The Othello Syndrome (Winter & Winter)

Uri Caine Ensemble

Released October 26, 2007

DownBeat Five-Star Review

Grammy Nominee for Best Classical Crossover Album 2009




Uri Caine was born in Philadelphia and began studying piano with Bernard Peiffer. He played in bands led by Philly Joe Jones, Hank Mobley, Johnny Coles, Mickey Roker, Odean Pope, Jymmie Merritt, Bootsie Barnes and Grover Washington. He attended the University of Pennsylvania and studied music composition with George Rochberg and George Crumb. Caine has recorded numerous CDs as a leader (all for Winter & Winter). He has made CDs featuring his jazz trio, his Bedrock Trio and his ensemble performing arrangements of Mahler, Wagner, Beethoven, Bach and Schumann. Caine has received commissions from the Vienna Volksoper, The Seattle Chamber Players, Relache, The Beaux Arts Trio, the Basel Chamber Orchestra, Concerto Köln and the American Composers Orchestra.

Caine was the Director of the Venice Biennale for Music in September 2003. He has performed his version of the Diabelli Variations with orchestras including the Cleveland Orchestra, the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, the CBC Orchestra in Canada and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra. From 2006-2009 he was composer in residence for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and premiered his Concerto for Two Pianos and Chamber Orchestra with Jeffrey Kahane in May 2006. In 2009 he was nominated for a Grammy Award for “The Othello Syndrome”.

For the first time, Caine arranges a dramatic work with a mixture of stage and concert elements. Verdi’s operatic story is the central thread through the composition, but Uri Caine equally cites from Shakespeare’s original play. Arias are juxtaposed with R&B elements, bebop, and electronic sounds, but Verdi’s famous melodies never lose their authenticity.

Track Listing:

1. Othello’s Victory (Uri Caine) 5:39

2. Fire Song (Uri Caine) 4:56

3. Drinking Song (Uri Caine) 4:25

4. Love Duet with Othello and Desdemona (Uri Caine) 8:32

5. Introduction to Act 2 (Uri Caine) 2:49

6. Iago’s Credo (Uri Caine) 4:42

7. She’s the Only One I Love (Uri Caine) 6:02

8. Iago’s Web (Uri Caine) 3:55

9. Desdemona’s Lament (Uri Caine) 4:44

10. Am I a Fool? (Uri Caine) 5:18

11. The Lion of Venice (Uri Caine) 3:53

12. Othello’s Confession (Uri Caine) 3:25

13. The Willow Song / Ave Maria (Uri Caine) 7:41

14. Murder (Uri Caine) 4:17

15. The Death of Othello (Uri Caine) 5:05


Uri Caine Ensemble
Ralph Alessi: trumpet
Stefano Bassanese: electronics
Sadiq Bey: voice
Jim Black: drums
Uri Caine: piano, keyboards
Zach Danziger: drums
Joyce Hammann: violin
John Hebert: acoustic bass
Nguyên Lê: guitar
Tim Lefebvre: acoustic and electric bass
Josefine Lindstrand: vocals
Marco Paolini: voice
Julie Patton: voice
Bunny Sigler: vocals
Bruno Fabrizio Sorba: electronics
Chris Speed: clarinet
Achille Succi: clarinet
Dhafer Youssef: vocals

Recorded February 2005, at Musikhochschule Detmold, Germany, and June 2007, at Sinopoli Hall, Auditorium Parco della Musica, Rome, Italy

Additional Recording at Electronic Music Studio, Cuneo Conservatory of Music, Cuneo, Italy (January 2008); Studio Louxor, Paris, France (January 2008); Bauer Studios, Ludwigsburg, Germany (January 2008); Bundino Studio, Philadelphia, PA, USA (March 2008); SAMI, Stockholm, Sweden (February 2008); Studio Wave 24, Padova, Italy (March 2008)

Producer: Stefan Winter

Engineer, Mixed and Mastered by Adrian von Ripka


Uri Caine’s composer projects are in a league by themselves. Even though two prior works—Urlich/ Primal Light, his breakthrough treatments of Mahler and “The Goldberg Variations”—can be argued to be masterpieces of post-modern cutand-paste, the source materials don’t throw as towering a shadow as Shakespeare’s Moor, realized through Verdi’s opera. Subsequently, The Othello Syndrome has a narrative the others can’t touch, a demanding tale that requires more than brilliant collisions of genres, even those as subversive as Nguyên Lê’s Queen-like lead guitar in the romping Verdi transcriptions. A story like Othello’s cries out for voices that can flesh out the characters and themes, and at least one song that will bring down the house. Caine’s cadre of singers is diverse. Marco Paolini’s guttural Italian makes for a perfectly unctuous Iago. Josefine Lindstrand and Julie Patton provide the comeliness and terror essential to Desdemona. Sadiq Bey and Dhafer Youssef are excellent role players, evocatively delivering text and vocalese. But the star is r&b/gospel legend Bunny Sigler, whose glee on “She’s The One I Love” is winning and agony on “Am I A Fool?” is stunning. The latter, which features a soaring solo by clarinetist Achille Succi, is the type of compelling performance that will get you off your seat and replay it. In addition to his platoon of singers, Caine has doubled-down on the electronics component of his makeovers with the searing electronics sounds of Stefano Bassanese and Bruno Fabrizio Sorba, as well as his own keyboards, heard in tandem with his steamrolling Bedrock cohorts drummer Zach Danziger and bassist Tim Lefebvre. These elements make gambits like the sleek piano trio workouts and the solos of regulars like trumpeter Ralph Alessi more iridescent than ever. This is Caine’s best to date for its conceptual audacity, fidelity to its subject and impeccable craftsmanship.

Bill Shoemaker (DownBeat)