Helena Basilova performs Preludes of Maxim Shalygin

Maxim Shalygin wrote his 9 Preludes for Piano when he lived in St. Petersburg and finished the composition in Kiev, 2006. The preludes are a cycle of nine intimate and spiritual movements, filled with emotional contrasts, introspection and nostalgia. On May 23, Helena Basilova will perform this cycle at Splendor, Amsterdam. The concert will be performed with candlelight and limited tickets are available…   

The 9 preludes for piano are the first large-scale work in which Maxim Shalygin managed to find the subtle connections inside musical matter that invite the listener to move inward. Everything in the preludes is aimed at gradual immersion, avoiding the use of external effects. He consciously relied on well-known historical genres in order to give the listener the opportunity to enter with ease into the gate of introspection. From there on, the labyrinths of various and new feelings can be discovered and we start to experience a different sense of time. While writing the work Shalygin often composed at the piano or played the preludes for his friends. Always in the company of candlelight. This intimate and dark atmosphere allowed him to become one with himself without the distraction of external factors. This is what he wishes for the listeners as well; sometimes the music is so quiet that we start to hear our own breath.

Helena Basilova
Among the many clichés surrounding Russia, perhaps none is more persistent than a nostalgia Russians supposedly feel for a time they may never have known. Helena Basilova, born in Russia to two established pianists/composers but raised in The Netherlands, subverts all other stereotypes. But her personal history did – undeniably – instil her with a sense of melancholy. This wistfulness is never stronger than in her connection to Russian music and its widespread influence in (Eastern) Europe.

Though Helena performs repertoire from all periods and styles, her story has led her time and again to Russian composers such as Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Shostakovich and Scriabin. Over the last few years, Helena dedicated herself to perform more unrevealed repertoire, discovering many treasures and focusing on collaborating with living composers such as Maxim Shalygin and Elena Firsova.

‘Helena Basilova played sensitively and with flair.’ New York Times

More info & tickets

9 Preludes at the Donemus catalogue

Listen to Prelude IX

New choreography on Canto Ostinato by Didy Veldman

On July 9th and 10th the Dutch National Ballet Academy will give a new performance on ‘Canto Ostinato’ of Simeon ten Holt. During this end-of-season performances 2019, Didy Veldman presents her new choreography. Sepp Grotenhuis will play the grand piano…   

The Dutch National Ballet Academy has previously danced to two (existing) works by the Dutch choreographer Didy Veldman, who works in England. She is now making her first new work for the Academy, taking inspiration from her Dutch roots: the meadows, the cows, the flat linear landscape and the horizon that is nearly always visible when driving through the Netherlands. She is also using clogs, partly as a tribute to Hans van Manen and his ballet Clogs. But unlike Van Manen’s piece, here the clogs not only serve as footwear, but often as scenery too. Veldman uses her sources of inspiration with subtlety – “it won’t be folklore” – but she does describe her new work as a ‘mini ode to Holland’.

More info

Sander Germanus – Im Vortex

Ensemble Musikfabrik will perform a new work by Sander Germanus, called ‘Im Vortex’. On Saturday, May 18th in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam at the ZaterdagMatinee and on May 20th WDR Funkhaus am Wallrafplatz in Köln…   

Im Vortex actually means ‘in the vortex’ in German. A vortex is a general scientific term for a whirling mass of fluid or air, a rotating movement that you will find in various natural phenomena, such as a twister (air) or a whirlpool (water). In this composition, Sander Germanus was inspired by these rotating circles by translating all sorts of vortices into music, as if the listeners are in a vortex themselves. Each part of this composition loosely highlights a different appearance of a vortex (or the peaceful eye in the middle of it). It is up to the audience to hear what kind of vortices these are.

The title of this work is also in line with his general musical goal, namely ‘disorientation’. The dizziness of a vortex is part of that. Germanus tries to create this experience by constantly breaking the expectations of the listener, so he/she feels pleasantly confused. To achieve this he presents surprising but logical harmonic progressions, which he has been working with for more than two decades now, mostly made of relatively simple chords, in which quarter-tones are used. These hallucinatory and disorienting harmonic progressions play an essential role in his world of sound. Also important is the application of tempo circles (his invention from already 1996), where the tempo is constantly accelerating or slowing down, but the music never actually gets faster or slower.

New in this piece is the combination of glissandi and quarter-tone voice leading, which makes it seem like the listener is being sucked into another sound or movement. This also corresponds to the idea of a vortex, like a whirlpool. With an electronic organ, an amplified double bass in the acoustic ensemble and a striking form, this composition sounds different from his earlier works for ensemble.

Score at Donemus

More info about the concert in Amsterdam

More info about the concert in Cologne

Sander Germanus at Donemus

Article by Thea Derks

Pour Notre-Dame – Calliope Tsoupaki

Laureate composer Calliope Tsoupaki wrote a short work for organ ‘Pour Notre-Dame’, composed for Jan Hage and dedicated to all organist and cathedrals worldwide. Expressing compassion for the immense disaster that the fire caused in Notre-Dame of Paris on the 15th of April April 2019, the work is composed ‘for the church and for the music that brings us all together’…   

The premiere of this work was on Saturday 20 April at the Dom Cathedral Church in Utrecht by Jan Hage. The score is available for free. The composer hopes that many organists will perform this work.

