Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra

Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra
Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra

Friday, September 02, 2016

Conrad Tao: Voyages – Meredith Monk, Sergei Rachmaninov, Maurice Ravel, Conrad Tao (Download 44.1kHz/16bit)

The latest prodigy to make headlines is Conrad Tao, 18 years old when this album was released by EMI in 2013. The son of Chinese-American academics, Tao is said to have started playing the piano – by ear – at 18 months. The booklet blithely notes that he won eight consecutive ASCAP Morton Gould Composer Awards between 2004 (when he was ten) and 2011. Prodigies flare up and flame out, and the virtuoso works heard here, by Rachmaninov and Ravel, are well under control but not something you'd go far out of your way for (at least not yet). Tao, however, has a new wrinkle, one he shares with few others and executes very well indeed. He is, like Rachmaninov and Liszt, a pianist/composer, and he is one of just a few figures exploring that role. The early indications are good. Tao's own works, though brief, are quite engaging. With Meredith Monk's Railroad (Travel Song) opening the program and setting the tone for the clean, almost minimalist texture blocks of the whole, he offers four pieces called vestiges, with the humorously dissimilar titles "upon waking alongside green glass bottles", "upon ripping perforated pages", "upon being", and "upon viewing two porcelain figures". Even better is iridescence for piano and iPad; no information is given, but Tao seems to use the iPad both to record loops of figuration and to process the sound of the piano after the fact. The Rachmaninov and Ravel pieces are ordered and performed in such a way as to fit with overall evanescent mood (although not so much with the Voyages title), and the program emerges with both imagination and real personality. Given that Tao has also experimented with popular styles, he seems an extremely promising new figure.

Source: James Manheim (allmusic.com)

There's a poetic loveliness about the idea of an artist with the surname of Tao calling his first full-length solo album, Voyages. The phenomenal piano prodigy, Conrad Tao, aged only 19 and causing quite the stir in classical-music circles, is certainly generating some seismic waves on his own path – or "tao" – to stardom.

The Chinese-American teenager, who conceived and created the recent UNPLAY music festival that ran from June 11-13 in New York City, has already been an eight-time consecutive winner of the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, and was the only classical artist named by Forbes magazine as one of the "30 under 30" in the music industry, in 2011. (He could have qualified for a "10 under 10" list had such a designation existed in his childhood: Tao's concert debut came at the age of eight, performing Mozart's Piano Concerto in A major.)

Voyages, which begins with a debut recording of Meredith Monk's "Railroad" (subtitled, appropriately, "Travel Song") is a mix of original compositions by Tao that's supplemented by piano pieces by more traditional composers as Sergei Rachmaninov and Maurice Ravel, which complement the central concept of the album in seamless fashion.

Tao's playing on a selection of five preludes by Rachmaninov as well as Ravel's "Gaspard de la nuit" is wonderful in the extreme, but his two original compositions, "Vestiges" and "Iridescence, for piano and iPad" are the real treat. In the liner notes, Tao describes "Vestiges" as "surreal images that were undergoing metamorphosis, literally and musically". Of the four pieces that make up the work (all of which are prefaced with the preposition "upon"), "Vestiges: Upon being" is the one that most lingers. It provides a complex range of emotions, from yearning to contemplation, and leaves the listener with a serene sense of acceptance.

And though I approached "Iridescence" with a concern for contrivance, the piece, developed with the Reactable mobile app for the iPad, is actually quite interesting, creating a mysterious ambiance that feels almost aquatically subversive amidst the ghostly sounds emanating from the piano keys. More importantly, it displays an essential openness to the exploration of new technologies in bringing fresh perspectives to the classical repertoire.

It's very much in keeping with what the noted pianist Christopher O'Riley said of his young counterpart when he called Tao, "the kind of musician who is shaping the future of music".

Source: Lidia de Leon, 2013 (blogcritics.org)

Έχοντας υπάρξει παιδί-θαύμα (λέγεται ότι άρχισε να παίζει πιάνο από τότε που ήταν μόλις δεκαοκτώ μηνών), ο πολυβραβευμένος όχι μόνο ως πιανίστας αλλά και ως συνθέτης, 22χρονος Αμερικανός, κινεζικής καταγωγής, Conrad Tao συνεχίζει να εκπλήσσει με το ταλέντο του, την πολυπραγμοσύνη του και τις τολμηρές μουσικές επιλογές του.

Το άλμπουμ "Voyages" («Ταξίδια») κυκλοφόρησε το 2013 από τη Warner Classics, όταν ο Conrad Tao ήταν 19 ετών. Η πρώτη δισκογραφική του εμφάνιση έγινε το 2008, με το "Live from Verbier". Ακολούθησαν τα άλμπουμ "Supernova: Promusica Partners with Conrad Tao" (Summit, 2012), "Mozart: Piano Concertos No.17 & No.25" (Santa Fe Pro Musica Recordings, 2012), "Gordon Getty: Piano Pieces" (Pentatone Music, 2013), ενώ το πιο πρόσφατο "Pictures" κυκλοφόρησε από τη Warner Classics το 2015.

Το σύντομο κομμάτι "Railroad (Travel Song)" της σύγχρονης Νεοϋορκέζας συνθέτριας Meredith Monk, τα Πρελούδια του Σεργκέι Ραχμάνινοφ (αρ. 2 και αρ. 7 του έργου 23 και αρ. 5, αρ. 10 και αρ. 12 του έργου 32), η απαιτητική σουίτα "Gaspard de la nuit" του Μωρίς Ραβέλ, και οι μινιμαλιστικές συνθέσεις του ίδιου του Conrad Tao, "Vestiges" και "Iridescence, for piano and iPad", ερμηνεύονται από τον Αμερικανό πιανίστα με έναν άκρως ευφυή τρόπο που δίνει στον ακροατή την εντύπωση ότι τα έργα σχολιάζουν, συμπληρώνουν και ολοκληρώνουν το ένα το άλλο, δημιουργώντας ένα εντελώς πρωτότυπο ηχητικό τοπίο.

