Author Topic: Elena Kats-Chernin (1957 -)  (Read 3859 times)

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Offline Mirror Image

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Elena Kats-Chernin (1957 -)
« on: March 27, 2013, 08:37:50 AM »


Soviet-born Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin is perhaps best known for her ballet Wild Swans, which contains the popular vocal number for wordless soprano and orchestra, "Eliza Aria." Besides ballet, Kats-Chernin's huge output includes operas, film scores, piano concertos, and various choral, vocal, orchestral, chamber, and instrumental works. Among the more popular of these is Clocks, for large chamber ensemble, and Charleston Noir, for solo piano. Stylistically, Kats-Chernin is eclectic and fairly approachable in her ability to write attractive lyrical melodies. But she has a somewhat acerbic side, too, as evidenced by Clocks. Even here, however, the often choppy flow and tick-tock rhythms have a strong appeal, and the composition's fabric is far from avant-garde. Kats-Chernin's works are regularly performed in Australia and gaining currency internationally. Her music is available on a variety of recording labels including ABC Classics, Signum UK, and Tall Poppies.

Elena Kats-Chernin was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on November 4, 1957. She studied at the Yaroslavl School of Music from 1962-1971. During these years she also studied figure skating. From 1972-1975 she studied in Moscow at the Russian Academy of Music.

In 1975 Kats-Chernin emigrated to Australia where she studied until 1980 at the Sydney-based New South Wales Conservatory under composition teacher Richard Toop. From 1980-1994 Kats-Chernin lived mostly in Germany where she continued her studies, first at the Musikhochschule Hannover with Helmut Lachenmann and then at the Musikhochschule Stuttgart.

While Kats-Chernin's early works date to her student years and include such successful pieces as the 1979 Chechyotka -- Tap Dancing, for trombone and piano, and the 1982 chamber work In Tension, her most important breakthroughs came in the 1990s and turn-of-the-century era with Clocks (1993), Charleston Noir (1996), Cadences, deviations and Scarlatti (1996), and Wild Swans (2002). For Cadences the Australian Music Centre and APRA presented her with the award for the Best Composition by an Australian Composer for 1996.

In the new century Kats-Chernin has received many further honors including, in 2004, both the Green Room and Helpman awards for Wild Swans. She has been making headway abroad as well: in 2006 Kats-Chernin's Purple Silence, for four horns, was premiered in Berlin by the horn section of Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra; and in 2008 her Concerto for basset clarinet and small orchestra was premiered by soloist Michael Collins and the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra. That same year the Suite from the Wild Swans was performed at Royal Festival Hall in London by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Stephen Barlow, with soprano soloist Jane Sheldon.

In 2009 Kats-Chernin wrote a somewhat exotically scored work, Garden of Dreams, for didgeridoo, piano, and orchestra. It was a success at its May 2009 premiere in Canberra with the Canberra International Chamber Festival Ensemble and didgeridoo soloist William Barton. Among the more important recordings of Kats-Chernin's works is the 2008 Tall Poppies CD entitled Slow Food (reissued in 2011), whereon the composer performs 18 short piano pieces she arranged mostly from her larger works.

[Biography taken from All Music Guide]

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I found no composer thread for Kats-Chernin so I figured I would start one! I was encouraged recently by our resident Monkey Greg to give Kats-Chernin's music a listen and so I did. I listened to Wild Swans and really enjoyed what I heard. I only listened to the work once so I can't comment exactly on her style but it seems to incorporate elements of Stravinsky, Ravel, Minimalism, among other things. I could very well be wrong in what I'm hearing of course, but I was enchanted with Wild Swans, which is a ballet and I especially liked the darker sections of the work.

So chat away people!
« Last Edit: March 27, 2013, 08:47:01 AM by Mirror Image »
“Music is, for me, like a beautiful mosaic which God has put together. He takes all the pieces in his hand, throws them into the world, and we have to recreate the picture from the pieces.” - Jean Sibelius

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Elena Kats-Chernin (1957 -)
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2013, 10:14:34 AM »
One can only hope that one day Naxos will take up Kats-Chernin's music and release music at a more affordable price. Her releases on Tall Poppies and ABC Classics are quite expensive.
“Music is, for me, like a beautiful mosaic which God has put together. He takes all the pieces in his hand, throws them into the world, and we have to recreate the picture from the pieces.” - Jean Sibelius

snyprrr

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Re: Elena Kats-Chernin (1957 -)
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2013, 10:40:19 AM »
Sorry, she looks like the scary (overly helpful) lesbian from college days.


