Tanya Bannister | Intimate Piano Concertos

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Intimate Piano Concertos

by Tanya Bannister

This latest album from pianist Tanya Bannister features intimate chamber versions of piano concertos by W.A. Mozart, Frederic Chopin, and Franz Schubert.
Genre: Classical: Concerto
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Concerto No. 14 in E-Flat Major, K. 449: I. Allegro vivace
9:02 $0.99
2. Concerto No. 14 in E-Flat Major, K. 449: II. Andantino
7:15 $0.99
3. Concerto No. 14 in E-Flat Major, K. 449: III. Allegro ma non troppo
6:17 $0.99
4. Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21: I. Maestoso
14:01 $0.99
5. Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21: II. Larghetto
8:33 $0.99
6. Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21: III. Allegro vivace
8:39 $0.99
7. Adagio and Rondo Concertante in F Major, D. 497: Adagio - Allegro vivace
13:52 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Putting together this CD with such well known concertos in a more intimate setting was a very personal process. Having played the concertos with full orchestra numerous times, I was focused on creating a musical environment that was very much in a chamber music atmosphere. I decided to gather musicians that were all friends and like-minded musically to create a quartet/quintet. It was wonderful to be able to work intensely and have the flexibility that a smaller group affords. I have no intention of replacing the wonderful color and depth that a full orchestral sound can give but rather show an alternate color and take on these well-known concertos. I had a preference in the Chopin for the piano part to maintain its original solo entrance rather than employing it as part of the tutti section. There was an option to have the Mozart as a string quintet but we decided to keep Mozart’s original formation and used the official Bärenreiter chamber score. I decided to add the relatively unknown Schubert Concertante to complete the concerto format but as a piece that was fully intended to be in the chamber music repertoire.
– Tanya Bannister

W.A. Mozart: Concerto No. 14 in E-flat Major, K. 449

Composed early in 1784, The Piano Concerto in E-flat Major dates from one of the happiest periods of Mozart’s life. At a time when his piano concertos served as his primary source of income, 1784 alone saw the composition of six new concertos, with an additional six over the following two years. In a letter to his father, Mozart wrote of this concerto that “The first concert on Mar. 17th went very well. The hall was full to overflowing and the new concerto I played won extraordinary applause. Everywhere I go I hear praises of that concert.” Most relevant to this particular performance, Mozart also wrote in a slightly later letter that “The E-flat Concerto can be performed a Quattro (with strings only) without wind instruments.” That Mozart himself singled out this decidedly mature work for performance with string quartet makes it an apt candidate for a chamber setting more associated with his earlier concertos.

The concerto’s first movement -- Allegro vivace -- crackles with dramatic energy and shows Mozart’s style at its most operatic. Equally impressive is its concision. Many scholars, notably Sir Donald Tovey, have described the opening movements of Mozart’s piano concertos as integrating the Classical sonata form with an earlier model of Baroque ritornello structure, alternating orchestra and soloist as would have been common in a concerto grosso or in a da capo aria. The E-flat Concerto is a notable exception. At the end of the exposition, for instance, where we would expect the first ritornello to occur, there is instead only a brief summary of material between orchestra and soloist before a full launch of the development section in the parallel minor mode. In conjunction with the heavily operatic style, this condensing of material further vitalizes the drama and favors a leaner, more focused quality than we might expect from the expansive opportunities afforded by the concerto genre. The brusque cadenza further contributes to this quality, propelling us forward without respite until the movement’s end.

The extreme tenderness of the middle movement Andantino, by contrast, is aptly described by Hutchings as “the calm after tears have been shed.” As Mozart gradually develops the movement’s strophic form, the abundant lyricism of a distinctly Romantic, even Schumannian nature is striking. Poignant falling fifths and tritones widen melodically into falling major sevenths in the violins at the movement’s close. For Mozart, a master of expressing the gamut of human emotion in the simplest of harmonies and melodic intervals, the added melodic variation is indeed something special.

