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Alex Shapiro, composer email
Californian Concert: For My Father

Californian Concert:
Music of European Immigrants and
Their American Contemporaries

(
Oehms Classics/WDR, OC 534)
Oehms Classics


Susanne Kessel, piano

featuring
Alex Shapiro's

For My Father

Purchase the score and parts

Californian Concert

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For My Father


Listen Hear For My Father For My Father

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Kessel concert adKessel concert poster

German pianist Susanne Kessel gives the definitive performance of one of the most touching pieces in Alex's catalog, a movement from her Piano Suite titled For My Father. The CD explores the continuum of styles between historic immigrant composers who were influenced by their time living in California, and present-day composers currently living in California, offering a stunning range of short solo piano pieces that give the listener a terrific overview of 20th century piano music.

Susanne Kessel created this unique concert program for a WDR radio production in Germany. Kessel has toured with the program in the United States, Iceland and Germany, where she performed on the "New York's MoMA in Berlin: The American Season" special exhibit series, as well as in Bonn's annual BeethovenFest series. Along side of Schoenberg, Stravinsky and Gershwin, Kessel chose only two pieces from living composers, one of which was For My Father, a movement from Alex's Piano Suite.
       
Californian Concert CD Tray
       
  Reviews  

Salzburger Nachrichten

 

 

The Salzburger Message in Austria gave a good review to Calfornian Concert:

Beautiful, smart concept: The German pianist Susanne Kessel was able to track European emigrés and American compatriots who came to Los Angeles, and visit the Villa Aurora for that purpose. Marta and Lion Feuchtwanger had provided a friendly spritual home there to artists fleeing the Nazi regime. Now Kessel has published a sonic kaleidoscope in twenty parts, reaching from Rachmaninoff, Schönberg, Stravinsky through Milhaud, Eisler, Krenek, Gershwin to Henry Cowell, John Williams and Alex Shapiro that results in an interesting prism of time. At the end one can hear 4'33" by John Cage: birdsong and the distant rumble of airplanes through an open "Aurora"-window, very graceful.

----Salzburger Nachrichten, April 22, 2006

       

Salzburger Nachrichten

 

 

 

This is an imaginative idea beautifully realized. Susanne Kessel, the enterprising young German who hatched the whole thing and writes the authoritave notes, plays music by European composers who came to Los Angeles to escape the Nazis; she also includes work of their students and colleagues.

What this collection demonstrates is that the Nazis, in their attempt to destroy the Jews, inadvertently created a unique community in Hollywood dedicated to the celebration and perpetuation of everything the Nazis hated, from Jewish ethnic culture to jazz and American film music. The repertory is astonishingly wide, including Rachmaninoff, Schoenberg, Milhaud, Cowell, Cage. Gershwin, Eisler and Stravinsky. Kessel is known as an avant-garde specialist, but she plays like a romantic. Her Rachmaninoff, Bach-Siloti, and Gershwin readings are full of rubato and sudden splashes of color; she is not afraid to slow down or speed up for dramatic effect. Her rendition of Hermann Hupfeld’s 'As Time goes By' the theme song from "Casablanca", drips with nostalgia and 40s style, as does Chaplin’s 'Smile'. At the end she brings things up to date with John Williams’s 'Schindler’s List', a moving summation of what was lost and gained from the Nazy nightmare. The recorded sound is exceptionally warm and velvety, completing a seductive picture.

----Jack Sullivan, American Record Guide, September/October 2006

       

"The most serious work on the album, the solo-piano For My Father, depicts the descent into dementia of the composer's father; here again Shapiro is both emotionally immediate and capable of sustaining a structural process over a long stretch."

------— James Manheim, All Music Guide

"...particularly compelling"

------— David Toub, Sequenza21

"For my Father, a document of a gradual descent into dementia, is a dark episode, an eerie and questioning motive spiralling helplessly down into bitter acceptance."

------— Tobias Fischer, Tokafi

"For My Father” is the fourth movement of Ms. Shapiro’s 1996 five-movement Piano Suite No. 1: The Resonance of Childhood, and the sixth track on this twelve-track CD. It’s an elegy on the inexorable descent of Ms. Shapiro’s father into dementia — an anguished, extended questioning of fate ending in quiet resignation the totality of the movement seeming to echo the sense of the words if not the original meaning of Beethoven’s famous written question and answer on the beginning and ending pages, respectively, of the last movement of his last quartet: “Muss es sein? Es muss sein. [Must it be? It must be.]”

------— A.C. Douglas, Sounds & Fury

 

         
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Californian ConcertCD

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Oehms Classics website, or make your purchase via the online retailers below.

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Alex Shapiro, composer email2
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