Variations on a Melancholy Theme

Submitted by nonesuch on Thu, 03/25/2021 - 12:44
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Brad Mehldau’s Variations on a Melancholy Theme features the pianist/composer and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, which commissioned this orchestral version of the work—a theme and eleven variations plus a cadenza and postlude. The album also includes an encore, “Variations ‘X’ and ‘Y.'" "I imagine it as if Brahms woke up one day and had the blues," Mehldau says of the piece, which combines the classical form with jazz harmonies. "While the theme evokes melancholy, I let it be used as a springboard for other happy, wild, violent, and reckless emotions as the variations progress."

Description

Brad Mehldau’s Variations on a Melancholy Theme will be released June 11, 2021, on Nonesuch Records. The recording features the pianist/composer and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, which commissioned this orchestral version of the work, which comprises a theme and eleven variations plus a cadenza and postlude; the album also includes an encore, “Variations ‘X’ and ‘Y.’” You can watch a video with excerpts from the piece below. (Mehldau originally composed Variations on a Melancholy Theme for pianist Kirill Gerstein.) Mehldau and Orpheus toured Europe, Russia, and the US with the piece, including a 2013 performance at Carnegie Hall. Speaking to the combination of classical form with jazz harmonies in the work’s musical language, Mehldau wrote, “I imagine it as if Brahms woke up one day and had the blues.” 

Mehldau continues, “The theme itself has a wistful character, perhaps a feeling of resignation. There is some sense of finality and ending to it when heard for the first time already. So as I composed, a narrative challenge emerged; namely, how to embark on a story that begins with a conclusion. While the theme evokes melancholy, I let it be used as a springboard for other happy, wild, violent, and reckless emotions as the variations progress.”

Brad Mehldau’s Nonesuch debut was the 2004 solo disc Live in Tokyo. His subsequent releases on the label include six records with his trio (House on Hill, Day Is Done, Brad Mehldau Trio Live, Ode, Where Do You Start, and Blues and Ballads); collaborative albums (Love Sublime, Highway Rider, Metheny Mehldau, Metheny Mehldau Quartet, Modern Music, Mehliana: Taming the Dragon, Nearness with Joshua Redman, and Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau, and the Grammy Award–winning Finging Gabriel), and further solo albums (Live in Marciac; the eight-LP/four-CD 10 Years Solo Live, which the New York Times says “contains some of the most impressive pianism he has captured on record;” and the album he recorded during COVID-19 lockdown, Suite: April 2020, from which a majority of the proceeds went to Jazz Foundation of America’s COVID-19 Musician’s Emergency Fund).

In 1972, a group of young artists made history by creating an orchestra without a conductor in which musicians led themselves democratically. Since then, the Grammy Award-winning Orpheus Chamber Orchestra has recorded over 70 albums on all major classical labels—including several with pianist Richard Goode for Nonesuch—toured to 46 countries across four continents, and collaborated with hundreds of world-class soloists. Orpheus’ thirty-four member musicians work together as a collective and rotate leadership roles for all works performed, giving flight to unconventional interpretations. This democratic structure also extends to organizational functions including programming and governance: the orchestra elects three members to Artistic Director positions and three to the Board of Trustees.

ProductionCredits

PRODUCTION CREDITS
Produced by Adam Abeshouse
Recorded, Mixed, and Mastered by Adam Abeshouse
Recorded at Mechanics Hall, Worcester, MA, October 4, 2013

Design and Illustration by Lawrence Azerrad

ns_album_releasedate
Album Status
Artist Name
Brad Mehldau
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
MusicianDetails

MUSICIANS
Brad Mehldau, piano

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Violin: Ronnie Bauch, Martha Caplin, Laura Frautschi, Liang-Ping How, Joanna Jenner, Renée Jolles, Doori Na, Todd Phillips, Richard Rood, Eriko Sato, Eric Wyrick
Viola: Maureen Gallagher, Christof Huebner, Nardo Poy, Dov Scheindlin
Cello: Claire Bryant, Susannah Chapman, Melissa Meell, Jonathan Spitz
Double Bass: Gregg August, Jordan Frazier
Flute: Elizabeth Mann, Susan Palma Nidel
Oboe: Matthew Dine, Stephen Taylor
Clarinet: Alan Kay, Jo-Ann Sternberg
Bassoon: Frank Morelli, Karl Vilcins
Horn: Julie Landsman, Patrick Pridemore, Stewart Rose
Trumpet: Carl Albach, Louis Hanzlik
Trombone: David Taylor
Timpani: Maya Gunji
Percussion: James Baker, Maya Gunji

reissues?
new-release
Cover Art
UPC/Price
Label
CD+MP3
Price
13.00
UPC
075597916461
Label
96/24 HD FLAC
Price
10.00
UPC
075597916485
Label
MP3
Price
9.00
UPC
075597916492

Track Listing

News & Reviews

  • Brad Mehldau’s Your Mother Should Know: Brad Mehldau Plays The Beatles is due February 10 on Nonesuch. The live solo album features interpretations of nine songs by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and one by George Harrison. Although other Beatles songs have long been staples of Mehldau’s shows, he had not previously recorded any of these tunes. The album, recorded in September 2020 at Philharmonie de Paris, ends with a David Bowie classic that draws a connection between The Beatles and pop songwriters who followed. A live performance video of the title track, recorded at the Village Vanguard in NYC, may be seen here.