The final movement, Allegro, is a rondo that begins innocuously enough but quickly captivates with its infectious rhythmic energy. Partly this energy stems from the playfully Baroque quality of the writing; the first part of the theme sounds as though it could have come straight from the last movement of the fourth Brandenburg concerto, and Mozart further entertains this quality by teasing at numerous contrapuntal treatments that dissipate into air. The real magic, however, comes from Mozart’s ceaseless power of invention in the piano writing. Each refrain of the rondo returns as an increasingly virtuosic display for the soloist, first as a delightful eighth note counterpoint to the orchestra, later with a series of leaping broken octaves as we emerge from the middle section, and finally in a classic metric shift to a 6/8 dance time that closes out the movement. Most rondos, including this one, feature episodes that are essentially subservient to their surrounding refrains, their main role to provide a temporary contrast so that the refrain theme can return to newly win us with its charm. Mozart relies on this ploy of the charming refrain even more heavily than in most rondos, but because he so creatively casts each of these returns, the triviality of the episodes almost encourages us to hear the movement as a variations set with the episodes as “something extra” in between. That the most substantial of the episodes -- the minor middle section -- also doubles as something of a variation, only reconfirms this hearing. The brilliance of how Mozart combines these two forms, however, is in the clarity of his execution; ultimately we experience all the inventive pleasure of a set of variations without ever losing the sense of the rondo finale form.

Frederic Chopin: Concerto No. 2 in f minor, Op. 21

Chopin’s beloved Concerto No. 2 in f minor is by far the most familiar of these three works and the most rearranged for performance with string quintet. As in the case of Mozart, it was Chopin himself who produced the initial chamber arrangement, but more out of the necessity to accommodate practical considerations he would have met with as a touring soloist. Most larger performances even in Chopin’s time were done in theaters, and the most common venues while Chopin was touring would have been salon-style rooms. For Mozart the salon would have also been familiar, but the string quartet accompaniment would have represented a more organic transition from an earlier period when wind writing was simply less prominent and essential for orchestration.

It is unfortunate, then, that while much evidence exists of Chopin’s performance of his concertos with any number of ensembles ranging from quartet to full orchestra, we do not in fact have versions of the smaller arrangements in Chopin’s own hand. Again, the main reasons here are practical; often Chopin simply shortcut the process by writing wind cues into the string or piano parts, and he would have relied heavily on rehearsal to adapt to unique performing conditions in various locations. An important similarity to Mozart, however, is that Chopin, as a performer / composer much in the tradition of Mozart and the intermediary Hummel, would have adopted to various extents the practice of playing alongside the orchestra in tutti sections. In that way, the piano’s ability to play key wind parts that may have been absent would have been an important and variable function for the solo instrument.

In many respects, then, Chopin’s concertos mark the end of a trajectory begun by Hummel that incorporated a Romantic approach to virtuosity and melodic writing into an essentially Classical ritornellic form as pioneered by Mozart. This is an important distinction against a composer such as Beethoven, for instance, who was often more Classical in his language but made vast strides in a Romantic approach toward the total structural unity of his works. In Chopin’s case, however, the utter improvisatory freedom of melodic embellishment is of a language so innately his own that it is difficult to truly compare his works to the piano music of any other composer. Far more common is the comparison of Chopin’s music to the Italian bel canto operatic style of Bellini and Donizetti. This added vocal dimension, then, is perhaps the area to which the Chopin chamber arrangements have the most to offer. By affording a greater freedom to the ensemble playing and the possibility for soloistic treatment in the string parts, the string quintet version functions in many ways as a much more compelling complement to the piano soloist.

Franz Schubert : Adagio and Rondo Concertante in F Major, D. 487

Schubert’s lesser known Adagio and Rondo Concertante in F Major, composed in 1818 for piano and string trio, offers an even more unconventional take on a rondo than Mozart’s. Here, though, the decidedly looser interpretation of ‘rondo’ is less an instance of compositional virtuosity and more an example of Schubert’s lyrical and intimate style. ‘Rondo’ in this case refers only to the generic character of the light and playful Allegro vivace; to the extent that we are expecting a typical cycle of episode and refrain, Schubert disappoints. In fact, it is precisely as we wait for an initial hint of return that Schubert surprises us with his most magical and unexpected writing, notably the intimate string interlude in A Major that emerges, tender, vulnerable, and utterly unprepared in the midst of a transition section.

By continually surprising in this way, Schubert is able to prolong the musical journey almost indefinitely, teasing out new key areas but never remaining long enough that we grow comfortable. Eventually we reach a triumphant theme and closing material in C Major, the dominant of our home key of F and a typical place of arrival, but more for a sonata than for a ‘rondo’. Indeed, the overall structure ends up resembling exactly that of a binary sonata without development. And, given the lack of any particularly dark or stormy themes, the familiar tripartite sonata program of conflict, development, and resolution is hardly necessary. Instead, the entire movement seems to grow organically from an abundance of lyricism that indulges its large-scale repeat more as a gesture of warmth than due to a necessity for resolution. ‘Rondo’ then, perhaps refers in only the broadest sense to “something that returns.” The word might equally be applied to the opening Adagio, which, despite its primarily introductory quality, cannot help but to luxuriate in a full repeat of its material, again out of that selfsame abundance of warmth that seems only natural for the sunny F Major key.