You see, I HAVE no filter. wtf???? I'm sure she's a wonderful person and her music is... so, she's not jewish?

Offline Brian

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Re: Elena Kats-Chernin (1957 -)
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2013, 10:51:20 AM »
Me, on MusicWeb.

"Michael Collins plays Mozart’s 1791 clarinet concerto on the instrument for which it was intended, the basset clarinet. He plays Uzbek-Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin’s 2007 work Ornamental Air on the instrument for which it was intended: also the basset clarinet! If you count Kats-Chernin’s birth and home countries separately, this CD thus spans four centuries and four continents.
 
"The Kats-Chernin might be the highlight of the CD. It is a truly delightful concerto, with a fluid, melodic basset clarinet line that seems to hop across the globe with ease. There are very strong hints of the composer’s central Asian background and other folk traditions, and although the chugging bass accompaniment in the first movement sometimes sounds a bit film-soundtrack-ish, this is not to the piece’s detriment. It has the same lightness, charm and love of melody that informs the Mozart and Copland, even if its style is very different. There are eventually some hints of jazz too. I’m happy to report that repeated listens show there’s more here than novelty value."

- MusicWeb has reviewed many other Kats-Chernin CDs.
Piano music, chamber music, piano music played by the composer, Wild Swans and Piano Concerto No. 2, and a short cello work.

I can't wait to hear some of these!

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Elena Kats-Chernin (1957 -)
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2013, 11:19:55 AM »
Thanks for your feedback here, Brian. I, too, am looking forward to hearing more of her music, especially Ornamental Air.
“Music is, for me, like a beautiful mosaic which God has put together. He takes all the pieces in his hand, throws them into the world, and we have to recreate the picture from the pieces.” - Jean Sibelius

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Elena Kats-Chernin (1957 -)
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2013, 11:35:40 AM »
she's not jewish?

Did you even read the biography?
“Music is, for me, like a beautiful mosaic which God has put together. He takes all the pieces in his hand, throws them into the world, and we have to recreate the picture from the pieces.” - Jean Sibelius

Offline TheGSMoeller

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Re: Elena Kats-Chernin (1957 -)
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2013, 12:24:04 PM »
From what I've heard (that being about 5-6 pieces) Kats-Chernin offers a mixed bag when it comes to a distinct style. For example, Wild Swans (originally a ballet) sounds like a mix between a film score to a Tim Burton children's movie and New Age. Ornamental Air for Basset Clarinet and Orchestra sounds like a homage to the mid-20th Century composers like Copland, while merging in some Jazz and Folk music. The Piano Concerto No.2 carries a more contemporary feel, more dissonance and a much less clear direction in regards to chord progression.

The two concertos are strong works, more distinctive than Wild Swans. Swans overall feels a bit aimless, but has some lovely melodies and moments along with interesting instrumentation including extensive use of a solo, and wordless soprano voice.

I can see where the criticism might come from, I don't think her music is breaking any boundaries (although that is not too important) and may not sound wholly original, but it's never crude or boorish. It seems Kats-Chernin has a broad imagaination and coveys that in her music. In many cases you might even have a melody or two stuck in your head after the music has ended, which is always pleasant. 

Ornamental Air for Basset Clarinet and Orchestra is quite phenomenal though, it kept me on the edge of my seat during my entire first listen. Kets-Chernin creates a busy and exciting atmosphere early on in this piece and maintains it throughout.

Here's a sample...

The lovely Eliza's Aria from Wild Swan (probably Kats-Chernin most well known bit of music because it's been featured on commercials), this is the best clip I could find with the best sound, but it's an arrangement for Violin and Piano, not the original Orchestral version. The wordless soprano voice normally performs what the violin plays here, and the orchestral version is filled with pizzicato strings and percussion that do add a more magical effect.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/vQPrXthf-r0" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/vQPrXthf-r0</a>

This is from 4 days ago after my first listens to these works. My appreciation for Wild Swans has grown since then.

