Eric Zeisl - UCLA Philharmonia
(available for purchase here)
Zeisl; Little Symphony after Pictures of Roswitha Bitterlich. November; Six Sketches. Concerto Grosso.Antonio Lysy, celloUCLA Philharmonia/Neal StulbergYarlung YAR96820 (74’ • DDD)
The flow of émigré composer to Los Angeles in the late 1930s included Viennese-born Eric Zeisl, who worked reluctantly in Hollywood’s film studios while teaching and focusing on what he loved most -- writing music for the concert hall and stage. On this valuable recording featuring the UCLA Philharmonia under Neal Stulberg, the Vienna and Los Angeles sides of Zeisl’s art are explored to striking effect. It is understandable why Zeisl (1905-59) would have appealed to the movie industry. His music is descriptive, colourful and atmospheric, partly a manifestation of his interest in opera. In Little Symphony after Pictures of Roswitha Bitterlich, his only symphony, Zeisl employs tonal language and dramatic narrative with impressive and penetrating command, especially in the variations of the last picture, “Expulsion of the Saints.” The score -- at turns dark and whimsical (the latter conveyed by solo trombone and horn in the third picture, “the Wake”) -- makes on eager to encounter his operas, of which only three complete works and one unfinished piece exist.Another creation from his Vienna period, November: Six Sketches for chamber orchestra, again shows Zeisl’s heightened ability to evoke landscapes and spiritual imagery. The auras are expressive, haunting, epic and, in the case of “Rainy Day,” subtly impressionist.The tragic and folksy qualities that pervade much of Zeisl’s music can also be heard in the Concerto Grosso for cello and orchestra, an alluring work he wrote in the mid-1950s for Gregor Piatigorsky. The bold soloist here is Antonio Lysy, who manages the tricky writing with aplomb and teams vibrantly with the UCLA players and conductor Stulberg.
- Donald Rosenberg, Gramophone
During intermission at a recent concert, I asked a number of people at random if they knew who Eric Zeisl was. Two looked at me blankly and shrugged their shoulders, saying they’d never before heard the name. Another thought he had something to do with the Bauhaus Movement – and one wondered if he was a research scientist. No-one got it right – and for this reason alone,
this compact disc is timely and certainly worth listening to.
Quite apart from his credentials as a composer, Zeisl was connected to Arnold Schoenberg via the marriage of his daughter Barbara to Ronald, Schoenberg’s son. (As is increasingly known these days, Barbara and Ronald’s son E. Randol Schoenberg is an attorney specialising in the recovery of art works stolen by the nazis. His most celebrated case relates, inter alia, to the famous painting The Woman in Gold by Gustav Klimt which inspired a recent movie in which Helen Mirren portrays Maria Altmann, the legal owner who, in spite of the Austrian government’s determination not to give up its ill gotten gains, secured, as a result of Randol’s powerful advocacy, the return to her of the Klimt portrait.) Despite a good familial relationship between the two composers, Zeisl and Schoenberg inhabited strikingly different aesthetic and philosophical worlds. Schoenberg’s music rocked the-then musical establishment and for decades afterwards. Although most of Schoenberg’s works have been recorded, this is far from the case in relation to Zeisl’s ouvre. So this compact disc is invaluable. It will bring to a new generation an appreciation of music that needs to be far better known. Zeisl’s Kleine Sinfonie ‘after pictures of Roswitha Bitterlich’ makes for gripping listening. Bitterlich, now in her nineties and living in Brazil, was extraordinarily precocious, a mere 14 years old at the time of creating the four paintings which so inspired Zeisl. In fact, after viewing them for the first time, he hurried home and got down to work, completing the four-movement work, based on the four paintings, in four days! Perhaps this accounts, if only in part, for the vividness of the music which doesn’t so much attract the attention as seize it. Its first movement – The Madman – is couched in harsh, abrasive terms, radiating a sense of disorder, urgency and conflict. Much of it could be thought of as a gritty, in-your-face march macabre – and conductor Neal Stulberg takes the young players of the UCLA Philharmonia through a riveting reading. There is as well a sad, romantic violin melody. Fascinating liner notes include images of three of the four Bitterlich paintings which inspired the first three movements; this visual prompt makes a real difference in a first encounter with the music. I’d have liked to see, as well, an image of Expulsion of the Saints which inspired the finale. Bitterlich’s Dead Sinners inspired Zeisl to write music that eerily suggest lost, hapless souls in torment and Neal Stulberg takes the UCLA Philharmonia impressively through its doom-laden measures. And trombone and horn give point and meaning to the picture showing two mourners gorging themselves with food and liquor at a wake.And in the final movement, the players do wonders in focussing on Zeisl’s many evocations of spiritual anguish.
