Concert halls may be closing, but our Grand Piano artists have been opening up to new ways of connecting with audiences around the world from the intimacy of their homes. With spirits as irrepressible as their performances, they’re now enjoying the spotlight in new formats: Nicolas Horvath’s daily videos, Inga Fiolia’s livestreams and Geoffrey Burleson’s fun online tutorials, for example.
Technological ingenuity means there’s no need for music-lovers to wash their hands of these incredible performers during these difficult times. (But, as Tra Nguyen reminds us, do remember to wash your hands whenever you return home!)
Congratulations go to Ratimir Martinović whose double album recording of the complete piano works of Vasilije Mokranjac (1923–1984), released on Grand Piano in November last year, has received Serbia’s Muzika Klasika award for the Best Album of 2019.
The annual awards, established in 2010, are designed to recognise artists who have left the most significant mark on Serbia’s music scene during the calendar year. The winners in the various categories are presented on the basis of evaluations by an eminent expert panel. Following their active presence at concerts around the country, the jurors propose artists and institutions they consider to have left the most significant mark on the country’s musical life.
Ratimir Martinović’s release includes numerous world premiere recordings and surveys Mokranjac’s ouput over four decades, from 1944 to 1984, presenting the programme of thirteen works in chronological order of composition.
Critical reception of the recording was excellent, including these comments from MusicWeb International: “The piano music is played here by Ratimir Martinovic with precision and ardent abandon; no half measures … Martinovic throws himself into the experience … The Theme and Eight Variations and the Sonata Romantica take no prisoners. This is no innocent middling-temperature material but is pungently and plungingly Rachmaninovian. Incidents are on a big fervent scale. After a tolling Marcia Funèbre there’s a Finale where sparks and shrapnel fly to every corner, unflinching. Martinovic’s instrument is fully equal to the task.”
Ratimir Martinovic was unable to be present at the awards ceremony due to his obligations as a juror at the Pretoria Piano Competition. For the complete list of winners and full report (in Serbian) please follow this link.
We are very proud to see Grand Piano artist Luísa Tender on the cover of Ritmo, the leading Spanish classical music magazine, and a four-page feature about her recording of Portuguese composer João Domingos Bomtempo’s complete sonatas. Journalist Gonzalo Pérez Chamorro caught up with Luisa after her arrival in Madrid from Lisbon to ask her about these works and their historical connotations, as well as her approach to music and pedagogical activities. If you read Spanish—don’t miss the article or the album review.
Everyone at Grand Piano was saddened to learn of the passing of conductor Kerry Stratton, who died aged 66 of complications from ALS on Tuesday, 27 August 2019.
In the course of his international career, Kerry conducted orchestras in 35 countries throughout Europe, North America and Asia. Having earned a degree in conducting from McGill University, he later completed graduate studies at the Vienna Conservatory (under Sir Charles Mackerras), the Academia Chigiana in Siena, Italy, and L’École Pierre Monteux in the US (with Charles Bruck).
Kerry appeared with The Czech Philharmonic, Budapest Concert Orchestra, Hungarian Chamber Soloists, Prague Chamber Philharmonic, Bohemian Chamber Philharmonic, Slovak Radio Orchestra, Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra, State of Mexico Symphony Orchestra, Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic, Prague Radio Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, Zagreb Philharmonic, Janáček Philharmonic, St Petersburg Camerata, and the Beijing Symphony.
For his services to Czech and Slovak culture, Kerry received the 2000 Masaryk Award and was decorated by the Czech Government in 2007 at Prague’s Cernin Palace with the Gratis Agit Award. Others similarly honoured included former US Secretary of State, Madeline Albright and filmmaker, Miloš Forman.
Kerry was a wonderfully positive and enthusiastic musician—conductor, music director, radio personality—and his joy in music lives on in his recordings. We are proud that two Grand Piano releases are among them: the first, of Joachim Raff’s works for piano and orchestra [GP771] with Tra Nguyen; the second, a recording of Edvard Grieg and Helge Evju’s Piano Concertos with Carl Petersson [GP689]. Kerry can be heard talking about this latter recording [c. 01:50—03:50] in the following video link: https://youtu.be/8X6txnH4y5k?t=131
The 2019 OPUS Klassik nominees were announced last week and Grand Piano artist Inga Fiola was nominated in two categories: Best Instrumentalist (Piano) and Best Instrumental Solo Performance. Both nominations were for her second album of Mikhail Glinka’s piano music. The series thus far has received much critical acclaim. The first volume received four stars from International Piano, which described Inga Fiola as ‘the perfect guide to Glinka’s piano music,’ while The WholeNote praised volume two, saying, ‘Fiolia is a natural performer for this genre. Something about the dance form, regardless of its origin or style, seems to draw from her a fluid response that sways with the music.’
Of her OPUS Klassik nominations, Inga had this to say: ‘I’m very happy to have been nominated. I think the music of Glinka deserves the recognition. For me, he was a great music figure in history, with his own unique style, and his piano music is an integral part of my repertoire. I believe Glinka’s time has finally come.’
Congratulations, Inga! We’re all wishing you the very best!