Great Maestros Vol. XIV–XV Igor Bezrodny
April 28, 2020
Messe de… Carmina Burana
June 18, 2020


Pi-Chin Chien, cello
Vilma & Daniel Zbinden, piano duo
Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra, Artistic Director Mindaugas Bačkus

Brand new: released in May 2020!

The Lithuanian fairy tale of Eglė, the Queen of Grass Snakes, is brought to life alongside the glittering Baltic Sea by Strings on the Move in Zurich as a concertino for the violoncello, four-hand piano and string orchestra, while eight classic Swiss folk songs are transported to the Lithuanian seaport.

Fabian Müller Concertino for piano 4 hands, cello and string orchestra
1 Allegro 5:20
2 Calmo 6:22
3 Scherzo 4:49
Fabian Müller Swiss Suite for cello and string orchestra
4 Look, from the Mountains and Valleys 3:33
5 Wife, Wife, Come Home! 1:54
6 Natural Yodel from Appenzell 4:21
7 Wedding Dance from Emmental 4:12
8 Waltz from Goms 2:38
9 Dance and Folk Song from French Switzerland 2:28
10 Traditional Lullaby from Canton Ticino 2:36
11 Monfrina “Marianon” 1:36
Eduardas Balsys Eglė, the Queen of Grass Snakes
12 Aspen 2:18
13 Lamentation 4:16
14 Welcoming Ceremony 2:10
15 Eduardas Balsys Reflections of the Sea 9:50

#4, Fabian Müller. Swiss Suite: Look, from the Mountains and Valleys,  fragment, 2 min 13 sec, MP3,  320 Kbps

#6, Fabian Müller. Swiss Suite: Natural Yodel from Appenzell,  fragment, 3 min 20 sec, MP3,  320 Kbps

#3, Fabian Müller. Concertino: Scherzo, fragment, 2 min 33 sec, MP3, 320 Kbps

#8, Eduardas Balsys. Eglė, the Queen of Grass Snakes: Lamentation, fragment, 3 min 10 sec, MP3, 320 Kbps

CelloMindaugasPerformed by: Pi-Chin Chien, cello (#1−11), Piano Duo Vilma & Daniel Zbinden (#1−3), Vilma Zbinden (#13), Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra, artistic director Mindaugas Bačkus, principal violinist Vladislav Adelkhanov

Recorded live in Klaipėda Concert Hall, January 28th–30th, 2020
Engineered and mastered by Nikita Shishkov
Liner notes by Fabian Müller, Daniel Zbinden and Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra
Photos by Fabian Müller, Andreas Nydegger and Marco Borggreve
Design by Eidvilė Viktorija Buožytė
Recording producer – Peeter Vähi

Total duration: 58:49
Booklet liner notes in Lithuanian, English and German

Special thanks: Gartenflügel Foundation, Klaipėda Concert Hall

ERP 11820
℗ Vilma & Daniel Zbinden, Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra
© Estonian Record Productions (ERP), Tallinn

Fabian Müller’s (1964) works have been performed by some of the great musicians of our time, including David Zinman, Andris Nelsons, Sir Roger Norrington, Christopher Hogwood and Steven Isserlis and at venues such as the Carnegie Hall in New York, Berliner Philharmonie, the Teatro Colón Buenos Aires, the Tonhalle Zurich, the KKL Lucerne, and the St. Petersburg Philharmonia.
Numerous CD recordings with, among others, the Philharmonia Orchestra (under David Zinman), the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, the Zurich Chamber Orchestra or the Petersen Quartet Berlin (for ARS Produktion, col legno, Capriccio, Sony Classical, etc.) show his versatile oeuvre. Following his cello studies at the Zurich Conservatory with Claude Starck, Fabian Müller studied composition in Zurich and the USA, where in 1996 he won the Jacob Druckman Award for Orchestral Composition. In 2006, he received a cultural award from the Canton of Zurich and, in 2012, the Zollikon Art Prize for his work to date. In 2016 he was one of the nominees of the Swiss Music Prize of the Federal Office of Culture.
In addition to his work as a composer, he is interested in folk music. For eleven years (1991–2002), he worked on the publication of the Hanny Christen Collection, a ten-volume folk music anthology with over 10,000 tunes from the 19th century.