Download the score here for free: Pour Notre-Dame

Patrick van Deurzen – Mancha Mancha!

On May 24th Patrick van Deurzen – Mancha Mancha! will have it’s world premiere during the Rotterdam Opera Days. The excellent Dutch baritones Henk Neven and Mattijs van de Woerd take on the role of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, and theatre by the DoelenEnsemble and pianists Maarten van Veen and Hans Eijsackers. It can only be an entertaining comic farce full of fights and misunderstandings!…   

Crazy-foolish-comic-disruptive-and-also-with-singing-and-other-sound! “That’s how Patrick van Deurzen announces Mancha Mancha with some self-mockery. It is his first music theatre work. The libretto by Dutch author Ernest van der Kwast is based on Cervantes’ well-known book about the ingenious nobleman Don Quixote of La Mancha and his squire Sancho Panza. The wandering knight with an overdose of fantasy still appeals to the imagination.

Vladimir Rannev wins Golden Mask Award

Vladimir Rannev received the Golden Mask Award for ‘Best Composer’ for his opera PROSE premiered at the Stanislavky Electrotheatre, Moscow. For the same project, Sergei Vasiliev received the Award for Music Theatre and Best Light Designer…   

The Golden Mask is a National Theatre Award established in 1993 for productions in all genres of theatre art: drama, opera, ballet, modern dance, operetta, musical, and puppet theatre. Golden Mask is also an all-Russian Performing Arts Festival that takes place in Moscow in the spring of each year, presenting the most significant performances from all over Russia.

The Golden Mask National Theatre Award and Festival is supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and the Moscow Government.

The main festival programme includes Russian productions, selected by experts from among the premieres of the previous season and nominated for the Golden Mask Award. During the festival, the two juries – one for drama and one for musical theatre – composed of recognized Russian actors, directors, conductors, choreographers and theatre critics – decide on the winners of the Golden Mask Award in over thirty nominations. The Awards are made at the Golden Mask Awards Ceremony in mid-April.

The press about Prose:

Nezavisimaya gazeta
“This composition is capable of stunning. It is a radical great-grandson of Wagner’s Gesamtkunstwerk. Vladimir Rannev employs musicians of tremendous virtuosity, who, for almost an hour and a half, work on the outer limits of their physical capabilities.”
“A miracle has happened at the Electrotheatre. The appearance of this production should be compared with the landing of aliens. Rannev’s Prose, based on stories by Chekhov and Mamleev, is a completely new degree of thinking. It is impossible to imagine what kind of hellish work must stand behind the subtle and fragile beauty of the vocal ensemble’s work.”

Read more about Prose

More about the Golden Mask Awards

Dmitri Kourliandski – The Riot of Spring

Teodor Currentzis will conduct ‘The Riot of Spring’, written by Dmitri Kourliandski, on May 5th with the SWR Symphonieorchester in Köln during the ‘Acht Brücken’ festival…   

In his “The Riot of Spring” Dmitri Kourliandski questions himself: “What is folklore today? What bears today the energy of the collective unconscious? Is it destructive or neutral for the elite post-postmodernistic consciousness? Is it compatible with the academic concert situation?”

The answers to these questions he tries to find in turning to the rave culture, to the electronic music – dubstep, idm, d&b. This is not an attempt to imitate the existing genre, not an “away match”, but a rave prepared by the composer’s perception and, not to a lesser extent, an experience of the composer’s perception preparation by the rave.

He decided consciously not to synthesize new sounds, working with sound samples the way composers worked with folk or, to go deeper, with ready instrumental sounds and timbres in the European tradition. However, the structuring of the material follows the logic he used while working with a more familiar to him instrumental material.

Trying to define the genre of “The Riot of Spring” he has devised a term “technoballet”, or “electroballet”. At the same time, it is evident that the words “riot” and “spring” are full of connotations with the actual situation in Russia. He is quite far from the politics, however, the situation we live in directly or indirectly influences us, induces to act or to reflect.

More info about the concert

The score of this work consists of just 2 pages…

Michael Fine – Concerto for Oboe Section (world premiere)

On May 4th the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra will bring the world premiere of Michael Fine – Concerto for Oboe Section. The concert will take place at the Robinson Center, Little Rock, Arkansas…   

The idea for this rather unusual Triple Concerto came from Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director Philip Mann, who had just conducted the world premiere of Michael Fine’s Double Concerto for Two Violins. Fine was immediately enthusiastic and began to sketch the piece mentally without waiting for the official commission. The Concerto Grosso, which showcases the interplay between a small group of soloists and the orchestra, has great appeal for him. It differs from the traditional solo concerto where a soloist is alone in the spotlight and somewhat removed from the orchestra. The Concerto Grosso, in contrast, allows for a closer connection between the concertino – in this case three oboists with the third occasionally switching to English Horn – and a chamber sized body of strings. The Concertino soloists can sing as a group or act individually, but are always part of what is going on right behind them.

