MP3 Nikolaj Sajko & Miha Haas - Grieg, Savin, Martinu, Pucihar - Music for Cello and Piano
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8 MP3 Songs in this album (62:36) !
Related styles: Classical: Chamber Music, Classical: Sonata, Instrumental
People who are interested in Felix Mendelssohn Johannes Brahms Yo-Yo Ma should consider this download.
Debut CD of two young Slovene musicians â cellist Nikolaj Sajko and pianist Miha Haas â contains compositions for cello and piano which offer the listener an equal dialogue of the two instruments, thus creating a multilayered world of musical narratives.
Full track listing:
Edvard Grieg: Sonata in a minor op. 36 for Piano and Violoncello
1. Allegro agitato
2. Andante molto tranquillo
3. Allegro molto e marcato
Risto Savin: Sonata, op. 22
4. Allegro moderato
5. Andante â Allegretto â Tempo I
6. Allegro molto (quasi Presto)
7. Bohuslav Martinu: Variations on a Theme of Rossini for Violoncello and Piano
8. BlaÅ¾ Pucihar: Summer Sonata op. 8 for Violoncello and Piano
"Writing a chamber music masterpiece, which thrills both the audience and the performers with the same amount of enthusiasm, is definitely an exceptionally demanding task for a composer. All too often it occurs that the final interpretation turns out to be a mere approximation of performers' tendencies. If they wished to overcome acoustic differences of instruments which directly influence the way of one's thinking concepts, their efforts would have to blend into a whole. The Sonata for Piano and Cello in a-minor op. 36 (1883) by Edward Grieg (1843 â1907) is no part of the latter category. The composer puts the cello part into a position that enables a maximum outcome of the instrument so that it can be an equal partner even in sections of dense and eruptive sound mass. In this way, the pianist does not need to renounce the concert component of the piano sound while dealing with exceptionally demanding technical elements." (Miha Haas)
Grieg was not entirely pleased with this composition; however its place in the cello repertoire is firmly established. The first movement Allegro agitato reveals virtuosity as well as the warmth and lyricism typical of the composer's songs and miniatures. The thematic material of the Andante is derived from Grieg's orchestral suite Sigurd Jorsalfar (1872). A thunderstorm arises from the tenderness of the initial melody and its recapitulation brings back the peacefulness from the opening. In the third movement Finale one can hear a lively dance with a note of folklore; its power and ecstasy remind us of Grieg's Lyrical Pieces for piano.
During his Vienna years Risto Savin (a pseudonym of Friderik Å irca, 1859â1948) was earning a living as a military officer, geography teacher and as a choirmaster. It was during this period that he made acquaintances with a great deal of important composers, including Grieg, whom he remained in correspondence with also later on. The musical life of Vienna was of vital importance for the development of his musical language. The Sonata for cello and piano was written in 1920 and is distinctive by its firm thematic formation as well as a variety of technical and expressional possibilities. Its spirit is late romanticism, especially present in the first movement which also stands out as the most harmonically progressive. The cello part properly exploits musical possibilities of the instrument, while the piano part with its lavishness of sound often appears in the foreground.
"In the Sonata for cello and piano Risto Savin relates to the romantic tradition of Brahms, Mendelssohn and Grieg. Performers have a delicate task of balancing the sound of both instruments, as the cello part often appears in the lower register while the piano with its compact chords occupies the range above the cello line. Particularly in the first movement the composer allowed the performers greater freedom of interpretation, adaptation of dynamics and tempi as the dynamic markings appear sparsely and for bigger sections only. They often do not show the actual dynamic level, but only stand as guidelines to the emotional character of the section. When one grasps the emotional message of the piece, all of its difficulties disappear in rich and passionate mixture of sounds." (Nikolaj Sajko)
Baroque music of Corelli, impressionism of Debussy, neoclassicism of Stravinsky, American jazz and Czech folk music - all these form a broad spectrum of influences that resulted in a unique musical language of Bohuslav Martinu (1890â1959). His music often combines the lively jazzy rhythms with an individual harmonic chromaticism. The Variations on a Theme by Rossini were composed in October 1942 in collaboration with the cellist Gregor Piatigorski to whom the piece is also dedicated. Seeking for a new, interesting and suitably demanding repertoire he gave the first performance of the work on May 1st 1943 in New York. The theme of the variations is derived from the prayer Dal tuo stellato soglio from the 3rd act of Rossini's opera Moses in Egypt. The piece is technically demanding for the cello so in spite of its musical qualities it is rarely performed on concert stage. Martinu's opus for cello consists of three sonatas and two sets of variations as well as some shorter pieces. Most of these were dedicated to prominent cellists whose performances on stage established the compositionsâ popularity in the cello repertoire of the 20th century.
