Bolcom: Piano Music

Release Date: 12/01/2017
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8559832
Composer:  William Bolcom
Performer:  Ursula Oppens,  Christopher Taylor,  Constantine Finehouse,  Estela Olevsky
Number of Discs: 3

William Bolcom was awarded the 1988 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his 12 New Etudes for piano, and his music has always revolved around works for the instrument on which he still performs as a soloist and accompanist. This collection of mostly premiere recordings reveals student pieces that negotiate twentieth century musical battles between the avant-garde influences of Boulez and Messiaen and Bolcom’s love of Schumann, as well as later work that embraces the 1960s ragtime revival and draws inspiration from friends and colleagues in every phase of his distinguished six-decade career. Elegantly performed by friends of the composer, this wide-ranging program is summed up by Bolcom as ‘cleaning house’ in the Charles Ives tradition.

Dawn of Night, Music by Stephen Chatman

Release Date: 09/15/2017
Label:  Centrediscs / Centredisques
Catalog #: CD-CMCCD 24617
Composer:  Stephen Chatman
Performer:  The University of Toronto MacMillan Singers, Hilary Apfelstadt, conductor

Features the World Premiere recording of There Will Be Stars.

Stephen Chatman’s choral music is lyrical and expressive, an effective wedding of musical texts and well-crafted melodic and harmonic writing. In Dawn of Night, the music represents a range of characteristics, depending on the poetry. In this particular collection of music, much of the poetry is by female writers: Joanna Lilley, Christina Rossetti, Sarah Teasdale, and Tara Wohlberg; Walt Whitman and Canadian poet Archibald Lampman are also represented.

Conductor Hilary Apfelstadt is Professor and Director of Choral Activities at the University of Toronto where she holds the Elmer Iseler Chair in Conducting. She is also artistic director of Exultate Chamber Singers in Toronto. The University of Toronto MacMillan Singers is an auditioned mixed choral ensemble at the Faculty of Music. They have premiered works by Canadian and American composers and sing a variety of repertoire spanning several centuries.

American Sonatas for Violin and Piano

Release Date: 06/13/2017
Label:  MSR  Catalog #: 1553
Composer:  Charles Ives,  William Bolcom,  John Corigliano
Performer:  Ching-Yi Lin,  Vln., Zachary Lopes, Pno.

American Recital, Vol. 2 (Murtfeld)

Release Date: 06/02/2017
Label:  Audite   Catalog #: 97740
Composer:  Sessions, Reinagle, MacDowell, Antheil, Ives
Performer:  Ulrich Roman Murtfeld


Following his first album of North American piano music of 2014, Ulrich Roman Murtfeld now presents a second album showcasing the boundless wealth of this repertoire. The pieces presented here span 150 years, ranging from sonatas by the British-born American composer Alexander Reinagle, written in 1790, to From My Diary by Roger Sessions, one of the most significant representatives of academic American modernism.

Dress Code

Release Date: 04/14/2017
Label:  Navona   Catalog #: 6078
Composer:  William Bolcom, Haydn, Dave Brubeck, Led Zeppelin, A-ha, King
Ensemble:  Altius Quartet

Navona Records proudly presents Dress Code, the debut release from Colorado-based string ensemble Altius Quartet. Comprised of violinists Joshua Ulrich and Andrew Giordano, violist Andrew Krimm, and cellist Zachary Reaves, the quartet’s core mission is to strive for universality in their music and communicate directly with their listeners. It’s this outlook that led to Dress Code’s eclectic blend of genres, with works from eighteenth-century classical repertoire to 1980’s pop being presented both on their own and combined in new arrangements. Includes Bolcom’s Three Rags for String Quartet.

