Michael Nicolella | Push

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Michael Nicolella

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Classical: Contemporary Classical: Contemporary Moods: Featuring Guitar
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by Michael Nicolella

Contemporary works for classical and electric guitar in solo and ensemble settings from this ground-breaking guitar virtuoso.
Genre: Classical: Contemporary
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Toccata y Lamento
4:29 $0.99
2. Primavera Portena
6:03 $0.99
3. Open Up Your Ears
2:04 $0.99
4. Push
5:20 $0.99
5. Prelude
3:02 $0.99
6. Berceuse
3:25 $0.99
7. Pagan dance
2:51 $0.99
8. Three Brief Episodes
3:26 $0.99
9. Bridges
7:35 $0.99
10. Equinox
4:29 $0.99
11. Black is the Color
3:15 $0.99
12. Sequenza XI
14:51 $0.99
13. Little Wing
2:55 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"a display of stunning technical skill and unfailing musicality over a very broad spectrum... others have 'crossed the track' in one direction or the other but none has done so with the technical and/or musical success as Nicolella"
-John Duarte, GRAMOPHONE

"remarkable...breathtaking...superb...a fully enlightened musician of our time."

"(Nicolella's) "Three Brief Episodes," displays such a rare beauty that it had to be mentioned here...a work that sacrifices nothing in it's brevity, has an uncommon grace, and still moves with depth and energy."
Stephen Griesgraber, GUITAR REVIEW

"impresses with his virtuosic musicianship...pushes the boundaries of what one might consider technically playable."


Michael Nicolella is recognized as one of America's most innovative classical guitarists. He has received wide critical acclaim for his performances, recordings and compositions. Classical Guitar magazine recently referred to him as “one of the contemporary guitar’s most gifted stars”; while the Washington Post stated “Since the passing of Andres Segovia the guitar world has needed an advocate... perhaps Michael Nicolella is that person.”

A uniquely eclectic and versatile artist, Michael blurs the lines between musical styles and disciplines. He is part of a growing trend in classical music to revitalize the role of the composer/performer. As a concert artist he frequently programs his own works for guitar in solo, chamber and orchestral settings. Known for his creative programming, he has introduced electric guitar into his "classical" programs and extended the repertoire and audience of his instrument not only with his own compositions and transcriptions, but also by premiering and commissioning works by some of today's most exciting emerging composers.

Michael has performed with the Seattle Symphony, Northwest Symphony Orchestra, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Ensemble Sospeso, odeonquartet, Seattle Choral Company and Charanga Danzon. As a performer and composer, he has received awards from ASCAP, the American Composers Forum, 4Culture, Wisconsin Arts Board, Washington State Arts Commission, Seattle Arts Commission and was first prize winner of both the Portland and Northwest solo classical guitar competitions.

Michael is a graduate of Yale University, Berklee College of Music and the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, Italy. He is on the faculty of Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle.



to write a review

Tim Cole

Modern but very accessible. A highly talented artist
A thoroughly entertaining collection of modern guitar pieces. Particularly enjoyed the mix of classical and electric guitar pieces. Push is a really accessible cd and one that will surely be cherished by all devotees of the instrument.

Mikolaj Furmankiewicz

Michael Nicolella - Push
I was always convinced that classical guitar is very important instrument both for rock and metal musicians. I have read many artists' and bands' biographies and half of them (at least) encountered classical guitar in their youth.

An American guitarist has to be mentioned among the best educated musicians: studied improvisation in Berklee College of Music, graduated from Yale University and was a scholarship at Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena. In 1991-1995 he was responsible for classical guitar curriculum in Lawrence University and Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. Michael is a member of many music societies and organisations - among others: ASCAP, 4Culture, Washington State Arts Commission, Seattle Arts Commission etc. It's easy to predict that Mr. Nicolella won some music competitions. He also cooperated with many orchestras and groups, performing in North America and Europe as a recitalist, chamber music performer and soloist with accompanying orchestra. At the beginning of musical adventure, Michael was a fan of Steve Howe and wanted to be a rock musician, but then was under the spell of classical guitar. The first solo release - "Bach, Britten, Martin" was published in 1993. As you can see, the CD consists of compositions by Johan Sebastian Bach, an Englishman - Benjamin Britten and a Swiss - Frank Martin. Nicolella along with John Fitz Rogers recorded "Transit" in 2002. It was a marriage of classical and electronic music.

However, "Push" was recorded in Sacred Heart Chapel (Villa Academy, Seattle), where Nicolella is living. The results of choosing that place are audible just on the first composition - "Toccata y Lamento" by Roberto Sierra, that is dedicated to a Brazilian composer, Heitor Villa-Lobos. It is distinguished by mysterious and gloomy atmosphere. Why gloomy? It is explained by the second clause of the title. We can find here some elements of improvisations and typically virtuosic gambits. "Primavera Portena" by an Argentinian, Astor Piazzolla was played on the basis of Baltazar Benitez's transcription. It includes memorable motif and clear mood deriving from tango tradition. "Push" is the first track played on electric guitar (on famous Gibson model - "Les Paul"). I must admit that composition, written by John Fitz Rogers, is remarkably avant-garde for present music standards. I haven't heard rock or metal musician who'd play in such a forward-looking way. It sounds as if Nicolella turned the track composed for classical guitar into electric one. For the sake of its experimental nature, the fact is that composition can appeal to listener or not, but should be perceived as something attention-occupying. "Tales of Velocity and Abandon" by Richard Kranjac is made up of three parts. My very favourite are two latter ones. The second part has its roots in folk music, but we can smoothly treat it as a suite or instrumental miniature with beautiful melody. "Pagan Dance" is the third and the most dynamic part - with instrumental "turns" and "spurts" (including the motif from Igor Stravinsky's composition). There are also the tracks of Nicolella's authority - "Three Brief Episodes" and "Bridges". The first one is inspired by the works of an Austrian composer, Anton Webern and Soundgarden's music (sic!). But it didn't force me to reflection. My attention was riveted by the second track, in which we hear interesting violin parts and flutist's shows. That is one of the most complex Nicolella's composition. "Equinox" is a track by Japanese composer, Tore Takemitsu (passed away in 1996; he was a co-founder of Jikken Kobo group, concentrating musicians, poets and painters). Nicolella, like Takemitsu, used scordatura - key changes of strings in order to get unusual sound effects. "Black is the Color" is the next reference to folk music. Guitar plays a role of viola from the Luciano Berio's original (mentioned Italian is owner of several electronic studios in Milan). Angelic voice of Thomasa Eckert and the sound of Alexis Odell's harp make me think of Ataraxia's, Hagalaz Runedance's and Kari Rueslatten's works. Last but one, near 15-minute track called "Sequenza XI" is also the composition by Luciano Berio. Berio composed first ten sequenzas in 1958-1985, however that one (eleventh) was written in 1988. With reference to "Sequenza XI", we can say about cultivating the flamenco tradition. But we must remember that, in classical music, mentioned composition is first and foremost - progressive (reflecting "raging river" and "boughs that are bowed to strong wind"). "Little Wing" by Jimi Hendrix is simply... bluesy!

We don't hear that kind of music on the radio too often, so it isn't strange that Michael decided on self-releasing. His wife, Ann Gale is a painter and the label's name stems from her. Although Michael uses techniques from renaissance and baroque, can be characterized as a progressive, versatile and genres-blending artist. "Classical Guitar" magazine from the UK described his playing as "remarkable... breathtaking... superb" and Nicolella itself as "a fully enlightened musician of our time". I'd like also to add something from myself and write that American's performance is full of emotions, passion, and virtuosity!