Zeisl’s Concerto Grosso has about it the sonic aura one associates with, say, some of Ernest Bloch’s Hebraic-themed works – or a soundtrack one might associate with a Cecil B. DeMille biblical epic. As well, there’s the occasional grating dissonance that sets the teeth on edge.Throughout, Antonio Lysy is in impressive form, the solo line beautifully shaped and confidently stated, his bowing a model of its kind. Certainly, both soloist and UCLA Philharmonia respond to Neal Stulberg’s direction in a consistently meaningful way. Horns are especially fine. Whether articulating the nimble, darting utterances that make of the central scherzo a rather wild and perhaps drunken dance – or articulating the variations that comprise the finale with complete mastery – it’s clear that all concerned are at the top of their game. Zeisl reserves some of his most satisfying ideas for the variations which arethe sonic equivalent of the contents of an Ali Baba’s cave. Sadly, Zeisl never heard his Concerto Grosso which he wrote in 1955/1956; it was dedicated to Gregor Piatigorsky. Its first airing was at the Zeisl Memorial Concert in 1959 in Los Angeles. Thereafter, it returned once more to limbo until 2012 when it was the prime work at a concert described as a Celebration of Eric Zeisl concert. I hope this fine recording is heard by many. It certainly deserves to be.
- Neville Cohn, OZartsreview - Australia's online independant specialist music review journal
Antonio Lysy at the Broad - Music From Argentina
(available for purchase here)
In all cases, Lysy's playing is exemplary. Not only does he toss off any technical difficulties with apparent ease, but also brings his heritage to the fore with brilliantly stylized interpretations filled with panache, passion and Argentine flair.
I recently received Yarlung Records "Antonio Lysy at the Broad, Music from Argentina" and couldn't believe what I was hearing. Michael Fremer gave this Grammy-winning recording an 11 out of 10 for both music and sonics and I couldn't agree more.
— Audio Asylum
Antonio, your cd is great. Great performance, great recorded sound—no doubt in part because of the great Broad Stage ambience, also with the tube gear and my friend Eliot Midwood helping with the mix. The sound is a cut above 99% of all classical recordings. This is music for people who don’t listen to classical music.
— Tom Schnabel, KCRW Los Angeles
The solo cello and string tone behind it are rich and natural. This interesting disc showcases the cello of Antonio Lysy and the five selections show the impact of both pre-Hispanic Amerindian traditions and Spanish Creole influences, as well a modern influences such as the Argentine tango.
— Audiophile Audition
In a word, magnificent!
- Guy Lemcoe, The Audio Beat
Upstart Yarlung Records Gets Latin Grammy Here
Classical music recorded all-analog using purist microphone techniques are few these days. Here is one from Bob Attiyeh's Yarlung Records that is both sonically and musically exquisite.
Music first: Antonio Lysy is a world-renowned cellist and son of Argentinian born violinist Alberto Lysy who was a protege of Yehudi Menuhin. The father performed with Casals, Jacqueline DuPré, Benjamin Britten and Nadia Boulanger. The son has done pretty well for himself too, playing solo recitals and with first tier orchestras at top concert venues throughout Europe and around the world.
