February 15, 2016

David Aaron Carpenter to release new album on Warner Classics

The star violist unveils his unique take on Vivaldi's Four Seasons, via Piazzolla and the premiere of a new work.

David Aaron Carpenter, described as 'the hottest violist of the 21st century' (Arts Journal), is set to release his debut solo album on Warner Classics in April.

There is no shortage of recordings of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, but this one really is different. First of all, it is played on the viola, not on the violin – by the New York-born Carpenter. When he made his debut at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in in 2007, the New York Times praised his “seductively rich sound … forceful interpretive personality and remarkable control of his instrument,” and his mentors have included such distinguished musical figures as Pinchas Zukerman, Yuri Bashmet and Christoph Eschenbach.

Secondly, Vivaldi’s ubiquitous Baroque concertos are placed in a new light, since they are programmed alongside modern works inspired by the cycle of spring, summer, autumn and winter: Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas (Four Seasons of Buenos Aires), written between 1965 and 1970 by Argentina’s King of Tango, Astor Piazzola, and A Manhattan Four Seasons by the Ukrainian-American composer Alexey Shor, premiered in 2013. This album represents the first time that the works by Vivaldi and Piazzola have been recorded in a version for viola.

"The genesis of the 12 Seasons project coincided with the formation of the Salomé Chamber Orchestra nearly six years ago," explains Carpenter. "The juxtaposition of the beauty in Vivaldi's Venice with Shor's multifarious energies of Manhattan and finally the rhythmic intensity of Piazzolla's Argentinian tango has created what I hope will be a universally appealing album. 

"Warner Classics is one of the few recording companies that has the vision to promote the viola as a solo instrument, and I am so honoured to have their support and unwavering dedication for my musical journey," Carpenter adds. "It has always been my objective to promote the solo viola repertoire, particularly with works that were originally written for violin."                                            

Alexey Shor wrote his moody, mellow work (no 'Blizzard' bonus track!) in his capacity as composer-in-residence with the Manhattan-based Salomé Chamber Orchestra, which David Aaron Carpenter founded with his violin-playing sister and brother, Lauren and Sean. The orchestra generally plays without a conductor and is therefore headless … hence its striking name, inspired by the biblical princess who demanded the decapitation of John the Baptist.

Carpenter, who turns 30 this year, believes strongly in taking serious music to as wide an audience as possible. He started as a violinist but, as he told The Strad magazine, “couldn’t get the sounds [he] envisioned on the violin," and in the viola "found a whole new range of sonorities”. He also holds a degree in political science from Princeton, is a talented artist, a dynamic businessman and an enthusiastic fundraiser for charity.

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons need no introduction. They sparked the imagination of Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992), whose Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas is imbued with his characteristic maverick spirit and intoxicating dance rhythms. They are played here in an arrangement made by Leonid Desyatnikov – originally for violin with a string ensemble, but here transferred to viola.

When Alexey Shor wrote A Manhattan Four Seasons, he drew on the emotions evoked in him by the city’s weather, and it so happens that the only movement in a major key is ‘Spring’, which – rather than opening the work – brings it to an optimistic conclusion.

David Aaron Carpenter's album The 12 Seasons appears on Warner Classics in April 2016.