Variations on a Melancholy Theme Brad Mehldau & Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
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- 2Variation 102:18
- 3Variation 201:59
- 4Variation 301:25
- 5Variation 401:29
- 6Variation 500:44
- 7Variation 600:50
- 8Variation 702:12
- 9Variation 802:41
- 10Variation 900:51
- 11Variation 1001:05
- 12Variation 1103:57
- 15Encore: Variations "X" & "Y"03:52
Info for Variations on a Melancholy Theme
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, piano
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
played in a number of different ensembles, including label mate Joshua Redman’s quartet, before becoming a bandleader himself in the 1990s. The Brad Mehldau Trio, which tours the world extensively, made eight acclaimed recordings for Warner Bros., including the five widely praised Art of the Trio albums with former drummer Jorge Rossy (released as a boxed set by Nonesuch in 2011). The pianist’s nine years with Nonesuch have been equally productive, beginning with the solo disc Live in Tokyo and including six trio records Day is Done, House on Hill, Live, Ode, and Where Do You Start, as well as a collaboration with soprano Renée Fleming, Love Sublime; a chamber ensemble album, Highway Rider; two collaborations with label mate Pat Metheny, Metheny Mehldau and Quartet, the latter of which also includes Trio members Jeff Ballard and Larry Grenadier; a CD/DVD set of live solo performances, Live in Marciac; and collaborations with genre-crossing musicians on Modern Music, with composer/pianist Kevin Hays and composer/arranger Patrick Zimmerli. Additionally, he produced saxophonist Joshua Redman’s 2013 release Walking Shadows.
According to Modern Drummer, Mark Guiliana is “at the forefront of an exciting new style of drumming.” The New Jersey native’s unique and un-compromised approach to playing the drums has earned him international acclaim as both a leader and a sideman. In 2004, Guiliana created HEERNT, an “experimental-garage-jazz” trio based in New York. The band’s debut record, Locked in a Basement, was called the record “the most exuberant, dramatic, beautiful, sassy, genre-busting little outing that I've heard since I don't know when” by legendary drummer Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson). As a sideman, Guiliana’s longest partnership has been with world-renowned jazz bassist Avishai Cohen. He toured all over the world with Cohen from 2003 until 2008, performing on six studio records and a live DVD recorded at the Blue Note in Manhattan. Guiliana has also recorded and/or performed with Meshell Ndegeocello, Dhafer Youssef, Wayne Krantz, Matisyahu, Jazz Mandolin Project, Jason Lindner, Brad Shepik, Bobby McFerrin, Tigran Hamasyan, and many more. His debut solo record, Beat Music, which was co-produced by Ndegeocello, was released in the spring of 2013. Guiliana plays Gretsch drums, Sabian cymbals, Vic Firth sticks, and Evans drumheads.
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