Alongside the Mozart, the Schubert takes on a particularly interesting quality as a foil to the two Mozart piano quartets. These works from near the end of Mozart’s life also feature something of a concertante style for the piano, particularly in the last movement rondos. Equally prevalent in the Mozart, however, are the melodic responses of the violin and viola, often paired in virtuosic parallel thirds and not dissimilar to the writing in Mozart’s famous Sinfonia Concertante for that same pair of instruments. The Schubert Adagio and Rondo obviously imitates the soloistic element for the piano, but also at times for the strings. This quality gives the work a unique place in Schubert’s string writing, which we often think of as maturing -- at least for the string quartet -- with his Quartettsatz of 1820. For the piano, of course, it is even more valuable as Schubert’s sole foray into a concertante style for any instrument.

- Notes By Lee Dionne

Tanya Bannister, piano

Lauded by The Washington Post for playing “…with intelligence, poetry and proportion,” pianist Tanya Bannister’s career has already brought her to many of the world’s great concert halls, with recitals at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Salle Cortot in Paris, Teatro Communale in Bologna, Tokyo’s Nikkei Hall, London’s Queen Elizabeth and Wigmore Halls, The Kennedy Center in Washington DC, and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York. Ms. Bannister has received further distinction as an “Artist to Watch” on the cover of SYMPHONY Magazine. Her concerto highlights include performances with Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional in Santo Domingo, the Greenwich, Arcadiana, Syracuse, Harrisburg, Victoria and Columbus Symphonies and the Westchester and Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestras in concertos by Mozart, Beethoven and Shostakovich. An elegant chamber musician, Ms. Bannister’s festival appearances include Amelia Island, Look & Listen and AlpenKammerMusik. Among her many awards are victories at the Concert Artists Guild International Competition and the New Orleans International Piano Competition.

Her debut recording featured three late piano sonatas of Muzio Clementi and was released in 2006 on the Naxos label. BBC Music Magazine declared: “Barenboim’s EMI Beethoven sonata cycle is readily brought to mind. Yet although she possesses enviable articulate and accurate fingers, she is also sensitive to the music’s many lyrical asides.” Ms. Bannister’s next recording, This is the story she began, was released by Albany Records and featured solo piano music of American composers David Del Tredici, Christopher Theofanidis, Suzanne Farrin and Sheila Silver. Reviewing this disc, the American Record Guide complimented the pianist as “exceptionally talented…with a scintillating tone and subtle sense of chording.”

As co-founder and Artistic Director of Austria’s AlpenKammerMusik, Tanya Bannister has created an intimate environment in which music lovers from around the world can spend twelve days in a small Alpine village engaged in the study of chamber music. Sensing a demand for musical opportunity amongst amateur and pre-professional musicians, she designed an experience for participants centered on close musical collaborations with a globally distinguished faculty in preparation for final public performances.

Tanya Bannister’s world view compels her to direct her artistry toward humanitarian efforts. In the aftermath of the March 2011 tsunami in Japan, Ms. Bannister collaborated with ethno-botanist Paul Alan Cox to raise money for those devastated by this disaster. Of her efforts, he said: “Tanya Bannister’s Concert for Oshima extended her charitable interests to the islands of Japan which were most impacted by the tsunami. In a deeply moving live performance of Japanese folk songs and Western classics, Tanya evoked the exquisite beauty of Japan, the ephemerality of life, and the promise of transcendence.” And in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which occurred soon after Ms. Bannister’s victory in the New Orleans International Piano Competition, she joined forces with three previous winners of that competition to form Pianists for New Orleans. These artists have been performing together across the US to achieve their ambitious mission to raise $100,000 to help support the classical music community of New Orleans.

The artist’s projects include two designed to inspire audiences to delve deeper and evolve their understanding. One weds dance and solo piano works. The other celebrates the genius of Beethoven paired with new works created in response to a number of his masterworks. Born in Hong Kong, Tanya Bannister holds degrees from the Royal Academy of Music in London, Yale University, where she studied with Claude Frank, and New York’s Mannes School of Music, where she received an Artist Diploma as one of a handful of pianists selected to study with Richard Goode.


