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Leif Ove Andsnes: Shadows Of Silence
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Leif Ove Andsnes: Shadows Of Silence

2 Mar. 2009 | Format: MP3

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Digital Booklet: Leif Ove Andsnes: Shadows of Silence
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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 2 Mar. 2009
  • Release Date: 2 Mar. 2009
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 1:15:55
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001TW0SSC
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 498,559 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x97d8f690) out of 5 stars 6 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97b07570) out of 5 stars A varied and entertaining collection of contemporary piano music 16 Jan. 2010
By Christopher Culver - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Leif Ove Andsnes is not a pianist traditionally associated with contemporary repertoire, but on this EMI disc he plays a programme consisting entirely of recent piano works by four composers, including a couple of world-premiere recordings. Andsnes was even the dedicatee of two of the pieces, so his reading is an especially important document.

Bent Sorensen has long been a secret of the Danish musical world. He studied with Per Norgard, but has a style all his own, writing music that references the Romantic tradition but with alterations that make the music seem decayed, like looking at an old photograph. In the brief "Lullabies" for solo piano (2000) this is done by ending lines almost as soon as they've begun, as if they were half-forgotten. In the much longer "The Shadows of Silence" for solo piano (2003-04), the purity of the musical line is constantly undermined by tremolos. Sorensen's music didn't grab me the first time I heard it like some of my favourite composers, but I'm slowly coming around to him and I think he's one of the most interesting figures writing at the moment.

Marc-Andre Dalbavie's Piano Concerto (2005) continues this composer's interest in combining the traditions of common-practice tonality with the insights of the spectralist school, a kind of "metatonality". The percussive interplay of the piano and the orchestra gives the impression that Dalbavie was looking back to Bartok's first and second concertos. The piano part is not especially great, as much of it consists of simple scales. The orchestral writing holds my interest more, containing such beloved Dalbavie sounds as a quiet hush of overtones pierced by a glowing brass tone. Dalbavie is a consistently entertaining composer, but he's rarely a deep one, and works like this as his recent Flute Concerto (on another EMI disc) serve as ear candy but you never stop feeling that he's amassing stock gestures.

The one established repetoire work here is Witold Lutoslawski's Piano Concerto (1990). I don't really care for late Lutoslawski, as he abandoned the highly chromatic harmonies and use of aleatorism that made his mid-period work so individual. This concerto begins with about forty seconds of excellent vintage Lutoslawski, but is mainly completely unadventurous. The solo part is based mainly on octaves and thirds, giving the music a strong tonal centre. There's more of an emphasis on flutterly little motifs than earlier Lutoslawski, and a dramatic arc that speaks more of romanticism than the complexity of the 20th century.

Andsnes fills out this program with some of Gyorgy Kurtag's "Jatekok" miniatures. While concerts where Kurtag and his wife perform these pieces endow them with a vaster dimension, here they function more as humorous diversions between the two heavy concertos.

Though the Lutoslawski is weak and the Dalbavie leaves me with somewhat mixed feeligns, this is nonetheless a generally entertaining disc and a safe bet for anyone interested in contemporary piano music.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97c0cd14) out of 5 stars Modern Masterpieces Performed with Verve and Finesse 23 Nov. 2009
By Robert M. - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Leif Ove Andsnes is an amazing talent known for his rare capability to combine verve and virtuosity with abundant touch and finesse. The New Yorker has called the Norwegian pianist "one of the intimidating few who possess power and personality in equal measure", while the Financial Times has called him "an eminently sensual musician, an artist capable of grace and introspection", and the present recording offers plenty to support those accolades. As an exclusive EMI Classics artist, Andsnes has recorded over 30 discs spanning a wide-ranging repertoire from Bach to Shostakovich and has been nominated for seven Grammies and awarded many international prizes including four Gramophone Awards to date.

"Shadows of Silence", released in spring of 2009, features works by the Danish composer Bent Sorensen and the French Marc-Andre Dalbavie both of which works Andsnes premiered with great success at New York's Carnegie Hall and London Proms respectively. The other major piece on this CD is Witold Lutoslawski's Piano Concerto, composed in 1988 in Poland and well on its way of becoming not only a classic but also one of the greatest piano concertos of the second half of the 20th Century. They are all convincingly played with the flair and energy that this wonderful artist, Leif Ove Andsnes, is renowned to possess in generous quantities. Highly recommended.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97c0cc18) out of 5 stars "Refined Musicianship?" 7 Oct. 2010
By Gio - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Of course! Though some termagants have accused Leif Ove Andsnes of "caution" and "impersonality" -- meaning, I think, a disdain for post-Romantic efflorescence -- no one could possibly make a program of modernist music such as the five compositions on this CD intelligible on first hearing (as Andsnes does) or enjoyable without "refined musicianship" plus a large measure of very secure technique. If you hear any "caution" in this performance, be sure to mark the exact minute and post it as a comment.

