Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Pianist Orion Weiss to Release ARC I: GRANADOS, JANACEK, SCRIABIN in March

Orion Weiss' Arc trilogy continues with Arc II: Ravel, Shostakovich, Brahms, featuring works from World War I and II, during times of grief; and Arc III.

Pianist Orion Weiss to Release ARC I: GRANADOS, JANACEK, SCRIABIN in March

On Friday, March 18, 2022, acclaimed pianist Orion Weiss will release his new album, Arc I: Granados, Janáček, Scriabin, on First Hand Records. Arc I is the inaugural album of an ambitious three-part series and features important works for solo piano from the frantic years of 1911-1913 - the precipice before World War I. The three musical stories on Arc I - Granados' Goyescas, Janáček's In the Mists, and Scriabin's Piano Sonata No. 9 "Black Mass" - each struggle with the same impossible awareness of what was coming for the world, and in doing so, plunge further into modernity and despair.

Of his Arc album series, Orion Weiss explains, "The arc of this recital trilogy is inverted, like a rainbow's reflection in water. Arc I's first steps head downhill, beginning from hope and proceeding to despair. The bottom of the journey, Arc II, is Earth's center, grief, loss, the lowest we can reach. The return trip, Arc III, is one of excitement and renewal, filled with the joy of rebirth and anticipation of a better future."

"Our world has suffered chaos, death, and much ugly change," Weiss reflects. "The foreboding we experienced in 2020 was probably similar to what the composers featured on Arc I felt in the countdown to World War I: a silence before the storm, a chilling drop in pressure, and vast uncertainty. For us and for them, the future became like a patch of absolute black, totally unknowable and threatening. The pain of our subsequent descent has surely been both personal and global."

The first work on Arc I is Enrique Granados' gothic piano suite Goyescas, Op. 11 (1911), a masterpiece of motivic development. Weiss explains the dark emotional plot as, "A man courts a woman (I. Los requiebros), they declare love for one another (II. Coloquio en la reja) but are separated (III. El fandango de candil). The two lovers are faced with sorrow (IV. Quejas, o la Maja y el Ruiseñor), and later, by his death (V. El Amor y la muerte - Balada). Motifs initially representing love, hope and innocence are gradually transformed to signify longing, fear and loss. Just before the end of the sixth piece (VI. Epilogo: Serenata del espectro), which is a macabre dance through grisly-comic flashbacks, the main love theme makes a final appearance, sounding almost unscathed, yet with one significant change: its last note is altered to rise instead of fall. The statement of love is thus changed to an existential question. Over the music's next gesture comes the question's answer: We are left on an empty stage, all the vibrant characters gone. Death is quietly triumphant."

Leoš Janáček's In the Mists (1912) consists of four short movements that are more like entries in a wild diary than character pieces. Weiss explains, "Its ideas grow organically and unpredictably, as if in conversation or thought, and the borders between accompaniment and melodic material disappear. Perhaps the most potent is Janáček's emblem of death, the falling minor third. After its first appearance in the third piece, it makes a startling, terrifying return in the fourth, just before the coda. The remaining music shatters and the work ends with despair and without resolution, stuck in hopeless, fragmented repetition."

Concluding the album is Alexander Scriabin's Piano Sonata No. 9, Op. 68, "Black Mass" (​​1913), which runs a similar plot as Granados' Goyescas, a taut story of hope succumbing to despair. Weiss says, "The opening music is a sort of sick chant sung by occult monks, followed closely by a group of other threatening and depraved themes. The second main theme, however, is one of innocence-it is to be played with 'budding languor,' and is 'pure and limpid' (Scriabin's indications). This hopeful and upwards-reaching theme doesn't last long, as it is beset by and then 'poisoned' by the opening group. At the climax of 'Black Mass,' the pure theme is reborn as a brutal march, totally metamorphosed; the opening music accompanies it with queasy, sadistic encouragement. The quiet chant concludes the piece, unchanged, the cycle of inevitable inexorable evil."

Orion Weiss' Arc trilogy continues with Arc II: Ravel, Shostakovich, Brahms, featuring works from World War I and II, during times of grief; and Arc III: Schubert, Debussy, Brahms, Dohnányi, Talma, featuring music from young composers after World War I and II, during times of joy. Both albums are forthcoming releases on First Hand Records.

"As we grieve what was lost, music born of suffering can bring us courage and succour," Weiss says. "As we envisage our ascent, music from times of joyful creation can create a road map leading us out and up. The final album in the trilogy, Arc III, is filled with young composers, post-war music, and music of celebration. It is my message of faith in humans - our resilience, our rebound, our irrepressibility."

