(Halifax/Kjipuktuk, NS) Leaf Music and composer Jaap Nico Hamburger are releasing Tzimtzum on November 17, 2023. The new recording presents eight of Hamburger’s pieces, recorded in Montreal and Wolfville, NS between 2021 and 2023.
Jaap Nico Hamburger (jaaphamburger.com) is a Canadian Music Centre Associate Composer and Composer in Residence at Montreal’s Mécénat Musica. His compositions include commissions from orchestras and chamber ensembles, and his works have been performed and recorded in Canada, The Netherlands and Israel. He was commissioned by the United Nations and the Government of the Netherlands to compose a new concerto for harp and orchestra that was premiered for the 75th anniversary of the International Court of Justice. His second chamber symphony, Children’s War Diaries, was nominated for the Dutch National Composer’s Award and the 2022 JUNO award for Best Classical Composition. In addition, he contributed work to the 2023 JUNO-nominated Best Classical Album. Hamburger’s first opera, Ariella, was recently premiered during a three-city tour in Toronto, Montreal, and Quebec City.
The eight tracks feature a stellar group of musicians, including Ensemble ArtChoral (under the direction of Matthias Maute who also conducts Orchestre Classique de Montreal and Ensemble Caprice); Alex Strauss, violin; Victor Fournell-Blain, viola; cellists Yegor Dyachkov and Juan Sebastian Delgado; pianists Ilya Poletaev, Janelle Fung, Michael McMahon, and Philip Chiu, Lara Deutsch, flute; and soprano Measha Brueggergosman-Lee.
The album is being released three weeks ahead of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights. The title track, Tzimtzum, (or “contraction”), refers to a term used in Kabbalah to explain 17th century mystic Rabbi Isaac Luria’s doctrine that God began the process of creation by contracting his Ohr Ein Sof (infinite light) so that new creative light could beam. This echoes the theories of Sir Roger Penrose, the 2020 Nobel Prize winner in physics, who claims the universe goes through cycles of death and rebirth and has experienced multiple Big Bangs.
Hamburger, initially trained as a concert pianist, worked in many countries as a cardiologist before moving to Montreal and turning his full attention to composition. “After all my travels around the world, I wanted to express in my music the universality of people, not just that we are all similar, but that we are actually all one, made from the same energy,” he said. Tzimtzum was premiered at Montreal’s Festival Classica’s Lux Aeterna concert in the spring of 2023, and is scored for bells, vocal ensemble/soloists, harp, and cello.
The other intimate smaller form works on the album are guided by moments from the composer’s life: a blue dress in a painting; a piece for two pianos recalling a rhythm and blues band from his youth; poems by a German-Jewish expressionist woman writer who fled the Nazis; and the largest scale work, Concerto Antico, a “reawakening of 18th-century dance returned to life in the 21st,” according to Dr. Charles Barber’s liner notes. Concerto Antico was supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and is dedicated to the memory of Maestro Boris Brott (1944-2022); Souvenirs Fugaces for solo piano was also supported by the Canada Council.
Leaf Music is an independent recording label based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, making and distributing high-quality classical music recordings by artists and composers from across Canada. Our growing catalogue of solo, orchestral, and chamber music is distributed by Naxos of America to the world’s most important music retailers, download providers, and streaming services. Leaf is also a provider of professional audio and video production, post-production services and integrated music marketing and distribution in Canada.
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