Mompou: Piano Works

Release Date: 01/27/2017
Label:  Piano Classics   Catalog #: 0115
Composer:  Federico Mompou
Performer:  Alessandro Deljavan

The piano music of Federico Mompou (1893-1987) holds a unique place in 20-th century piano literature. The apparent simplicity of Mompou’s music with its affinity to naïve “folk” elements – popular songs and dances, children’s games, spells and incantations – is deceptive: like Satie – the composer with whom he is most often compared – there is always a sense of a greater complexity hidden just below the surface. However Mompou himself was uninterested in analyzing his music, claiming, “ I don’t know where it comes from – that’s one of the secrets of art” and in describing his style as primitivista, he signalled a desire to return to first principles – a “recommencement” as he described it. Although he spent many years in Paris and was close to the galaxy of composers living in that city in the 1920s– becoming more or less and an honorary member of les Six – he remained virtually immune to outside influences.

Bolcom: Piano Rags

Title: Bolcom: Piano Rags
Artist: Spencer Myer, piano
Label:  Steinway & Sons   Catalog #: STNS30041
Release Date: 1/20/2017

Spencer Myer programs a survey of William Bolcom’s piano rags. Though many have been recorded before, he incorporates three World Premiere recordings here. Knockout: A Rag (2008) signaled Bolcom’s return to the form as a gift to the Minneapolis conductor, Philip Brunelle, in appreciation for his longtime advocacy. Estela: Rag Latino (2010) came about through a commission by pianist Robert Satterlee for a project in honor of the late William Albright. The Brooklyn Dodge (1972), though not a new composition, somehow “dodged” being included in Bolcom’s ragtime oeuvre, perhaps because the composer felt it was too closely “in the style of” James P. Johnson, rather than laying claim to the personal originality prevalent in his other rags of the period. Thankfully, he now allows the listeners to be the judge of that.

Violin Concerto (Roger Sessions)

Title: Violin Concerti of Sessions and Martinu
Artist: Rolf Schulte, violin, Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, Janos Kulka, conductor, New Hampshire Symphony, James Bolle, conductor
Label: CD Baby
Release Date: 11/1/16

In three movements: I. Largo e tranquillo, II. Scherzo, III. Romanza, IV. Molto vivace e sempre con fuoco

Total duration: 30:00

Sample/Purchase page

“Concerto for Soprano Saxophone and Band” (William Bolcom)

Title: William Bolcom: Concerto for Soprano Saxophone and Band
Artist: Christopher Creviston, soloist, and the Arizona State University Wind Symphony, Gary Hill, conductor
Label: Tresona Multimedia
Release Date: 9/17/16

In three movements: I. Lively, With Humor, II. Serenade, III. Shimmy. Total duration: 17:35

See our cover story.

“Three Songs of Adieu” by Norman Dello Joio

Title: Out of the Shadows: Rediscovered American Art Songs
Release Date: 09/09/2016
Label:  Pentatone   Catalog #: 5186572
Composers:  Norman Dello Joio, Paul Nordoff,  Paul Bowles,  Stephen Paulus,  Traditional
Performers:  Lisa Delan,  Matt Haimovitz,  Kevin Korth


These songs honor the universality of the human experience—love, loss, faith, joy, sadness, nostalgia—in uniquely American settings. The spirit, pragmatism and romanticism of a country born in revolution and maturing in reason and hopefulness is evident in these works. It’s all here, in 31 songs by ten composers. The tonal palette of each of these composers reveals a singular style, in hues rich, varied and distinctively American.


“Delan’s direct, humanistic approach strikes just the right balance between liquid emotion and straightforward braininess throughout the album”

“Carretera de Estepona” by Paul Bowles

Title: Bowles: Complete Piano Works, Vol. 2
Release Date: 06/10/2016
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8559787
Composer:  Paul Bowles
Performers:  Oksana Lutsyshyn,  Andrey Kasparov
Ensemble:  Invencia Piano Duo

Bowles had been an inveterate traveller even before 1947 as the Four Piano Pieces demonstrate. The first, the rather neo-classical Impasse de Tombouchtou also refers to a dingy street in Thiviers in Southern France. Café sin Nombre and Carretera de Estapona refers to Southern Spain. Estapona, now a glamorous seaside town can almost be seen from Tangiers, and is, I recall, a pleasant boat trip away. Surrounded by a dry and desert landscape it was much more basic and village-like in Bowles’ day. The opening, with its massive chords, reminds us that it is surrounded by those startlingly blue, imposing mountains. In between these pieces is an elegant and tonally ambiguous Theseus and Maldoror inspired by Greek legend.

