Live music, three ways

DXL 1185 cover

DXL 1185, Quart de Nuit: Ravel, Dutilleux, and Debussy

These are, of course, strange times for everyone. Within the arts, as within many fields, it has meant two things: an opportunity to slow down and be present in life in a different way, and at the same time, a stimulus to intense creativity and innovation.

Today we’re very proud to release a disc by the Amsterdam-based Ruysdael Quartet, taken from a live performance at their own annual ZOOM! Festival in Velp, The Netherlands. When they first came to us with this project, we could little have guessed how precious live music would become over the next several months. The energy of a live concert permeates this recording – you can practically hear the audience holding its breath as the first phrase of the Ravel Quartet lifts off the ground.

The pandemic may have slowed them down a bit, but it certainly hasn’t brought them to a halt. When lockdown was at its most intense, they still managed to collaborate as a quartet, recording their parts separately and working with film director Tim Lorraine to make this mesmerising music video of the last movement of Terry Riley’s epic quartet, Salome Dances for Peace:

By the time of the ZOOM! Festival, the lockdown had lifted enough in The Netherlands that they were able to come together onstage – for a socially distanced audience – and to play that celebrated monument to healing, Beethoven’s Heiliger Dankgesang (16:12 in the video):

We look forward to the time when we can experience that special energy of many people gathered together, all focused intensely on the music. For now, we can hear that energy in the Ruysdael Quartet’s beautiful new album, available for purchase here.

Wishing healing and creativity to all our listeners!

Never mind the coronavirus – here’s a beautiful new piano disc!

Bringing out a new disc always involves a flurry of activity and excitement, as we scramble to get everything ready for a big public concert at which the artist will triumphantly unveil their new album.

The big public concerts are, of course, not happening this spring, and this has challenged artists everywhere to come up with creative workarounds that allow them to connect with their listeners. Pianists Julian Perkins and Emma Abbate have come up with a solution that is especially well-suited to the intimate genre of piano four hands: they are livestreaming regular concerts from their home.

In the days before personal sound systems, piano duets were a way to bring the grandeur of the symphony or the opera into one’s own living room. Nowadays, when we experience this genre at all, the experience is inverted: professionals bring the intimacy of the piano duet into the concert hall. Here is the same duo, performing one of Weber’s duets last spring at St John’s Smith Square in London:

Thanks to Julian and Emma’s generosity in inviting listeners into their own living room, we can experience for ourselves the vital role that home music-making once played in keeping music alive. They’ve even included a triumphant unveiling of their new CD:

The official release date for the disc is 17 June, but you can buy your pre-release copies here – and invite Weber into your own home.

Wishing you happy and healthy listening!