Offline TheGSMoeller

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Re: Elena Kats-Chernin (1957 -)
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2013, 12:30:34 PM »
Kats-Chernin: Ornamental Air for Basset Clarinet and Orchestra
Michael Collins, Basset Clarinet and Conductor - Swedish Chamber Orchestra

An amazing work, touches upon many genres, including Jazz. The opening and closing movements are electric and brimming with life. A brilliant part for the soloist with the orchestral accompaniment just as involved in the overall presentation. Highly recommended.







Been listening to the album Clocks on Spotify...



...featuring the pieces Clocks and Cadences, Deviations and Scarlatti. Not as melody-driven as some of the others I have initially heard. Much more contemporary in nature with very powerful and distinctive rhythms that are at times Jazz-like. Also, very colorful in their orchestrations.

Offline TheGSMoeller

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Re: Elena Kats-Chernin (1957 -)
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2013, 12:35:58 PM »
Elena Kats-Chernin - Reinventions after J. S. Bach, No. 1

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/ImFYHydOrhE" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/ImFYHydOrhE</a>



Elena Kats-Chernin - Fast Blue Village 2 (for string quartet)

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/AWt2zfAhxOA&amp;list=PLW2JD-ZQ9AMHIVIMR3O5QIRAV_4Y-RZZK" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/AWt2zfAhxOA&amp;list=PLW2JD-ZQ9AMHIVIMR3O5QIRAV_4Y-RZZK</a>

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Elena Kats-Chernin (1957 -)
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2013, 02:17:08 PM »
Thanks for all the posts, Greg. Fast Blue Village sounds fantastic. I might have to pick one up along with the recording of Clocks. What did you think about Piano Concerto No. 2 on the Wild Swans recording?
“Music is, for me, like a beautiful mosaic which God has put together. He takes all the pieces in his hand, throws them into the world, and we have to recreate the picture from the pieces.” - Jean Sibelius

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Elena Kats-Chernin (1957 -)
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2013, 02:23:04 PM »
Wild Swans -

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/llTU538pA5g" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/llTU538pA5g</a>

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/F01Ss9I0FBQ" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/F01Ss9I0FBQ</a>

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/3HPu3Y8D84M" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/3HPu3Y8D84M</a>

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/U6yOToAPdo8" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/U6yOToAPdo8</a>

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/QGMfNpdVlo4" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/QGMfNpdVlo4</a>

“Music is, for me, like a beautiful mosaic which God has put together. He takes all the pieces in his hand, throws them into the world, and we have to recreate the picture from the pieces.” - Jean Sibelius

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Elena Kats-Chernin (1957 -)
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2013, 02:47:25 PM »
....so, she's not jewish?

I don't know if she has any Jewish heritage but parts of the first movement of Ornamental Air have a Klezmer feel. Very attractive.

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Offline North Star

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Re: Elena Kats-Chernin (1957 -)
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2013, 02:51:48 PM »
I don't know if she has any Jewish heritage but parts of the first movement of Ornamental Air have a Klezmer feel. Very attractive.

Sarge

Reminds me of Mahler's  Ablösung im Sommer from Lieder und Gesänge... (from 2:37)
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snyprrr

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Re: Elena Kats-Chernin (1957 -)
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2013, 05:59:58 PM »
Elena Kats-Chernin - Reinventions after J. S. Bach, No. 1

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/ImFYHydOrhE" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/ImFYHydOrhE</a>



Elena Kats-Chernin - Fast Blue Village 2 (for string quartet)

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/AWt2zfAhxOA&amp;list=PLW2JD-ZQ9AMHIVIMR3O5QIRAV_4Y-RZZK" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/AWt2zfAhxOA&amp;list=PLW2JD-ZQ9AMHIVIMR3O5QIRAV_4Y-RZZK</a>

That String Quartet reminds me a little of Gorecki's SQs, though more melodic and not bleak. But the rhythms are similar. It sounds like a Kronos Commission, no?