"In Martinuâs Variations on a Theme by Rossini the famous cheerfully optimistic tune becomes a paraphrase which swiftly shifts from lightly humorous to heavily grotesque and even dissonant. Theme elements occur as fragments between the virtuoso passages of one-bow spiccati and staccati. With recognizable bits of melodic form they maintain excitement and bring serenity after the grotesquely disassembled modern material returns to the familiarity of the original operatic theme." (Nikolaj Sajko)
Blaz Pucihar (1977) on his piece: "Created in the heat of summer 2005 as a spontaneous idea of relaxed improvisation, the Summer Sonata pulled a short sonata form out of me which in its content reveals a wide range of emotions. These always represent the upgrading of the technical aspect of the piece. In three short movements childrenâs play, humour, desire, joy and gloom are weaved together. Only the clean joint performance of the two instruments that appear as absolutely balanced narrators shall allow these to flourish."
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Over the years, listeners have become accustomed to the idea that genres like Blues and Jazz are strongly rooted in a conversational approach to music. That the band members are speaking to each other without using words, or in the case of the Blues, mixing vocals and instruments, and that the audience is also taking part in this two-way conversation between artist and the listener. While these two genres have firmly solidified this concept is listener’s minds and in their expectations, Classical music is also full of great works that bring this approach to light, especially when two artists are performing in a duo situation such as cellist Nikolaj Sajko and pianist Miha Haas on their album Grieg, Savin, Martinu, Pucihar. The result is a record that showcases why bringing a strong level of conversation and musical communication to any performance will immediately speak to a listener, drawing them in and making them a part of the performance, rather than a passive bystander.
The album begins with a moving rendition of Edvard Grieg’s “Sonata in a minor, Op. 36 for Piano and Violoncello.” Both musicians are at the top of their game during this piece, as they not only perform with impeccable precision and technical facility, but with an emotional quality that draws the listener into the piece, holding one’s attention through the slow moments, the intense climax and the dramatic finale. While the technical facility of each performer is to be admired, it is not necessarily what makes this piece standout on the record. It is the musical interaction that makes it such a special experience, one that is not easily forgotten after the album comes to a close. It is a joy to listen to the cello weave its way in and out of the piano accompaniment with an ease and familiarity that leaves the impression that both instruments were played by the same person. This level of communication and interaction is a key quality in the success of any duo album, regardless of genre, and it is one of the main reasons that this record leaves such a lasting impression on the listener.
There are also works by lesser-known composers such as Bohuslav Martinu’s “Variations on a Theme of Rossini for Violoncello and Piano.” While this piece and composer may not be as familiar as Grieg and his work, it is worthy of inclusion alongside the other works on this album. There is a high level of intensity and engagement during the piece, though it never goes over the top in its attempt to build energy and musical intrigue. Dynamically, it is a study in how one uses subtlety to create intensity, instead of blasting the audience out of their chairs to achieve the same effect. Each wave of crescendo and decrescendo furthers the intensity of the piece, providing layer upon layer of interest and excitement from start to finish. This may be a new work to many listeners, but upon experiencing the duo perform it with such mastery, it is apparent why it was included on the album alongside the more familiar names and pieces. As well, the album contains two works by Slovene composers, a Romantic Sonata by Risto Savin and a more contemporary piece by Blaz Pucihar. Though these piece may not be as well know to listeners who are not familiar with Slovene composers, they are performed and interpreted with the same skill and high level of musicianship as the rest of the pieces. They are also a testament to the compositional mastery of these two composers, who are sometimes overshadowed by their contemporaries in Western European countries.
Recording a duo album is never an easy task in any genre, but Sajko and Hass make it sound easy. Their high level of musicianship, intimate knowledge of the pieces at hand and strong musical communication skills all combine to makes it an enjoyable album in all regards. As well, by including both known and lesser-known composers on the record, the duo is also providing a level of variety to the album that can be enjoyed by listeners of all backgrounds and musical tastes.
Review by Matthew Warnock
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)
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