A Padmore Cycle, new video!
Thomas Larcher is awarded the Elise L. Stoeger Prize
The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s 2014–2015 Elise L. Stoeger Prize has been awarded to Austrian composer Thomas Larcher. The Stoeger Prize, a $25,000 cash award and the largest of its kind, is given every two years in recognition of significant contributions to the field of chamber music composition.
Chamber Music Society Artistic Directors David Finckel and Wu Han commented on the announcement: “We are thrilled to present the 2014–2015 Stoeger Prize to Thomas Larcher. As a composer of great achievement on canvasses both large and small, he merits specific recognition for his work in the highly concentrated art form of chamber music, for which his bountiful sonic imagination is tremendously well suited. We find his music deeply communicative yet uncompromising, essential qualities for the ongoing vitality of the chamber music tradition, so it is with great pleasure that we add his name to the already luminous roster of Stoeger Prize recipients.”
Thomas Larcher responds: “All I have learned in music I learned by writing and playing chamber music: listening, breathing, balancing, living and working in and for a community. Chamber Music has always been the heart of music making. It comprises all the facets that music can contain and express, and has always been a field where new ideas have been explored, and where composers have opened doors which were crucial for them. I am very touched and honoured that the Chamber Music Society considers my work to be a part of this great tradition.”
The Chamber Music Society will present Larcher’s Mumien for Cello and Piano during the 2015–2016 season of its New Music. Previously, his composition Kraken for Piano, Violin, and Cello, was performed on the series in February 2014.
In the last few months Thomas Larcher has been working on commissions for several pieces due in the next seasons.
A new work for baritone and orchestra (commissioned by Zaterdagmatinee Amsterdam, NSO Washington and Gewandhaus Leipzig) is underway. It will be premiered on April 11, 2015 at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw by Matthias Goerne (baritone), the Radio Filharmonish Orkest and Jaap van Zweden.
The next major project will be the “Concerto for Orchestra”, commissioned by the Austrian National Bank on behalf of its second centennial. The premiere will be in June 2016 at the Vienna Musikverein featuring the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Semyon Bychkov.
The 15/16 season will also see premieres of two pieces which will bring the composer back to the sources of his composing: a string quartet initiated by the Belcea quartet (premiere: December 2, 2015 in Grenoble) and a work for cello and chamber orchestra, initiated and commissioned by Amsterdam Sinfonietta with co-commissioners Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, Norwegian Chamber Orchestra and Munich Chamber Orchestra. The concerto will be premiered in Amsterdam on February 8, 2016.
It’s been more than a month since “What Becomes” has been released. Several fantastic reviews have come up so far, among them in The Independet, The New York Times Classical Playlist, The San Francisco Examiner, BBC Music Magazine, Fono Forum.
A Padmore Cycle, which he wrote for the elegant and eloquent tenor Mark Padmore, is a haunting, enigmatic work, with a taste for gnomic melodies, as are the other tracks, for piano.
Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times Playlist, 19.03.2014
The result is that the experience of listening to this new album is just as intense as that of listening to the earlier Madhares release. In both cases Larcher’s music draws the listening mind into sharply defined focal points, and the only real difference is the scale of the resources. […]
In writing about Red and Green, I concluded by hoping for further exposure to Larcher’s work “in the foreseeable future.” I ended up waiting three years. As a result of listening to What Becomes, I am likely to be far less patient over when my next opportunity will arise.
Stephen Smoliar, The San Francisco Examiner, 16.04.2014
Highly recommended for those keen to explore.
Robert Hugill, Planethugill.com, 22.04.2014)
So wird der Albumtitel What Becomes im besten Sinne nachvollziehbar. Hier ringt ein Pianist und Komponist kreativ und abseits ästhetischer Dogmen mit seinem Instrument: Mag es ihn einst emotional abgestoßen haben, nun kehrt er desto zwingender zurück, allein und gemeinsam mit anderen Musikern.
Meret Forster, BR-Klassik, Leporello CD-Tipp, 30.04.2014
This is very striking music. We do indeed feel an alternative form of being proposed, one dominated and defined by solitary internal matters and concerns. What are we to make of it? Perhaps the Greeks who came to this kind of art to purge or at least make peace with their fears could tell us. That Larcher should call this album What Becomes suggests that Smart Dust, Poems, and the title work have led us to A Padmore Cycle. Have become it.
Bob Neill, Positive Feedback, Issue 72 March/April 2014
Setting texts by Hans Aschenwald and Alois Hotschnig, A Padmore Cycle offers a aphoristic if not fragmentary trip back into the mountains and valleys that are so familiar from Schubert, Brahms and Mahler’s Lieder. Larcher echoes their musical and literary tropes, though everything is placed at an eerie distance, due, according to one of Aschenwald’s poems, to the “hunger for a homeland that no longer is one.”
Gavin Plumley, entartetemusik.blogspot.co.at, 31.03.2014
Dem Zuhörer verlangen diese enigmatischen Gedichte ein Höchstmaß an Konzentration ab. Wer sich aber darauf einlässt, wird vielfach belohnt. Auch die von Tamara Stefanovich gespielten Werke für Klavier […] sind von äußerster Subtilität und Fragilität und ergänzen den Gedichtzyklus optimal.
Das Opernglas 05/2014
The songs make full use of Padmore’s exceptional interpretative talents. His initial outburst belies the prevailing fragility of a transfixing cycle.
Christopher Dingle, BBC Music Magazine, June 2014
Smart Dust, in which the rubber wedges and the gaffa-tape applied to the strings enable startling juxtapositions of quiet tones with kinetic, percussive flourishes. Elsewhere, the unprepared approach to the suites Poems […] and What Becomes reveal a contemplative sensibility.
The Independent, 05.04.2014
Thomas Larcher’s new CD “What Becomes” released on 7th April 2014
Thomas Larcher: What Becomes
harmonia mundi HMU 907604
Smart Dust; Poems; What Becomes; A Padmore Cycle
Tamara Stefanovich (piano), Mark Padmore (tenor), Thomas Larcher (piano)
Thomas Larcher’s fourth and most recent recording What Becomes comprises three works for piano: Smart Dust (2005), Poems (2005–2010) and What Becomes (2009), as well as Larcher’s 20-minute song cycle, A Padmore Cycle, composed for tenor and piano. Set to short poems by Hans Aschenwald and Alois Hotschnig, Mark Padmore gave the UK première of A Padmore Cycle in 2011, and will give the world première of the orchestral version in London this November with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Edward Gardner.
The three pieces for piano, performed on this recording by Tamara Stefanovich, comprise a selection of works composed to elicit from the piano new sounds and means of expression that would turn it into a “different instrument”. In Smart Dust, composed for a piano completely prepared with rubber wedges and gaffer tape, which was premièred at the 2005 Lucerne Festival, Larcher wanted to return to the piano a sound with a sense of urgency. In contrast, when composing Poems, he was able to go back to the piano and rediscover its natural sound. Between these two works, What Becomes was written for Leif Ove Andsnes who premiered the piece accompanied by video projections by Robin Rhode in New York, prior to taking it on tour.
Short, elliptical verses reveal hidden depths as Padmore wrenches every ounce of melancholy ardour, or sudden whispered ferocity, out of their syllables. Larcher, playing the equally elaborate piano parts, adds another line of provocative counterpoint.
The Times, November 16 11
… a haunting, enigmatic work, with a taste for gnomic melodies …
Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times, March 19 14
What Becomes on the “Classical Playlist” of The New York Times:
Thomas Larcher: What Becomes is available from store.harmoniamundi.com from April 7 14