Claudia Ajmone-Marsan, violin

Claudia Ajmone-Marsan is a member of Ensemble 360 and works regularly with Camerata Bern, Camerata Nordica and Ensemble Modern and was a co-founder of the Quince Quartet. Festival appearances include Aspen, Schleswig-Holstein and the International Musician’s Seminar in Prussia Cover. As a soloist, she has appeared with the Oberlin Conservatory Chamber Orchestraand Kammerphilharmonie Amadé and toured throughout Europe with the Copenhagen Chamber Soloists. Ms. Ajmone-Marsan served as co-principal second of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London under Christoph von Dohnanyi and as principal second of the European Union Chamber Orchestra and the Kammerphilharmonie Amade. A graduate of the Yehudi Menuhin School in England, Claudia studied at the Manhattan School of Music with Sylvia Rosenberg and subsequently with Roland and Almita Vamos at the Oberlin Conservatory, where she received her Bachelor of Music degree. In 2001 she completed her postgraduate studies with Professor Mihaela Martin at the Hochschule für Musik Köln.

Michi Wiancko, violin

Described by Gramophone as an “alluring soloist with heightened expressive and violinistic gifts,” violinist Michi Wiancko made her solo debuts with the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, her recital debuts in Carnegie’s Weill Hall and the Sydney Opera House, and she performs chamber music internationally. Ms. Wiancko’s solo album of works by Émile Sauret on the Naxos label was chosen as Album of the Week on WQXR. Her unique arrangement of Geminiani’s La Follia was released by E1 Music on the debut album of the East Coast Chamber Orchestra (ECCO), a group which she co-founded. Also a singer and songwriter, her music is described by The Strad as “intriguing and exquisitely beautiful…music that breaks through the pop classical barrier.” Michi Wiancko graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Music as a student of Don Weilerstein and earned her Masters at The Juilliard School as a student of Robert Mann.


Raman Ramakrishnan, cello

Cellist Raman Ramakrishnan is a member of the Horszowski Trio with violinist Jesse Mills and pianist Rieko Aizawa. For twelve seasons, from its founding through the spring of 2012, he was a member of the Daedalus Quartet. Mr. Ramakrishnan has performed solo and chamber music throughout North America, across Europe, and in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Panama, and he has appeared with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble in India and Egypt. Raman Ramakrishnan holds a Bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard University and a Master’s degree from The Juilliard School. His primary teachers were Fred Sherry, Andres Diaz and André Emelianoff.

Max Mandel, viola

Canadian violist Max Mandel is one of the most acclaimed and active chamber musicians of his generation. Comfortable in many styles and genres, his current group affiliations include the FLUX Quartet, The Knights, The Silk Road Ensemble, The Metropolitan Museum Artists in Concert, The Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players, The Smithsonian Chamber Players, The Caramoor Virtuosi and ClassNotes. He has been Guest Principal of The Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Camerata Nordica, Camerata Bern and The Canadian Opera Company Orchestra. He is also a frequent guest member of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. Mr. Mandel studied at the University of Toronto with Steven Dann and at The Juilliard School with Samuel Rhodes. He plays on a 1973 Giovanni Battista Morassi generously loaned to him by Lesley Robertson of the St. Lawrence Quartet. He resides in Brooklyn, NY.

Kurt Muroki, double bass

An Artist Member with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Kurt Muroki began his musical studies on the violin and went on to study the double bass at The Juilliard School. He has performed with the Jupiter Chamber Players, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the New York City Ballet. His festival appearances include the Marlboro Music Festival, Festival L’Autonne at IRCAM and Aspen Music Festival, to name a few, and he has collaborated with the Guarneri, Juilliard and Tokyo String Quartets, among others. Mr. Muroki is also active playing for movies, commercials, popular and classical recordings with titles including the Oscar winning film The Departed, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Julie and Julia, and Moonrise Kingdom with artists such as The Who, Sting, Peter Gabriel and Itzhak Perlman. He is a member of the faculty at Indiana University, Stony Brook University and the McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Society of Bassists and is a D’Addario Strings Artist. Kurt Muroki plays a double bass once owned by the famous double bassist Domenico Dragonetti and attributed to Nicolo Amati, circa 1665.


Engineer and Producer: Ryan Streber
Recorded at Oktaven Audio, Yonkers, New York
Hamburg Steinway D prepared by Arlan Harris



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