Monday, August 3, 2009

Just Announced: Amsterdam Cello Octet: music of Penderecki, Pärt, Riley, Halffter, and Olga Hans


A unique formation in the world of music, the Amsterdam Cello Octet (formerly Conjunto Ibérico) was founded 20 years ago, in 1989. The special composition of the group demands specially written music and the Octet has inspired many great contemporary composers to write pieces for them. Among them are Arvo Pärt, Terry Riley, Mauricio Kagel, Theo Loevendie, Franco Donatoni and Luciano Berio. At present Cello Octet Amsterdam has more than 70 original works in its repertoire. The group surprises audiences as well with the many passionate Spanish and South American songs that they perform with singers such as Teresa Berganza, Pilar Jurado, Bernarda Fink and Elena Gragera.

The Amsterdam Cello Octet is always seeking out new challenges, and frequently collaborates with other artists. For example, they had a project with contemporary dance company Conny Janssen Danst, there were performances with Cappella Amsterdam and the ensemble gave concerts with flamenco singers Ginesa Ortega and Carmen Linares. Currently they are working on a Caribbean music project with musicians and composers from the Antilles. The Octet regularly invites guest conductors such as Elias Arizcuren—(their founder and previously their principal conductor), Jurjen Hempel, Bas Wiegers and Lucas Vis. The craftsmanship of the ensemble is praised internationally. Every season the group is invited to many different countries. In the last few years Cello Octet Amsterdam has performed on stages in the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Spain, Germany, England (London’s Wigmore Hall), France, Italy, Poland and Croatia, among others. The Amsterdam Cello Octet has 13 CDs to its name and releases a new CD nearly every year.

Their recent recording “Pasión Argentina” with mezzo-soprano Elena Gragera received a rave review from the All Music Guide, which wrote: “the music throbs with rhythmic vitality. [Gragera] is a real find—she has a luscious but earthy voice that's absolutely secure over her broad range, and she sings with infectious naturalness and abandon . . . The cello octet performs with the same abandon and freedom as Gragera, making this vibrant music dance so naturally that is hard to remain still while listening to it.”

More information here.

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