November 25, 2020
2020 Recording Round-Up & Performance Highlights

As we prepare to say farewell to an unprecedented year of change, we reflect on the work of our remarkable, resilient artists—the music they created, performed, recorded, and streamed—and look forward to 2021 with optimism and an appreciation for what is to come.

Below is an overview of our artists’ recording releases and performance highlights during the 2020 calendar year. For press copies, please contact us via shumanpr@shumanassociates.net.

 

JONATHAN BISS

 

Recording: Beethoven – The Complete Piano Sonatas (Orchid Classics)

Released March 20

In 2010, Jonathan Biss began recording Beethoven’s complete piano sonatas—a project that culminated in this year’s nine-disc box set of all 32 of these landmark works. This recording series has also been a through line in Mr. Biss’s decade-long immersion in the music of Beethoven more generally, whether through performances, writings, or educational initiatives. Learn more here, and listen via Spotify (Vol. 1).

 
 

Web Stream: Beethoven’s Last Three Piano Sonatas via 92nd Street Y

Premiered March 26

At the time of the COVID-19 outbreak, Jonathan Biss was in the midst of multiple recital series of Beethoven’s complete piano sonatas, as well as numerous performances of selections from this repertoire. Among these concerts was a recital for New York’s 92nd Street Y that became one of the first widely viewed online classical events of the coronavirus era—with more than 280,000 views on Facebook. Watch here.

 

JAMES CONLON

 

Web Stream: LA Opera’s West Coast premiere of Joseph Bologne’s The Anonymous Lover

On-demand November 14–29

Continuing his mission of resurrecting neglected repertoire, James Conlon led LA Opera’s West Coast premiere of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges’s opera The Anonymous Lover. Though Joseph Bologne’s instrumental music has received renewed attention in recent decades, his one surviving complete opera has gone nearly unheard since its premiere in 1780. For this production, Mr. Conlon conducted from the newly created, first critical edition of the score and also chose to incorporate an aria from the composer’s 1777 opera Ernestine, which survives incomplete. In terms of the libretto, which had been based on a play by Félicité de Genlis, Mr. Conlon collaborated with director Bruce Lemon, Jr., who created the production’s socially distanced staging, and dramaturg Dr. Ariane Helou to restore to the opera’s spoken dialogue the female perspective of the original play.

 

LARA DOWNES

 

Recording: Florence Price – Piano Discoveries (Flipside Music)

Released February 14

In this limited-edition collection, Lara Downes performs newly discovered piano works—on recording for the first time—by the groundbreaking composer Florence Price (1887–1953), who was the first African-American female composer ever to be performed by a major American symphony orchestra. Learn more here, and listen via Spotify.

 
 

Recording: Some of These Days (Flipside Music)

Released April 15

This project by Lara Downes is a musical reflection on social justice, progress and equality. Spanning diverse musical traditions including classical, jazz, folk, country, and R&B, the album features collaborations with special guest artists including Toshi Reagon, Howard Fishman, PUBLIQuartet, and The Chapin Sisters. Together, they perform freedom songs and spirituals that invoke our human capacity for optimism, activism, and unification in the face of crisis. Learn more here, and listen via Spotify.

 
 

Web Stream: “Take Care of This House”

Premiered September 22

In honor of National Voter Registration Day, pianist and activist Lara Downes released this video of Leonard Bernstein’s song “Take Care of This House,” from the musical 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The performance features a diverse and multi-generational group of leading American artists and activists, including Yo-Yo Ma, Judy Collins, Rhiannon Giddens, Thomas Hampson, Angel Blue, Isabel Leonard, Ailyn Pérez, Davóne Tines,Lawrence Brownlee, Charles Yang, young musicians from the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, and others. Watch here.

 

EMBRACE EVERYTHING: THE WORLD OF GUSTAV MAHLER

 

Podcast: Season 1 – The First Symphony

Released July 7

This podcast series from award-winning radio producer Aaron Cohen is an exploration and celebration of the music of Gustav Mahler via a journey through his symphonies, starting with Symphony No. 1. In addition to the music itself, each episode weaves together commentary by Mr. Cohen, insights from guest experts and artists including Michael Tilson Thomas and Kent Nagano, and readings from the letters of Mahler and his contemporaries. Learn more here, and listen via Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

 

THE GILMORE

 

Web Stream: 2018 Gilmore Artist
Igor Levit performs Vexations

Live-streamed May 30 & 31

To raise awareness for the plight of artists worldwide amidst the coronavirus pandemic, pianist and 2018 Gilmore Artist Igor Levit gave a live-streamed, marathon performance of one of music history’s longest compositions, Erik Satie’s Vexations, which lasts approximately 20 hours, co-presented by The Gilmore. Watch excerpt here.

