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Six Suites for Viola Solo
Kim Kashkashian

Release date: 12.10.2018
ECM 2553
Format : 2-CD

Buy 2-CD € 23.00


The poetry and radiance of Bach’s cello suites (BWV 1007-1012) are transfigured in these remarkable interpretations by Kim Kashkashian on viola, offering “a different kind of sombreness, a different kind of dazzlement” as annotator Paul Griffiths observes. One of the most compelling performers of classical and new music, Kashkashian has been hailed by The San Francisco Chronicle as “an artist who combines a probing, restless musical intellect with enormous beauty of tone.” An ECM artist since 1985, she approaches Bach’s music with the same commitment as revealed in her other solo recordings, the legendary Hindemith sonatas album and the widely acclaimed (and Grammy-winning) account of Kurtág and Ligeti.

Here are Bach’s six cello suites, played on the viola by one of the instrument’s greatest exponents, Kim Kashkashian.

Violist Kim Kashkashian Photo Claire Stefani

Bach composed the suites around 1720 when he was in the employ of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen. The autograph manuscript is no longer extant, and the earliest known copies date from 1726 and 1730, the latter made by Anna Magdalena Bach.

Hearing the Suites on the viola, with its range an octave above the cello, Paul Griffiths remarks in the liner notes, the music takes on “a different kind of sombreness, a different kind of dazzlement, a different kind of self-examination.” His essay details the characteristics of the suites and the dance forms – the allemandes, courantes, sarabandes, minuets, bourrés, gavottes and gigues – and emphasises Kashkashian’s sense of pulse, which “comes from the music, not from the clock. Bach’s dances are not for jaunting feet but made rather of shapes and images moving in the mind.”

Kim Kashkashian approaches the suites as a player whose sensibilities have been shaped by engagement with new music as well as classical tradition. For these performances she uses contemporary instruments, including a 5-string viola (as called for in the Anna Magdalena Bach manuscript) for the challenging D major suite, and brings to the whole set a feeling of freedom, grace and power. The cello suites have long been part of her performance repertoire, approached from multiple perspectives. (In concert, for instance, inspired by György Kurtág’s insertion of Bach arrangements amid his Játékok pieces, she has sometimes threaded sections of Kurtág’s Signs, Games and Messages in between movements). In her hands, the music is very much alive, and speaks to the present.
This recording is Kashkashian’s second ECM New Series album dedicated to Johann Sebastian Bach. In 1991 she recorded the viola da gamba sonatas with Keith Jarrett on harpsichord.

Recognized internationally as a unique voice on the viola, Kim Kashkashian studied with Karen Tuttle and Walter Trampler at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore.

The recipient of numerous prizes she received a 2013 Grammy Award in the Best Classical Instrumental Solo category for Kurtág and Ligeti: Music for Viola on ECM New Series. Kim Kashkashian’s recording, with Robert Levin, of the Brahms Sonatas, won the Edison Prize in 1999. Her 2000 recording of concertos by Bartók, Eötvös and Kurtág won the 2001 Cannes Classical Award for a premiere recording by a soloist with orchestra. Kim was awarded the George Peabody Medal for outstanding contributions to music in America, as well as the Golden Bow award of Switzerland. In 2016 she was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
As an advocate of contemporary music, she has worked to broaden scope of the viola’s voice and repertoire in collaboration with many composers including Tigran Mansurian, Péter Eötvös, Ken Ueno, Betty Olivero, Lera Auerbach and Toshio Hosokawa.

Marlboro and the Viennese School, represented by her mentor, Felix Galimir, were major influences in developing her love of chamber music. She is a regular participant at the Verbier, Salzburg, Lockenhaus, Marlboro, and Ravinia festivals. As soloist, she has appeared with the major orchestras of Berlin, London, Vienna, Paris, Milan, New York, and Cleveland and presented duo recitals in New York, Boston, Baltimore San Francisco, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Frankfurt, Berlin, Vienna, Munich, Paris, Athens, and Tokyo. Ms. Kashkashian, resides in Boston, teaching viola and coaching chamber music at the New England Conservatory, and is Founder and President of the project Music for Food.

