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Antonio Vivaldi: 4 Seasons for 3 Pianos

By Hakan Ali Toker

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By Hakan Ali Toker, Matej Mestrovic, and Matija Dedic. By Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741). Classical. CD. Navona Records #NV6114. Published by Navona Records (NX.NV6114).

Item Number: NX.NV6114

Navona Records proudly presents 4 SEASONS FOR 3 PIANOS, a whirlwind transcription of Vivaldi's masterful string concertos by Croatian pianist and composer Matej Mestrovic. Performing with Hakan A. Toker and Matija Dedic on three pianos (and accordion), Mestrovic thoroughly reimagines the four concertos, his work exceeding that of a normal transcription. The collection, in such a radical new form, becomes almost a whole new work. Despite this, Mestrovic's version of this piece is, ironically, historically informed in its own way. Vivaldi's Venice was part of a republic that spread from the Italian city, across Dalmatia (present-day Croatia), to the borders of the Ottoman Empire in what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina. Just as this Venice of the past was a crossroads of cultural influences, so is Mestrovic's conception of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. He imbues his piece with flavors of the region, from Romani to Turkish culture. Mestrovic even sends Vivaldi farther into the future, bringing The Four Seasons into contact with Mozart's Turkish interests--Mozart's famous Sonata No. 16 in C even appears in an unexpected detour. Throughout the re-imagined work, the three performers leave their own distinct touches. In the slow movement of Summer, Mestrovic is front and center with a nostalgic waltz. Elsewhere, Toker improvises a whirlwind of virtuosic melody. Dedic transforms the slow movement of Winter into a jazzy meditation. Jazzy elements also surface in the transcription of the famous opening movement of Spring, transforming it into a wild, joyous romp through Vivaldi's masterful music. Matej Mestrovic is an eclectic and versatile composer, having written a large body of works ranging from chamber and orchestral concert music to music for television, theatre, and film. Mestrovic's albums include Zvuci Velebita, Eat Suite (which won a 2014 Independent Music award), and My Face Music Book (which won the 2016 Classical Album of the Year and Runner-Up Overall Album of the Year on Mestrovic is one of the most prominent artists in his native Croatia, holding a City of Zagreb award. At age sixteen, he became the youngest composer ever to have a work performed at the Croatian Days Festival. For two consecutive years, he has presented a work for the opening ceremony of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, featuring orchestra, double choir, percussion ensemble, and over 200 dancers. Mestrovic is an active pianist. He was an early pioneer of Croatian New Age music, which involved a performance with harpist Georgia Kelly at the Zagreb Music Biennale. Recently, he performed in the opening ceremony of the European University Games in Zagreb. Mestrovic also arranges piano parts on the pianist Maksim Mrvica's albums, and is an active director of documentaries and travel films. Hakan A. Toker is one of the world's most prominent performers of Turkish music on the piano. He has performed in 27 countries, collaborating with groups as diverse as orchestras and jugglers. He has participated in jazz concerts, musical-comedy shows, and as instrumentalist in music for silent films. In 2013, he was given the "Our Living Treasures" award by the First Mersin Cultural Festival committee. Jazz pianist Matija Dedic has performed internationally with names such as Alvin Queen and Antonio Sanchez. In July 2002, he performed at France's Montreux Jazz Festival. With the album Octopussy, he received "Best Author" and "Best Jazz Newcomer" awards from the Croatian Composers Society.

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