musical gestures that were not overly simplistic or derivative, but at the same time accessible and appealing to non-musicians.  For me, a very delicate balancing of sometimes disparate musical material.

Is there a specific feeling you want listeners to tune into when hearing your work?

I hope that listeners will find the album UPLIFTING.  The music conjures many images:  consciousness in both senses of the word, rebirth, the rhythms of the natural world, and reanimation.    “Reawakening” implies cyclic phenomena, and indeed the album was designed to suggest the most fundamental of all cycles:  birth development, maturity, death and rebirth in both the human and natural worlds.

Jeffrey Jacobs Navona Records release REAWAKENING is now available to purchase on Amazon, iTunes, and ArkivMusic. The album is also streaming on Spotify.

 

 

The PARMA Album of the Day: ALBERT’S WINDOW

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From Stravinsky-esque rhythms and impressionistic harmonies to Xerox® machine-inspired gestures, Eight Strings & a Whistle – comprised of flutist Suzanne Gilchrest, violist Ina Litera, and cellist Matthew Goeke – present a diverse selection of contemporary and 20th-century works that highlight the ensemble’s blend of technical prowess and emotive interpretation on their debut Ravello Records release ALBERT’S WINDOW. Kathodik says the trio “handled with absolute mastery and confidence.”

Find ALBERT’S WINDOW on Amazon and iTunes.

 

The PARMA Album of the Day: THE MUSIC OF ERICH ZANN

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Michael J. Evans released his most recent PARMA album and first string quartet works THE MUSIC OF ERICH ZANN in February of this year. The digital only release, featuring Sirus Quartet, is a string rendition of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story  “The Music of Erich Zann.” The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society says, “it is very apparent that the melodic, pretty, and poignant scoring is taking us on an intriguing journey along the story line of Lovecraft’s tale.”

Find the Album on Amazon and iTunes.

The Inside Story: Zhen Chen

Composer and pianist, Zhen Chen, is a graduate of Central Conservatory of Music in China, held the position as featured pianist with the China Xinhua Philharmonic Orchestra from 2008 to 2010, and has been hailed as “brilliant” by FanFare magazine. Today, Zhen Chen is our featured artist for “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our artists. Read on to discover where Chen spends his creative time!

Zhen Chen 3.jpgWhen did you realize that you wanted to be an artist/ composer/creator?

When I was 13 years old, I got accepted by the Pre-college division of Hebei Art School, Hebei Province, China.  That was quite a big deal in my hometown because the school only accept 5-8 young pianists from the whole province. I was so proud of myself and for the first time, I felt I could do this. I love music and I want to be a musician, although I had no idea what “Musician” really meant, I only knew it’s a very cool title and I want to be a musician, very simple.

After 6 years of professional training, I got accepted by Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing, the top music school in China. I started my undergraduate there. I still remember I met an old lady at school and she was waiting outside of the music hall for a student recital. She asked me: are you a student here? I said, “yes, I am, I’m a pianist.” She said, “wonderful! How lucky are you! You know what? this is a magic school, students here are all the most talented magicians!”  I laughed and said, “no, no, we are not magicians, we are musicians.” The old lady looked at me and said, “It is the same, young man, no matter musicians or magicians, you guys create wonderlands and bring us to there, surprise our eyes and touch our soul, it’s same.”

After that day, I realized that I really want to be a musician and artist.

What was your most unusual performance, or the most embarrassing thing that happened to you during a performance?

During one of my degree recitals back in college, I was so sick and got a very high fever the day before the recital. I felt dizzy and sleepy but I didn’t want to postpone my recital because I prepared well and practiced a lot. Then the nightmare happened during my performance. I was playing the Beethoven piano sonata No.8, everything went pretty well in 1st movement, but 2nd movement is a slow movement, following the soft and heartbreaking melody I felt warm and comforting, so I closed my eyes and enjoyed the music, then, I passed out, yes, literally, I fall  asleep on the stage, in front of everyone, but somehow my fingers still played. The most awkward moment was when I woke up, my fingers stopped on a chord and I didn’t know where I was or which part of the music I stopped at. I was totally blank and terrified. The audience started talking softly and my professor yelled at me from the audience, “I promise you will have a very sweet dream later in my office! But finish the recital now!”

I was so scared and was sweating on the stage like hell. I was worried that my professor might kill me after the recital. But guess what, because of how much I was sweating, my fever was gone after the performance.

If you could spend creative time anywhere in the world, where would it be? And why?

Home, my sweet home. I’m a lazy person, although, I love to travel very much, especially with someone you love. Home makes me feel safe and comfortable to just be myself. I need to be myself when I compose, practice or anything creative. I go different places for inspirations like all other artists, I try my best to remember the feelings or took some notes to help me to remember what I see and what I feel from the travel,  and wait until I back home, I do the creative part.

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What was your favorite musical moment on the album?

The climax before the recapitulation in “Jade”, the technique in that passage is extremely difficult for a pipa player, the pipa player has to shake his/her right hand very fast and even in such long periods to match the process of the transformation of gem Jade—the gem Jade is transformed from minerals under high temperature and high pressure, the gem’s final metamorphosis happens when the music gradually develops into an intensive rotating fingering session of pipa. The music reflects our self, never give up and trust yourself. All kinds of pressures and fails only make us stronger and better, just like how Jade formed.

What does this album mean to you personally?

This album is me, it’s what I learned from my past years, I know I’m not old enough to say I have been through a lot in the past, blah blah blah.. but so what, I want to share my stories to people and I would like to use my music to tell people what I learned from life. For instance the last piece in this album– “Recollection”, is a solo piano piece, the piece opens with portentous intervals, as if a door to the past is gradually opening. Vicissitudes flash back in our memories. We meditate on our life, pull ourselves together, and look forward. “Life goes on” is the underlying theme that I want to tell myself and my audience.

Is there a specific feeling you want listeners to tune into when hearing your work?

10 pieces of music in “ERGO” are 10 different stories. Some of them are happy and joyful, some of them are sad and sorrowful, some of them are passionate and impulsive. Every single listener has his/her own version of story in each piece and he/she is the leading role of the stories. I hope “ERGO” is able to recall some precious memories of ours which maybe we already forget a long time ago. I hope “ERGO” is able to touch the softest part of our hearts and make us calm and peace. I hope “ERGO” is able to make us even braver and stronger in our life, just like the theme of  the piano piece Recollection—-“pull ourselves together, and look forward, life goes on…”

ERGO is available to purchase on Amazon, iTunes, ArkivMusic and streaming on Spotify