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Posts tagged 'Jonathan Biss'

Timo Andres's "The Blind Banister" at Caramoor

After becoming a Pulitzer Prize Finalist this year, Timo Andres's third piano concerto, The Blind Banister, will finally premiere in New York at Caramoor on Sunday, July 10th. Dedicated to and composed for pianist Jonathan Biss, The Blind Banister is Andres's response to Beethoven's second piano concerto, echoing Beethoven's own late revision to this early work. Biss will perform the piece along with the Orchestra of St. Luke's, conducted by Joshua Weilerstein.

(Illustration by Dadu Shin for The New Yorker) 

In a brief profile for The New Yorker, Russell Platt calls Andres "a modern modernist", and hails The Blind Banister as "a deeply complex tribute to Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 2". He writes:

Like John Adams and the late Steven Stucky, Andres has succeeded in carrying forward the mainstream tradition of orchestral modernism [...] in a way that is no less distinctive for seeming so ironic and abashed: the piece is at once gently private and powerfully communal in its gestures and devices.

Check out a video of Andres performing his recent completion of Mozart's "Coronation" Concerto:

Two New Works by Timo Andres

It's hard to claim a real achievement in the month of November. For many, surviving the transition to colder weather, the pressures of the work week, and the onslaught of holiday advertising is enough. But PSNY composer Timo Andres is different: on top of his performing career, which saw him perform Christopher Cerrone's Sonata for Violin and Piano with Tim Fain at LPR earlier this month, he'll also see two new compositions premiered by the Takács Quartet and Jonathan Biss with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra

Andres' new string quartet Strong Language premiered on November 15th at Shriver Hall. The Baltimore Sun praised Andres' piece for creating "fascinating little journeys" in a "clear, vivid, and commanding" performance by the Takács Quartet. On November 19th, the piece will be performed again at Carnegie Hall, which co-commissioned the work. With three movements lasting roughly 23 minutes, Strong Language is a concise exploration of three musical ideas, one per movement. Get a taste with an excerpt from Andres's earlier string quartet, Thrive on Routine:

As Andres describes, The Blind Banister, his new piano concerto for Jonathan Biss and the SPCO, is a kind of "fraternal twin" to Strong Language; the pieces were written back-to-back, and share a 3-movement structure. However, Andres' piano concerto sees him writing for much larger forces— including, for the first time, timpani. In the meantime (and if you can't make it to Saint Paul for the premiere), check out a sample of Andres's recent completion of the Mozart "Coronation" Concerto:


Cooking Up New Music with Timo Andres

Cooking and composing are more similar than you might think; in fact, a major treatise on Indian music, the Natyasastra, describes the quality of music as rasa, or taste—which is also the same word for gravy. 

Timo Andres is no stranger to cooking. As a composer of celebrated works for solo performers, chamber ensembles, and even orchestras, Andres is comfortable working with the instrumentalists—or ingredients—at hand. Andres was recently featured on xoxo cooks, a YouTube channel hosted by Adrienne Stortz, cooking up a delicious-looking steak salad, which is a great metaphor for his music: healthy and fresh, but also complex and satisfying. 

With that in mind, we'd like to feature four of Andres' works that have all been recently published on PSNY, all of which call for different ingredients. Mooring, for violin, viola, cello, and piano, is a short amuse-bouche, written as a musical offering for a wedding. Fast Flows the River, for cello and Hammond Organ, is a flowing, lyrical setting of the folk song, "Call John the Boatman," a healthy appetizer for what's to come. 

And now for the entrées: Austerity Measures, a percussion quartet, was commissioned and premiered by Third Coast Percussion; call it Andres' experimentation with molecular gastronomy. Freed from his "faithful anchor" of harmony, Andres experiments wildly with the possibilities of timbre, texture, and large-scale form, while still exploring echoes of J.S. Bach and other Western composers in the process. Andres' Piano Quintet, premiered by Jonathan Biss and the Elias String Quartet, is really the main course: a 22-minute reimagining of the Romantic piano quartet, here posed as a five-part, continuous development of characteristic ideas, reminiscent of Schubert's Piano Quintet. A meal-within-a-meal, this piece exemplifies Andres' impeccable taste in exploring the possibilities of classical instrumental ensembles within the context of contemporary music. 

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