For the follow-up to his debut Deutsche Grammophon album Journey East, a colourful collection of classical masterpieces and Balkan folk melodies, Serbian violinist Nemanja Radulović strikes out in a new direction, exploring the roots of Western classical music in a disc set for release on 14 October via Universal Music Canada, and dedicated to works by Johann Sebastian Bach and his son Johann Christian. See the album video teaser here, pre-order Bachhere.
Nemanja has recorded a unique and highly personal selection of works by Bach, collaborating with Serbian composer-conductor Aleksandar Sedlar and the ensemble Double Sens in new arrangements of such famous pieces as the “Air on the G String”, the great Chaconne and the Toccata and Fugue in D minor. Sedlar’s arrangements move naturally from a classical sensibility to a more modern approach, at times coming close to film music.
Says Nemanja: “I’ve always felt a connection with Bach and his music. I knew it was very important on a recording like this to work with someone who knows me and knows the ensemble. That person is Aleksandar Sedlar, and he’s made an arrangement of the Chaconne that forms the last movement of Bach’s Partita No. 2 for solo violin. His version is written for chamber orchestra and reveals a very different set of harmonic possibilities. When you play the original, you can hear the harmonies in your head, but Aleksandar’s arrangement offers another vision of the work, showing that Bach’s music has endless possibilities.”
Double Sens, formed about seven years ago, is made up of musicians from France and from the former Yugoslavia. All are friends of Nemanja, and all have played an active role in determining the artistic directions taken by the various recordings included here. The ensemble has a wide spectrum of colours and emotional responses at its disposal, the fruit of its members’ multicultural backgrounds and the close creative relationship they and Nemanja enjoy.
Also featured on the album is a performance of Bach’s Double Violin Concerto with Tijana Milošević, a long-time friend of Nemanja – as children they were both taught by the same teacher in Belgrade. “Tijana is one of my favourite violinists. There’s something really free about her playing. The very first time I worked on this concerto with her, we must have been eight years old! Now we’re playing it again 20 years later and our artistic approach has naturally evolved a great deal. For me it was very important to achieve an equality of sound between the two violins. Obviously it’s also important to have two separate and distinct personalities, but what’s fascinating about this work is the level of equality between the two violins, to the point that you sometimes wonder who’s playing what…”
Summing up the inspiration behind this new album, Nemanja explains, “I wanted to offer a different image of Bach. Not so much his religious side, but Bach the man, someone who loved life, a contemporary Bach whose music cuts across time. Each new period that his music travels through offers performers new freedom and new possibilities.”
Born in Serbia in 1985, Nemanja Radulović began his musical studies in 1992 and was winning national prizes by the time he was 12. At the age of 14 he moved to France, where he studied at the Paris Conservatoire. Proclaimed the “International Revelation of the Year” in 2005 at France’s prestigious “Victoires de la Musique”, he launched his international career in 2006 when he stood in for Maxim Vengerov at Paris’s Salle Pleyel, playing the Beethoven Concerto to great acclaim with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France under Myung-Whun Chung. The next year he made his Carnegie Hall debut in a performance greeted with rousing ovations.
Not only profoundly gifted and possessing enormous stage presence, Nemanja is also constantly seeking fresh and original ways to communicate his fiery and innately musical performances to audiences. This past June, he set off on a new six-month tour that will take him from France to Italy, Russia, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain and Australia.