It’s here and on iTunes! Jon Kimura Parker | Rite
Jon Kimura Parker celebrates the centenary of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, and the tragic story of Petrouchka, with his own blazing new transcriptions
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New York, NY – April 9, 2013 – On April 9, 2013, pianist Jon Kimura Parker will release a recording of his fierce new transcription of The Rite of Spring – in time for the work’s centenary in May – coupled with his transcription of Stravinsky’s Petrouchka on his first new solo album in a decade.
The music that shocked Paris in 1913 is now standard concert fare. Young conductors know they must conquer the score as a literal rite of passage. But it is undeniably quixotic to play Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring at the piano.
In live performances of his transcription of The Rite of Spring, Parker has been unanimously praised for the thrilling way in which he tackles the complex orchestration with just two hands. “It was dizzying to watch his hands dance and careen across the keyboard,” wrote the Toronto Star. “At times at was as if Serge Diaghilev’s ballet were there in spirit, as well.” The Utah Chronicle went on to say “Parker did not miss a beat, a theme, a gesture, a mood or the general feeling of the masterwork. It was breathtaking.”
Since college days, the primitivism in The Rite of Spring held special appeal to Parker as he began discovering the continuum of classical music that followed Bach, Beethoven and Chopin. In particular, having grown up on Genesis, Rush, and Frank Zappa, Parker was drawn to its ever-changing rhythmic patterns. He began by tackling The Rite by ear but his obsession with playing this music at the piano began in earnest when he discovered Stravinsky’s piano duet arrangement. “I noticed that Stravinsky, having arranged the duet primarily to facilitate ballet rehearsal, was less fastidious with details than I had expected,” wrote Parker. “I became engrossed in adding instrumental lines that had been left out. From there, it was a natural evolution to try to manage it all myself.”
The Rite of Spring has been arranged for solo piano before, in versions so bare as to be unsatisfying, or so inclusive as to be unplayable. However, it is well known that Stravinsky often composed at the piano, and many sections in The Rite bear this out. Parker notes, “Playing The Rite of Spring at the piano I am reminded of the day that I first saw an exhibition of Picasso’s pencil sketches side by side with the finished paintings. Despite the absence of color, the angular power of the lines had even greater impact.”
Petrouchka (1911) presented a different challenge for Parker, in that Stravinsky had already created a virtuoso solo piano suite from selected moments of the ballet. In the process of relearning Three Movements from Petrouchka for concert performance, Parker’s daughter noticed that her favorite section of the complete ballet, the Bear Dance, was missing. In addition to putting that back in, Parker subsequently added the percussive rattling that separates each act. This led to a glissando-like run down the slippery slope of playing the whole ballet, ultimately recreating how he heard the orchestra in performance.
Of a live performance of his Petrouchka transcription at Ravinia, the Chicago Classical Review raved “With a nothing-held-back, physically involved performance, Parker served as a musical storyteller, bringing his solo-piano take compellingly to life.” He vividly captured the bustling, evocative, ever-changing character of this ballet, not to mention its all-important rhythmic punch and drive…Needless to say, this was extraordinarily complex and challenging music, and while Parker did not exactly make it look easy, he certainly pulled it off with sure-fingered élan.”
Parker will perform his transcription of The Rite of Spring in concert this April and May in Oregon, Kansas, Washington and Ontario. Details about Jon Kimura Parker’s complete spring 2013 dates can be found here.
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