This three movement Concerto begins with a nostalgic theme modally hinting at the choral music of the Renaissance. The soloists have plenty of opportunities for displays of virtuosity and musical expression. The orchestral responds, occasionally leads, while setting and anchoring the harmonic development. Most important: it is always intertwined with the solo writing. The Larghetto has a gently meandering outdoor character reminiscent of the English pastoral composers while the last movement is a rustic dance with some challenging pizzicato playing for the orchestra.

Listen to the interview with Michael Fine

More info

Score at Donemus

Vladimir Martynov – The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea’, based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway and on music by Vladimir Martynov, is a music theater performance by the famous Russian stage director Anatoly Vasilyev, which is dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the birth of a legend stage director Yuri Lyubimov. It will be showed at the Diaghilev Festival in Perm (Russia) which is artistically led by Teodor Currentzis…   

“The Old Man and the Sea” is the first Russian performance by director Anatoly Vasilyev after a long silence. A performance about theater as fate, life and as a miracle. It is dedicated to director Yury Lyubimov, whose name is associated with the era of theatrical and civil liberty in Russia in the second half of the twentieth century. There are two lines in the production: dramatic – by the legendary actress Alla Demidova, who played leading roles in Lyubov’s performances at the Taganka Theater in Moscow, and musical – by cult composer Vladimir Martynov. Music has been performed and recorded by ensemble Opus Post under Tatiana Grindenko.

The world premiere of the production took place on July 19, 2017 at the International Tchekhov Theater Festival in Moscow.

(Alena Karas:)

In the rays of the light curtain, the famous curtain of Lyubimov, we lose sight of the actress, her voice is separated from the body and enters the embossed acoustic sparring with the music of Vladimir Martynov. An old man’s fight with sharks — his last, hopeless and flawless battle for beauty and life — is like a mechanical ballet: the tentacles hidden under the blue cloth for a while suddenly wake up and start chasing the boat. Sea spray crystal beads, awakened by this secret mechanics, take off above the surface of the stage, and at some point it seems that it has receded, has become the sea. So, after a lot of mechanical efforts of the tongue and the sky, suddenly an image is born, a living life. Vasiliev knows the price of these contrasts. He himself is like a fisherman – he has long learned to wait patiently for the bait to work. Together with the space caster Igor Popov, they invented so many “baits”, so many delightful mechanisms and objects that one could make up a whole museum.

If you are engaged in theater as life, then you find yourself at the end of the line, next to the creation itself. They swum too far. This disastrous delight of art, it seems, has always been the theme of Vasiliev. In the parable of the old man and the sea, you can read his whole life in art as one scroll, like the quiet touch of cloth, wind, waves, fate.

(Alla Shenderova:)

Vasiliev dedicates this requiem to all the great theatrical quests. There is also a bow to the Chinese opera – a “real” lion coming onto the stage, an old man manages to fall asleep by tying a fishing line to his leg, and special effects worthy of the New Circus, which is so often brought to Chekhovsky; the boat drawn on the curtain resembles a hieroglyph – this is about the passion of Russian directors.

East, and Demidova, frozen in a ghostly light as a tragic statue, is an obvious homage to Robert Wilson’s performances. There is in the performance and much more. From Lyubimov. From Demidova. From Vasiliev. From our own life, which is meaningless, but to live, as this performance proves, it is as if its meaning exists.

More info about the concerts

Kate Moore – Cicadidae

With support of the Richard Divall Australian Music Fund, the Australian String Quartet will give the world priemere of Kate Moore’s 3rd String Quartet, called Cicadidae. Performances in Sydney, Perth and Melbourne…   

(Kate Moore on her new piece:) When remembering the Australian landscape, the sound of cicadas fills the mind. Their presence is felt through their song. They are invisible to the eye. However, the music they make overwhelmingly floods the air on a summer afternoon.

Thousands of creatures are seemingly hidden, lying in shadows of trees and bark, under leaves, rocks, twigs and earthen cavities, singing out loud with all their might. Sitting in the bush listening to the cicadas it is possible to hear the landscape by listening to their subtle orchestration, a sonic map of a vast land. You can hear near and far, the shape of ridges, valleys, cliffs and plains. By closing your eyes, you can hear where a waterhole lies even if it is out of sight. Where creatures congregate near water, the climactic intensity in which the dynamics of their song grows, attests to its miraculous gift of life.

Thousands of tiny creatures sing in harmony as the sun sinks below the horizon, their voices in revolution with the Earth as she lumbers on her journey from night to day, turning and turning and turning. The creatures are musicians. Their bodies are tiny resonating chambers, with silken wings stretched across an exoskeleton beating between the ghostly world of soundwaves and the emanating pulse of sympathetic resonance reflecting the concave and convex of material and matter. They are tiny violin players whose pulse fluctuates with the temperature of change. Allegro in the heat of day, adagio in the depths of night. They play together in perfect harmony, with hyper sensitivity to the miniscule intervals of just intonation perceived within the Earth’s nervous system. They play together in an orchestra of emotion and feeling, crying out for mercy that their creator will protect them because they don’t know what the future will be.

More info about the concert

Page on Kate Moore at the website of the ASQ