On this record, he's joined by pianist Bryan Pezzone, who performs with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the L.A. Philharmonic among others. He's worked with contemporary composers John Adams, John Harbison, and Pierre Boulez among others.
Also onboard is Argentinian bass player Pablo Motta, who plays with various Tango and big band ensembles and The Capitol Ensemble, a string quartet that has played with Rostropovich, Neville Mariner, Janos Starker, Michael Tilson Thomas, the aforementioned Menuhin and Leonard Bernstein.
The point I'm trying to get across with those credits is that this is music making of the highest caliber to go along with analog recording quality of the highest caliber. How often does that happen?
The repertoire consists of music written by Argentinian composers Alberto Ginastera, Lalo Schifrin, and Tango master Astor Piazzolla. Some musicangle readers might be familiar with Ginastera from the "Estancia" and "Panambi" ballet suites that were on Classic Records' superb reissue from 35MM tape of Everest SDBR 3041, which featured Villa-Lobos' delightful "The Little Train of the Caipira" from Bachianas Brasileiras No. 2".
Many will be familiar with Mr. Schifrin from his having written to the catchy little theme song from the "Mission Impossible" television show among other commercial and film enterprises, but he was also Astor Piazolla's pianist back in 1955 and has written and arranged for everyone from Xavier Cugat to Dizzy Gillespie.
Schifrin's "Pampas," the second piece on side 1 won a Latin Grammy® Award this year, which is a feather in all caps involved, particularly for Yarlung's owner/engineer Bob Attiyeh. While the Grammys® are ultra-political and no doubt Schiffrin's connections within the industry were helpful in the vote, the piece, rearranged from an orchestral work to one for cello and piano, retains a sweeping, evocative melodic grandeur.
As the notes point out, the works here, particularly those of Ginastera reflect the Argentinian folk tradition much as Copland's reflected America's and Bartok's did Europe, though the opener, Ginastera's "Pampeana No. 2" is the most abstract in that regard and is probably the most "European" and modern sounding, with a driving piano part at the beginning set against soaring cello lines meant to portray horseback riding gauchos. Other, quieter sections reflect the vast, open lowlands and big skies that are the pampas and then according to the liner notes there's an ostrich hunt.
If that piece doesn't grab you first play (it will after a few), Schiffrin's more cinematic, dramatic and immediately melodic "Pampas" will. The main theme is both heartfelt and fiery, stated by the piano, which Lysy wraps his cello tentacles around and then the roles reverse. Lysy takes a long, sweeping solo bowing and plucking, going low and then high. These two musicians create an atmosphere as rich and fulfilled as any full symphony orchestra might, restating and enriching the melody, before finally slipping away.
Side two begins with Ginastera's "Triste" (sad), a short, quiet piece that will leave you that way for sure, before the two well-known Piazzolla pieces arranged for string quartet, cello and piano by Piazzolla musical collaborator José Bragato Tango you into reverie.
About the sound: this was recorded at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica using an AKG C-24 stereo tube microphone fitted with its original brass C12 tube, to Agfa 468 tape. Cables were Yarlung-Records-designed stranded silver interconnects, preamps were customized vacuum tube units, with no mixer involved. Doug sax and Sangwook Nam mastered for vinyl at
The Mastering Lab with no compression or limiting.
According to engineer Attiyeh, the LP sounds "just like the master tape." I believe him!
The stage is spacious, the mix of direct to reflected sound is ideal, the image solidity, stability and focus are life-like and the level of transparency and freedom from electronic artifacts are unsurpassed in my listening experience.
If this recording doesn't move you emotionally you are brain dead. If you don't agree that this is one of the finest recordings you have ever heard, your system needs to go in for repairs.
I've played this record repeatedly over the past few days and I can't get enough. When it's over you'll sit in stunned silence, I guaranty!
OK. I'll stop blathering now other than to say it's also available as a high resolution digital download from Linn.
