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
“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
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” www.blogcritics.org
“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.
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
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 Link
Roger Sessions Violin Sonata (Cuckson)
Miranda Cuckson Release Date: 03/04/2014 Label:UrlichtCatalog #: 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)
Shomeir Yisraeil is a setting, in Hebrew, of the Psalm 121 text, “Behold, the guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.” Utilizing music from his 1993 Holocaust commemorative orchestral work, In Memoriam, Hochman has created a gorgeous choral work that is most effectively performed with a small instrumental complement of Violin, Clarinet, Cello, Harp and Piano. He utilizes music from his 1993 Holocaust Memorial work, In Memoriam (E.B. Marks).
“The Hawthorn Tree” by William Bolcom
Commissioned for mezzo-soprano Joyce Castle (in celebration of her 40 years as a professional singer) and the St. Luke’s Chamber Orchestra Musicians, this song cycle was premiered in October, 2010 and has been heard throughout the country in concerts by Ms. Castle. She has now put forth the World Premiere recording on Americus Records, who has issued the recording as a download on notable services such as iTunes and Amazon mp3.
William Bolcom set the poetry of seven poets: Elinor Wylie, Stevie Smith, Louise Bogan, Emily Dickinson, Willa Cather, Sarah Arvio and Anne Carson.
Hause “Trumpet Concerto”
“I am so pleased to announce the release of Fantastique! This labor of love began a decade ago when I asked my good friend Evan Hause to create a wind ensemble orchestration of the Trumpet Concerto the Albany Symphony commissioned for me…Documenting a decade of commissioning for trumpet and wind ensemble, I am delighted to share these works with the world.” –Eric Berlin, blog. Read in full
“Back in 2001, the Albany Symphony Orchestra commissioned Evan Hause to write a concerto for [Eric] Berlin, and it appears here in a version for wind band. Its opening movement, ‘Circus,’ is an imaginative sonic spectacle inspired by an Alexander Calder diorama in the collection of the Whitney Museum. That’s followed by some mournful music that local audiences may remember because of the timing of its premiere. Though the ‘Dirge’ was written prior to 9/11, it debuted just three days after the 2001 terror attacks.”Albany Times-Union, September 25, 2014, by Joseph Dalton
“Now is the title and also the time frame for the latest new CD from Duo Parnas, violinist Madalyn Parnas and cellist Cicely Parnas, the natives of Stephentown [NY] who’ve been on the rise as classical musicians since their teens.
It’s a clever name for a disc made up of all contemporary works. Yet ‘Now’ has always been a rather fleeting matter, especially when it comes to the Parnas sisters.
When I profiled the girls in 2009, they were always on the go, shuttling between studies at the New England Conservatory, The College of Saint Rose and Siena and Bard colleges. And now they’re still something of a blur as they dash from one appearance to another in different parts of the country and even on different continents. In October, they’ll be spending a couple weeks in China at two different international festivals. In November, they perform the Brahms Double Concerto in Alexandria, Va., and in January they’ll play three different concertos with the Schenectady Symphony at Proctors. Meanwhile, there’s their solo work. In April, Madalyn performs with the London Philharmonic and Cicely makes her Boston recital debut. And that’s just some of the highlights….
….The opener is a mostly cheerful five-movement suite by William Bolcom, itself an exercise in eclecticism.”
Title: Lest We Forget, The Music of Robert Jager, Vol. 2 Label: Mark Recordings, 51352-MCD
Released: November, 2014
Works: The Wall, Esprit de Corps, Eternal Vigilance, others
“This is not ‘military music,’ but rather music for the personnel of the military. In no way is it meant to glorify war, but it is my way of saying ‘thank you’ to those who serve, who have served, and to those who have given their ‘last full measure of devotion.’ – Robert Jager