CD booklet includes liner notes by Paul Griffiths, and a performer’s note by Kim Kashkashian, in English and German.
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Kim Kashkashian Viola

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Daniele Roccato, Ludus Gravis Ensemble

Release date: 12.10.2018
ECM 2598
Format : CD

Buy CD € 17.90


The highly creative bass player Stefano Scodanibbio (1956-2012) also composed extraordinary music for double bass. Alisei (Trade Winds) features his compositions for solo bass, for two basses, and for bass ensemble. Among them is a world premiere recording of Ottetto, an often breath-taking thirty-minute compendium of all the extended techniques he invented or developed throughout his life. “It is his great spiritual legacy”, says Daniele Roccato, who co-founded the Ludus Gravis bass ensemble with Scodanibbio. As solo performer, Roccato rises to the challenges of Due pezzi brillanti, a piece which pushes virtuosity to its limits, and “makes the bass sing in its own true voice” on the title composition. Da una certa nebbia, for two basses, also a premiere recording, pays implicit tribute to the work of Morton Feldman.

Daniele Roccato first heard Stefano Scodanibbio in Paris in 2008: “I listened, thrilled as he unleashed that immense energy of sound, shaping it all the while.” The following year, Roccato invited Scodanibbio to a bass festival in Perugia and it was there that the Ludus Gravis ensemble was founded. The two bassist/composers came to share a deep friendship, although active collaboration as performers was cut short by Scodanibbio falling ill with motor neuron disease which, by 2010, made it impossible for him to continue playing the bass. Roccato travelled to Mexico in November 2010 to help him work on the score of the Ottetto. “I left Cuernavaca with a kind of storyboard of the score,” Roccato writes in the liner notes, “containing all the indications relating to expression, articulation and dynamics.” Back in Italy he began working with Ludus Gravis to bring the multiple techniques on which the piece was based to life. In the meantime, the first pages of the final score arrived from Mexico. “Later Stefano joined us to help us prepare for the premiere.” The first part of the piece was premiered at the Angelica Festival in Bologna in May 2011. The first complete performance of the Ottetto took place at the Venice Biennale in October 2012, nine months after Scodanibbio’s death.

The present recording was made in February and March 2014 at Pitch Audio Research in Perugia and Studio Contrafase in Rome.

The Ludus Gravis ensemble has gone onto perform music specially written or arranged for its eight bassists by composers including Gavin Bryars, Sofia Gubaidulina, Hans Werner Henze and Terry Riley.

Double bassist and composer Daniele Roccato has performed at many of the world’s most renowned festivals and concert halls, often presenting his own compositions. With writer, playwright and actor Vitaliano Trevisan he realised the theatrical works Solo et Pensoso, Time Works, Note sui Sillabari, Madre con Cuscino, Campo Marzo 9/10, Burroughs in Cage, Good Friday Night, Il Ponte, where he has been involved both as a composer and a performer. Roccato has also collaborated extensively with musicians from the worlds of contemporary music performance and free improvisation, working with – among many others – Vinko Globokar, Garth Knox, Barre Phillips, Barry Guy, Dominique Pifarély, Michele Rabbia, Bruno Chevillon, Joelle Leandre and Terry Riley. For more information, visit

Alisei is the second ECM New Series recording to address the music of Stefano Scodanabbio. The album Reinventions, issued in 2013, featured Scodanibbio’s highly imaginative recasting for string quartet of three Contrapunctus from Bach’s Art of the Fugue, together with Mexican songs and Spanish guitar music, all brought into a compelling unity. “Besides being the most inventive of double bassists, the late Stefano Scodanibbio was a sound-sculptor of unmatched imagination, as demonstrated in this radical programme of string quartet arrangements” – The Independent

Further details about Stefano Scodanibbio’s life and work may be found at

CD booklet for Alisei includes liner notes by Daniele Roccato in Italian and English
Press reactions

Featured artists
Stefano Scodanibbio
Daniele Roccato Double Bass
Ludus Gravis Ensemble

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