— Michael Fremer, Music Angle
Music has this special power to invoke memories and induce a painful longing. This album by Yarlung Artists is one of those special gems that for a music lover and audiophile has quickly become a favourite. It brought tears to my eyes as I remembered a long-ago time in my youth when I watched a tango performed for the first time, and my futile attempts to learn the dance (for those of my friends in Singapore who remember, it was the Sunny Low dance studio in Outram).
Producer and recording engineer Bob Attiyeh perfectly captures the sound of Antonio Lysy's cello, the Capitol String Ensemble and pianist Bryan Pezzone, teleporting me in time and space to the best seats of The Broad Stage, Santa Monica for the performance. This recording reminds me of RCA Living Stereo or Mercury Living Presence albums from the golden age with a liquid, warm, inviting sound. Very much more "live" than the average album.
A very special high-resolution download available from nativedsd.com
— Gary Koh, Mono and Stereo High-End Audio Magazine
Audio Video Club of Atlanta
Argentine cellist Antonio Lysy makes the first commercial recording to come out of the Eli and Edythe Broad Stage in Santa Monica a memorable debut. The son of acclaimed violinist Alberto Lysy (who gained fame for his collaborations with Yehudi Menuhin and other great musicians), Antonio dedicates the CD to his father and celebrates the composers of his own country and the rich folk heritage that inspired them. That music is a mix of native pre-Hispanic and Creole influences, together with the later intrusion of the Tango, the beautiful, sensuous dance that has come for many people to epitomize Argentina itself, and in particular Buenos Aires.
The program begins with Pampeana No. 2 by Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983), the first Argentine composer to make an impact in the concert halls of the world. True to its title, the rhapsody evokes the landscape of the Pampas as Ginastera alternates contrasted slow and fast measures with the energetic, stomping dances of the Argentine gauchos. Lysy’s cello gets plenty of opportunity to shine, singing an eloquent cadenza seasoned with double stops and pizzicati when it isn’t stamping in time to the highly inflected musical metre.
We also hear from Ginastera in three other delectable pieces: a pair of song transcriptions from his Five Popular Argentine Songs entitled Triste and Zamba (The latter, a formal dance in 6/8 metre performed by couples who circle one another gracefully waving white handkerchiefs, as much dance as it is song) and Puneña No. 2, a melancholy love song based in part on an actual Amerindian melody from Cuzco, Peru by way of the Andean highland plateau. The eloquent, lyric quality in Lysy’s playing
is noteworthy in all three pieces.
The renowned cellist and composer José Bragato is heard from in his own moody tango Graciela y Buenos Aires and in three transcriptions for cello and ensemble of music by the late Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992). “Oblivion,” true to its name, is sad, steeped in wistful nostalgia, and “Milonga del ángel” makes use of the dance form of the title, a predecessor of the Tango with its irregular rhythms offsetting a regular 2/4 beat. Finally, Le Grand Tango, Piazzolla’s masterpiece, in which sublime eloquence overlays earthy passion, gets an elegant performance by Lysy, with assistance from Bryan Pezzone, Pablo Motta, and the Capitol Ensemble members.
Two other works command respect. Omaramor by Osvaldo Golijov is described by its own composer as “dirty enough, especially as it gets into the tough tango section,” and also “beautiful.” It is dedicated to the legendary tango vocalist Carlos Gardel, based on his song “My Beloved Buenos Aires.” Golijov uses stunning harmonic progressions to picture the singer wandering through the streets of the city. Finally, Pampas 2009, a provocative and introspective evocation of the vast, mysterious grasslands, was written especially for the glowing premiere Antonio gives it in this album.
— Dr. Phil Muse
Making Connections Musically
This morning - a beautiful crisp fall day in the Texas Hill Country - I opened the windows of my office, sat down and played the track, Pampas, from the album Antonio Lysy at the Broad: Music from Argentina.
It has been nominated for "Best Classical Contemporary composition" at the 2010 Latin Grammy Awards and I can totally understand why. It has been called lyrical and Lysy's performance has been described as "sublime eloquence overlay(ing) earthy passion" Phil Muse, Audio Video Club of Atlanta.
