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Originally a jazz bassist, Gavin Bryars gained notoriety for conceptual compositions such as The Sinking of the Titanic and Jesus Blood Never Failed Me. In more recent years, Bryars’ work has been more conventional, but it’s still quietly compelling. This 2011 release features three pieces that find the Dutch pianist Ralph van Raat at the keyboard. “After Handel’s Vesper,” originally for harpsichord, filters early music through a modern sensibility and harmonic approach: jazz, minimalism, Cage, and the baroque are all friends here. “Ramble on Cortona” draws material from Bryars’ composition “Laude,” which in turn looks to 13th-century Italian vocal manuscripts. The slow, mysterious work evokes a Bill Evans re-imagining of Early Music. On the album’s centerpiece, “Piano Concerto (The Solway Canal),” van Raat is joined by Cappella Amsterdam and the Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic led by Otto Tausk. Interestingly, Bryars has written a piano part that does not emphasize virtuosity, and he doesn’t pit soloist vs. orchestra; instead, piano gently leads the ensemble and choir.


Genre: Classical

Dutch pianist and musicologist Ralph van Raat, like his near-contemporary Steffen Schleiermacher, is in the unusual position of having established a thriving, major international performing career focusing entirely on music of the 20th and 21st centuries. He has been a passionate advocate of new works and has performed the premieres of numerous pieces by living composers, some of which were written especially for him. With a few exceptions, he has gravitated to the music of postmodernist and eclectic...
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Bryars: Piano Concerto (The Solway Canal), Ralph van Raat
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