RECORDINGS & EVENTS A special eight-page section for readers in the US and Canada talks to... Matthew Malsky The composer on writing music, recording it – and listening back to it These works weren’t ‘designed’ to sit together but you say you now recognise they share an ‘underlying mission’… I only came to think of them as being motivated by something consistent – expressions of time and space – at the recording. I’d always assumed that my motivations were more abstract and maybe formal. So that was a surprise. They mostly come from the years surrounding 2010 – were ideas of time and place occupying you then? They underlie most of my music but the ‘geometries’ idea goes way back. I studied with Ralph Shapey, who had a belief that ‘sound objects’ were the basic musical materials. I always found that idea attractive but it takes time to make it your own. But ‘sound objects’, as in Elegy, can simply be musical colours or textures? Yes. I want to make works that are architectonically sound, that are solid and innovative and interesting over a long time.
But to get listeners to stay with a piece it needs to be understandable and graspable in the moment. So a technique like motivic development is in the service of both aims. So can you explain how the musical palindrome in Elegy works? It doesn’t end with the same gesture it begins with… You’re right – it’s not a literal palindrome. The second half of the palindrome was reshaped and tightened to create music that closed out the emotional and musical ideas of the first half. There’s also a metaphor at work: the piece was motivated by the loss of someone I knew who passed away tragically young. I think of the second half of the piece as a kind of unwinding, in memoriam. Are there instances when the realisation of the music is at odds with what you heard? Sure, there are many compromises in moving a piece from what I hear in my head to what comes out of the speaker; in truth I never have the sense that I’m transcribing what’s in my head when I’m writing. But that compromise is always an opportunity to take the piece in directions that improve what I originally intended. Do you listen back to recordings of your own music? Boy do I! Partly because I’m so involved, partly because I find it enjoyable. I listened to these recordings almost constantly for about a year, putting my creative energy into doing so. For me as a composer that’s a necessary step to finishing the works, from pen to speaker.
Beethoven ‘Cello and Piano Complete’ Five Cello Sonatas. Horn Sonata. Sonata, Op 64 (after Trio, Op 3). Variations on ‘See, the conqu’ring hero comes’. Variations on ‘Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen’. Variations on ‘Bei Männern’. Violin Sonata No 9, ‘Kreutzer’, Op 47 (arr Czerny) The Fischer Duo Centaur B d CRC3322/5 (4h 14’ • DDD)
Norman Fischer and Jeanne Kierman have been making music as a team since 1971, which would qualify them for some kind of award even if their artistry impressed only in terms of sheer endurance. But The Fischer Duo,
as they are known, continue to shed illuminating light on the works they explore, particularly as displayed here on four discs comprising Beethoven’s complete works for cello and piano.
To say this is a grand achievement would be an understatement. Fischer and Kierman have been performing these pieces since the start of their partnership, a practice that could have led to routine but instead reveals how committed they remain to exploring the music’s riches. Beethoven made cellists forever happy by writing abundantly for the instrument, including transcriptions of works for other instruments. The pieces span some 30 years, allowing musicians and listeners to discern Beethoven’s wondrous development as a composer.
Fischer, with his plummy, dark-toned timbre, and Kierman, a pianist who renders everything fresh and expressive, sound smitten with each bar in the 12 works on this set. The repertoire includes an early version of the first movement of the Sonata in A major, Op 69, and Beethoven’s arrangement of the Kreutzer Sonata (originally for violin), which assumes a winning majesty as played on cello. The recording was made at the Shepherd School of Music at Houston’s Rice University. Donald Rosenberg
M Brouwer ‘Shattered – Chamber Music’ Shattered Glassa. Clarinet Quintetb. Whom do you call angel now?c. Lonely Laked. Two Arrangements for Blue Streak Ensembled c Sandra Simon sop bDaniel Silver cl b Maia Quartet; adBlue Streak Ensemble Naxos American Classics B 8 559763 (58’ • DDD)
GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2014 I
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