Title - 'El Chan'
Artist - Dessner - Labèque
For those not in the know, Bryce Dessner is an American composer and guitarist based in Paris, best known as a member of the rock band the National.
In addition to his work with the National, Dessner is also known for his independent work as a composer. Indeed, his orchestral, chamber, and vocal compositions have been commissioned by, but not limited to, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Metropolitan Museum of Art (for the New York Philharmonic), Kronos Quartet, Carnegie Hall, BAM Next Wave Festival, Barbican Centre, Edinburgh International Festival, and the Sydney Festival, amongst others.
Furthermore, his work Murder Ballades featured on eighth blackbird's album Filament, an album he also produced and performs on, and which won the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Small Ensemble Performance.
The Labèque sisters, Katia and Marielle, are an internationally known French piano duo. While some degree of recognition came with this performance repertoire, true celebrity arrived when their 1980 two-piano recording of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue sold over a half million copies.
Beyond the traditional classical repertoire, their repertoire extends to contemporary classical music, jazz, ragtime, flamenco, minimal music, baroque music on period instruments, and even pop music and experimental rock.
On Dessner's latest orchestral release El Chan (out May 3rd, 2019 via Deutsche Grammophon), the talented musician effortlessly brings together classical nuances with his own mind's eye of creative musical soundscapes.
"Concerto for Two Pianos" (22:47)
"El Chan" (15:38)
Comprising three elegant, free flowing and gorgeous compositions, El Chan begins with "Concerto for Two Pianos" which features sweeping arpeggios from the Labèque sisters (who play the piano on each of the album's pieces).
Following in the footsteps of minimalist composers such as Glass, Adams, and Reich, Dessner actually composed this composition specifically for the sisters.
Created especially for two guitars (both Dessner and David Chalmin) and two pianos, next up is the near ten minute wonderment of "Haven," a gorgeous modern classical work of fluid, shimmering majesty, it fairly skips across the waters of our minds eye like the setting sun on a radiant ocean.
Finally we get to settle in for the near 16 minute musical wonderment of the more quietly composed "El Chan." An exhaustive composition that consists of seven movements the Labèque sisters more than master all the ebbs and flows of the intricate, and at times wholly complex portions.
Recorded in 2018 with Orchestre de Paris conducted by Matthias Pintscher, the El Chanalbum was written for and inspired by film director Alejandro González Iñárritu whose film 'The Revenant' Dessner provided additional musical compositions for.
Oh, for those wondering, yes, the cover art was also indeed created by the wondrously talented Iñarittú.
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