Photo by Brantley Gutierrez

Conrad Tao | Voyages

Meredith Monk (b. 1942)

1. Railroad (Travel Song) (1981)

Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)

2. Prelude in G major, Op.32 No.5 (1910)
3. Prelude in G sharp minor, Op.32 No.12 (1910)
4. Prelude in C minor, Op.23 No.7 (1904)
5. Prelude in B minor, Op.32 No.10 (1910)
6. Prelude in B flat major, Op.23 No.2 (1904)

Conrad Tao (b. 1994)

Vestiges (2013)

7. Upon waking alongside green glass bottles
8. Upon ripping perforated pages
9. Upon being
10. Upon viewing two porcelain figures

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

Gaspard de la nuit, M.55 (1908)

11. i. Ondine
12. ii. Le Gibet
13. iii. Scarbo

Conrad Tao

14. Iridescence, for piano and iPad (2013)

Conrad Tao, piano

Warner Classics 2013

Watch the trailer

Conrad Tao plays the piece "Railroad (Travel Song)" by Meredith Monk. Direction by Dean Peterson.

Conrad Tao: Iridescence, for piano and iPad. Direction by Dean Peterson.

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First publication: September 2, 2016 – Last update: August 8, 2017

Photo by Brantley Gutierrez
Conrad Tao has appeared worldwide as a pianist and composer, and has been dubbed a musician of "probing intellect and open-hearted vision" by the New York Times, a "thoughtful and mature composer" by NPR, and "ferociously talented" by Time Out New York. In June of 2011, the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars and the Department of Education named Tao a Presidential Scholar in the Arts, and the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts awarded him a YoungArts gold medal in music. Later that year, Tao was named a Gilmore Young Artist, an honor awarded every two years highlighting the most promising American pianists of the new generation. In May of 2012, he was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant.

During the 2015-2016 season, Tao performs with the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony, Brazilian Symphony, and Calgary Philharmonic, among others; he also performs recitals in Europe and throughout the United States with repertoire ranging from Bach to Frederic Rzewski to Rachmaninoff to Julia Wolfe. Past notable symphonic engagements have included the San Francisco Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Toronto Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Detroit Symphony, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony, and Nashville Symphony. Tao maintains a close relationship with the Aspen Music Festival, and has appeared at the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, Brevard Music Center, Ravinia Festival, and Mostly Mozart Festival.

In June of 2013, Tao kicked off the inaugural Unplay Festival at the Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn, which he curated and produced. The festival, designated a "critics' pick" by Time Out New York and hailed by the New York Times for its "clever organization" and "endlessly engaging" performances, featured Conrad with guest artists performing a wide variety of new works. Across three nights encompassing electroacoustic music, performance art, youth ensembles, and much more, Unplay explored the fleeting ephemera of the Internet, the possibility of a 21st-century canon, and music's role in social activism and critique. That month, Tao, a Warner Classics recording artist, also released Voyages, his first full-length for the label, declared a "spiky debut" by the New Yorker's Alex Ross. Of the album, NPR wrote: "Tao proves himself to be a musician of deep intellectual and emotional means – as the thoughtful programming on this album... proclaims". His next album, Pictures, which slots works by David Lang, Toru Takemitsu, Elliott Carter, and Tao himself alongside Mussorgsky's familiar and beloved Pictures at an Exhibition, will be released in October, 2015.

Tao's career as composer has garnered an eight consecutive ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards and the Carlos Surinach Prize from BMI. In the 2013-2014 season, while serving as the Dallas Symphony Orchestra's artist-in-residence, Tao premiered his orchestral composition, The world is very different now. Commissioned in observance of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the work was described by the New York Times as "shapely and powerful". Most recently, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia commissioned a new work for piano, orchestra, and electronics, An Adjustment, which received its premiere in September 2015 with Tao at the piano. The Philadelphia Inquirer declared the piece abundant in "compositional magic", a "most imaginative [integration of] spiritual post-Romanticism and '90s club music".

Tao was born in Urbana, Illinois, in 1994. He has studied piano with Emilio del Rosario in Chicago and Yoheved Kaplinsky in New York, and composition with Christopher Theofanidis.

Source: imgartists.com

Photo by Brantley Gutierrez

See also

Sergei Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.2 in C minor – Conrad Tao, Brevard Music Center Orchestra, JoAnn Falletta (HD 1080p)

Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.1 in C major – Conrad Tao, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin


Francesco Tristano: Piano Circle Songs – Francesco Tristano, Chilly Gonzales (Download 96kHz/24bit & 44.1kHz/16bit)

Lucas Debargue plays Scarlatti, Chopin, Liszt, Ravel, Grieg & Schubert (Download)

John Field: Complete Nocturnes – Elizabeth Joy Roe (Audio video)

Benjamin Britten & Samuel Barber: Piano Concertos – Elizabeth Joy Roe, London Symphony Orchestra, Emil Tabakov (Audio video & Download 96kHz/24bit)

Vanessa Benelli Mosell: [R]evolution – Karlheinz Stockhausen, Karol Beffa, Igor Stravinsky (Audio video & Download 96kHz/24bit)

Hélène Grimaud: Water – Nitin Sawhney, Luciano Berio, Toru Takemitsu, Gabriel Fauré, Maurice Ravel, Isaac Albeniz, Franz Liszt, Leoš Janáček, Claude Debussy (Audio video)

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