“Thrills and Dynamism from the Transatlantic Ensemble at Steinway Hall” -NEWYORKMUSICDAILY

Thrills and Dynamism from the Transatlantic Ensemble at Steinway Hall

by delarue

From this perspective, crowds at concerts have been even more sparse than usual since the election. Monday night at the new Steinway Hall just around the corner from the Town Hall, a surprisingly robust turnout for an early weeknight got to witness a thrilling, dynamic performance by the Transatlantic Ensemble: clarinetist Mariam Adam and pianist Evelyn Ulex, joined by a couple of similarly electrifying special guests, Lara St. John on violin and JP Jofre on bandoneon.

The group’s raison d’etre is to expand the range of serious concert music beyond the usual parade of dead white guys. Lots of ensembles are doing this, but few more excitingly than this semi-rotating cast. Adam got to treat the crowd with her joyous, technically challenging leaps and bounds as the group bookended the program with a couple of Paquito D’Rivera pieces, Benny@100 – a tribute to famed jazz clarinetist Benny Goodman – and a pulsing Venezuelan-flavored waltz.

In between, Ulex explored a similar dynamism and nuance. She’s one of the pianists Steinway selected to record for their digital player piano, the Spirio, which not only plays the notes but with a very close approximation of an individual player’s touch and phrasing. With the Spirio, you have your choice of your favorite music along with a variety of interpretations. If there’s no room in your apartment or your budget for such a big piece of equipment, the Steinway label has just put out the Transatlantic Ensemble’s new album Havana Moon – streaming at Spotify – whose release the group was celebrating.

The premise of the album, Adam revealed, was to celebrate the work of some of the group’s favorite composers from their global circle. The night’s biggest thrill ride was a tango by Miguel del Aguila, whom Adam described as “impetuous,” and she wasn’t kidding. Ulex attacked the tune with both graceful precision and unleashed passion as Adam provided cleverly dancing counterpoint, and St. John added her own high-voltage flurries and spirals. The group hit a similar peak later on when joined by Jofre for a rousing performance of his composition Primavera, which came across as more of a wild midsummer festival on the Argentinian pampa.

Del Aguila’s Silence, as Adam averred, was hardly silent: a requiem, it gave her the evening’s lone opportunity to cut loose in an anguished torrent of notes, and she made the most of it. The duo also elegantly parsed the subtleties of D’Rivera’s neoromantically-tinged Habanera, a wistful Roaring 20s Parisian waltz by Villa-Lobos and a surprisingly astringent, modernist lullaby by Jofre.

PUBLISHED: November 19,2016

SiriusXM Symphony Hall “Best Recordings of 2016”

“Havana Moon” selected by SiriusXM Symphony Hall “Best Recordings of 2016” 
(Chosen by the Symphony Hall Announcing Staff)

Can be heard all day on December 31 and January 1

  • America Again – Lara Downes (Sonos Luminus) 
  • Martha Argerich – Early Recordings (DGG)
  • Joshua Bell – For the Love of Brahms (Joshua Bell, Jeremy Denk, Steven Isserlis; Academy of St. Martin in the Fields) (Sony)
  • “Be Glad then America” – Bennett and Schuman: The “President’s Own” Unites States Marine Band: Lt. Col. Jason K. Fettig (Altissimo) 
  • Juri Belohlavek – Czech Philharmonic: Dvorak Slavonic Dances (Decca – Universal Music)
  • Aaron Copland – Ballet Music: Leonard Slatkin – Detroit Symphony Orchestra (Naxos)
  • Daugherty – Tales of Hemingway; American Gothic; Once Upon A Castle” Giancarlo Guerrero – Nashville Symphony; Zuill Bailey, Cello (Tales of Hemingway) (Naxos)
  • Elgar – Orchestral Transcriptions: Kenneth Woods – English Symphony Orchestra; Rodolfus Choir (Avie)
  • Ginastera at 100 – Yolanda Kondonassis, Orli Shaham, Gil Shaham and the Oberlin Orchestra (Oberlin Music)
  • Cold Mountain – Jennifer Higdon (Pentatone)
  • Imani Winds – Startin’ Sumthin’ (eONE Music)
  • Lang Lang – New York Rhapsody: Lang Lang; Herbie Hancock; John Axelrod – London Symphony Orchestra (Sony)
  • Minnesota Orchestra – Osmo Vanska: Sibelius Symphonies 3, 6 and 7 (BIS)
  • Poulenc Works for Solo Piano and Duo: Lucille Chung (with Alessio Bax) (Signum)
  • Prokofiev – Peter and the Wolf in Hollywood: Alice Cooper; Alexander Shelly; National Youth Orchestra of Germany (Universal Music)
  • Rachmaninov – Symphony No. 1; Balakirev: Tamara: – Valery Gergiev – London Symphony Orchestra (LSO Live)
  • Tchaikovsky – Nutcracker: Complete Ballet; Symphony No. 4: Valery Gergiev – Mariinsky Orchestra (Mariinsky)
  • Michael Torke – Three Manhattan Bridges: David Alan Miller – Albany Symphony Orchestra; Joyce Yang; Julie Albers (Albany Records)
  • TransAtlantic Ensemble: – Havana Moon (Steinway and Sons)
  • “Winter” – V O C E S 8 (Universal Music)
  • Pinchas Zukerman – Royal Philharmonic Orchestra: English String Music (Decca – Universal Music)

“… TransAtlantic Ensemble, championing contemporary composers and so called ‘crossover’ works…”

Clarinettist Mariam Adam and pianist Evelyn Ulex are concert soloists and also director-performers of their own chamber group, TransAtlantic Ensemble, championing contemporary composers and so called ‘crossover’ works. They have just released Havana Moon exploring Latin chamber music from three living composers, Paquito D’Rivera, Miguel del Águila, Juan Pablo Jofre and compositions by the late, great Heitor Villa-Lobos, who died in 1959. Joining them on Havana Moon is Juan Pablo Jofre on bandoneón and violinist Liana Gourdija on selected tracks.