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Cellist John-Henry Crawford to Release DIALOGO – Feat. Brahms, Shostakovich and Ligeti

Crawford was named First Prize Winner of the IX International Carlos Prieto Cello Competition and Young Artist of the Year by the Classical Recording Foundation.

On Friday, June 4, 2021, Orchid Classics will release DIALOGO, the debut album of cellist John-Henry Crawford, First Prize Winner of the IX International Carlos Prieto Cello Competition and the Classical Recording Foundation's 2019 Young Artist of the Year. Playing a rare 200-year-old cello smuggled out of Austria by his grandfather, Robert Popper, Crawford performs Brahms' Sonata for Piano and Cello No. 2 in F Major, Op. 99 and Shostakovich's Sonata for Cello and Piano in D minor, Op. 40 with pianist Victor Santiago Asuncion, as well as Ligeti's Sonata for Solo Cello, all recorded and engineered by GRAMMY Award-winning engineer Adam Abeshouse.

Crawford writes in the notes, "This program explores several different modes of a concept that is vital to the fabric of our lives, our relationships, and even the progress of our society as a whole - dialogue. The opening movement of the Ligeti Sonata, titled Dialogo, is an ideal musical encapsulation of this theme and the inspiration behind the title of the album. A story of unrequited love, young Ligeti fell for a fellow student, Annuss Virány, who was a cellist. He wrote the first movement as a metaphorical love duet for her. As one voice begins in inquiry, another responds, until eventually they merge together, singing in tandem. Throughout the whole sonata, these characters question, reply, plead, and even shout at one another.

"This concept is equally present in the sonatas with piano by Brahms and Shostakovich. After the grandiose introduction in Brahms' Op. 99 sonata, the two instruments pass off contrapuntal lines in a flowing 'conversation.' This musical discussion morphs into more disjunct motives, and through the use of a variety of textures and rhythmic impulses throughout the later movements, Brahms sustains this conversation as a glue that holds the entire work together.

"Finally, in the Shostakovich, we are exposed to a different mode of dialogue that, similar to Ligeti's Sonata, was born out of life events. Having fallen in love with a young translator, Shostakovich and his wife divorced for a time after she became aware of the affair. This D minor sonata was written during that period of separation and reflects Shostakovich's frame of mind - one of frustration, searching, and isolation, with the cello line as protagonist, i.e., Shostakovich. The desolate Largo suggests an inverse of this concept of dialogue. It begins in a sonic representation of a soliloquy: Shostakovich wandering and wondering to himself as he recalls motifs from the first movement. Dialogue is something we cannot live without, and it is my hope that this album can be a musical reminder to pursue more dialogue with one another, especially after a year as isolating as 2020."

About John-Henry Crawford

Born in the small Louisiana city of Shreveport, cellist John-Henry Crawford in 2019 was First Prize Winner of the IX International Carlos Prieto Cello Competition and named Young Artist of the Year by the Classical Recording Foundation.

At age 15, Crawford was accepted into the legendary Curtis Institute of Music to study with Peter Wiley and Carter Brey and went on to complete an Artist Diploma at the Manhattan School of Music with Philippe Muller, a Master of Music at The Juilliard School with Joel Krosnick, and pursue further study in Chicago with Hans Jørgen Jensen. He has given concerts in 25 states as well as Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Mexico, and Switzerland at venues such as The International Concert Series of the Louvre in Paris, Volkswagen's Die Gläsern Manufaktur in Dresden, and the inaugural season of the Tippet Rise Arts Center in Montana. Crawford gave his solo debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra as First Prize Winner of the orchestra's Greenfield Competition and has performed Beethoven Triple Concerto with the Memphis Symphony, Dvorak and Gulda Cello Concertos with the Shreveport Symphony, and Haydn's C Major Cello Concerto with the Highland Park Strings.

While in Chicago, Crawford appeared on WFMT's Impromptu series and toured extensively with Steinway artist and pianist Victor Santiago Asuncion. He has appeared twice with Christopher O'Riley on National Public Radio's From the Top. An advocate for the importance of social media, Crawford commands a strong Instagram presence, attracting tens of thousands of viewers to his project #The1000DayJourney, where he films artistic cinematic videos daily from his practice and performances for over 55,000 followers (@cellocrawford) to give a glimpse into the working process of a musician, recently passing the 1000-day mark.

Crawford's numerous competition prizes also include Grand Prize and First Prize Cellist at the 2015 American String Teachers National Solo Competition, the Lynn Harrell Competition of the Dallas Symphony, the Hudson Valley Competition, and the Kingsville International Competition. He has competed in the Tchaikovsky and Queen Elisabeth competitions and was accepted at the prestigious Verbier Academy in Switzerland for study under the tutelage of Ralph Kirshbaum and Torleif Thedeen.

Crawford has been a fellow at Music from Angel Fire in New Mexico, the National Arts Centre's Zukerman Young Artist Program in Canada, The Fontainebleau School in France, and the Perlman Chamber Music Program. He was invited to perform at Boston's French Cultural Museum in a chamber music concert with Boston Symphony concertmaster Malcolm Lowe, Curtis President Roberto Diaz, and members of the Borromeo Quartet, and was the only student performer on a tour series to Costa Rica, Mexico, and Brazil, collaborating with artists Soovin Kim, Roberto Diaz, and Jason Vieaux as part of Curtis on Tour. While a student at Curtis, Crawford's recital performances were broadcast on WHYY public television in Philadelphia. He was interviewed for the recently released documentary Maestro about conductor Paavo Järvi, and is also interviewed and quoted in Dan Coyle's The Talent Code by Dan Coyle, a best-selling book about the science and neurology behind skill development.

Crawford is from a musical family and performs on a rare 200-year old European cello smuggled out of Austria by his grandfather, Dr. Robert Popper, who evaded Kristallnacht in 1938. He also performs on a fine French bow by the revolutionary bowmaker Tourte "L'Ainé" from 1790. Before attending Curtis, Crawford studied with concert cellist Andres Diaz of Southern Methodist University. In addition to music, he enjoys reading about astrophysics, running, performing magic tricks, and photography. Learn more at www.johnhenrycrawford.com.


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