  • Congratulations to all of the Nonesuch nominees for the 65th Grammy Awards: Molly Tuttle for Best New Artist and Best Bluegrass Album for Crooked Tree with Golden Highway; The Black Keys for Best Rock Album for Dropout Boogie and Best Rock Performance for "Wild Child"; Dan Auerbach for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical; Cécile McLorin Salvant for Best Jazz Vocal Album for Ghost Song and Best Arrangement, Instrumental and Vocals for "Optimistic Voices / No Love Dying"; Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, Christian McBride, and Brian Blade's LongGone for Best Instrumental Album; Brad Mehldau's Jacob's Ladder for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album; Punch Brothers' Hell on Church Street for Best Folk Album; Caroline Shaw & Attacca Quartet's Evergreen for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance; Taj Mahal & Ry Cooder's GET ON BOARD for Best Traditional Blues Album; Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (20th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition) for Best Historical Album and Best Album Notes for Bob Mehr; and Astor Piazzolla: The American Clavé Recordings. for Best Album Notes for Fernando González. 

  • About This Album

    Brad Mehldau’s Variations on a Melancholy Theme will be released June 11, 2021, on Nonesuch Records. The recording features the pianist/composer and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, which commissioned this orchestral version of the work, which comprises a theme and eleven variations plus a cadenza and postlude; the album also includes an encore, “Variations ‘X’ and ‘Y.’” You can watch a video with excerpts from the piece below. (Mehldau originally composed Variations on a Melancholy Theme for pianist Kirill Gerstein.) Mehldau and Orpheus toured Europe, Russia, and the US with the piece, including a 2013 performance at Carnegie Hall. Speaking to the combination of classical form with jazz harmonies in the work’s musical language, Mehldau wrote, “I imagine it as if Brahms woke up one day and had the blues.” 

    Mehldau continues, “The theme itself has a wistful character, perhaps a feeling of resignation. There is some sense of finality and ending to it when heard for the first time already. So as I composed, a narrative challenge emerged; namely, how to embark on a story that begins with a conclusion. While the theme evokes melancholy, I let it be used as a springboard for other happy, wild, violent, and reckless emotions as the variations progress.”

    Brad Mehldau’s Nonesuch debut was the 2004 solo disc Live in Tokyo. His subsequent releases on the label include six records with his trio (House on Hill, Day Is Done, Brad Mehldau Trio Live, Ode, Where Do You Start, and Blues and Ballads); collaborative albums (Love Sublime, Highway Rider, Metheny Mehldau, Metheny Mehldau Quartet, Modern Music, Mehliana: Taming the Dragon, Nearness with Joshua Redman, and Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau, and the Grammy Award–winning Finging Gabriel), and further solo albums (Live in Marciac; the eight-LP/four-CD 10 Years Solo Live, which the New York Times says “contains some of the most impressive pianism he has captured on record;” and the album he recorded during COVID-19 lockdown, Suite: April 2020, from which a majority of the proceeds went to Jazz Foundation of America’s COVID-19 Musician’s Emergency Fund).

    In 1972, a group of young artists made history by creating an orchestra without a conductor in which musicians led themselves democratically. Since then, the Grammy Award-winning Orpheus Chamber Orchestra has recorded over 70 albums on all major classical labels—including several with pianist Richard Goode for Nonesuch—toured to 46 countries across four continents, and collaborated with hundreds of world-class soloists. Orpheus’ thirty-four member musicians work together as a collective and rotate leadership roles for all works performed, giving flight to unconventional interpretations. This democratic structure also extends to organizational functions including programming and governance: the orchestra elects three members to Artistic Director positions and three to the Board of Trustees.

    Credits

    MUSICIANS
    Brad Mehldau, piano

    Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
    Violin: Ronnie Bauch, Martha Caplin, Laura Frautschi, Liang-Ping How, Joanna Jenner, Renée Jolles, Doori Na, Todd Phillips, Richard Rood, Eriko Sato, Eric Wyrick
    Viola: Maureen Gallagher, Christof Huebner, Nardo Poy, Dov Scheindlin
    Cello: Claire Bryant, Susannah Chapman, Melissa Meell, Jonathan Spitz
    Double Bass: Gregg August, Jordan Frazier
    Flute: Elizabeth Mann, Susan Palma Nidel
    Oboe: Matthew Dine, Stephen Taylor
    Clarinet: Alan Kay, Jo-Ann Sternberg
    Bassoon: Frank Morelli, Karl Vilcins
    Horn: Julie Landsman, Patrick Pridemore, Stewart Rose
    Trumpet: Carl Albach, Louis Hanzlik
    Trombone: David Taylor
    Timpani: Maya Gunji
    Percussion: James Baker, Maya Gunji

    PRODUCTION CREDITS
    Produced by Adam Abeshouse
    Recorded, Mixed, and Mastered by Adam Abeshouse
    Recorded at Mechanics Hall, Worcester, MA, October 4, 2013

    Design and Illustration by Lawrence Azerrad

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