One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here
 

 

International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger              Founding Editor: Rob Barnett              Contact Seen and Heard here

Some items
to consider

  • Sammartini: 6 Concerti grossi
  • Henze Kammermusik 1958
  • Mozart Flute Quartets
  • Schubert complete piano works
  • Sammartini: 6 Concerti grossi
  • Henze Kammermusik 1958
 
Tudor



CD and Blue-ray Audio


CD and Blue-ray Audio


CPE Bach Cantatas
a revelation


Biber: Sacred Choral Works
Don't miss it


Jonathan Dove


Tommie Haglund
Unique and Powerful music


Organ Fireworks


Highly Entertaining


A triumphant performance


Bruckner Symphony 4
One of the finest I have heard


A most joy-inducing recording


A winning partnership


A Lohengrin to treasure.

 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from

Liaisons - Re-Imagining Sondheim from the Piano
Anthony de Mare (piano)
rec. 2010-2014, The American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York and Greenfield Recital Hall, Manhattan School of Music, New York.
ECM NEW SERIES 2470-72 [3 CDs: 62:16 + 66:37 + 68:17]

This is a fascinating project and one which has yielded a remarkable harvest of new pieces. Pianist Anthony de Mare has invited 36 composers from numerous musical fields to contribute, including contemporary classical music, jazz, pop, film and musical theatre. These composers ‘re-imagined’ a song of their choosing, based in some way on an original by Stephen Sondheim. The actual work involved was a labour of love with recording sessions spanning a four-year period, but the results speak for themselves.

Stephen Sondheim is a household name when it comes to the American music theatre, and Anthony De Mare states that he “wanted to show Sondheim’s influence on composers of many different genres and I also wanted to enhance and add to the piano repertoire with a whole new body of work. This project breaks open the boundaries between musical theatre and concert music.” Stephen Sondheim’s own response to the project has been very positive: “Over the years I’ve heard songs of mine harmonized differently, and I’ve also heard arrangers change one note and completely kill the harmony. But the pieces created for Liaisons are by serious composers, not arrangers… Nearly all of them totally surprised me, taking approaches that would never have occurred to me - very few of these re-imaginings are built like a song. They’re much more free-floating, there’s much more of a fantasia about them… It’s been fascinating to hear what each composer has done.”

Commenting on such a huge volume of work can only result in the subjective pointing out of some highlights, but it is intriguing to see where the more interesting music comes from, and it is by no means always the big names who come up with the best of the goods. Steve Reich breaks the brief by using two pianos instead of one, and while his musical fingerprint is clear his contribution doesn’t really do much by way of renewal. Sondheim’s tunes can emerge as more or less recognisable, but there is an atmosphere around these pieces that reflects a respectful joy in being able to engage with such fine material and transform it into something new and different. Eve Beglarian’s Perpetual Happiness is a delightful ostinato/toccata through which the tune emerges in a sparkling counterpoint, while there are rollickingly jazzy contributions from Eric Rockwell and Wynton Marsalis. Song-writer Jake Heggie delivers quite a virtuoso version of I’m Excited. No You’re Not, combining stage and digital theatricality to make for a substantial conclusion to disc 1.

Some of Sondheim’s tunes are more famous than others, and Kenji Bunch cleverly throws in the Dies Irae to lead our ears away from too immediate a version of The Demon Barber. Ethan Iverson doesn’t really escape Send in the Clowns, but re-invents its harmonies and adds in odd gestures to create a anti-romantic or certainly anti-sentimental response. I like Paul Moravec’s poetically Debussy-esque I Think About You, and if you were expecting a rough revolutionary ride from Frederic Rzewski then he will wrong-foot you with the beauty and restraint of his I’m Still Here.

Prepared-piano quirkiness brings in refreshingly unusual sonorities and witty inflections with Andy Akino’s Into the Woods, while the open intervals create their own bell-like effect in Rodney Sharman’s Notes on ‘Beautiful. The spirits of Stravinsky and Gershwin gaze benignly on Gabriel Kahane’s lively and variety-filled Being Alive, which takes us nicely to an understated but exquisite Not While I’m Around from Thomas Newman. The sparkle of Mary Ellen Childs’ Now deserves a mention, and I like the abstract meets Tom & Jerry vibe of Tania León’s going… gone. The grand finale is delivered in Anthony de Mare’s own Sunday in the Park – Passages (encore) which is like a final summation of much that has gone before.

