LABOR RECORDS ANNOUNCES THE RELEASE OF
THE COMPLETE KEYBOARD WORKS OF JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH FEATURING LEGENDARY BRAZILIAN PIANIST JOAO CARLOS MARTINS
THE HISTORIC COLLECTION OF 19 CD`s NOW BEING MADE AVAILABLE, FOR THE FIRST TIME, TO AUDIENCES AROUND THE WORLD
The exciting news in the world of music is that Pianist Joâo Carlos Martins' monumental undertaking of committing all that Johann Sebastian Bach ever wrote for the keyboard has just been released, for the first time, as one digital Collection comprising 19 CDs, 338 works, and 191/2 hours of music.
This lifetime project, over 20 years in the making and the most comprehensive of its kind in the history of recorded music realized by one pianist, is now available, exclusively, from The Orchard, the leading distributor for digital content.
In today’s pianistic world, one of the most controversial, iconoclastic and startling virtuoso pianist is Brazil’s Joâo Carlos Martins. Like his gigantic country Martins’ playing displays mighty contrasts and eruptions, glorious landscapes, and vast resources.
It seems that the piano playing of Martins reflects the temperamental quirkiness and grandeur of his nation. From his earliest years, Joâo Carlos Martins was steeped in the universality of Johann Sebastian Bach’s music, and this artist has spent his tragically romantic experience imbibing Bach with a passion that defies fatigue. Indeed, it is fair to say that Martins has been enraptured, intoxicated and hypnotized by the immortal Leipzig Cantor.
“His technique sends fireworks in all directions…He does everything with extraordinary élan.” – New York Times
“The most exciting player of Bach on the modern piano to emerge since Glenn Gould.” – Boston Globe
“Piano playing of uncommon beauty. He is a marvel of rhythmic electricity, a font of musicianship and a man born to do great things with the piano.” – Washington Post
THE ESSENTIAL BACH
João Carlos Martins
“Breathtaking, stunning and deeply passionate?” Or “irreverent, blasphemous and disgraceful?” You decide.
João Carlos Martins’ The Complete Keyboard Works of J.S Bach recordings are unanimously regarded as the most fiercely personal and romantic, albeit the most controversial, interpretations of Bach’s music ever recorded. Now with the digital release of The Essential Bach, Labor Records is pleased to present, on one compact disc, highlights of the Brazilian pianist’s most inspired performances from his monumental series of Bach recordings (a mammoth 19-CD project that was nearly twenty years in the making). A collection that is, in a word, essential.
“Consider the relationship between Bach’s brain and his heart. In my opinion, his brain was polyphonic and his heart monophonic. Why do I say that? When you hear Bach’s many emotional states–pain, love, romanticism, lyricism, virtuosity, a pastoral kind of attitude–you hear a monophonic soprano voice singing over a basso continuo. His most
important melodies came from the heart. When you get to Bach the scholar–the man who wrote the fugues–then you hear Bach’s brain. But even in his fugues, his subconscious was still monophonic, his heart was still occupied with a soprano line and a continuo. So,
when I am playing one of Bach’s fugues, what statement am I trying to make? I try to show all the polyphonic intricacy of the subjects and the countersubjects, but I never play the subject exactly the same way every time that it occurs. Instead, I try to play it differently, I vary it, because its context within the piece is always changing. Everything I do, I do with purpose, although it may be disturbing to some people.”
–João Carlos Martins
(from an interview with Raymund Tuttle / Fanfare Magazine)
LABOR Book / David Dubal
Conversations with João Carlos Martins
Peabody Award-winner David Dubal’s book “Conversations with João Carlos Martins,” is an indispensable companion to the music of Brazil’s legendary pianist. The 200-page book not only offers biographical information regarding Martins, but extensively explores his vision of Bach in addition to offering his entertaining views on a variety of other composers, as well as politics, soccer, etc. The book is not only interesting and historically informed, but an invaluable reference in getting to know the man and his music, and a fascinating read as well.
“To play the piano without the pedal is like walking in the snow
“Words like elitists were invented by people who feel inferior to something they may think is important, but are too lazy to look into the subject.”
These are just a few words of the observations of Brazilian pianist João Carlos Martins, who, according to the London Daily Mirror has had a life story as extraordinary as his piano playing. In this book he proves himself to be as provocative a speaker as he is an interpreter of music. On topics ranging from Baroque performance practice to international politics and major league sports, Martins engages in a sprawling discussion with noted piano authority David Dubal making a compelling case for individualism and commitment.
