Pianist Alan Feinberg Brings His Penchant For Musical Exploration To Fugue State
Steinway artist Alan Feinberg explores different compositional conceptions of the fugue through two generations of composers from the High Baroque era — Froberger, Buxtehude, and Alessandro Scarlatti, matched with J.S. Bach, Domenico Scarlatti, and Handel — whose connectivity or cross-pollination is rarely presented in the piano world.
ClassicsToday.com called pianist Alan Feinberg's 2013 release Basically Bull, “a revelation,” and The New York Times wrote, “It is a mark of Mr. Feinberg's skill that playfulness, along with grace and exuberance, characterize his performances of these 400-year-old miniatures even though their technical demands are of a sort rarely encountered until the 20th century."
The Steinway & Sons label releases Feinberg’s newest disc, Fugue State, on July 10, 2015. This latest recording from one of today’s most inventive and daring pianists evolved from his love of the form — often chosen by composers for making intensely personal statements — and a sense of each composers’ heartfelt involvement with it. Feinberg views the selected fugues as “character pieces,” each with its own personality, scope, level of complexity, and effect. The shape and character of the theme help determine the shape and character of the piece as a whole.
On Fugue State, two generations of composers from the High Baroque era: Johann Jacob Froberger, Dietrich Buxtehude, and Alessandro Scarlatti, are matched with J.S. Bach, Domenico Scarlatti, and George Friedrich Handel. Each has a unique compositional conception of what a fugue is, but their works share a number of compelling musical ideas and elements. “There are many musical connections for the listener to perceive, especially with more familiarity. Fugues are not constructed to surrender their secrets upon superficial acquaintance. Even when the musical content is similar, each composer has a unique style that is intriguingly personal,” said Feinberg.
“Performing works of the Baroque period on a modern Steinway enables the use of an especially rich tool for contrapuntal expression,” continued Feinberg. “In the end, I think that the performer’s task is to strive to harness the same spiritual, personal, intellectual, and technical concerns that the composer has mustered in order to re-create or re-imagine these past works for the present.”
This essential new recording will be released on July 10, 2015.
Alan Feinberg is a unique and versatile pianist, as comfortable with Brahms as with Cage. He has given over 200 premieres, including Mel Powell's Pulitzer Prize-winning work Duplicates, and numerous works by such composers as John Adams, Milton Babbitt, John Harbison, Steve Reich, and Charles Wuorinen. In 1985, he gave the first performance of Milton Babbitt's Piano Concerto, a work that was written for Feinberg. In 1991, he gave a critically acclaimed appearance of Shulamit Ran's concert piece with the Cleveland Orchestra. He has also championed a piano concerto by Charles Ives based on fragments of his Emerson Overture, and reconstructed by Ives scholar David G. Porter. Feinberg premiered this work in 1998 in Cleveland under the baton of Christoph von Dohnányi and they later performed it on tour in Paris, Barcelona, and Madrid. Other unusual works in his repertoire include concertos by Amy Beach, John Cage, Leo Ornstein, Oscar Levant and Andrew Imbrie; George Gershwin's Rhapsody No. 2; and Messiaen's Oiseaux exotiques. Feinberg has performed throughout the United States and Canada. His innovative recital series Discover America was sponsored by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Eisenhower Hall Theater at West Point, New York City's Town Hall, the University of Rhode Island, and the State University of New York at Stonybrook. Feinberg also performs regularly in Europe. In addition to frequent collaborations with the London Philharmonia and the BBC Scottish Symphony, he has been featured at major international festivals, such as the BBC Musica Nova Festival, and the festivals of Edinburgh, Bath, Cambridge, Geneva, Berlin, Brescia, Bergamo, and Budapest.
An extensive discography attests to Feinberg's continuing investigations into previously unexplored repertoire for the piano. His most ambitious project is a series of recordings on Decca/Argo entitled Discover America, where classical and popular works by both famous and lesser-known composers are arranged in a program to demonstrate the diversity of American musical history. Composers featured in the series include Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Henry Cowell, Conlon Nancarrow, Jelly Roll Morton, James B. Johnson, Percy Grainger, Fats Waller, Artis Wodehouse, Scott Joplin, Charles Ives, Charles Wuorinen, Willie "The Lion" Smith, Duke Ellington, and others. He has also recorded Babbitt's Piano Concerto (New World Records); Morton Feldman's Piano and Orchestra (Decca/Argo); Beach's Piano Concerto (Decca/Argo); Ligeti's Horn Trio (Bridge Records); works by Steve Reich and John Adams (EMI/Angel and Nonesuch); and Paul Bowles' Piano Concerto (Catalyst). In 1997, he won his third Grammy Award nomination for his recording of Morton Feldman's Palais de Marie and Charles Wuorinen's Capriccio, Bagatelle, and Sonata No. 3. Feinberg is associate professor of piano at the Eastman School of Music and visiting professor at the Juilliard School in New York City.
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