 
 

Web Stream: Pierre-Laurent Aimard

Live-streamed November 8

One of today’s most celebrated interpreters of 20th- and 21st-century piano music, Pierre-Laurent Aimard live-streamed a solo recital of works by Messiaen and Stockhausen—interspersed with two of Beethoven’s best-known sonatas, the “Moonlight” and “Appassionata”—from Berlin’s Teldex Studio as part of The Gilmore’s 2020–21 virtual concert season.

He performed selections from Messiaen’s Catalogue d'oiseaux, which was composed for pianist Yvonne Loriod—Messiaen’s second wife and Mr. Aimard’s former teacher. The featured movements were L'alouette lulu (“The Woodlark”) and La chouette hulotte (“The Tawny Owl”). The program closed with Klavierstück IX by Stockhausen, another composer that Mr. Aimard has championed throughout his career. Mr. Aimard gave the world premiere of Stockhausen’s Klavierstück XIV in 1985.

 

STEPHEN HOUGH

 

Recording: Brahms – The Final Piano Pieces (Hyperion Records)

Released January 3

Stephen Hough explores the composer’s last four sets of piano miniatures—the Fantasias, Op. 116; Intermezzos, Op. 117; and Clavierstücke, Op. 118 & 119. The recording marks Mr. Hough’s sixth all-Brahms album. Learn more here.

 
 

Recording: Beethoven – The Piano Concertos, with Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra (Hyperion Records)

Released May 1

Following a lifetime of performances of the Beethoven piano concertos around the world, Stephen Hough commits to recording these five masterworks on a three-disc set with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, led by Chief Conductor Hannu Lintu. Learn more here.

 
 

Web Stream: Recital re-opening of London's Wigmore Hall

Live-streamed June 1

Stephen Hough’s Wigmore recital marked the return of live music to the hall following closures due to COVID-19. This special live-streamed BBC Radio 3 broadcast featured Busoni’s arrangement of Bach’s D minor Chaconne, evoking Busoni’s own gala performance at the opening of the Hall nearly 119 years before to the day, and Schumann’s Fantasie in C, Op. 17. Watch Mr. Hough’s encore—his own arrangement of Charles Gounod’s "Ave Maria" (after Bach)—here.

 

JENNIFER KOH

 

Recording: Bach & Beyond: Part 3 (Cedille Records)

Released November 13

With the release of Bach & Beyond: Part 3, Jennifer Koh completed her recording series of this critically acclaimed project that explores resonances between Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas and contemporary solo violin works. This two-disc album comprises Bach’s Sonatas No. 2 and 3, Berio’s Sequenza VIII, and John Harbison’s For Violin Alone, specially commissioned for the project. Learn more here, and listen via Spotify.

 
 

Episode 1: Works by Wang Lu, Joungbum Lee, Morgan Guerin, and Vijay Iyer

Web Stream: Alone Together

Streamed April 4 – June 20

In response to the coronavirus pandemic and the financial hardship it has placed on many in the arts community, violinist Jennifer Koh launched Alone Together, an online commissioning project comprising new micro-works for solo violin.

Twenty-one composers, most of whom have salaried positions or other forms of institutional support to carry them through this challenging time, donated newly composed works to the project, while also each recommending a freelance composer to be formally commissioned from the artist-driven nonprofit arco collaborative.

As part of the series, Ms. Koh interviewed each of the composers about their music and how the pandemic was impacting their lives, then premiered their works over the course of ten streamed performances. Watch the full series here.

 

MINNESOTA ORCHESTRA

Recording: Mahler: Symphony No. 4 (BIS Records)

Released December 6, 2019 (digital worldwide) and January 3, 2020 (on disc in the U.S. and Canada)

Recording: Mahler: Symphony No. 7 (BIS Records)

Released June 5

Minnesota Orchestra’s Mahler recording series continued in 2020 with the composer’s Fourth and Seventh Symphonies, conducted by Music Director Osmo Vänskä and—in the Seventh Symphony—featuring soprano soloist Carolyn Sampson. Recorded in SACD sound, these albums marked the fifth and sixth releases in the Orchestra’s project to record and release all ten of Mahler’s symphonies.