MusicWeb International (Gary Higginson)

“The Passing Bell” by Warren Benson

Title: Elements
Artist:“The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, Lt. Col. Jason K. Fettig, conductor
Label: The U.S. Marine Band Educational Recordings
Release Date: November 17, 2015
Composers: Stravinsky, Bernstein, Milhaud, Benson, Higdon

The U.S. Marine Band’s 31st annual educational recording pays homage to the ancient scholars and the idea of the four classical elements: fire, water, earth, and air. Plato and his student Aristotle introduced the hypothesis that all things in the physical world could be connected to one of these foundations. Music is often the representation and inspiration of the world both around and within us and in the recording, aptly titled “Elements,” Director Lt. Col. Jason K. Fettig explores the classical elements in classical music, from fire in Igor Stravinsky’s Fireworks to water in Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Suite from On the Waterfront, and earth with Darius Milhaud’s depiction of the genesis of the planet itself in La Création du monde. These elements are connected by the very wind that fuels the powerful hymns in Warren Benson’s The Passing Bell. The CD also includes Jennifer Higdon’s Percussion Concerto.

Of special note is that this is the first ever published recording of The Passing Bell, though the work has been ensconced as a wind band classic for many decades since its creation in 1974.


“Canciones de Lorca” & “Prometheus” by William Bolcom

Title: William Bolcom – Canciones de Lorca, Prometheus
Artist: Pacific Symphony, Carl St. Clair, conductor, René Barbera, Tenor, Jeffrey Biegel, Piano, Pacific Chorale, John Alexander, conductor
Label: Naxos       Catalog: 8.559788
Release Date: November 13, 2015

The first piece, “Canciones de Lorca,” is a song-cycle based on the language of Spain’s revered poet, Federico García Lorca, and the Flamenco influence that is latent in each poem. Described by Variety as “fascinating” and “free spirited,” the work was composed in collaboration with tenor Plácido Domingo for the 2006 inauguration of the Symphony’s primary residence, the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Pacific Symphony premiered the piece and performed it again in 2013 with award-winning tenor René Barbera for this recording.

The second work, “Prometheus,” received its premiere in 2010, and features acclaimed pianist Jeffrey Biegel and Pacific Chorale. Setting the score to Lord Byron’s poem of the same name, Bolcom uses the legend of Prometheus as a metaphor for today’s turbulent times and society’s reliance on technology. The composer dedicates the work to hope and a peace derived from greater universal understanding. The recording is available for purchase as an Audio CD and MP3 album on Amazon and for MP3 download on iTunes.

Read the entire Pacific Symphony press release.

“Circus Overture” by William Bolcom

Title: Reflections
Artist: The University of Michigan Symphony Band, Michael Haithcock, conductor
Label: Equilibrium Recordings   Catalog: EQ137
Release Date: November 1, 2015

“Reflections” by the University of Michigan Symphony Band (Michael Haithcock, conductor) features Grammy™ Award-winning composer Michael Daugherty’s Concerto for Tuba (Carol Jantsch, soloist) and Pulitzer Prize-winner William Bolcom’s Circus Overture. Works by Roshanne Etezady, Kristin Kuster, and James Stephenson (with bassoon soloist Jeff Lyman and vocalist Scott Piper) offer additional sonic reflections on non-musical inspirations.

Max Morath Complete Rags

Title: Max Morath – Complete Ragtime Works for Piano
Artist: Aaron Robinson, piano
Label: MAI
Production: Adam Ayan; Gateway Mastering (Portland, ME)
Release Date: October 15, 2015

Born in 1926, Max Morath learned ragtime through his mother and went on to a monumental performing career in music and theater which not only championed the ragtime era well before it was in vogue to do so, but also contributed a wealth of original piano rags, all heard on this spotless recording as performed by the talented pianist, Aaron Robinson.

