Monday, May 7, 2012

Cunningham Piano Generously Supports a Dream Recording Project…All Here in Delaware!

This post content generously provided by composer Mark Hagerty from Cunningham Piano’s site
Composer Mark Hagerty
How could you improve on this:  Lifetime Achievement Award–winning composer-pianist Curt Cacioppo recording new music by his award-winning composer friend Mark Hagerty, in one of the best recording spaces in the region(Gore Hall at the University of Delaware), with seven-time Grammy-winning recording engineer Andreas Meyer at the controls? Answer: the perfect piano, a Bösendorfer 280 concert grand.

Cunningham Piano—the Philadelphia region’s premier purveyor of fine pianos and one of the top piano restoration companies in the country—is supporting this project by delivering a magnificent Bösendorfer 280 concert grand to the recording site.  Cunningham Piano has a long relationship with Cacioppo, who is professor of music at Haverford College, where a Bösendorfer Imperial maintained by Cunningham Piano is the instrument on which not only Cacioppo, but also guest artists at Haverford perform, including such noted pianists as Garrick Ohlsson, Claude Frank, Cecil Taylor, and Marian McPartland.  Cacioppo himself has recorded 10 CDs on the instrument.  He is also enjoying his personal 100-year-old Steinway, recently restored by Cunningham Piano. While the Haverford Imperial is undergoing restoration, Cunningham Piano has offered to provide their 280 concert grand for the recording project.

Cacioppo will be recording two recent works by Hagerty.  The Realm of Possibility, written for Cacioppo in 2006, was previewed in extract form by Cacioppo in Turin and Venice. The work, which Cacioppo has termed a “monumental cycle,” consists of an introduction and 10 pieces based on the principal of chaos theory that, in a complex system, identical initial conditions can give rise to different outcomes.  The pieces, all of which are presaged in an introductory “Outburst,” can be combined with one another flexibly, in unlimited combinations.  The second work, dating from 2009, is After Duchamp, a collection of ten pieces, mostly miniatures, which take their cue from artist Marcel Duchamp’s motto “I force myself to contradict myself so as not to follow my own taste.”  Hagerty has pushed the limits of his own artistic principles and esthetics to produce works that extend his range and challenge the listener, not through shocking sounds but through formal and rhetorical provocation or eccentricity.  While After Duchamp is intended for piano or harpsichord (Hagerty is married to harpsichordist Tracy Richardson), The Realm of Possibility is pure piano music.

Hagerty commented, “The tone-color of the Bösendorfer is perfect for this music.  Bösendorfer allows the piano to have so many different shades of color.  I love the bell-like treble, the ‘male chorus’ lower register, and especially, the growling bass.  To have this artist, Curt Cacioppo, who happens to be an old friend, playing my music on this instrument is all I could ask as a composer.”

Hagerty and Cacioppo met in Boston after college graduation, when Cacioppo was completing his PhD at Harvard University, where he studied with such notables as Leon Kirchner and Luise Vosgerchian.  Hagerty elected not to pursue the Harvard graduate program (he notes that saying “no thank you”to the embossed acceptance letter was a hard, fateful, but quick decision) because he did not see himself as a devoted scholar or teacher, unlike Cacioppo, who is both.  The two grew up outside of Cleveland, unaware of each other, and have since shared many humorous recollections about their roots.  Both have lived outside the US, Cacioppo in Italy, and Hagerty in The Netherlands.  This recording project is their first major collaboration, though early in their acquaintance, Hagerty took the tenor solo in the premier of Cacioppo’s Alla Primavera, a “virtuoso madrigal,” and the two read through the song cycles of Robert Schumann.  Cacioppo’s inspirations are often literary—he is a serious reader of Dante—while Hagerty is more inspired by science, nature, and chaotic systems.

Andreas Meyer, recording engineer for the project, has won awards both as composer and as engineer.  He has produced several CDs that feature Hagerty’s works, including the Relâche Ensemble’s “Press Play,” which features High Octane, Mélomanie’s “Florescence,” which includes Trois Rivières, and “Soliloquy,” a two-volume set of Hagerty’s solo suites for harpsichord and cello, performed by Tracy Richardson and Douglas McNames.  Meyer’s production company, Meye rMedia, is preparing to release “Forays,” a collection of some of Hagerty’s virtuoso solo and chamber works.  Cacioppo’s compositions are represented by many recordings on the Navona, MSR Classics, and Capstone labels.

Hagerty’s next recording project is a joint CD with Rio de Janeiro composer Sergio Roberto de Oliveira.  The CD, which will offer percussion-centric works by both composers, is planned for release in late 2012, in conjunction with a concert in Rio.  Hagerty is currently completing a work for cello and piano and is in the midst of a large orchestral project in which he is combining sound sculpture with more traditional expression. Cacioppo is finishing a commission from the Carmel Bach Festival Orchestra, and is at work on a piece for piano and string quartet, which he will play with the Quartetto di Venezia.

Cacioppo and Hagerty express their deep appreciation to Cunningham Piano for providing the ultimate instrument for a project that means so much to both of them.

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