Albums

EMI Classics

Voyages

VOYAGES, pianist/composer Conrad Tao s full-length debut album on Warner Classics (following his 2012 Juilliard Sessions EP) explores themes of change, and the shifting, unpredictable nature of movement in our lives. Says Conrad: “whether it be the surreal dream images of Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit or Conrad’s own Vestiges, the restless motion of Meredith Monk’s Railroad (Travel Song), or the contrasting moods of Rachmaninov s preludes, the trails and transformations of our lives are not so much about getting from point A to point B, but rather what happens between the two points.”

Tracklist
  1. Monk: Railroad (Travel Song)
  2. Rachmaninov: Op. 32 No.5 in G major: Five Preludes from Op.23 (1904) and Op.32 (1910)
  3. Rachmaninov: Op. 32 No.12 in G sharp minor: Five Preludes from Op.23 (1904) and Op.32 (1910)
  4. Rachmaninov: Op. 23 No.7 in C minor: Five Preludes from Op.23 (1904) and Op.32 (1910)
  5. Rachmaninov: Op. 32 No.10 in B minor: Five Preludes from Op.23 (1904) and Op.32 (1910)
  6. Rachmaninov: Op. 23 No.2 in B flat major: Five Preludes from Op.23 (1904) and Op.32 (1910)
  7. Tao: Upon waking alongside green glass bottles: Vestiges
  8. Tao: Upon ripping perforated pages: Vestiges
  9. Tao: Upon being: Vestiges
  10. Tao: Upon viewing two porcelain figures: Vestiges
  11. Ravel: 1. Ondine (Lent): Gaspard de la nuit
  12. Ravel: 2. Le Gibet (Très lent): Gaspard de la nuit
  13. Ravel: 3. Scarbo (Modéré – Vif): Gaspard de la nuit
  14. Tao: Iridescence, for piano and iPad

Reviews

First Listen: Conrad Tao, ‘Voyages’

  • NPR Music

“Not everyone gets to celebrate his or her 19th birthday the way Conrad Tao will: On June 11, he’ll release a major-label debut album and curate the first day of his own three-day new music festival in Brooklyn. But if any musician is primed for such a workload at this age, Tao might just be the one.”

“All of these honors are heady stuff, but it’s still fairly easy for the jaded to write off the whole thing as a “typical” trajectory for a classical wunderkind. But unlike many classical prodigies of similarly and stupendously young ages, Tao proves himself to be a musician of deep intellectual and emotional means — as the thoughtful programming on this album, Voyages, proclaims.”

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Music Review: Conrad Tao – “Voyages”

  • Blogcritics Magazine

Voyages, which begins with a debut recording of Meredith Monk’s “Railroad” (subtitled, appropriately, “Travel Song”) is a mix of original compositions by Tao that’s supplemented by piano pieces by more traditional composers as Sergei Rachmaninov and Maurice Ravel, which complement the central concept of the album in seamless fashion.”

“Tao’s playing on a selection of five preludes by Rachmaninov as well as Ravel’s “Gaspard de la nuit” is wonderful in the extreme, but his two original compositions, “Vestiges,” and “Iridescence” (for piano and iPad) are the real treat. In the liner notes, Tao describes “Vestiges” as “surreal images that were undergoing metamorphosis, literally and musically.” Of the four pieces that make up the work (all of which are prefaced with the preposition “upon”), “Vestiges: Upon being” is the one that most lingers. It provides a complex range of emotions, from yearning to contemplation, and leaves the listener with a serene sense of acceptance.”

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Album Review: Conrad Tao – “Voyages”

  • AllMusic.com

“Tao…has a new wrinkle, one he shares with few others and executes very well indeed. He is, like Rachmaninov and Liszt, a pianist/composer, and he is one of just a few figures exploring that role. The early indications are good. Tao’s own works, though brief, are quite engaging. With Meredith Monk’s ‘Railroad (Travel Song)’ opening the program and setting the tone for the clean, almost minimalist texture blocks of the whole, he offers four pieces called vestiges, with the humorously dissimilar titles “upon waking alongside green glass bottles,” “upon ripping perforated pages,” “upon being,” and “upon viewing two porcelain figures.” Even better is iridescence for piano and iPad... The Rachmaninov and Ravel pieces are ordered and performed in such a way as to fit with overall evanescent mood, and the program emerges with both imagination and real personality…an extremely promising new figure.”

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Lauded, but Not Resting on His Laurels

  • The New York Times

“During the first 19 years of his life the pianist, violinist and composer Conrad Tao has achieved more than many artists do in twice as many years. Still a student in a Columbia University-Juilliard School joint-degree program, Mr. Tao has earned an Avery Fisher Career Grant, a Gilmore Young Artist Award and eight consecutive Ascap Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, to name only a few of his accolades.

Tuesday was Mr. Tao’s 19th birthday, and he gave a party to celebrate. But in keeping with Mr. Tao’s prodigious ambition and rapid career ascent, Tuesday also saw the arrival of his new EMI Classics CD, “Voyages,” and his fledgling new-music series, the Unplay Festival, which he opened with a concert at the Powerhouse Arena, a bookstore and arts space in Dumbo, Brooklyn.

At a glance, the three-concert series impresses with its clever organization. Tuesday’s program, “ePhemera,” was inspired by the fleeting, unpredictable qualities of the Internet’s digital frontier. The Wednesday program, “REPlay,” proposed a 21st-century canon extending from Ravel to Bang on a Can; Thursday’s concert, “Hi/r/stories,” will encompass performance art and social activism.”

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Meet Conrad Tao – A young musician to remember

  • New York Press

“The highlight of the program was his own work, vestiges. … There are four movements in this work. The first is Impressionistic, Debussyan. The second is a perpetual-motion exercise, reminding me of a Prokofiev toccata. The next called to mind Mompou—perhaps one of his Impresiones íntimas. The final one is Reichian, minimalistic, in the beginning. Then it becomes rhapsodic, Impressionistically rhapsodic, in the mold of L’Isle joyeuse (Debussy). I have done the lazy thing of comparing new music to preceding music. But Tao’s pieces are not imitative, they are his own, and they are beautiful and intelligent. I would be pleased to see them on any other pianist’s program. They are more than one pianist’s private scribbles.”

“This month, from the 11th through the 13th, Tao will host his own festival in Brooklyn, the Unplay Festival. About Chopin, Schumann famously said, “Hats off, gentlemen, a genius.” I don’t know whether Tao is a genius. It depends on our standards for that category. But I know that he is extraordinary, and that our hats should be off.”

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Album review: Conrad Tao, Voyages (EMI Classics)

  • The Independent

“Eighteen-year-old Chinese-American wunderkind Conrad Tao is a composer-pianist in the tradition of Liszt and Rachmaninov, blessed with prodigal performing skill and compositional imagination beyond his tender years.”

“Voyages is themed around dreams, with impressive renderings of Ravel’s creepy, crepuscular “Gaspard de la Nuit” and five Rachmaninov preludes alongside Tao’s own “vestiges”, four dream-inspired miniatures. Tao’s slightly florid immersion in the emotional depths of Rachmaninov’s preludes is balanced by the more postmodern tone of Meredith Monk’s rippling, rhythmic “Railroad (Travel Song)” and his own aptly titled “Iridescence”, a new piece for piano and iPad.”

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