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Maki Namekawa and Dennis Russell Davies
Maki Namekawa & Dennis Russell Davies

Other Minds was pleased to welcome back Maki Namekawa and Dennis Russell Davies for a recital of solo and piano four-hands music with real-time interactive projections by Cori O’Lan at Hertz Hall in Berkeley on Saturday, March 5, 2022. The centerpiece of this recital was the West Coast premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird suite arranged for piano four-hands by Dennis Russell Davies in 2015.

About his arrangement, Davies says, “The successful performances of Stravinsky’s four-hand version of The Rite of Spring with my wife Maki Namekawa, and the favorable reception of our recording, led me to the decision to take on an arrangement for four hands of the The Firebird ballet from 1910. Unlike The Rite of Spring and Pétrouchka, Stravinsky’s own published piano version of L’Oiseau de feu is for solo piano. In its published form it is essentially unplayable (at least for me!) but was for me a tremendous help as I prepared my four-hand version in that I could clearly see which elements of this highly complex score were essential for him in his piano version, and I made sure to always include them in mine.”

“Many listeners have commented that hearing Stravinsky’s piano four-hand version of The Rite of Spring helped them appreciate even more the compositional values of the work without the distraction, of his ingenious orchestration. I hope sincerely that this new four-hand version of The Firebird can achieve something similar.”

The program also included shorter solo works by Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson, Hania Rani, and Kurt Schwertsik (West Coast premiere) and Marc Reibel’s Sakura for piano four-hands (U.S. Premiere). Each work was accompanied by visualized elaborated analysis of frequency spectrum, dynamics, and timings by Austrian artist Cori O’Lan.

Program

Kurt Schwertsik

Six Macbeth Pieces, “I’ll Charm the Air to Give a Sound,” Op. 71 (1994)
1. Enter Three Witches
2. Something Wicked This Way Comes
3. All the Perfumes of Arabia Will Not Sweeten This Little Hand
4. Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble
5. Till Birnam Forest Come to Dunsinane
6. The Wood Began to Move
West Coast Premiere
Maki Namekawa & Dennis Russell Davies, piano four-hands

Hania Rani

Hawaii Oslo; Glass (2018)
Maki Namekawa, solo

Igor Stravinsky

The Firebird Suite, arranged for piano four-hands by Dennis Russell Davies
West Coast Premiere
Maki Namekawa & Dennis Russell Davies, piano four-hands

Laurie Anderson

Song for Bob (2017)
Dennis Russell Davies, solo

Philip Glass

Elergy for the Present (2020)
American Premiere
Dennis Russell Davies, solo

Philip Glass

Passacaglia, “Distant Figure” (2017)
Maki Namekawa, solo

Marc Reibel

Sakura II, “Variations on a Japanese Folk Song, ‘Cherry Blossom’”
American Premiere
Maki Namekawa & Dennis Russell Davies, piano four-hands

namekawa-and-davies-concert-program-2022

Click here to download a PDF of the printed concert program.

About Maki Namekawa

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Maki Namekawa is a leading figure among today’s pianists, bringing to audiences’ attention contemporary music by international composers. As a soloist and a chamber musician equally at home in classical and repertoire of our time, she performs regularly at international venues such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center New York, Musikverein Vienna, Barbican Center and Cadogan Hall London, Citè de la musique Paris, Philharmonie de Paris, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, BOZAR Bruxelles, Suntory Hall and Sumida Toriphony Hall Tokyo, Salzburg Festival, Ars Electronica Festival, Musik-Biennale Berlin, Rheingau Musik Festival and Piano-Festival Ruhr.

Maki records and performs frequently for major radio networks in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, and the USA. Orchestra engagements include Royal Concertgebouw Orkest Amsterdam, Münchner Philharmoniker, Bamberger Symphoniker, Dresdner Philharmonie, Bruckner Orchester Linz, Sinfonieorchester Basel, Filharmonie Brno, American Composers Orchestra, and Seattle Symphony.

