Posts Tagged ‘Neo-Classical’

Echoes Ólafur Arnalds Interview Podcast

May 18, 2013

Hear the Echoes Interview with Ólafur Arnalds in the Echoes Podcast

Ólafur Arnalds’ For Now I Am Winter

Ólafur Arnalds’ For Now I Am Winter

There is an emerging generation of artists who are positing the first new movement in classical music since 1970s minimalism: Ambient Chamber Music.  It mixes classical orchestrations with electronic sounds, but couches  them all in gorgeous, often heart-rending melodies and an atmosphere that envelopes you, unlike a lot of neo-classical music.  Artists like Ludovico Einaudi, Hilmar Orn Hilmarrson and Max  Richter are at the leading edge, but there’s a growing younger generation that includes Dustin O’Halloran, Johnann Johannsson, Kevin Keller and leading the pack, Ólafur Arnalds.  His latest album, For Now I Am Winter was the Echoes CD of the Month in April.  During an Echoes living room concert we sat down to talk about his winter soundscapes. You can hear that interview in the Echoes Podcast.

Olafur Arnalds band & John Diliberto

Olafur Arnalds band & John Diliberto

Ólafur on Alicia Keys piano:   It’s a really, it’s so polished.

Arnór Dan Arnarson on his heavy metal reputation: It sounds so aahhhh!

Ólafur on Arnarson’s lyrics: When we were doing demos and just writing the vocal melodies in my studio, we didn’t have any lyrics yet, so Arnor would just sing jibberish, just go [jibbering] and then we got so addicted to those vowels because we had listened to it so many times, that when he started writing the lyrics he consciously tried to find words that rhymed with the vowels that we had previously used because they just felt so natural to the music.

Ólafur on silence:  I think silence is just as much music as not.

Here’s a dreamy video of my favorite song from the album, “Only the Winds.”

~John Diliberto (((echoes)))

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Ludovico Einaudi’s 21st Century Classicism-Echoes CD of the Month

March 1, 2013

Ludovico Einaudi’s In A Time Lapse
Echoes March CD of the Month

TimeLapse

Hear an audio version of this review with music in the Echoes Podcast.

Hear In a Time Lapse featured this weekend 3/8-10/2013 on Echoes.

You could pretty much stop listening to Ludovico Einaudi’s new album In a Time Lapse after the second track and that would be enough for a perfect CD.  The piece is called “Time Lapse” and it’s a perfect sculpture of minimalist ostinatos and Arvo Pärt-like sustains, with ambient electronics hanging off the edges like shimmering specters.  It’s one of those pieces, like Pachelbel’s “Canon,” that builds without ever resolving itself.  And you don’t want it to.

If you do want resolution, go to the next track: “Life.”  This is a surging cinematic foray that harkens back to earlier Einaudi compositions like “Divenire” with its grand crescendo and heroic cadence.  It’s the kind of song that has put Einaudi at the top of the European charts.

Ludovico Einaudi is an artist who treads a delicate line.  His music isn’t classical with a capitol “C” but neither is it classical-lite.  He studied with Italian avant-garde icon, Luciano Berio and came of age during the age of minimalism.  Because of those influences, his themes are emotionally charged without resorting to sentimentality.  And unlike most classical composers, he uses ambience as part of his compositions, whether it’s quirky electronics, or the open spaces between notes.  He actually lists a guy, Alberto Fabris, in the musicians’ credits for playing “reverb.”  On the composition “Walk,” piano, celesta and kalimba glisten like distant stars glowing in a dark sky of viola and cello.

Ludovico Einaudi Live on Echoes

Ludovico Einaudi Live on Echoes

Of all the neo-classical contemplative solo pianists out there, Einaudi has the broadest range, and the most tightly controlled technique.  Listen to the heart breaking pensiveness of “Discovery at Night,” one of two solo tracks, and you’ll realize that you can just toss out almost every other solo piano album you’ve heard lately. While most of them go for the rhapsodic sentiment, Einaudi, in just a few notes, taps right into the soul of emotion.  You’ll find no better example of this than this video of his recent on-line live performance, playing all of In A Time Lapse solo.   It’s 75 minutes long so it takes a minute or so to load.

Einaudi has often been called a minimalist composer, but that never seemed quite accurate.  However, on In a Time Lapse, he employs many minimalist techniques: cyclical themes, loops and grooves lend his works a modal, spiritually introspective repose. Nowhere is that used to better effect than on “Newton’s Cradle.” It’s an epic track with insistent electronic ostinatos, shuddering electronic bass tones and ringing vibes, bells, and percussion creating a mood of tense apprehension.

For In a Time Lapse Ludovico Einaudi has pulled out all the stops, synthesizing a 21st century classicism that is all-embracing in its musical influences, and all-enveloping in its emotional sweep.

~John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

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The Heart of Ambient Chamber Music: Sebastian Plano.

August 1, 2012

 

 

 

Sebastian Plano’s “The Arrhythmical Part of Hearts” Echoes CD of the Month for August

Hear Sebastian Plano’s The Arrhythmical Part of Hearts Monday, August 6, on Echoes.

Sebastian Plano’s The Arrhythmical Part of Hearts

There are classical artists who still live in a musical world that existed 80 or 200 hundred years ago.  Then there are classical musicians who embrace the modern world we live in today. That’s what Sebastian Plano does.  Primarily a cellist and pianist, he’s the child of a musical family of string players in Argentina.  But he’s also the child of modern electronic music in all its forms.  He got his first Vangelis album when he was eight years old.  Now living in San Francisco, he brings those elements together on The Arrhythmical Part of Hearts.

“In Between Worlds/Emotions (Part III)”

With his opening track, “Homage To A Soul,” Sebastian Plano wears his influences on his sleeve, dedicating the piece to Estonian composer, Arvo Pärt.  Fortunately, he lives up to that aspiration, starting with Pärt’s Tintinnabuli-style of slow-motion counterpoint and melody adding an excruciatingly beautiful cello solo that sounds like the heartache of the world.

While other ambient chamber music composers submerge their melodies in deep baths of texture, Plano doesn’t bury the lead, but exults in his lyric inventions.   In that regard, he’s closer to Ludovico Einaudi than Ólafur Arnalds.  Plano’s music is a subtle mix of acoustic and electronic.  He flows between a gamelan orchestra on speed, soaring string ensembles and electronic effects that merge seamlessly with his melodic motifs.

“Living”

Plano has listened to a lot of minimalism and a lot of modern electronic music and those influences often come together in dazzling ways.  “Running with Caffeine” is an adrenaline-charged work with a funky piano opening that rips into a distorted electronica groove. Over chiming vibes and bells, Plano’s cello arcs against an increasingly turbulent, but always melodic background of hocketing synthesizers and percussion.

Image of Sentimentals

Compositions such as “Living” and “Emotions (Part III)” are multi-part works that move like interlocked spirals.  Just when you think they couldn’t get any more beautiful, they do, sometimes employing voices intoning a space hymn, often using  Plano’s cello, and occasionally adding a bandoneón, an instrument that brings it all back home to Argentina.

Plano veers off into experimentation on the last two tracks, growing angular and clashing, albeit in a gentle way.  “Postlude” is hampered by his only clichéd use of reverse effects. But it’s this adventurous spirit that enlivens his other compositions.

The Arrhythmical Part of Hearts was actually released in early 2011, but to scant attention.  And that’s wrong.   Plano is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to generate money for his next CD.  I can’t think of a better calling card than The Arrhythmical Part of Hearts. Clocking in at only 32 minutes, the album is short, but that’s a good thing.  It gives you time to spin it all over again, and again.

~© 2012 John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

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