In these pages, Martins opens his heart about his encounters with some of the most fascinating people of the 20th century including Eleanor Roosevelt, Aaron Copland, Alfred Cortot, Salvadore Dali, Leonard Bernstein, Alberto Ginastera, and Johann Sebastian Bach (!) whom Martins persuasively argues is the greatest composer of the 20th century.
The centerpiece of the book is a comprehensive set of comments on each of the 48 preludes and fugues of Bach's monumental Well-Tempered Clavier. He offers unique personal reactions to each of these pieces as well as insightful response to Bach torch bearers ranging from Glenn Gould to Wanda Landowska.
With uninhibited candor, Martins accounts the odyssey of his life: his earliest days in Brazil, his prodigious debut at Carnegie Hall at the age of 20, a debilitating soccer injury that prematurely ended his concert career, his role in the tumultuous politics of his homeland which ended in his near escape from imprisonment, his triumphant comeback to music, and his brutal beating in Bulgaria which resulted in a brain hematoma which almost permanently ended his career, and even his life. Martins’ unusual medical treatments and his subsequent return to the recording studio to finish the complete keyboard music of Bach is a miraculous story of personal endurance.
David Dubal is internationally known as a pianist, teacher, writer, and broadcaster. An acknowledged authority on the piano literature, Mr. Dubal’s highly acclaimed books include The Art of the Piano, Evenings with Horowitz, Reflections from the Keyboard, and Conversations with Menuhin.
Mr. Dubal’s video, The Golden Age of the Piano, has been seen worldwide in four languages, and won him an Emmy award. His compact disc, Remembering Horowitz, featured Dubal and 125 other pianists recalling this legendary performer.
Recipient of the first ASCAP/DEEMS Taylor Award for broadcast journalism, Mr. Dubal has won numerous other honors, including the coveted George Foster Peabody Award for innovative broadcasting. From 1967-90 he served as Music Director of WNCN, the legendary radio station in New York City, and was also producer and commentator for innumerable special broadcasts, including “Conversations with Horowitz.”
Mr. Dubal has been a faculty member of the Juilliard School since 1983, and joined the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music in 1994. He has performed in recitals and lecture-recitals in forty states, conducted master classes and lectured world-wide, and judged many international competitions, including the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.
João Carlos Martins &
Fernando Corvisier / The Four Seasons
João Carlos Martins is joined on this recording by Fernando Corvisier for a two-piano romp through Vivaldi’s Four Seasons that should make even the most jaded listener whose heard the Four Seasons one too many times perk up. Transcribed by Messiaen–pupil Almeida Prado, this version of the red monk’s celebration of weather changes sounds more like a rediscovered two-piano sonata by Rachmaninoff than the Baroque muzak it too often can appear to be. By removing the expected sound world of the 18th century, the work attains a new kind of timeliness and can be appreciated in a new way. If authenticists are nauseated by this seemingly-blatant defiance of historic validity, it should be remembered that one of the great keyboard transcribers of Vivaldi’s concertos was Johann Sebastian Bach.
“The most macho interpretation of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons you are ever likely to hear comes from the four fists of pianists João Carlos Martins and Fernando Corvisier (LABOR LAB 7018). Martins’s hydraulic fingers pound out the bass lines in double octaves; both pianists take turns with the violin solo parts, outdoing one another with flair. It’s a delightful romp for two pianists who are obviously having a great time on their dueling Steinways. I wouldn’t recommend it as an introduction to Vivaldi, but it will surely shine a bright light on an old favorite.”
– ON THE AIR MAGAZINE
A New Spring for ‘The Four Seasons’
“…One striking transcription that makes old music sound new is Brazilian composer Almeida Prado’s arrangement of Vivaldi’s thoroughly familiar “The Four Seasons” for two pianos. If ever music seemed wedded to the sound of a solo violin and string orchestra, this is it. But it is reborn in a performance by pianists João Carlos Martins and Fernando Corvisier (Labor LAB7018) that totally changes the sound while remaining faithful to the ingenious, descriptive spirit of the early-1700s original and bringing out many small details often lost in orchestral performances.”
Joseph McLellan, The Washington Post
The Prado/Martins/Corvisier Four Seasons is not jazz or even “jazzy” but, like certain kinds of jazz, it has a way of taking traditional musical patterns and reinterpreting them for a latter day. There is something going on here which is Vivaldi and something else which is Vivaldi squared, Vivaldi cubed, Vivaldi taken up through two-and-a-half centuries right into the latter part of our own era – post-modern Vivaldi!”
– from Eric Salzman’s program notes
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