“Minicabs” (Bolcom and Weinstein)

Bolcom & Morris present the World Premiere recording of Bolcom and Arnold Weinstein’s charming “Minicabs” (Music published by Hal Leonard) on the CD of wider Bolcom & Morris fare. Includes the classic “Autumn Leaves” with a verse translated into English by Bolcom.

CD Title: Autumn Leaves
Artists: William Bolcom and Joan Morris
Label: White Pine Music
Release date: 8/17/15
Composers: Bolcom, Kosma, Warren, Akst, Van Heusen, Weill, Coslow, Ahlert, Coward, Guilbert, Merrill, Discepelo, Swift, Carmichael, Robison, Wallowitch, Hupfeld

Roger Sessions: Music For Violin & Piano

Title: Roger Sessions: Music For Violin & Piano
Release Date: 08/11/2015
Label:  Bridge   Catalog #: 9453
Composer:  Roger Sessions
Performer:  David Bowlin, David Holzman
This new recording presents three major Sessions scores in stunningly virtuosic performances. A sonata in all but name, the Duo sees Sessions casting off the Stravinskian residue that had typified his earliest efforts. Rhythmically sturdy, the music provides something of a justification for the “American Brahms” moniker critics routinely applied to Sessions. The fiendishly difficult solo Sonata for Violin is in four interlinked movements. It is a “rhapsodic” (Sessions’s word) score, that is among the finest works in the solo violin literature. Sessions’s masterful Second Sonata was completed in the days following World War 2. Andor Foldes, the commissioning pianist, reckoned the 2nd movement “almost Chopinesque,” while the finale, a sardonic toccata, (Sessions called it “a goose step”) is a caricature of the Nazi Stormtroopers he had seen firsthand in Berlin. Though some of the contrasting music put Sessions in mind of the doleful-sounding foghorns in San Francisco Bay, the vehemence unleashed ultimately sweeps all else before it, topping off one of the most trenchant, dynamic piano works in the American literature.

“Recuerdos” by William Bolcom

CD Title: “American Intersections”
Artists:  Nina Schumann & Luis Magalhães
Label:  2Pianists Records, distributed by Naxos
Release Date: 08/14/2015
Composers:  William Bolcom, Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland, Frederic Rzewski, John Adams

“Three Brevities” by Hale Smith

CD Title: “Lil Lite O’ Mine”
Artists:  Laurel Zucker, flute, John Cozza, piano
Label:  Cantilena
Release Date: 05/05/2015
Composers:  Hale Smith, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Adolphus C. Hailstork, Joseph de Bologne, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, William Grant Still, Julio Racine, Leo Brouwer

Roger Sessions Violin Sonata (Cuckson)

Miranda Cuckson
Release Date: 03/04/2014
Label:  Urlicht   Catalog #: 5989
Composer/Work:  Roger Sessions Sonata for Violin
Also includes music by Carter and Eckhardt, and additional artist Blair McMillen.

“A performance of power and charm…The real revelation of this disc (the high level of playing is not a revelation, because I’ve heard Cuckson and McMillen before, and they are always this good) is Roger Sessions‘ magisterial Sonata for Solo Violin, composed in 1953. With its long, arching phrases and intense expression across a wide range of moods and rhythms, and its expansive structure (lasting over thirty minutes), the Sonata is a Herculean task for the player. It is no carriage ride through the park on a spring day for the listener, either. But its difficulties are rewarding; in fact, they are part of the reward. Cuckson’s performance is direct, authoritative, and probing. In her extremely well-written and informative notes, she tells us that it was this piece, along with the Carter Duo, that set her on her artistic path. We can all be grateful that she is following the path with such grace and artistry.” (Steve Hicken, Burning Ambulance)

“Roger Sessions, who taught at Juilliard from 1965 to 1983, wrote his knotty Sonata for Solo Violin—his first exploration of dodecaphonic writing—in 1953. On this impressive recording, Miranda Cuckson has tackled this virtuosic half hour of complexity. Cuckson shows masterful control over the peripatetic line… Cuckson shows formidable technique, navigating Carter’s wide-ranging melodic lines…It’s a dazzling display.” (The Juilliard Journal)