Matt Haimovitz & Christopher O’Riley: Shuffle.Play.Listen

Muruch guest writer Brendan is back to discuss cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Christopher O’Riley’s new album, Shuffle.Play.Listen

Shuffle.Play.Listen is a collaboration between cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Christopher O’Riley and it sounds mighty fine to me.

Disc 1 features a new arrangement of Bernard Herrmann’s score for Vertigo mixed up with classical pieces by Piazolla, Janacek, Stravinsky and others. It works well enough and I appreciate the “Shuffle” concept, but I would have preferred that the Herrmann compositions had been grouped together. Shuffle should be an end user option.

I’m a much bigger fan of Disc 2 and was excited about pieces originally performed by Cocteau Twins and Radiohead, but was most impressed by covers of artists I’d previously been unfamiliar with – “Melody” (Blonde Redhead) and “A Lotus on Irish Streams” (John McLaughlin). Both tracks are particularly haunting and memorable.

Another track originally by John McLaughlin, “The Dance of Maya,” is performed with as much bombast as you can get from a cello and a piano. Fabulous.

Other artists whose songs are featured include Arcade Fire and A Perfect Circle. I’m not sure how much the album lives up to its claim to blur the boundaries between classical and pop, but it sure is fun to listen to and has already made it to my classical playlist.

Christopher O’Riley has many MP3s available for free download on his website, including piano versions of songs by Radiohead and Tori Amos.

BUY @ AMAZON

Maya Beiser: Provenance

Provenance is the fifth solo album by cellist Maya Beiser. If Maya’s name isn’t familiar, her cello is. Maya played on the soundtracks to M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening, Denzel Washington’s The Great Debaters, and Edward Zwick’s Blood Diamond. Maya’s own multi-cultural collection Provenance features an exotic array of compositions from Armenia, Iran, Israel, and America. The album took its inspiration from the co-existence of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish art and culture during medieval Spain’s Golden Age.

Provenance opens with the four-movement “I Was There” by Iranian composer Kayhah Kalhor, which is based on a melody by legendary Kurdish poet-musician Ziryab. The arrangement and instrumentation have a darkly evocative and rhythmic flow about them.

The deep, mournful bellow of Maya’s cello ushers in Armenian composer Djivan Gasparian’s somber two-part “Memories.”

The powerful voice of Etty Ben-Zaken stands alone for the haunting acapella intro to “Mar de Leche” before Maya and her band delicately began to play its beautiful, intricate melody. The four-movement piece by Israel’s Tamar Muskal sets an ancient Ladino (Hebrew-Spanish) love song to a contemporary arrangement.

A thunderous, swaying instrumental rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” closes the album. You have to love a classical artist who covers Zep.

I was not granted permission to share an mp3, but you can hear samples at the links below.

Buy @ Amazon

Maya Beiser Official Site