Fabian Müller: Concertino for piano four hands, cello and string orchestra (2017). Each work has its particular own history. The special instrumentation of the Concertino came about through a friendship. This friendship with the Swiss piano duo Vilma and Daniel Zbinden began in 2014, when I received a commission from the Musikwoche Braunwald festival to write a four-hand piano work for Der Geist am Berg, based on a story by the Swiss writer Tim Krohn. The work was performed several times and recorded on CD by the duo.
Together with my wife Pi-Chin Chien and Vilma and Daniel Zbinden, we wished to realize a concertante project all together, and this led to the idea for this concertino. It was premiered 2018 at the international music festival Avanti in Kaunas (Lithuania) by the VMU Chamber orchestra conducted by Jonas Janulevičius.
The inspiration for this work, however, has also an older origin. Despite meeting Sergei Prokofiev multiple times and having internalized the music of Peter and the Wolf and Romeo and Juliet in my childhood, there was an intense later encounter that shaped my interest and enthusiasm for his music. It was an extensive tour throughout Germany with the Bern Symphony Orchestra in 2009. The program included my orchestral work Taranis as well as Prokofiev’s 5th symphony.
When I started writing the Concertino, I initially had the idea of a rhythmic, urgent pulsation at the beginning of the first movement, which reminded me of his music, and gave me the inspiration that this concertino could become a homage to Prokofiev. I stayed true to this plan through all three movements. While the first two movements are rhythmically and melodically reminiscent of Prokofiev, the last movement contains a cheeky quote from Peter and the Wolf. The result is a work with a divertimento character in which the performers’ joy of playing is in the foreground and which, to my knowledge, is unique in its instrumentation worldwide.

Fabian Müller’s Swiss Suite for cello and string orchestra, written in a romantic style for my wife Pi-Chin, was premiered in her native Taiwan, 2013.
Look, from the Mountains and Valleys composed by Ferdinand Fürchtegott Huber (1791–1863) is a typical folksong from the Romantic era that was intended to enrich tradition.
The Romansh mocking song Wife, Wife, Come Home is from Canton Graubünden and is about a self-assured woman who prefers going dancing to looking after her husband.
The tradition of the Zäuerli yodel from Canton Appenzell can be regarded as a natural wonder of music. These solemn melodies, mostly sung a cappella, can give you goosebumps whether or not you are Swiss yourself.
In the past, getting married was not always a happy occasion for the daughters of a family, considering it often happened against their will. This is reflected in Wedding Dance from Emmental, which is in a melancholy minor mode. This well-known melody has already been used by Felix Mendelssohn in one of his string symphonies. Today, getting married is usually a happy occasion, so I allowed myself to compose a cheerful dance to go with it: a mazurka.
The melody of the Waltz from Goms from Canton Valais is taken from the Hanny Christen Collection. Just like Bartok in Hungary, Hanny Christen went around Switzerland, collecting over 10,000 traditional dances.
The Musette was composed by myself in the style of virtuoso accordion music, such as is practised in Canton Jura. A transition takes us directly into the famous song Up on the Mountain from French Switzerland.
We cannot forget Italian Switzerland, which is represented by two melodies: Sleep, Beautiful Child, known both as a lullaby and as a Christmas carol, and a traditional Monfrina. The Monfrina can often be heard in Canton Ticino and is noticeably closely related to the Italian tarantella.

Eduardas Balsys (1919–1984) is considered one of the most talented Lithuanian composers of the 20th century. Despite his composing taking place at the time of the Soviet dictatorship, the artistic quality and gripping movement of his works are what make them so unique. As the most significant contributor to the stylistic reorientation of the 1970s, the fairly modern composer had quite an influence on the resurgence of Lithuanian music in post-Stalinist times. There is a noticeable progression from classical structures towards more expressionist works in dodecaphonic technique.
Part of his work is dedicated to his loyal companion in both life and work, the sea. Balsys lived in Klaipėda from 1928 to 1939 with his family. During this time he attended the Vytautas Magnus Gymnasium and played the saxophone and the trombone in the school’s concert band. After the Second World War, Balsys went on to study composition at the conservatory in Kaunas, where he began an artistic journey, which in summertime often led him to the coast of the Lithuanian sea.

Eduardas Balsys’ ballet Eglė, the Queen of Grass Snakes was composed in 1960. Its relevance was greatly helped along by Balsys’ musical interpretation of the fairy tale as an eternal human drama. The composer condensed some movements into a single suite and edited a few miniatures for the violin or violoncello and piano.
The movements on the CD were found in a version made for string orchestra in the private library of Saulius Sondeckis, one of the most famous Lithuanian conductors. His wife Silvija made them available to the Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra.

Eduardas Balsys’ symphonic poem Reflection of the Sea was written for the third festival of the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra of Vilnius and performed for their opening ceremony by three string orchestras. The work, consisting of a prelude and a toccata, is full of contrasts and has an expressionist mood to it. With the string parts split up, the composer attains beautiful sonority. The score is distinguished by free singing as well as different polyphonic techniques.

