Noriko Kawai studied at the Royal College of Music, London and the Academia di Santa Cecilia in Rome. She has given many recitals and broadcasts throughout the world and is well known for the extraordinary range of her repertoire from Renaissance composers to new music, and innovative programmes juxtaposing standard and contemporary works.
Kawai has recently performed at festivals in Aldeburgh, Bath, Huddersfield, Macerata, Paris, Strasbourg, Brussels, Venice, Berlin and Valencia. She has given duo recitals with the violinist Irvine Arditti and concerts with the Leopold String Trio, the Arditti Quartet and the Quatuor Diotima.
For the NMC label Kawai has recorded works by Gerald Barry, and more recently James Dillon’s The Book of Elements Volumes I–V. The latter received unanimous critical acclaim including ‘Editor’s Choice’ in Gramophone (2004). Kawai’s earlier Skryabin recital CD from Live Notes, Japan, was also hailed as a major artistic achievement. In 2006, with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ilan Volkov, she gave the world première of Dillon’s Piano Concerto at the BBC Proms.
Recent concerto engagements include the first performances of Dillon’s Andromeda, with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ilan Volkov, in London (BBC Proms 06) and Glasgow, and Lachenmann’s Ausklang in ‘Transcendent – the Music of Helmut Lachenmann’ presented by the Royal College of Music and the London Sinfonietta. In the autumn of 2007 Kawai also gave the French première of Andromeda, with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Liège/Pascal Rophé, at the festival Musica in Strasbourg, and the first performances of Dillon’s duo for cello and piano, The Hesperides, with Rohan de Saram, at the festivals Ultima in Oslo, and Sound in North-east Scotland.
Noriko Kawai was formerly a Professor of Piano at the Royal College of Music, London and is currently Associate Professor of Collaborative Piano at the University of Minnesota.
Nua Nos was formed in 1990, and has rapidly established itself as the leading Irish contemporary music ensemble. Its players are drawn principally from the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. The group has given the first performances of numerous Irish works, and well as the Irish premieres of many European scores.
Dairine Ni Mheadhra began her musical career as a cellist in the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, before becoming interested in conducting. Following a year's study at the Marseille Conservatoire, she returned to Ireland determined to found a chamber ensemble which would transform the playing of new music in Ireland. Together with Rosie Elliott and Michael Taylor, she formed Nua Nos in 1990, and has conducted the group ever since. After a period of further study at the Pierre Monteux Schol in the USA, she decided to devote herself to contemporary music, and resigned her orchestral position in 1994.
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Barry's work draws inspiration from the clarity and vigour of Baroque music and the immediacy of contemporary visual and dramatic arts; it is compulsive and breathtakingly virtuosic, and has been described as sounding "like a barn dance devised by a chaos theorist" (Tempo on Wiener Blut). This disc, opening with the rumbustious Piano Quartet, also includes some of Barry's piano works, notably Swinging Tripes and Trillibubkins (the title of which is taken from his opera The Intelligence Park).
"This is the most exciting, most sheerly intense new music to have come my way for a long, long time."
Classic CD Award Nomination 1996
Recording date: 24 July - 6 August 1993
Recording venue: Banff Centre for the Arts, Canada
Engineers: Jennifer Lewis, Antonio Oliart, Stephanie Rogers
Producers: Hannah Taylor, Helen Thomas
Editing & mastering: Marian Freeman
Cover image: Mark Rothko, 'Untitled'
(P) 1994 NMC Recordings Ltd