In anticipation of NMB’s first concert of 2016, Riot Ensemble pianist Claudia Racovicean indulges us with her Top 5 piano-related Youtube treasures…
1. Rachmaninoff Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
This is one of my favourite pieces in all the repertoire, and Stephen Hough is one of my favourite pianists, from his wonderfully inviting introductions to his deep and exciting interpretations. What more could you want?
2. Hugo Wolf Begegnung
One of the first times I collaborated with my husband was on these arrangements. They are virtuosic and fun reimaginings of Wolf’s songs for solo pianist in the vein of Liszt’s transcriptions of Schubert.
3. Djuro Zivkovic I Shall Contemplate
I love working with composers on their pieces, and this was exactly the case when we gave the UK premiere of Djuro’s I Shall Contemplate in Oxford in 2014. Djuro came over and we spent a number of hours working on the exact atmosphere, detailed pedaling and precise control of dynamics to achieve just the effect he wanted. We just gave the London premiere of this piece at the Spitalfields Festival in December 2015!
4. Claude Debussy F’eux d’Artifce
This is one of my favourite of Debussy’s wonderful preludes. My own recording will appear on my first album (April 2015, Coviello Classics) but I’ve been a fan of Marc-André Hamelin’s bold and colourful interpretations, and this one is no different!
5. Aaron Holloway-Nahum Remember Me? – Part IV for two toy pianos
As is often the case with my husband’s music, this piece (performed by the absolutely fantastic piano duo HOCKET in Los Angeles) manages to be fun without ever being flippant. I really love the variety of sounds Aaron asks for, and the player’s total bravery and commitment in getting them out. Perhaps one to perform with Adam Swayne someday!
In the run-up to NMB’s final gig of the year, we asked ensemblebash percussionist Chris Brannick to give us his Top 10 percussion tracks! Here’s how it rolls…
1. Michael Jackson – Smooth Criminal (featuring Chris Brannick)
First, two videos featuring me. First with the amazing Steve Bingham, a cover version of Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal that’s both funny and shows off a fair range of small percussion.
2. Stewart Copeland/Orchestralli – The Equalizer
One of the highlights of my musical career has been to work with Stewart Copeland, ex-drummer for The Police, now a film composer. He never switched off, always 100% in every rehearsal from downbeat to packing up – and he’s a really nice guy, too. This is from a tour of Italy, playing the title music to The Equalizer. When he hits a drum, it damn well stays hit.
3. Teddy Brown
Everyone should listen to the legendary Teddy Brown at some point in your life. I have no idea how he gets to play so fast and so accurately. Get any percussionist to watch the section at 2′ to the end – simply unbelievable!
4. Iannis Xenakis – Psappha
Difficult one this; I wanted a recording of Iannis Xenakis’ Psappha. Steve Schick does a brilliant job of playing it, but I’m not keen on his instrument choices, which all seem a bit small. I think the piece needs more drama. Still, a great performance.
5. Steve Reich – Drumming Part 1.
If only Nexus had made a video… that’s the classic performance. This is pretty good, though, and the opening is spectacularly tight.
6. Steve Reich – Sextet
I know I probably shouldn’t put two pieces by the same composer in, but Steve Reich’s Sextet is one of my favourite pieces to play. Very, very satisfying. I managed to play it to him as part of an ensemblebash concert some time ago… an amazing experience.
7. Ron Powell – Pandeiro Solo
It would be a real shame to miss out on one of my favourite percussion areas – frame drumming. Here’s a rather lovely pandeiro solo by Ron Powell. Worth it just for the first 10 seconds…
8.Edgard Varèse – Ionisation
The piece that probably started it all… Ionisation by Edgard Varèse, performed here by an expanded Amadinda – who are a fabulous group, but a bit serious.
9. John Cage – Third Construction
Another of my favourites that I couldn’t find in a version that ticks all the boxes… here’s Amadinda again. I find this performance all a bit fast and frenetic. but it’s very accurate indeed. And technically stunning.
10. Stephen Hiscock & Chris Brannick – Junkyard Samba
And lastly, I hope no-one minds a third one with me in it, but… ensemblebash playing Junkyard Samba, written by Stephen Hiscock and myself. Originally written for a TV programme called ‘What’s That Noise’, this piece still doing the round in various forms, playing whatever we happen to have to hand.
Date: Saturday 31st October; 5.00pm Venue: St. Nicholas Church, Brighton
Jonathan Harvey’s “Death of Light, Light of Death” was inspired by Grünewald’s ‘Crucifixion’ in the Issenheim Altarpiece. Harvey wrote that the “unflinching sense of catastrophe that hangs over this picture has given it a special appeal to the sensibilities of our own time.” The Riot Ensemble returns to Brighton for the third consecutive year, to perform a concert centred around this beautiful and haunting music. Other music will include composers from the New Music Brighton composers collective, Helen Grime’s Oboe Quartet, and NMB ComposersPatrick Harrex, J.C. Clark, Peter Copley & Phil Baker.