The twin centerpieces of this recording are the concertos by Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994) and Marc-André Dalbavie (b. 1961). There are half a dozen recordings, at least, of the Lutoslawski concerto, but the Dalbavie is utterly fresh, commissioned for and premiered by Andsnes in New York in 2005. Lutoslawski and Dalbivie speak different languages about their musical theories but the two concerti have many similarities, both in sonority and in affect. By 1987, when his piano concerto was completed, Lutoslawski had 'loosened' his commitments to serialism and to aleatoricism and allowed himself a lot of freedom of orchestral coloration. This concerto is quite gracious in its 'ad lib' chromaticism. Most of the fun is in the orchestration, though an eager athleticism is demanded of the pianist. The much younger Dalbivie has been associated with a compositional theory described as "spectralism", and much of his work has featured assemblages of electroacoustic and conventional instruments. The mantra of spectralism is simple: "music consists of sounds, not notes." In other words, composers like Dalbavie are preoccupied more with 'how people hear their music' than with how the music is put together. Lest that sound like literary 'post-modernism' in the concert hall, it should be realized that the results, at least in this concerto, are not daunting or grim. It turns out that the root of "spectralism" is the 'spectrum' of timbres as heard in a given acoustic space, and nothing to do with 'spectres'. In Dalbavie's concerto, which ought perhaps to be heard live in a hall rather than on speakers of any caliber, the spectrum is the shifting relationship of orchestral foreground and background, with the piano functioning as the 'guide' from section to section. Andsnes professes to hear echoes of Grieg in the piano part, though my ears are not Norwegian enough to detect them.

Spectralism is discussed in some detail in the CD booklet, in notes by Bent Sørensen (b. 1958), himself a composer whose music for solo piano is heard first and last on this CD. His 16-minute fantasy "The Shadows of Silence" was purportedly inspired by the pealing of church bells heard accidentally over a cell phone. Whatever, I say. It's a powerfully affective piece, whatever its inspiration. It sounds massively challenging to play, though one of the pleasures of hearing Leif Ove Andsnes is that his pianism never sounds labored. The pianist is heard to 'hum' polyphonically during part of the music; fortunately Andsnes has a better voice and a surer sense of pitch than another famous keyboard hummer.

"Silence" is more than an evocative word in a title, here in this music. The eight very brief selections from "Games" by György Kurtág are studies in the interpenetration of sound and silence. That is to say, what seems beautiful and expressive is the resonance, the after-sound, of the piano, and the contrast this makes with moments of absolute silence. Andsnes is extremely deft - refined! - in his use of the pedals; to my ears he overcomes the limitations and handicaps of digital sound recording in order to render this music plausible on your lovely home sound system, whatever its quality.

Credit must be given also to conductor Franz Welser-Möst, heard on this CD leading the orchestra of the Bavarian Radio. Welser-Möst has contributed his baton to some of my favorite CDs and DVDs of Mozart. The refinement he's absorbed from "historically informed" performances can be heard in his highly rational control of dynamics, as he balances his orchestral forces with the glistening timbres of Andsnes's piano.

Overall, as one previous reviewer has noted, this program of music is modest in its philosophical and psychological demands on the listener. It IS music made of Sounds, and the sounds are wonderful in themselves.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97d9a4b0) out of 5 stars Absolutely superlative landmark performances 25 May 2010
By Henry Slofstra - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This is the kind of disc that can win listeners to contemporary repertoire. In fact, if you are curious about 20th century music beyond Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky, then I strongly recommend this disk. Both the Lutoslawski and Dablavie concertos are tour-de-force performances of major works. The Sorensen pieces are not as strong as these two landmark compositions, but still top drawer, and enjoyable and interesting.
This CD is a sterling performance of important, seminal repertoire; it's one of those landmark disks that come along only every few years. I would recommend this without qualification; the sound is also excellent.
HASH(0x982a6ae0) out of 5 stars Loosing pleasure in music-making and music-listening alike? 20 Feb. 2012
By P. Adrian - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Leif Ove Andsnes is indisputably one of the foremost classical pianists of our time. Now in his early 40's, Andsnes explores a varied repertoire ranging from the reputed classical masterpieces (Haydn, Mozart) up to the most provocative contemporary works still awaiting their full validation. His technical versatility and fine musical insight help Andsnes to find the most natural way to the core of the score, hence making it intelligible and charming even to the most demanding audiences. Sometimes, even against the will of the composer himself!

It is the case here, where Andsnes tackles a difficult program, somehow less appealing to the average listener. Except for Lutoslawski's Piano Concerto where one can vaguely perceive some Bartokian echoes, the other pieces aim at exploiting certain theoretical concepts in the musical field (see for instance Dalbavie's Piano Concerto centered on the notion of "spectralism"). Yet these are samples of what happens to music when it bets exclusively on arid forms and the emotional inspiration takes the shape of mathematical relations among sounds, Andsnes treats them as they were on equal footing with pinnacles of the repertory. And he succeeds at the considerable extent to sell them as such. Maybe one day this kind of music will gather closer to it more and more people willing to listen to abstractions incarnated in sounds. Till that magic moment one can enjoy the technical prow of Andsnes and his devotion in advocating such a strange repertory.

Most music-lovers share the idea that music-making and solving equations are quite different manifestations of the human mind. But even so, both imply pleasure as compulsory ingredient. Therefore I put three stars on compositions, and five stars on interpretation.
Dedicated to all those who succumb to the charm of the new extravagant music!
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