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Christopher O'Riley

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Tango Nuevo
Release Date: 09/09/2016   Label: Steinway & Sons  
Catalog: 30050   Number of Discs: 1
Browse 1-1 of 1 Available Recordings
As pianist, arranger, collaborative artist, composer, educator and media personality, Christopher O’Riley continues to follow his passions where they’ve always led him, throughout his career, into a fractal array of innovative directions, ever striving for the truest and deepest human connection, through performance, collaboration, media communion.

O’Riley’s concerto repertoire is comprehensive and far-reaching, Martinu to Messiaen, Busoni to Gorecki; commissioning through the two years of Absolut Concerto at Avery Fisher Hall, a project urged on him by friend, Andy Warhol, works by Richard Danielpour and Michael Torke. Michael Daugherty’s ‘Le Tombeau de Liberace’ has been a long-time staple, and recordings have included works by John Adams, Aaron Jay Kernis, Justin DelloJoio, Amy Beach, Anton Garcia-Abril.

In his solo repertoire, O’Riley has always been expanding and building transformatively, first branching out into early Virginalists, William Byrd, Orlando Gibbons, Giles Farnaby, then Bach’s less celebrated keyboard creator, Jean Phillipe Rameau. O’Riley first ventured into the art of piano transcription most famously with his arrangement of the Flower Duet, “Viens, Mallika!” from Leo Delibes’ Lakme, then two by Bach, the Trio Sonata in C Major, and the Dorian Toccata & Fugue, then a truly two-fisted arrangement of Astor Piazzolla’s Verano Porteno.

O’Riley’s early passion for jazz would soon find a new outlet in Classical chamber music performance: the need to be constantly awake and aware to one’s collaborators in a truly instinctive level, and how quickly one can make subtle and immediate calibrations to create a perfect sonic environment to allow one’s partners to soar.

O’Riley’s work with Matt Haimovitz crossed disciplines as well as genres: 2015 saw the release of their Beethoven. Period (Pentatone), their traversal of the Sonatas and Variations recorded on Matt’s gut-strung cello and an original 1828 Broadwood, a maker whose sound found in Beethoven deep sympathy.

O’Riley also found deeply gratifying his opportunity to learn and collaborate with a long-time pianistic idol, Argentine Tango Master, Astor Piazzolla’s decades-long pianist, Pablo Ziegler. Their touring partnership, originally of Pablo’s arrangements of Piazzolla Tango, lately and excitedly celebrating Pablo Ziegler’s own compositions, spans a quarter century and 2016 saw the Steinway release of their collaboration, Nuevo Tango.

O’Riley’s recorded oeuvre is extensive, beginning auspiciously with his debut recording of Ferrucio Busoni’s epic reimagining of Bach’s unfinished ending of his Art of the Fugue, Fantasia Contrapuntistica. Ensuing releases celebrated Contemporary American Composers (Adams, Helps, Brief, Sessions), Maurice Ravel, Beethoven Sonatas. O’Riley’s 1994 Nonesuch release, Stravinsky featured the perennial virtuoso favorite, Trois movements de Petrouchka as well as O’Riley’s extensively reimagined piano versions of movements of L’histoire du soldat and his favorite of all Stravinsky’s works, the ballet Apollon musagete.

O’Riley’s recorded immersions into the work of Scriabin: Vers la flamme (Image Recordings, 2004) and Franz Liszt, O’Riley’s Liszt (Oxingale, 2013) were each borne of grand, cross-media collaborations. Vers la flamme was choreographer, Martha Clarke’s synthesis of short stories of Anton Chekhov and the piano music of Alexander Scriabin. The ambiguous harmonic equilibrium and interaction between the synesthetically-conceived piano music created a portal of possibilities pairing particular works with specific dramatic scenario. This Lincoln Center production toured to the American Dance Festival in Durham, NC, to the Kennedy Center, Jacob’s Pillow, and through Lincoln Center’s sponsorship, on Broadway at the Victory Theater.