The Goldberg Variations is one of Bach's most iconic compositions. On the surface it is a simply beautiful keyboard work based around a tranquil aria. Beneath lies a labyrinth of astonishing musical invention that has captivated musicians, composers and audiences for centuries.
Karlheinz Essel’s Gold.Berg.Werk reimagines Bach’s music for piano and live electronics. Gorgeous time-stretched harmonies that quote and transform the original material, are manipulated in real time and played back on speakers between the original piano variations.
Bringing together baroque and contemporary sounds, no two performances of this fascinating musical experience are ever the same.
Xenia Pestova Bennett is an innovative performer and educator. Described as “a powerhouse of contemporary keyboard repertoire” (Tempo), “stunning” (Wales Arts Review), “ravishing” (Pizzicato) and “remarkably sensuous” (New Zealand Herald) in the international press, she has earned a reputation as a leading interpreter of uncompromising repertoire alongside masterpieces from the past.
Xenia’s commitment and dedication to promoting music by living composers led her to commission dozens of new works and collaborate with major innovators in contemporary music. Her widely acclaimed recordings of core piano duo works of the 20th century by John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen are available on four CDs for Naxos Records. Her evocative solo debut of premiere recordings for the Innova label titled Shadow Piano was described as a “terrific album of dark, probing music” by the Chicago Reader. Xenia's own compositions are available on Diatribe Records and TakuRoku. Her full-length album Atomic Legacies features Ligeti Quartet and the Magnetic Resonator Piano, while her digital EP "Atonal Electronic Chamber Music for Cats" explores vintage synthesizers.
Past projects include commissioning and performing in Arlene Sierra’s Urban Birds at the Southbank Centre (with Kathleen Supove and Sarah Nicolls, recorded for BBC Radio 3 and available on NMC Records), burning a piano with Annea Lockwood in Wales, instigating and performing in the World Toy Piano Summit at Festival Rainy Days in Luxembourg (with Margaret Leng Tan and others), designing cutting-edge digital musical instruments at McGill University and collaborating on a new digital version of the analogue electronic processing required for Karlheinz Stockhausen’s epic masterwork “Mantra”. She is a Schoenhut toy piano concert artist and has championed many new works for this instrument.
Irish composer Ed Bennett was born in Bangor, Co.Down. His music, which has been described in the press as "anarchic" (Irish Times), "manic" (Classical Music) and "thrilling" (Gramophone) is often characterised by its strong rhythmic energy, extreme contrasts and the combination of acoustic, electronic and multimedia elements. It was recently described in The Guardian as "unclassifiable, raw-nerve music of huge energy and imagination" and by Sinfini Music as "one of the most scintillating voices to emerge of late from the British Isles". His body of work includes large-scale orchestral works, ensemble pieces, solo works, electronic music, opera, installations and works for dance and film. In 2019 he was awarded the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Major Individual Artist Award, the highest honour awarded to an artist from the region.
He performs with and directs his own ensemble, Decibel, which is dedicated to the performance of new and experimental cross-discipline work and with whom he has released three critically acclaimed CDs of his music. Dzama Stories (Quartz Music) was described as "a glorious addition to the contemporary canon…I haven’t heard a disc of Irish composition as vital and as urgent as this in a long while" (Musical Criticism, 5*) and My Broken Machines (NMC) was Time Out Chicago’s No.1 Contemporary CD of 2011. His most recent release Togetherness (2018) was described in a 5* review in Classical Music Magazine as "high-octane music that demands the listeners’ attention".
Karlheinz Essl is an Austrian composer, performer, improviser, software developer, media artist and composition teacher. During his career, he has participated in various composer-in-residence programmes and international festivals. He was the music curator of the Essl Museum in Klosterneuburg and still teaches at acclaimed universities worldwide such as the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, Harvard University, and many more. Besides writing instrumental music, he also works in the fields of electronic music, interactive real-time compositions and sound installations.