  • Mahler's Fourth: Learn more here, and listen via Spotify.
  • Mahler's Seventh: Learn more here, and listen via Spotify.
 
 

Web Stream: Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 in C major

Live-streamed November 20

The Minnesota Orchestra returned to Orchestra Hall this fall with a revised six-concert season designed for television, radio, and streaming audiences.

Significantly, the November 20 concert, featuring Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1, was the first in eight months to have winds, brass, timpani, and strings perform together on the same stage, primarily due to the Orchestra taking part in a new University of Minnesota study on aerosols, in which researchers worked closely with Orchestra musicians. This concert stream also featured a segment on the study's findings, and how the Orchestra is using the results to make performances like these possible. Watch here.

 

MIRÓ QUARTET

 

Web Stream: Complete Beethoven String Quartets

Live-streamed July 16 – August 8

The Miró Quartet performed all sixteen Beethoven string quartets and the Grosse Fuge live for online audiences via the streaming platform OurConcerts.live.

Presented by the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival, this 12-evening, subscription-based series, marked the Quartet’s first in-person performances following three months of being apart. On-demand viewing available here.

 

TOBIAS PICKER

 

Recording: Tobias Picker: Opera Without Words and The Encantadas (Naxos Records)

Released August 28

Performed by the Nashville Symphony under Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero, this album features one of Tobias Picker’s most performed symphonic works, The Encantadas, with narration by the composer, paired with Mr. Picker’s newest symphonic work, Opera Without Words, in its world-premiere recording. Learn more here, and listen via Spotify.

 

TULSA OPERA

 

Web Stream: Baseball Rigoletto

Premiered November 12

Tulsa Opera’s 'baseball Rigoletto' was filmed before a live, in-person audience at local baseball stadium ONEOK Field. This performance, which originally took place on Friday, October 9, was the first staged grand opera production in the U.S. since the coronavirus outbreak.

Tulsa Opera Artistic Director Tobias Picker re-envisioned Verdi’s Rigoletto to run 85–90 minutes without intermission. He invited Tulsa native James Robinson to direct the production in his company debut—taking the baseball diamond as his stage, with the court jester Rigoletto cast as a lowly team mascot, the Duke of Mantua depicted as a cocky star pitcher, and the hired killer, Sparafucile, as the umpire. Watch on-demand here.

 

JEN SHYU

 

Web Stream: “What Mentorship Means Now” performance and M³ launch announcement

Live-streamed July 21

For this virtual edition of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem’s “Jazz and Social Justice” series, vocalist, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Jen Shyu sang, played Taiwanese moon lute, piano, and percussion in a performance of past and present protest songs, and presented excerpts from Living's a Gift, her first work composed for a cappella choir, commissioned by American Composers Forum for choirs at Brooklyn’s William Alexander Middle School.

In a talk with host Larry Blumenfeld following her performance, Ms. Shyu announced M³—Mutual Mentorship for Musicians, her new initiative that empowers and elevates womxn musicians around the world (including BIPOC and LGBTQIA2S+ across generations) in a new model of mentorship that culminates each season in a performance of new collaborative commissions. The inaugural M³ performances, featuring six world-premiere duo works, will be presented virtually by the National Jazz Museum in Harlem on December 6 and 12. Watch the July 21 performance here.

 

MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS

 

Recording: San Francisco Symphony performs MTT's From the Diary of Anne Frank Meditations on Rilke (SFS Media)

2021 GRAMMY NOMINEE:
BEST CLASSICAL COMPENDIUM

Released May 15

In celebration of MTT's 25th and final year as San Francisco Symphony Music Director, SFS Media presents the premiere recordings of MTT’s first and most recent compositions for voice and orchestra, conducted by MTT himself.

MTT’s From the Diary of Anne Frank features narrator Isabel Leonard, while Meditations on Rilke is brought to life by mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and bass-baritone Ryan McKinny. Learn more here, and listen via Spotify.

 
 

Documentary: PBS’ AMERICAN MASTERS – Michael Tilson Thomas: Where Now Is

Premiered October 23

PBS’ American Masters series presents this exploration of Michael Tilson Thomas’s life and career—from his childhood in California to his ascension to the world stage and leadership roles with the New World Symphony and the San Francisco Symphony.