PiChinChienCellist Pi-Chin Chien is a sought-after, internationally active soloist and chamber musician. She has performed in major concert venues around the world, including New York’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, Berlin Philharmonic and Konzerthaus as well as Tonhalle Zurich. She appears as a soloist on recordings with the Philharmonia Orchestra London and the Zurich Chamber Orchestra under the direction of David Zinman, Ruben Gazarian and Wen-Pin Chien. In 2015 Pi-Chin Chien enjoyed great success with her album Taiwan Rhapsody, accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra London and released by Sony Classical. Pi-Chin Chien has performed and recorded world premieres of a number of cello concertos and chamber music, including several compositions dedicated to her.
She performed at the Kaiser-Otto Medal award ceremony in honour of the late former German President Richard von Weizsäcker, and in 2016, already for the second time, at the renowned concert series at Taiwan’s Presidential Palace on invitation of the President of Taiwan. Pi-Chin Chien is the artistic director of the Swiss Music Night concert series in Taiwan and of the Confluence Music Festival in Zurich.
A native of Taiwan, Pi-Chin Chien studied with Markus Stocker, Claude Starck, Marek Jerie and Stanislaw Apolin in Zurich, Lucerne and Prague, graduating with a soloist’s diploma with distinction. She received further artistic impulses in masterclasses by Pierre Fournier, Mstislav Rostropovich, Yo-Yo Ma, Daniil Shafran and Arto Noras. Pi-Chin Chien has won numerous awards at national and international music competitions.

VilmaDanielZbindenPiano Duo Vilma & Daniel Zbinden. Lithuanian pianist Vilma Zbinden has studied piano and piano ensemble with Kęstutis Grybauskas at the Lithuanian Music Academy in Vilnius, where she also taught as a lecturer.
In her native Lithuania, Vilma Zbinden has performed with the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra and with the Čiurlionis String Quartet as well as with her two ensembles, the trio Grazioso (soprano, flute and piano) and the Kęstutis Grybauskas Piano Quartet, with whom she also made recordings.
Vilma Zbinden is a prize winner of international competitions in the UK, Belgium and Lithuania and has appeared as a chamber musician in various European countries. She has been a guest lecturer at the State University of Music and Performing Arts Stuttgart and the Conservatorio di Musica Giuseppe Verdi in Milan.
Daniel Zbinden studied piano in Zürich and Lucerne with Rudolf am Bach, Hans Schicker and Hubert Harry, graduating with concert and teaching diplomas. He completed his studies at the Conservatoire International de Musique de Paris with the Premier Prix. He has also earned a licentiate degree in French, history and musicology from Zurich University.
He has appeared as a soloist with the Camerata St Petersburg, the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra Bucharest, the Romanian Festival Orchestra and the Radio Symphony Orchestra Pilsen.
Vilma and Daniel Zbinden have been performing as a duo since 2009. Their repertoire includes not only four-hand piano works and those for two pianos, but also works for a piano duo and vocal ensemble, choirs, string quartets or orchestras. They recorded their first CD Of Home and Away in 2011 and their second, Resonating Images, including the works of Swiss composers Joachim Raff and Fabian Müller, followed in 2015. The works of contemporary Swiss composers are often found on their CD programmes. Swiss composer Alfred Schweizer dedicated his Music for Four-Hand Piano and String Orchestra to Vilma and Daniel Zbinden, which the couple originally performed in 2016. The piano duo plays at various festivals and has performed with orchestras such as the Neue Zürcher Orchester and the chamber orchestra of the Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas. Their recordings have been broadcast by the BBC, Radio Swiss Classic as well as in multiple other radio channels.

The Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra (KCO) is one of Lithuania’s youngest and most vibrant professional chamber orchestras. In programming events, it aims to stimulate and enlighten the audiences through dynamic performances, featuring a broad cross-section of musical styles and genres across the epochs.
The KCO’s unique artistic style is primarily distinguished by the refined sense of (self-conducted) ensemble, which has been achieved through long-term commitment of its individual members. A more decisive turn to the new level of excellence and expansion of the repertoire was masterminded by cellist Mindaugas Bačkus, taking over over as the Orchestra’s new artistic director in 2009.

In the past few years the Orchestra has gone through a series of masterclasses with Baroque music experts and started exploring early music repertoire; at the other end of classical music’s timeline it has introduced no less challenging programmes, with a wide selection of 20th–21st century works and with a firm focus on Lithuanian contemporary music.
Over two decades the KCO has become a prime exponent of cultural life in Klaipėda, currently setting its sights on national and international engagements. To date, it has performed at major music festivals and venues in Lithuania, as well as on international tours in Germany, Poland, the Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Italy, Switzerland and elsewhere. Both at home and on tour it has worked alongside a distinguished array of conductors and soloists. Some of these performances have been captured on CDs The Perfect Harmony of Sounds (2009) and Resurrection of Mozart (2014).


Download high-resolution photo: Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra (photo by Vytautas Petrikas, 2013, jpg, RGB, 300 dpi, 4.2 MB)

Distribution in Estonia by Easy-Living Music. International distribution will be announced soon.

See also other recordings of Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra released by ERP: Resurrection of Mozart