However, what really struck me this morning was the music's ability to transport me to a culture and land that urged exploration. The pathos of a place and people seemed to hang on each note and I found myself on a mental journey across the open grassland, absorbed in the romance of it and consumed by feelings of desire and fulfillment.
At the end of the track I felt curiously connected to this new world and strangely to my own.
Revived, open, receptive, ready to share and to explore.
In the interests of full disclosure I must say that Antonio Lysy and his wife Margaret are dear friends of mine, so I do not write dispassionately about their music or their work but instead am delighted and honored to share their vision with others.
This family, over generations, has taken a passion for music and made it a lifestyle, so it is not unexpected that all the proceeds from the album for the first 5 years will be donated to SOL-LA Music Academy in Santa Monica, Los Angeles. Once again there is a connection, Margaret Lysy is the CEO and Director of SOL-LA, a school " based on the belief that vibrant cultural education positively affects other areas of learning, and that music education can create bridges across diverse cultures and communities".
As I pondered these networks and purposeful philanthropy I couldn't help relating it back to the feeling of "connectiveness" that enveloped me while listening to the Pampas soundtrack.
So do yourself a favor, listen to the soundtrack, you may be inspired to buy the album and like me, maybe you'll be curiously interested to see what happens at the 2010 Latin Grammy Awards on November 11, in Las Vegas.
-Suzanne Deal Booth, Huffington Post
The Year of Yarlung
Yarlung Records received three prestigious awards in 2015, the year of their 10th anniversary: Dr. David W. Robinson’s Brutus Award, Brian Moura’s 2015 Writer’s Choice Award — both, mainly, for their astonishing analog tape conversions to Direct Stream Digital (DSD) files while, locally, owner Bob Attiyeh received the Los Angeles and Orange County Audio Society’s (LAOCAS) Humanitarian Award for offering opportunity, and worldwide exposure, to the gifted young musicians who perform within the very diverse Yarlung catalog.
At RCN, we are here to honor vinyl … and its continuing resurgence. At Yarlung, not only is Bob, also as the label’s recording engineer, acknowledging technology’s curve and converting his library to DSD files, he’s delving into his decade of analog archives to demonstrate the depth of some of their more celebrated and astounding sounding CD
releases on 33 and 45 rpm, 180 gram virgin vinyl.
You may remember reading — in RCN Jan/Feb 2011 — that Yarlung had won a Latin Grammy for the Lalo Schifrin composition, Pampas, released on Antonio Lysy, Live at the Broad. Antonio’s cello driven rendition, actually captured in 2009, became the first Yarlung exploration into vinyl; it stunned the analog community. Fortunately, there was more material from that session and, when funding became available in 2014, a follow-up LP was delivered — Te Amo Argentina.
Usually, secondary releases are second rate as the primary platter has all the “hits.” With Te Amo Argentina, this is not the case. From the opening “Bragato Graciela y Buenos Aires,” I was absorbed. While ogling the gracious tango dancer imagery adorning the cover, the seductive melody took hold and the resonance of Antonio’s cello became so present in my living room, I was reminded of Disney’s Fantasia as the dancers came alive to twirl and swirl as I melted into my armchair.
As with all of Bob’s productions, by the end of each recording, I’m satiated, overhauled, healed from the day. But this one was different. With the closing track, I recognized the award winning Pampas. Why release it again? I dug out the original LP. Ah ha, the vinyl was mastered by two different individuals.
As impressed as I was with the Doug Sax’s superb mastering merits on the original, in this recent version, Bernie Grundman’s ear offered a beefier, more robust presentation. I asked Bob, “What gives?”
“Both versions of Pampas have their advantages. The differences between the two are cutting amplifiers, lathes, and pressing plants. Also, Bernie’s is a tad louder, which always makes things sound ‘better,’ I suspect: Fun to have two versions, yes?“
It sure is: Bernie’s version seems much more “in the room,” while Doug’s is more spacious, ethereal. Either way, none is better than the other, just different. As are the vinyl masters’ “ears” and sensibilities.