The film sheds light on formative experiences in MTT’s musical life—the central influence of his father, his first time hearing the music of James Brown, his early clashes with classical music orthodoxy—all of which shaped his personality, artistry, and goals along his path to becoming one of America’s most important musical figures. Watch via Amazon Prime.

 
 

Web Stream: MTT25 –
An American Icon

Premiered June 28

MTT25: An American Icon was the culmination of the San Francisco Symphony's look back at 25 years of memories with Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas.

Hosted by vocalists Audra McDonald and Susan Graham, this virtual event celebrated MTT’s remarkable 25-year directorship through personal stories, memories, and performances by a star-studded guest list of MTT’s friends and musical colleagues—from multi-Grammy Award-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. Watch here.

 

DAVÓNE TINES

 

Web Stream: VIGIL, presented by Lincoln Center

Premiered September 30

A work of art and a call to action, VIGIL pays tribute to Breonna Taylor, the EMT and aspiring nurse who was shot and killed by police in her home, and whose tragic death has fueled an international outcry.

Created by renowned opera singer and activist Davóne Tines in collaboration with Matthew Aucoin, Igée Dieudonné and Conor Hanick, this music film presents an exercise in empathy—a model for how to engage with the powerful emotions we feel because of injustice, and how to take action. Through Mr. Tines’s rich sonic and visual lyricism, VIGIL asks us to connect with, understand, and act upon all of our sensations, inside and out. Watch here.

 
 

Web Stream: Louisville Orchestra

Premiered October 9

Davóne Tines opened the Louisville Orchestra’s season with music honoring Breonna Taylor, conducted by Teddy Abrams. Mr. Tines’ program included a performance of Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing, often referred to as the "Black national anthem"; the world premiere of an orchestral arrangement of VIGIL, written by Mr. Tines and Igée Dieudonné, and arranged by Matthew Aucoin; Barber's Dover Beach; and works by Caroline Shaw.

 

SHAI WOSNER

 

Recording: Schubert – Piano Sonatas D845, D894, D958, and D960 (Onyx Classics)

Released March 20

Shai Wosner’s career-long, critically acclaimed engagement with the music of Franz Schubert continued with this double album comprising the Piano Sonatas in A minor (D845), G major (D894), C minor (D958), and B-flat major (D960). With this release, Mr. Wosner completed his recordings of Schubert’s last six piano sonatas, which he characterizes as “thick novels, rich with insight about the human condition.” Learn more here, and listen via Spotify.

 
 

Web Stream: Inaugural concert as Resident Artist of Peoples’ Symphony Concerts, with Dover Quartet

Premiered November 15

Pianist Shai Wosner began his three-year term as Resident Artist of PSC with the opening concert of the series' virtual 120th anniversary season. This program served as a passing of the baton from 2017–20 Resident Ensemble the Dover String Quartet to Mr. Wosner, who joined the ensemble in a performance of Dvořák’s Piano Quintet No. 2 in A major, Op. 81. He also performed Brahms’s Intermezzo Op. 116, No. 2. Learn more here.

 
 

Web Stream: Daily Diabelli

Streamed September 8 – October 9

Shai Wosner embarked on a month-long survey of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, performing and providing commentary on one variation per day, in order, until all 33 were streamed. Having completed the journey, Mr. Wosner’s Daily Diabelli project can now be viewed as one complete cycle. Watch here.

 

WU MAN

 

Episode 1: With Guest Eduardo García

Web Stream: Pop-Up Pipa

Streamed May 18 – June 20

Pipa virtuoso Wu Man’s video series, Pop Up Pipa, blends cross-cultural performances with fun facts about her and her guests’ musical traditions. Guests include Eduardo García of the son jarocho ensemble Son de San Diego, sheng player Wu Wei, Roman percussionist Andrea Piccioni, guitarist Xuefei Yang, banjo player Lee Knight, Basel Rajoub playing the declar, and more. Watch the full series here.

 
 

Web Stream: Wu Man & Kronos Quartet play Reflections on Blue Lake

Premiered October 19

In this world premiere video, Wu Man is joined by longtime collaborators the Kronos Quartet in a performance of her new composition Reflections on Blue Lake, with quartet parts arranged by Kronos. The visuals blend performance footage with the paintings of Wu Man's father, Wu Guoting, specially animated for this video. Watch here.

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Press contact:

Shuman Associates
shumanpr@shumanassociates.net | (212) 315-1300

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