Decca Classics release two new albums from Nico Muhly

Decca Classics release two new albums from Nico Muhly
© Samantha West
This autumn, Decca Classics will release two new albums featuring the music of eminent American composer Nico Muhly.
It is only natural that Decca Classics would wish to add this engaging musical figure to its impressive list of artists. The first Nico Muhly album Decca will release is A Good Understanding, a recording of six choral pieces performed by the Los Angeles Master Chorale, conducted by the chorale’s acclaimed musical director Grant Gershon. Muhly has said, “Writing choral music is one of my greatest pleasures in life,” and his joy in and connection to this genre are apparent in these works. A Good Understanding, which employs both adult and child voices, explores and expands upon traditional uses of music and text in religious and secular settings. This album will be released digitally as an iTunes exclusive on September 7 and physically on September 21.

"We are thrilled to be working with the Los Angeles Master Chorale,” said Paul Moseley, general manager of Decca. “Under Grant Gershon, the group has established itself as a premier chorus with innovative programming that presents important works by contemporary composers. Decca is delighted that our first disc with LAMC focuses on the choral music of Nico Muhly. His original yet accessible music continues in the line of Decca’s historical connections with composers such as Benjamin Britten, Michael Torke and Mark-Anthony Turnage."

The second album, I Drink the Air Before Me, will be released digitally and physically alongside the physical release of A Good Understanding on September 21. Conceived as the score for a dance work by choreographer Stephen Petronio and performed as part of the 25th anniversary of the Stephen Petronio Dance Company in 2009, the music of I Drink the Air Before Me received high praise throughout the press. The New York Times raved, "...the score, by Nico Muhly, evokes turbulent undercurrents in which the frantic sounds of flute and strings are woven with the more tumultuous notes of a trombone and piano. Without being literal, the music and choreography create a sonic, ephemeral wave." Following the release of the album, the full work will be performed in London's Barbican Hall on October 5 and 6.

Muhly, 29, called "the planet’s hottest composer" by The Daily Telegraph, has made a name for himself writing daring and innovative—but broadly enjoyable— contemporary music for a diverse array of settings. Muhly attended Columbia University and the Juilliard School contemporaneously, graduating in 2004. His music has been premiered by the choirs of Cambridge's Clare College and New York’s Saint Thomas Church, and by the Boston Pops, the New York Philharmonic, and the Chicago Symphony. His film credits include the score for Best Picture nominee The Reader (2008), and he has worked with choreographer Benjamin Millepied to create new pieces for the American Ballet Theater, the Paris Opéra Ballet, and the Nederlands Ballet. Muhly has also lent his skills as conductor, performer and arranger to such musicians as Sam Amidon, Antony and the Johnsons, Björk, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Philip Glass, Grizzly Bear, Valgeir Sigurosson, and Jónsi from Sigur Rós. Leading up to the release of his first album, Speaks Volumes (2007), Muhly was invited to present concerts of his chamber music at both Carnegie Hall and the Whitney Museum. Since then, Muhly has released a second album, Mothertongue (2008), and worked with Valgeir Sigurosson and perfumers Christophe Laudamiel and Stewart Matthew to premiere Green Aria: A ScentOpera at the Guggenheim in New York. Recently, Muhly's vocal works have been premiered by soprano Jessica Rivera and counter-tenor David Daniels. 2010 will see the premiere of a new orchestral song cycle for tenor Mark Padmore and violinist Pekka Kuusisto. Muhly's first full-scale opera has been commissioned by the English National Opera, the Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center Theater, and will premiere at the English National Opera during its 2011 season.

A Good Understanding will mark the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s first collaboration with Muhly and Decca alike. This Grammy-nominated chorus is recognized as one of the city’s cultural treasures and one of the world’s premier choruses. The Los Angeles Times proclaims, “The Master Chorale seems to be able to master anything.” The 2010-11 season, its 47th, marks its eighth as the resident chorus of the landmark Walt Disney Concert Hall. A founding resident company of the Music Center, the Chorale has played a leading role in the ongoing resurgence of interest in choral music. The Los Angeles Times describes the Chorale’s performances under Gershon’s baton as “masterly,” “ethereal” and “alluring.” Billboard says the Chorale’s “singing and direction are first-rate,” while Gramophone calls the chorus “sonically exhilarating.” LA Downtown News notes, “Choral groups don't often get much hype, but the Los Angeles Master Chorale is an exception.”

"Nico Muhly is a brilliantly eclectic composer whose tastes (much like my own) run the gamut from William Byrd to Björk, with many, many detours in transit,” states Gershon. “Nico's music is honest and sly, transcendent and earthy, radiant and austere. He writes beautifully for the voice, and his music springs off of the page with grace and unbuttoned joy. I am thrilled to be making the first major label recording of Nico's brilliant choral works, and I am especially pleased that the Los Angeles Master Chorale is creating this recording with the legendary Decca label. The partnership between Decca and the Master Chorale is a natural fit and holds exciting promise for the future."

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