Presented like a mini box-set, with the three CDs each in their own sleeve and presented in a nice slip-case, this release is a nice thing to have around. Such a collection is inevitably something of a mixed bag, but with its unity of concept, consistently high standard of creativity and ever-present sense of freshness and surprise this is a piano recording that should be on the shelves of every collector.

Dominy Clements
 


CD 1
A LITTLE NIGHT FUGHETTA [1:41]
(Stephen Sondheim (b.1930), William Bolcom)
COLOR AND LIGHT [5:36]
(Stephen Sondheim, Nico Muhly)
FINISHING THE HAT – 2 PIANOS [3:20]
(Stephen Sondheim, Steve Reich)
THE LADIES WHO LUNCH [7:19]
(Stephen Sondheim, David Rakowski)
PERPETUAL HAPPINESS [6:01]
(Stephen Sondheim, Eve Beglarian)
BIRDS OF VICTORIAN ENGLAND [3:04]
(Stephen Sondheim, Jason Robert Brown)
JOHANNA IN SPACE [5:56]
(Stephen Sondheim, Duncan Sheik)
YOU COULD DRIVE A PERSON CRAZY [3:01]
(Stephen Sondheim, Eric Rockwell)
THAT OLD PIANO ROLL [4:38]
(Stephen Sondheim, Wynton Marsalis)
SORRY-GRATEFUL [6:59]
(Stephen Sondheim, Derek Bermel)
NO ONE IS ALONE [4:03]
(Stephen Sondheim, Fred Hersch)
A BOWLER HAT [5:17]
(Stephen Sondheim, Annie Gosfield)
I'M EXCITED. NO YOU'RE NOT [5:15]
(Stephen Sondheim, Jake Heggie)

CD 2
THE DEMON BARBER [5:07]
(Stephen Sondheim, Kenji Bunch)
SEND IN THE CLOWNS [5:49]
(Stephen Sondheim, Ethan Iverson)
THE WORST [EMPANADAS] IN LONDON [4:53]
(Stephen Sondheim, Ricardo Lorenz)
I THINK ABOUT YOU [9:00]
(Stephen Sondheim, Paul Moravec)
VERY PUT TOGETHER [3:08]
(Stephen Sondheim, Mason Bates)
I'M STILL HERE [6:43]
(Stephen Sondheim, Frederic Rzewski)
LOVE IS IN THE AIR [4:05]
(Stephen Sondheim, David Shire)
EPIPHANY [5:05]
(Stephen Sondheim, John Musto)
PRETTY WOMEN [3:44]
(Stephen Sondheim, Mark-Anthony Turnage)
PARAPHRASE (SOMEONE IN A TREE) [5:42]
(Stephen Sondheim, Phil Kline)
IN AND OUT OF LOVE [5:59]
(Stephen Sondheim, Bernadette Speech)
ANOTHER HUNDRED PEOPLE [7:17]
(Stephen Sondheim, Daniel Bernard Roumain)

CD 3
INTO THE WOODS [8:37]
(Stephen Sondheim, Andy Akiho)
EVERY DAY A LITTLE DEATH [5:18]
(Stephen Sondheim, Ricky Ian Gordon)
MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG [5:39]
(Stephen Sondheim, Nils Vigeland)
NOTES ON 'BEAUTIFUL' [5:27]
(Stephen Sondheim, Rodney Sharman)
BEING ALIVE [4:45]
(Stephen Sondheim, Gabriel Kahane)
NOT WHILE I'M AROUND [2:55]
(Stephen Sondheim, Thomas Newman)
THE BALLAD OF GUITEAU [5:53]
(Stephen Sondheim, Jherek Bischoff)
NOW [3:22]
(Stephen Sondheim, Mary Ellen Childs)
A CHILD OF CHILDREN AND ART [8:24]
(Stephen Sondheim, Peter Golub)
GOING ... GONE [7:38]
(Stephen Sondheim, Tania Leon)
EVERYBODY'S GOT THE RIGHT [4:36]
(Stephen Sondheim, Michael Daugherty)
Anthony de Mare
SUNDAY IN THE PARK ~ PASSAGES (ENCORE) [5:20]
(Stephen Sondheim, Anthony de Mare)


 




Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and get a free CD

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical



Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger