CD Release: Michael Matthews: 14 Preludes; Bagatelles Nos 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 and 10; Postlude. Daan Vandewalle, piano.
PRELUDES & BAGATELLES is the latest release from renowned composer Michael Matthews, featuring his dramatic 14 Preludes, selections from his collection of Bagatelles, and the epilogistic Postlude. Expertly performed by acclaimed Belgian pianist Daan Vandewalle, the pieces on this disc encapsulate Matthews’ brilliance with solo piano composition and highlight his versatile craftsmanship, which he is able to alter to accommodate a wide variety of moods, emotions, and aspects of musicality.
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"Matthews’ 14 Preludes come across as an impressive set of varied emotions and techniques, not in the more typically flashy way of etudes but with greater expressiveness... the pieces explore emotional nooks and crannies and also give the pianist a workout in terms of both versatility and musicality.... Postlude [is] vague, unsettling and without definitive opening or closing, it makes an interesting conclusion to a well-played CD that shows both Matthews’ skill in piano composition and Vandewalle’s interpretative ability."
"...mesmerizing compositions... A strangely intoxicating piano album from a different universe..."
"Michael Matthews has written some very evocative works... It's music of an expanded tonality, at times demanding a good amount of technique but above all a sense of creative rubato and a keen, intuitive ear for the overall musical trajectory of each work... Here is a composer of talent."
Michael Matthews’ music has been performed in countries around the world. The Manitoba Chamber Orchestra premiered the newly commissioned work The Language of Water in September 2006. In July his work The Skin of Night was premiered at the World Saxophone Congress in Ljubljana, Slovenia. October 2005 saw the performance of Away, Tear Away at the prestigious Cervantino Festival in Mexico. In May of 2005 he oversaw the world premier of his chamber opera Prince Kaspar, and also conducted the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra in the premier of his Cello Concerto. In 2002 the world premier recording of his Symphony No. 1 was released on TNC Records; Virko Baley conducted the Kiev Camerata Orchestra. Matthews has been the recipient of numerous commissions and awards; in 2000 he held a Rockefeller Foundation residency at the Bellagio Center in Italy. In the summer of 1999 he was a participant in the Composition and Computer Music Seminar of the Bartók Festival in Szombathely, Hungary. His orchestral work Two Interludes was awarded third prize in the 1997 du Maurier Arts Ltd. New Music Festival Canadian Composers Competition. In 1994 he became the first Canadian to receive a prestigious commission from the International Computer Music Association. He has also received Canada Council and Manitoba Arts Council grants, the Winnipeg Rh Institute award for interdisciplinary research, a residency at the EMS computer music studios in Stockholm, Sweden, and a prize in the Premio Musicale Cittá di Trieste, Italy for his orchestral piece The Wind Was There. He has worked at the Banff Centre and at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford University.
Recent performances have included:
• String Quartet No. 2 (Belgrade – 14th International Review of Composers)
• Piano Quartet (Winnipeg – GroundSwell)
• Away, tear away (Mexico City – Mexico City Woodwind Quintet)
• Vertical Garden (Mexico City – Asako Arai)
• The European premier of String Quartet No. 2 (Amsterdam – The Mondriaan Quartet),
• Prelude to Macbeth (Michelle Mourre and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra)
• Ernst Toller: Requiem for an Idea (New York – Sequitur Ensemble)
Recent world premieres:
• Night Music (Winnipeg – John Racaru and Carol Pollard)
• Las Blancas Sombras (Winnipeg – Charlene Pauls and Ian Hodges, GroundSwell)
• The Language of Water (Winnipeg – Manitoba Chamber Orchestra)
• The Skin of Night (Ljubljana – World Saxophone Congress)
• Violin/Viola Duos (Winnipeg – Oleg and Mikhail Pokhanovski)
• Preludes (Winnipeg – Peter Vinograde)
• Concerto for Cello and Orchestra (Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra, Michael Matthews, conductor; Paul Marleyn, cello)
• Prince Kaspar (Winnipeg – Michelle Mourre conducting, with Mireille Lebel in the title role)
• Piano Quartet (Winnipeg – Agassiz Music Festival)
• Particles of One (Bergen – BIT 20 Ensemble, Trond Korsgård, conductor; David Stewart, violin)
The composer has recently completed a work for the Meduse Ensemble, to be premiered in 2007. Upcoming projects include the world premier of his Symphony No. 3 (Douglas Sanford and the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra), a CD recordings of Vertical Garden and Away, tear away, a third string quartet, and new works for:
• Judy Kang
• Onix Ensemble and Trio Neos (Mexico City)
Commissions have come from such organizations as The Harrington/Loewen Duo, Meduse, the Onix Ensemble, Agassiz Music Festival and Agassiz Chamber Music Series, the Mexico City Woodwind Quintet, BIT 20 Ensemble, the Mondriaan Quartet, the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, the Carlos Chavez Orchestra, the Kiev Camerata Orchestra, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Hilliard Ensemble, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, the Molinari String Quartet, the Cuarteto Latinoamericano, Ensemble Resonance, the Thira Ensemble, Vancouver New Music Society, the Roseberry Orchestra (U.K.), Prairie Theatre Exchange, CBC Radio, Aurora Musicale, Music Inter Alia, and the Korean chapter of the International Society for Contemporary Music. Matthews has also written works for performers Therese Costes, Alejandro Escuer, Lori Freedman, Corey Hamm, Beverly Johnston, Sara Laimon, Paul Marleyn, Poul Rosenbaum, Shirley Sawatzky, Harry Sparnaay and Peter Vinograde.