Mentioning Bernie also makes a perfect segue for me to make a correction. In my recent Ciaramella – Dances on Movable Grounds review, I erroneously credited mastering engineer, Steve Hoffman and, inadvertently, omitted mentioning that Bernie was responsible for the vinyl mastering.
Bernie’s resume includes remastering everyone from Armstrong to Zappa, which transmutes into “must-have” LPs for any musicologists’ library. Need an example? Check out the Classic Records, 12-inch,
45-rpm single of Louis Armstrong’s St. James Infirmary!
Te Amo, ArgentinaSpeaking of 45s, Yarlung’s latest release, Janaki String Trio, is excerpted from their 2006 recording that was so well received, and respected as cutting edge, that the aforementioned Hoffman is still asked at audiophile shows to autograph the CD.
As Steve claims on the liner notes, “It’s because it combines lifelike sound with hair-raising performances…”
Executive Producer Elliot Midwood concurs. “It is not often that you experience a performance that is both electrifying and gives you goosebumps at the same time.”
Violinist Serena McKinney, violist Katie Kadarauch and cellist Arnold Choi met at The Colburn Music School in Los Angeles. Now they perform, mid-living room, on my “holographic” soundstage. Three separate beings swaying as their bows swerve across the wooden bellies of their instruments.
The musicianship is so precocious plus, their modern approach to appreciating contemporary musical composition is downright inspiring…way ahead of where I was at that age. I was still listening to the Beatles, the Stones, a little Bitches Brew and, occasionally, Louis and Ella. Okay, I wasn’t “exposed,” as a Colburn pupil should be. Now, decades later, I’m glad that I am.
Janaki (rhymes with Jedi) manifest, and demonstrate, the extraordinary potential of youth. Though Mozart certainly was precocious as a composer, maybe, he was just as gifted a performer, who really knows? I certainly wasn’t there. Today, enjoying this trio’s flawless renditions, their gifts are timeless. Their choice of repertoire reveals not only their passion for modern composers like Penderecki, and Barabba but, as a bonus, the airy 45 allows the magnificent tone and warmth of their
priceless instruments which date back to early 1700.
Bob elaborated: “For accurate capture, I chose the AKG C-24 tube stereo microphone and recorded directly to two tracks through our tube microphone preamps and custom cables. We recorded analog tape, as well as high definition 24-bit PCM digital media at 176,400 samples per second.”
The results are staggering–and as fresh as if recorded yesterday. Listening to the LP leaves me, as usual, satiated; bathed in the remnant ambience; mood elevated yet, serene.
Soon, I am aroused from my reverie by the repetitive click at the end of the run-off on the record. It’s actually one of the many benefits of owning a turntable, It insists that I extricate myself from the comforts of my couch and … turn it over.
- David Thomson, Record Collector News
Bach to Berio
(available for purchase here)
Lysy plays the Bach preludes with remarkable spontaneity, yet with an innate appreciation of their architecture, and he realises Bach's harmonic texture and contrapuntal strands with the utmost clarity. He instills the various stylised dance movements with appropriate character and elegance and displays an impressive command of phrasing, accentuation and articulation.
— The Strad
The bulk of the recital is given over to Bach's Third and Fifth Cello Suites, masterworks whose cruel demands on technique, intellect and sensitivity to the music's dance origins have found some of the most distinguished names in the cello firmament occasionally wanting - at least on disc. Lysy etches the music in subtly understated shades and hues (as opposed to the bold primary colours of a Tortelier or a Rostropovich), yet avoids the implacable austerity of a Dengron or a Fournier. He gives free rein to the music's improvisational qualities without losing sight of it's structural integrity, articulating the Fifth Suite's Courant with an obvious awareness of period-instrument niceties.
— International Record Review