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American Grace - Piano music from Steven Mackey and John Adams / Orli Shaham, Jon Kimura Parker

Album Summary

>Adams, John : Hallelujah Junction
>Mackey, Steven : Stumble to Grace, for piano & orchestra
>Mackey, Steven : Sneaky March, for piano
>Adams, John : China Gates, for piano
Performers Conductor Ensembles Composers

Notes & Reviews:

A disc devoted to two very different, much-honored American composers Pianist Orli Shaham has an established and impressive international reputation and is admired for her interpretations of both standard and modern repertoire. Internationally renowned conductor David Robertson and 1984 Gold Medalist, Leeds Piano Competition, Jon Kimura Parker join Ms. Shaham for this recording. Includes two world premiere recordings!

American Record Guide, July/August 2014
The main event on this release, titled 'American Grace', is Steven Mackey's Stumble to Grace (2011), a five-movement piano concerto written for Ms Shaham. The little Sneaky March children's piano piece (2011) is just that. Two piano works by John Adams open the program. The three-movement Hallelujah Junction (1996) is one of the great pieces in the two-piano repertoire and, if you elect to play the program straight through, a tough act to follow. It is given a bracing rendition by these fine performers. The program closes with Adams's beautiful China Gates (1977), a product of his minimalist period and a companion to his larger Phrygian Gates. Interesting biographical notes by Mackey and helpful commentary by Frank J. Oteri.



Reviews

An album of connections
This album is all about connections -- and those connections help make this release such a strong program of contemporary piano music. Orli Shaham and Steven Mackey are close personal friends. His piano concerto "Stumbling to Grace" was composed for her, and in this recording, the performance is conducted by David Robertson, Orli's husband. These close connections facilitate communication, and to my ears, translate into a superior composition and performance.

The music is well-suited to Shaham's technique, and she plays with a deep understanding of the material. And the Los Angeles Philharmonic, led by Robertson, is right there with her. This concerto, as the name implies, is one with a destination in mind. Disjointed themes gradually coalesce over the course of the 26-minute work, stumbling towards a satisfying finale that pulls all the pieces together. Without a deep understanding of the structure and purpose of all these seemingly unrelated bits, the concerto could come off as rambling mess. In this case, though, composer, soloist, and conductor all seem to be of one mind, And the result is phenomenal.

The John Adams works included are also worth the price of admission. Shaham breezes through "China Gates" with metronomic precision tempered by an expressive delicacy. Hallelujah Junction, a work for two pianos, is another outstanding performance. Jon Kimura Parker and Orli Shaham are perfectly matched, sounding like a single uber-pianist.
Submitted on 03/13/14 by RGraves321 
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Works Details

>Adams, John : Hallelujah Junction
  • Performers: Jon Parker (Piano); Orli Shaham (Piano)
  • Conductor: David Robertson
  • Ensemble: Los Angeles Philharmonic
  • Notes: Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts (05/27/2013-05/28/2013)
  • Running Time: 16 min. 20 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1996

>Mackey, Steven : Stumble to Grace, for piano & orchestra
  • Performer: Orli Shaham (Piano)
  • Conductor: David Robertson
  • Notes: Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, California (04/05/2013-04/07/2013)
  • Running Time: 26 min. 6 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Mackey, Steven : Sneaky March, for piano
  • Performer: Orli Shaham (Piano)
  • Notes: Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts (05/27/2013-05/28/2013)
  • Running Time: 1 min. 45 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>Adams, John : China Gates, for piano
  • Performer: Orli Shaham (Piano)
  • Notes: Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts (05/27/2013-05/28/2013)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 50 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1977