In October 2007, Uri Caine receives the "Echo Klassik", the most significant award in the German music world. At the nationwide ZDF television gala show "Echo der Stars" hosted by the actress Maria Furtwängler – granddaughter of the conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler – Uri Caine and his Ensemble perform the Turkish Rondo after Mozart. In other years artists like Sir Simon Rattle, Rolando Villazón, Cecilia Bartoli, Montserrat Caballé, Lord Yehudi Menuhin, Vesselina Kasarova, José Carreras, Isaac Stern, Giora Feidman, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Anna Netrebko, Daniel Barenboim and Nigel Kennedy have been award winners.
In the last decade no other artist has influenced the development of the classical music and the jazz scene in such an important way as Uri Caine. His adaptions and re-compositions of classical works found enthusiastic acceptance worldwide. Uri Caine is celebrated for these eclectic and inventive interpretations. In recognition of this Uri Caine receives the "Echo Klassik". Winter & Winter took this wonderful occasion to produce a special album with the title Uri Caine "The Classical Variations" featuring previously unreleased music after Bach, Mahler and Verdi and already renowned recordings after Beethoven, Schumann, Mahler and Wagner.
The opening track "Only Love Beauty" after "Liebst du um Schönheit" from the Rückertlieder by Gustav Mahler is a special new a cappella recording by Barbara Walker and the Kettwiger Bach Ensemble produced in Krefeld during Uri Caine's rehearsals of the 3rd Symphony after Gustav Mahler. It has been the wish of Uri Caine to make that excellent performance available to the public. The album "The Classical Variations" gives Caine not only the possibilty to release that previously unreleased track but also to introduce various new compositions written after Johann Sebastian Bach's Goldberg Variations. Track 4 and track 18 present Uri Caine and Vittorio Ghielmi's viola da gamba quartet with a totally new version of the variation number X and XXII. Also "The Midnight Variation" featuring the Uri Caine Ensemble and Greg Osby and "The Brass and Drums Variation" featuring Ralph Alessi, Josh Roseman and Bob Stewart are new productions recorded in New York. Caine's piano solo "The Fats Variation" is a dedication to Fats Waller. Caine has also written for the jazz clarinet player Don Byron and the classical lutist Michael Freimuth, a new duet to connect the very personal styles of these two extraordinary solists. And the classical recorder player Cordula Breuer and lutist Michael Freimuth perform a new classical compositions by Uri Caine after Bach, besides various new eletronic sound sculptures by DJ Logic. In 2007 the young Swedish vocalist Josefine Lindstrand recorded Caine's "Desdemona's Lament" in Rome. This song is part of Uri Caine's "Othello Syndrome", a new adaption of Verdi's "Otello" which was premiered at the Biennale in Venice. Besides these new works Caine selected some of his favorite works to complete this album "The Classical Variations".
Andrew McGregor wrote in 2007 (BBC Clasical review) about Uri Caine's Diabelli Variations: »Don't waste your time reading this review: beg, borrow or buy a copy of this life-enhancing disc as soon as possible. You could be getting an online record shop to post it to you right now, so what are you waiting for? What, you want to know what exactly Uri Caine's done to the Diabelli Variations? That's the problem, you see; it's very hard to describe, and if I'm successful it'll spoil the element of surprise that's such a delicious part of hearing this CD for the first time. Alright, introductions first. Uri Caine's a pianist who trained classically in Philadelphia while playing jazz at night just round the corner from the university campus. He's able to move between and join together the two worlds more successfully than most performers, and always with intriguing results...as you'll know if you've already come across Caine's re-readings of Mahler, Schumann songs, Italian café-style Wagner, or Bach's Goldberg Variations. With the Diabellis, says Caine, he's looked very closely at how Beethoven was parodying the original (rather dull!) theme...then made his own parody of the parody.
It's brilliant: illuminating, fascinating, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. Unlike in his Goldbergs, Caine sticks pretty closely to the original Beethoven Variations... at least the orchestra does, while Caine comments and quips in penetrating interjections and witty asides from his fortepiano. Yes, I did say orchestra: Concerto Köln, for the period-instrument equivalent of a jazzers big-band arrangement. You'll have fun spotting the other bits of Beethoven (and Bach) Caine manages to weave into the texture, and the packaging is almost as enjoyable as the contents -I'll leave you to discover it for yourself.
If you don't come away from the whole experience with a grin a mile wide, and wanting to hear the original Beethoven again, then there's probably no hope for you. Not for purists. No, wait: it should be mandatory for purists.
Uri Caine and Stefan Winter have produced 17 albums in the last 15 years. "The Classical Variations" presents the quintessence of these works including two brilliant variation after Beethoven's Diabelli.
Uri Caine [piano]
Barbara Walker, Mark Ledford, David Moss, Josefine Lindstrand [vocals]
Kettwiger Bach Ensemble [choir], Wolfgang Kläsener [conductor]
Shulamith Wechter Caine, Julie Patton [poet]
David Gilmore, Nguyen Le [guitar]
Ralph Alessi [trumpet]
Greg Osby [alto saxophone]
Dave Binney [soprano saxophone]
Josh Roseman [trombone]
James Genus [bass]
Ralph Peterson, Jim Black [drums]
Don Byron, Chris Speed [clarinet]
Bob Stewart [tuba]
Mark Feldman, Joyce Hammann [violin]
Erik Friedlander [cello]
Drew Gress, Michael Formanek, John Hebert [bass]
Dominic Cortese [accordion]
Michael Freimuth [lute]
Cordula Breuer [soprano recorder]
DJ Logic, DJ Olive
Quartetto Italiano di Viole da Gamba
1. Only Love Beauty [after Mahler]
2. Variation XXXII [after Beethoven, Diabelli Variations]
3. Variation XXXIII [after Beethoven, Diabelli Variations]
4. Variation 10 for Fortepiano and Viola da Gamba Quartet [after Bach, Goldberg Variations]
5. Hör' ich das Liedchen klingen/When I hear the Song [after Schumann, Dichterliebe]
6. Die Rose, die Lilie, die Taube/The Rose, the Lily, the Dove [after Schumann, Dichterliebe]
7. Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen/This glowing Summer Morning [after Schumann, Dichterliebe]
8. The Midnight Variation [after Bach, Goldberg Variations]
9. The Brass and Drums Variation [after Bach, Goldberg Variations]
10. Prelude (Tristan und Isolde) [after Wagner]
11. The Scratch Variation [after Bach, Goldberg Variations]
12. The Fats Variation [after Bach, Goldberg Variations]
13. Variation for Lute and Clarinet [after Bach, Goldberg Variations]
14. Urlicht/Primal Light [after Mahler, Symphony Nº 2 "Resurrection"]
15. Variation 27 for Lute and Flute [after Bach, Goldberg Variations]
16. Desdemona's Lament [after Verdi, Otello]
17. The Organ Variation [after Bach, Goldberg Variations]
18. Variation 22 for Fortepiano and Viola da Gamba Quartet [after Bach, Goldberg Variations]
19. Turkish Rondo [after Mozart]
20. Symphony Nº 5, Adagietto [after Mahler]