ECM album release Bartok/Schnittke/Lutoslawski

Excited that my new album on ECM Records with pianist Blair McMillen was released in May, with a release concert at Le Poisson Rouge.  Hope you’ll listen to the album! We play sonatas by Bartók and Schnittke and the Partita of Lutoslawski.
Buy the ECM album here

CUCKSON_MCMILLEN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In deciding to record these works together, I had a few personal motivations. Recently I learned that the ancestors of my Viennese grandfather had in fact come from Slovakia. I have always been drawn to the colorations and characteristics of Slavic music: the dark-hued tones and harmonies, the mordant wit, the detailed shaping of folk ornamentation. While not claiming some kind of inborn expertise, I think discovering my ancestry made me feel just a bit personally closer to these pieces. The music of Bartók, Schnittke and Lutoslawski was also significant to my early musical development, particularly my affinity for contemporary music. Bartók was the first 20th-century composer whose music I was strongly attracted to. When I was 11, his First Rhapsody was my favorite piece and I went on to learn the rest of his violin works. I also encountered Lutoslawski’s music at 11 years old, as a student at the Aspen Festival. Assigned to perform in his Symphony No. 3, with Stanislaw Skrowaczewski conducting and the composer present, I was initially puzzled by the notation, with its odd-looking squiggles and arrows, but found I loved the sound of the piece. I still remember it as one of my first thrilling experiences with recent music. As for Schnittke, I recall my excitement performing “Quasi una sonata” at the Juilliard School when I was a student and first learning about his work.

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