Following up on his Pentatone releases of Beethoven’s complete piano concertos with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and Alan Gilbert, pianist Inon Barnatan’s newest offering on the label is Time Traveler’s Suite, a journey through time and space that redefines the Baroque suite by combining movements of Bach, Handel, Rameau and Couperin with more recent works by Ravel, Barber, Adès and Ligeti (released Nov 5). The program culminates in Brahms’s ingenious Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel. Long known as a thoughtful and compelling curator, Barnatan has been honing his Time Traveler’s Suite program in performances around the world for a number of years. The New York Times found that a performance at New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival in 2016 showed why he is one of the most admired pianists of his generation, adding that he “played everything brilliantly.”Two years later, when the pianist played the program in Boston’s Celebrity Series, the Boston Musical Intelligencer declared of the three-century-spanning program: “You would be hard pressed to hear finer, more enlightening performances of these pieces any time in the next 300 years.

The pianist explains:

“This recital program was born out of a mild obsession with making connections. I have always been fascinated by the conversation that composers have with one another across centuries, how they respect and build on the music they love and admire and find a way to make it their own. Composers like Bach and Couperin took the humble dance movements and made them into exquisite pieces of music that were too engrossing and complex to dance to. Ravel and Thomas Adès studied and rewrote Couperin’s music and used it, among other influences, as a departure point for their own unique language and sound. Ligeti and Barber used Baroque forms and idioms to channel their own 20th-century styles. The relationship of keys and moods, and the way the composers were influenced by one another makes the “suite,” at least to my mind, a unified whole.”

This winter, Barnatan’s Time Traveler’s Suite serves as the basis of a performance at the Aspen Music Festival (Feb 10), and he performs a chamber version of the suite along with the Viano String Quartetin Denver, presented by Denver Friends of Chamber Music (Feb 16). Other winter performances include Barnatan’s returns to the Chicago Symphony (Jan 6–8) and London Philharmonic (Nov 27), as well as his debuts with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic (Dec 2) and Montreal Symphony (Dec 8 & 11).

 

Inon Barnatan: Time Traveler’s Suite

Pentatone; released on Nov 5

Track List:

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

1 Toccata in E minor, BWV 914

George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

2 Suite in E, HWV 430: II. Allemande

Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764)

3 Suite in A minor, RCT 5: II. Courante

François Couperin (1668-1733)

4 L’Atalante

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

5 Le Tombeau de Couperin: IV. Rigaudon

Thomas Adès (b. 1971)

6 Blanca Variations

György Ligeti (1923-2006) Musica Ricercata

7 No. 11: Andante misurato e tranquillo

8 No. 10: Vivace. Capriccioso

Samuel Barber (1910-1981)

9 Piano Sonata in E-flat minor, Op. 26: IV. Fuga. Allegro con spirito

 

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24

10 – 36 Aria, Variations and Fuga

 

Inon Barnatan Winter 2021-22

 

Nov 27

London, UK

GERSHWIN: Concerto in F

Karina Canellakis, conductor

London Philharmonic Orchestra

 

Dec 2

Liverpool, UK

MOZART: Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491

Joshua Weilerstein, conductor

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

 

Dec 8 & 11

Montreal, Canada

TCHAIKOVSKY: Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23

Rafael Payare, conductor

Montreal Symphony Orchestra

 

Dec 22

West Palm Beach, FL

FAURE, BEETHOVEN & SCHUBERT

With James Ehnes, Violin

 

Jan 6, 7 & 8

Chicago, IL

RAVEL: Concerto in G

GERSHWIN: Rhapsody in Blue

André de Ridder, conductor

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

 

Jan 21

Columbus, OH

RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto No. 3

Rossen Milanov, conductor

Columbus Symphony Orchestra 

 

Jan 28–30

Seattle, WA

Seattle Chamber Music Society (SCMS) Winter Festival

 

Feb 1

Los Angeles, CA

CHAUSSON: Concerto for piano, violin and strings

Los Angeles Philharmonic event

 

Feb 10

Aspen, CO

Time Traveler’s Suite

Aspen Music Festival

 

Feb 16

Denver, CO

Time Traveler’s Suite, chamber version, with the Viano String Quartet

Denver Friends of Chamber Music