BWW Feature: Big Year For BIEGEL



2015 has been quite a year for Pianist Jeffrey Biegel. One of the most sought after and versatile pianists in the world, he maintains a concert schedule that brings him all over the world performing some of the most innovative and eclectic programming one could imagine. Biegel is a champion of the classical repertoire as well as a favorite among contemporary classical composers to debut their work. Not content with merely performing, and despite his full break-neck schedule, Mr. Biegel has managed to find time to record three new classical CDs in 2015 (and a fourth is in the can awaiting release).

In spite of a recent uptick in classical sales, the classical recording industry has been shrinking and contracting. This make it particularly exciting to see an artist who has managed to find a way to continually bring forth interesting material that the public might otherwise never be exposed to.

So, it's especially gratifying to hear that Biegel has three recordings on the ballot for potential Grammy nominations in the Classical genre in this year's 58th Grammy Awards. The actual nominations will be announced on December 15th and voting members have a deadline of November 4th to make their choices for all the categories.

And as we have come to expect from Mr. Biegel, the three discs are an extremely diverse bunch, ranging from Mozart, to the jazz-influenced compositions of Claude Bolling, to a new concerto written by Lucas Richman.

Mozart: The Complete Sonatas for Piano, Volume 2 (featuring Biegel's own Mozartean embellishments added to the repeat sections for the sonatas. The impetus to doing this comes from several movements fully written out by Mozart whereas he applies variants and embellishments of his own in the repeated sections.) The disc is released on the eOne label.

Steve Barta's 'Symphonic Arrangement' of Claude Bolling's classic 'Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano'. Barta's orchestration adds a layer of orchestra to the original score by Bolling, which was recorded by Jean-Pierre Rampal, (garnering itself a Grammy nomination in 1975 for Best Chamber Music Performance.) Claude Bolling himself approved and sanctioned the arrangements. See attach the letter from him.

Lucas Richman's "In Truth', features a piano concerto written specifically for Mr. Biegel, performed by Biegel and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. In addition, 'In Truth' contains works for cello and orchestra and oboe and orchestra. The disc is available on Albany Records.

As the music industry overall tries to find the answer to its declining sales, the one bright spot in the market last year was not rap, rock, or country. It was classical. Sales were up nearly 5% last year, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That number includes hyper-audience-friendly artists like Andrea Bocelli as well as hyper-progressive (and certainly somewhat less audience friendly) recordings from artists like the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. There are very few artists like Jeffrey Biegel who continually provide diverse, exceptional material for serious classical music fans who are hungry for both the traditional as well as the experimental fare. Here's hoping his recorded catalogue continues to grow!

Peter Danish

Classical Music Editor in Chief

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