Matthews is a conductor, a founding member of the chamber ensemble Thira and a founder and artistic director of the GroundSwell new music series. From 2002-2004 he was Composer-in-Residence with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra. Works available on CD are: Symphony No. 1 and Out of the Earth (recorded by Virko Baley and the Kiev Camerata for TNC Records); In Emptiness, Over Emptiness (recorded by Therese Costes for the CDCM series on Centaur Records); Scattered Mirrors (recorded by Shirley Sawatzky on Adventures of Piano Woman); Of Time and Sky (recorded by Peter Vinograde on Two Canadian Masterworks for Piano); Fantasy (recorded by Victor Schultz on Jeté); Songs of the Masked Dancers (recorded by Thira on Passage Through Time); The First Sea (recorded by Lori Freedman for the CDCM series on Centaur Records); and Between the Wings of the Earth (recorded by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra for BIS Records). He has lived and traveled extensively in Asia, Europe, Central America and the Caribbean. Matthews holds a Ph.D. in composition from the University of North Texas, where he studied with Larry Austin. He is currently Professor of composition and Co-director of the Computer Music Studio at the University of Manitoba.
Quotes from reviews:
“It has been suggested that the future of concert music lies in linking like-minded souls around the world to form a new, perhaps even more vibrant, audience. If that's the case, then this project stands out as a monument to this new era. Within this global context, Michael Matthews can claim citizenship of a new music world. Not only has he lived in many different parts of the globe, including Pakistan, Korea, the Caribbean and several different parts of North America, he also continues to work with musicians around the world. This project combines his talents with those of the American composer/conductor Virko Baley, with Therese Costes, a vocal soloist from Canada, as well as with musicians from Ukraine, creating a virtual international concert hall. Unlike the recently popular post-modern composers, Michael Matthews has crafted a musical world melding a vast array of ideas together to form a new aesthetic. His music is at once grounded in the past, and without being self conscious, allows the musical ideas to find a new frame of reference that is at once familiar, but also original.”
Review of Symphony No.1/Out of the Earth recording, ArkivMusic.com
“Still waters run deep in local composer Michael Matthews' The Language of Water for 22 Solo Strings, an evocative one-movement work that submerges the listener into a soundscape of his own devising. In this work scored for 22 independent voices, Matthews (in attendance for the world premiere) seamlessly crafts a fabric of sound that ebbs and flows through shimmering harmonies and motivic rivulets. The surprisingly romantic 17-minute work washes over the ear, with every note carefully set in place and an ambiguous ending that hints at depths yet unexplored.”
Holly Harris-Winnipeg Free Press, September 29, 2006
"The common element one always feels in Michael Matthews’ work is its consideration. No note is inattentively placed. Everything has balance and proportion, as his Symphony No. 2 showed last night. Here was splendid craft, inspiration and fulfillment, a fine Canadian work deserving of a life in the literature."
James Manishen-Winnipeg Free Press
"...The First (Symphony) certainly deserves the widest possible hearing and would be a terrific addition to the growing number of big symphonies from North America that have finally been making serious headway into the contemporary orchestral repertoire. The present performance, recorded by the Ukraine-based Kiev Camerata, here expanded to full symphony orchestra size, seems resplendent and is extremely well recorded."
"...Matthews' command of his textures will continue to impress and he manages to suggest that there is a very large orchestral palette at his disposal."
(Between the Wings of the Earth) Martin Anderson-Fanfare
“A poetic soundscape, unified in tone, is painted by Michael Matthews (Canada) in his On the Outer Edge (2001), inspired by words by poet Fernando Pessoa.”
James Harley-Computer Music Journal, Winter 2004
"Matthews has offered the listener an intelligent piece that tackles a variety of difficult questions. His solutions are eloquent and imaginative."
(The Far Field)
T. Patrick Carrabré-Border Crossings
"The wealth of ideas contained in Winnipeg composer Michael Matthews' Between the Wings of the Earth would certainly send anyone present at Wednesday's Manitoba Chamber Orchestra concert rushing to their CD players the next day to let this excellent work brew further."
James Manishen-Winnipeg Free Press
"... a work of sustained, poetic integrity."
Laurel Howard-Border Crossings
"Dream Songs...is a truly compelling work...it is music of deep understanding and extraordinary technical resource."
Neil Harris-Winnipeg Free Press
Personal website: www.michaelmatthews.net