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.
The Havana theme is the prism of musical range, but the selections have shared musical threads in compelling, sometimes near stealth fusions of jazz and classical rhythms. Adam is also a founding member of the dynamic woodwind chamber orchestra Imani Winds which also performs both classical and jazz music.
The jaunty “Chiquita Blues” and salon mystique of “Bandoneón” are the vibrant opening tracks by Paquito D’Rivera, two of four selections from The Cape Cod Filesthat bookend this recording. Next, Heitor Villa-Lobos’ New York Skyline Melody proves a haunting and agitated piano solo, painting a nourishing vista of ascending melodies that never looses sight of the ground. Later, Villa-Lobos’ lengthier piece Valsa da dor has quiet cinematic drama (and Satie-esque musings) that is masterfully essayed by Ulex.
Within Miguel del Águila’s’ Tango Trio violinist Liana Gourdjia drives the action with long string lines or those with sharp high note tango arrests. The precision of the trio features Gourdjia’s rich tones and Ulex’s cross-streams, and you can almost see the dancers burning the floor with those saber leg moves and arresting abrazo. Del Águila’s Nocturne for solo piano is an exemplar of the composer’s compositional fluency in both jazz and classical forms. On del Águila’s more abstract Silencethere is an arty instrumental piano and clarinet that is so stylistically different, but it’s just as entrancing.
D’Rivera’s Habanera contains a “Tango adagio” with exquisite Ravelean flavors that is performed with gorgeous clarity by Adam and Ulex. His Contradanza begins in a baroque classical piano motif and careens into jazz, then the dialogue expands to Cuban classicism. It’s a shame that this piece is just an interlude, especially with these players, because there is so much going on. Also, all too brief is the folkloric Vals Venezolano with Adam’s breathless clarinet lines sparring intricately with the piano.
Juan Pablo Jofre weighs in as a performer on his own compositions by playing the bandoneón. Sweet Dreams is a lullaby for clarinet where Jofre’s bandoneón makes the quietest soulful presence while the Primavera is a blooming musicale of Spring with Ulex, Adam and Jofre painting the musically vivid scene.
Two more selections from D’Rivera’s The Cape Cod Filesround out the recording. First, Adam on an abstract clarinet solo piece “Lecuonerias” features diving trills and woodwind arabesques that gives it a wonderful improvisational feel. Second, the “Finale” is the bluesy Benny @ 100 with Adam paying homage to Benny Goodman’s indelible tone and Ulex swinging into boogie-woogie stride piano time.
Here, and throughout this recording, Evelyn Ulex’s and Mariam Adam’s chemistry is ever present in this beautifully engineered recording by Markus Mittermeyer.
Monterey native Mariam Adam made a welcome return to the area on Friday evening, March 7, 2014 to play at All Saints’ Church, Carmel in a fund-raiser for Youth Music Monterey, of which she is an alumna. Now based in New York, Mariam has made an international reputation with the wind quintet Imani Winds in the past 15 years, and she also has formidable ability in the clarinet and piano repertoire, as she demonstrated in this recital together with equally accomplished Berlin-born pianist, Evelyn Ulex…
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. -CONCERTO NET
The TransAtlantic Ensemble’s innovative repertoire, dynamic sound and engaging stage presence attracts and inspires audiences from the contemporary, crossover, classical, and jazz worlds.
Celebrated music website http://www.feastofmusic.com/ Feast of Music declares, “TransAtlantic Ensemble is redefining classical music, making it accessible and relevant to our times. By adding elements of jazz and Latin music, they create a global sound that everyone can relate to”.
Hailing from Berlin and New York with “talent that can only be described as transformative,” the TransAltantic Ensemble has been making music on both sides of the Atlantic since 2005. As a forum for two dynamic leaders in today’s generation of chamber musicians, this ensemble of clarinet and piano is dedicated to directing the course of classical music’s evolution.
Central to the TransAtlantic Ensemble’s mission is collaborating with living composers. Their ongoing relationships with Paquito D’Rivera, Miguel del Aguila, Valerie Coleman, Jeff Scott, Mohammed Fairouz, J.P. Jofre and Richard Padron have resulted in significant contributions to the clarinet and piano repertoire. Interaction with audiences is a hallmark of TransAtlantic performances. The multilingual ensemble enthusiastically communicates their love of live chamber music to music lovers of all ages and from diverse backgrounds.
In addition to their strong presence in Europe, this duo has toured extensively throughout the continental US performing at such distinguished halls as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Symphony Space and Le Poisson Rouge. TransAtlantic Ensemble also remains dedicated to their music community as demonstrated through extensive Master Class offerings held at Universities and Festivals across the country including Juilliard, New School and the Imani Winds Festival.
TransAtlantic Ensemble can be heard on E1 Entertainment (Koch classics) and Eroica. The highly anticipated release of their new CD for the Steinway label will be arriving summer of 2016. Their collaborations with the phenomenal Argentine Bandoneon player JP Jofre and renowned violinists Liana Gourdjia is expected to be their finest work to date.
“Transatlantic Ensemble’s superb musicianship combined with their comfortable and cool stage presence makes them a joy to behold.”
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