About Orion Weiss

One of the most sought-after soloists in his generation of young American musicians, pianist Orion Weiss has performed with the major American orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and New York Philharmonic. His deeply felt and exceptionally crafted performances go far beyond his technical mastery and have won him worldwide acclaim. With a warmth to his playing that reflects his personality, Orion has performed with dozens of orchestras in North America and has dazzled audiences with his passionate, lush sound.

Recent seasons have seen Weiss in performances for the Lucerne Festival, the Denver Friends of Chamber Music, the University of Iowa, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center's Fortas Series, the 92nd Street Y, and the Broad Stage, and at Aspen, Bard, and Grand Teton summer festivals. Other highlights include his third performance with the Chicago Symphony, a performance of Beethoven's Triple Concerto with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the release of his recording of Christopher Rouse's Seeing, and recordings of the complete Gershwin works for piano and orchestra with his longtime collaborators the Buffalo Philharmonic and JoAnn Falletta.

Named the Classical Recording Foundation's Young Artist of the Year in September 2010, in the summer of 2011 Weiss made his debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood as a last-minute replacement for Leon Fleisher. In recent seasons, he has also performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and in duo summer concerts with the New York Philharmonic at both Lincoln Center and the Bravo! Vail Valley Festival. In 2005, he toured Israel with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Itzhak Perlman.

Also known for his affinity and enthusiasm for chamber music, Weiss performs regularly with the violinists Augustin Hadelich, William Hagen, Benjamin Beilman, James Ehnes, and Arnaud Sussman; the pianist Shai Wosner; the cellist Julie Albers; and the Ariel, Parker, and Pacifica Quartets. As a recitalist and chamber musician, Weiss has appeared across the U.S. at venues and festivals including Lincoln Center, the Ravinia Festival, Sheldon Concert Hall, the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, La Jolla Music Society SummerFest, Chamber Music Northwest, the Bard Music Festival, the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, the Kennedy Center, and Spivey Hall. He won the 2005 William Petschek Recital Award at Juilliard and made his New York recital debut at Alice Tully Hall that April. Also in 2005, he made his European debut in a recital at the Musée du Louvre in Paris. He was a member of the Chamber Music Society Two program of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center from 2002-2004, which included his appearance in the opening concert of the Society's 2002-2003 season at Alice Tully Hall performing Ravel's La Valse with Shai Wosner.

Weiss's impressive list of awards includes the Gilmore Young Artist Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Gina Bachauer Scholarship at the Juilliard School, and the Mieczyslaw Munz Scholarship. A native of Lyndhurst, OH, Weiss attended the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with Paul Schenly, Daniel Shapiro, Sergei Babayan, Kathryn Brown, and Edith Reed. In February of 1999, Weiss made his Cleveland Orchestra debut performing Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1. In March 1999, with less than 24 hours' notice, Weiss stepped in to replace André Watts for a performance of Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He was immediately invited to return to the Orchestra for a performance of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto in October 1999. In 2004, he graduated from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Emanuel Ax. Learn more at

Arc I: Granados, Janáček, Scriabin Track List

Enrique Granados (1867-1916) - Goyescas, Op. 11 (1911)
1. I. Los requiebros (Flattery) [8:47]
2. II. Coloquio en la reja (Conversation at the Window) [10:34]
3. III. El fandango de candil (Fandango by Candlelight) [5:44]
4. IV. Quejas, o la Maja y el Ruiseñor (Laments, or The Maiden and The Nightingale) [6:30]
5. V. El Amor y la muerte - Balada (Love and Death - Ballade) [11:58]
6. VI. Epilogo: Serenata del espectro (Epilogue: Serenade of the Ghost) [6:56]

Leoš Janáček (1854-1928) - In the Mists (1912)
7. I. Andante [3:22]
8. II. Molto adagio [4:13]
9. III. Andantino [2:40]
10. IV. Presto [5:11]

11. Alexander Scriabin (1871-1915) - Piano Sonata No. 9, Op. 68, "Black Mass" (1913) [8:42]

Total Time: 74:51

Producing and Editing: David Frost
Engineering and Mastering: Silas Brown
Piano Technician: Joel Bernache
Steinway Model D, CD 888
Album artwork: David Murphy
Recorded May 22-24, 2014 at SUNY Purchase Performing Arts Center, New York

Related Articles View More Classical Music Stories

More Hot Stories For You