Highlands & Sea was born out of an enounter between two musicians of diametrically opposite artistic origins. Laura Catrani works primarily in contemporary music, including numerous first performances of pieces written specifically for her by living composers. Claudio Astronio performs on the harpsichord and organ, and conducts Baroque repertoire in theatres and concert halls around the world.
The title Highlands & Sea was inspired first by Arvo Pärt's 'My Heart in the Highlands', with which the album culminates. The twelve works before explore a range of emotional and musical extremes in radically contrasting music. Each work exemplifies its own genre and whether Baroque or contemporary, they all offer equally powerful metaphors of musical expression. Laura Catrani and Claudio Astronio described the process of chosing the music: 'We started to search for repertoire that proposed opposites in nature, either as a theme, text or image: the sky and the depths of the Earth, snowy peaks and stormy seas, the warmth of sunny beaches and the coldness of mountains, creating a sequence of contrasting worlds in which the listener does not perceive any limits between the two opposing repertoires we present, but can reveal their deeper affinities.'
Claudio Astronio is a harpsichordist, organist and conductor, music director of ensemble Harmonices Mundi, and the Theresia Baroque Youth Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Antiqua Early Music Festival in Bolzano, and a Feruccio Busoni International Piano Competition artistic board member. He performs a the most prestigious festivals in Europe, North America and Japan, working with such musicians as Emma Kirkby, Max van Egmond, Dan Laurin, Gemma Bertagnolli, Susanne Ryden, Yuri Bashmet and Gustav Leonhardt.