In September 2018, Namekawa released the piano version of Philip Glass’ soundtrack “MISHIMA – A Life in Four Chapters” that depicts the life and death of the japanese writer and political activist Yukio Mishima. The arrangement was especially crafted for her by Glass’ longterm musical director Michael Riesman and features her crystal-clear technique. The recording was awarded the prestigious “Pasticcio Prize” by ORF – Austrian National Radio Broadcast. In June 2019, her another recording Isang Yun | Sunrise Falling was awarded Pasticcio Prize again. In 2019 Philip Glass composed his first Piano Sonata especially for Maki Namekawa. She premiered the Sonata on July 4th, 2019 at Piano-Festival Ruhr in Germany in the presence of the composer. This Piano Sonata was commissioned by the Piano-Festival Ruhr, the Philharmonie de Paris and the Ars Electronica Festival.

Together with her husband, the conductor Dennis Russell Davies, Maki Namekawa formed a piano duo in 2003 which regularly performs in leading venues in Europe and North America including the Piano Festival Ruhr, the Radialsystem in Berlin, the Salzburg Festival, the Ars Electronica Festival, the Lincoln Center Festival, the Morgan Library and “Roulette” in New York City, the Philips Collection in Washington, D.C., and the Other Minds Festival in California. Major works written for the Namekawa-Davies Duo include Philip Glass’ Four Movements for Two Pianos, Chen Yi’s China West Suite, and Glass’ Two Movements for Four Pianos (with Katia and Marielle Labèque) all commissioned by the Piano Festival Ruhr. In July 2017, Maki Namekawa, Dennis Russell Davies, and Philip Glass received the Piano Festival Ruhr Award. In 2019 Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi composed for the Namekawa-Davies Duo a work for 2 pianos and chamber orchestra Variation 57, premiered in Tokyo under the baton of the composer.

About Dennis Russell Davies

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Dennis Russell Davies’ activities as opera and orchestral conductor, and as pianist and chamber musician, are characterized by an extensive repertory stretching from Baroque to the latest music of our time. Widely considered to be one of the most innovative and adventurous conductors/programmers in the classical music world, Davies has successfully challenged and inspired audiences on both sides of the Atlantic as well as in Japan. He is noted for exciting, well-structured concerts and for his close working relationships with such varied composers as Luciano Berio, William Bolcom, John Cage, Philip Glass, Heinz Winbeck, Aaron Copland, Lou Harrison, Laurie Anderson, Arvo Pärt, Hans Werner Henze, Kurt Schwertsik, Thomas Larcher, Balduin Sulzer, and Manfred Trojahn.

After first appointments as Music Director of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Chief Conductor of the American Composers Orchestra, which he led for 25 years, Davies moved to Europe as General Music Director of the Staatsoper Stuttgart, then Opera Bonn and the Beethoven Orchestra Bonn. He subsequently led the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, and the Sinfonieorchester Basel. In 2013, during his long and successful tenure in Linz as Chief Conductor of the Landestheater Linz and Bruckner Orchester Linz, Davies inaugurated the new Linzer Musiktheater conducting the World Premiere of Philip Glass’/Peter Handke’s Spuren der Verirrten and Strauss’ Rosenkavalier. As guest conductor in the USA, he has appeared with the orchestras of Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, New York and Cleveland. In Europe he has worked regularly with the Concertgebouworkest and the Gewandhausorchester and has conducted the Berliner Philharmoniker, Filarmonica della Scala, the St. Petersburg Philharmonia, Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, as well as the Hamburg and Munich Philharmonic Orchestras.

Davies‘ rich discography includes complete recordings of the symphonies of Anton Bruckner and Philip Glass (Bruckner Orchester Linz), Joseph Haydn (Stuttgarter Kammerorchester) and Arthur Honegger (Sinfonieorchester Basel). With his wife and duo partner Maki Namekawa he has recorded extensively, including works by Mozart, Beethoven, Shostakovich, Glass and Stravinsky’s original four-hand versions of Le Sacre de Printemps, The Firebird, and Pétrouchka, which he also recorded with the Sinfonieorchester Basel.

Born in Toledo, Ohio in 1944, Davies studied piano and conducting at the Juilliard School in New York. From 1997-2012 he was professor for orchestral conducting at the University Mozarteum Salzburg; beginning in September 2020 he will be guest professor at the Janáček Academy of Music and performing Arts in Brno. Since 2009, Dennis Russell Davies is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has been awarded the German “Bundesverdienstkreuz”, the Austrian “Ehrenkreuz für Wissenschaft und Kunst”, as well as the title “Commandeur des Arts et Lettres” bestowed by the French Government.

Photos: Rehearsal

David Magnusson

Photos: Audience & Staff

David Magnusson

Photos: Performance

David Magnusson

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