The 28th edition of the Society of Composers, Inc. release series and the 4th on Navona Records, PENDULUM extrapolates and elaborates on several themes relating to variation, transformation, repetition, and more. This installment features works from seven SCI composers: Doron Kima’s As From a Dream focuses on changes in texture as well as symmetry, developing varying thematic episodes throughout; Metamorphoses II by Clifton Callender is a gradual transformation of musical figures, employing harmonic extensions typical of folk fiddling; Jorge Variego, in Walls (flute nonet), presents a study on perception, using a nine-note block and rotating it in many directions as if it is three-dimensional; Alex Freeman’s Night on the Prairies, taking its name from a Walt Whitman poem, preserves the purity of the mid-West prairies and alludes to simple campfire tunes of the region; Wing Over Wing, Eric Nathan’s song-cycle, explores the various concepts associated with the definition of flight, taking imagery from Whitman’s poems and his own… Read More
SOUL OF THE MACHINE
Sarah Wallin Huff
As in a Philip K. Dick or Isaac Asimov novel, composer Sarah Wallin Huff’s music on SOUL OF THE MACHINE, her debut solo release on Navona Records, explores the relationships between mechanical structures, organic beauty, and identity. Wallin Huff’s string quartet Anima Mechanicae: Soul of the Machine is a reimagining of minimalist techniques, in the style of Philip Glass, and uses mathematical ratios to determine rhythmic and tonal patterns, setting a science fiction tale of a computer that is given the chance to experience human emotions. Another work that has an overarching tale, one of uncertainty and identity, is Courage Triptych, a cinematic suite of “images,” while Adoré transforms the hymn “My Tribute” by Andraé Crouch into an open and ethereal piece, remindful of Charles Ives’ The Unanswered Question. The sonata for violin and piano, Gypsy Wanderer, is a study of patterns, colors, and formula, creating rhythmic and harmonic wanderings. The three movements of Counterpoint Invariable follow a strict arrangement of phrases, varying only the compositional material, illustrating that mechanical designs can produce emotive beauty. Read More
Shuko Watanabe, Timothy Gaylard
What must it feel like to play an instrument that is one of seven known to exist in the world and is two hundred years old? Pianists Shuko Watanabe and Timothy Gaylard know this feeling, playing works written by Muzio Clementi (1752-1832) on a Clementi grandforte piano in pieces on the Navona Records release, CLEMENTI GRAND.
The Clementi grand featured on this album was a gift by Dr. Lawrence Smith and his wife Ganelle to the Department of Music at Washington & Lee University in Lexington VA, and celebrates the bicentennial of its production this year. Some of Clementi’s most well-known pieces as well as some lesser-known works are presented, including four preludes from Musical Character Pieces, two of his didactic sonatinas, the famous Sonata in B-flat that Clementi played in Vienna at a contest with Mozart in 1781, two symphonic-sounding four-handed duets, and a rondo for keyboard and flute, featuring flutist Byron W. Petty. Watanabe and Gaylard honor this Clementi grand fortepiano with energy and enthusiasm. Read More
On his latest Navona Records release, RITORNELLO, composer and pianist Curt Cacioppo revisits the beloved country of Italy, recalling places, friends, Italian tales, Don Giovanni, and more to create a detailed sonic story about his experiences and Italian heritage. The three movements of Divertimenti in Italia reflect on different regions of Italy: the town of Alberobello and its unique conical dwellings called trulli; the culture and mountainous terrain of northern Italy; and the musical air of Catania in Sicily. From the Dolomites to Etna, a group of seven piano pieces, not only illustrates various parts of the Italian landscape, but makes reference to stories such as Dante’s Inferno in “Nel mezzo del cammin” and presents a musical parody of an aria from Mozart’s Don Giovanni in “Burlesca.” Women at the Cross is a collection of depictions of women who are significant in the Passion of Jesus Christ, including Mary, the mother of Jesus, Procula, the wife of Pontius Pilate, and Veronica, the woman who wiped Jesus’ face. Read More
Continuing the mission of the original Capstone Records series by the Connecticut Composers, Inc., this debut Navona Records release of the same name, SPECTRA, highlights six contemporary composers from northeastern United States, who reflect the diversity and progression of today’s music.
The album showcases pieces by composers of Connecticut Composers, Inc.: Droyßiger Wald, by Michael K. Slayton, represents a life of simplicity in a small town outside of Leipzig, Germany. Ken Steen’s piece for piano trio, re: Moon in the Afternoon, is a musical responsorial to a single chapter in Italo Calvino’s novel Mr. Palomar. Stephen Michael Gryc’s elegy for his father, deep-diving loon, takes its name from dervish Yunus Emre, who says a deep-diving loon “represents that individual who is willing to completely immerse himself in the mysteries of life and be transformed.” The fast and aggressive piece BA(da)SS by Ryan Jesperson was written for bassist Ryan Ford and is an exercise in using techniques of repetition and double natural harmonics. A suite of five movements, Time Pieces by Margaret Collins Stoop explores various applications and portrayals of the word ‘time’ while Rose Sonata by Elizabeth R. Austin explores imagery of the rose, quoting a theme from Brahms’ Intermezzo No. 2 as well as poetry from Rilke, William Carlos Williams, and Goethe. Read More
AUGUST RUINS LIVE
Peter Vukmirovic Stevens
Gavin Borchert of Seattle Weekly applauds Peter Vukmirovic Stevens’ AUGUST RUINS (2013), saying, “[Cellist] Paige Stockley plays it stunningly; I would relish the chance to hear her do it live.” The opportunity to hear a live performance of Stockley playing Stevens’ compelling solo cello work is now available as a digital release through Navona Records, AUGUST RUINS LIVE. The performance by Stockley was recorded on the evening of April 19, 2014 at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport MA, during the special concert event, “Music by the Sea,” presented by the PARMA Music Festival. The live recording captures the dynamic nature of Stevens’ cello suite, which Stockley describes as works that “reshape themselves over time” (Spotlight Magazine). Stockley’s interpretation brings out the raw, expressive, and often brooding energy of Stevens’ music. Read More
On TRIUMVIRATE, composer Walter Ross’ second release on Ravello Records, the concerto is showcased as a genre, illustrating that tension and opposition can create balance and richness. Throughout the three concerti, themes, timbres, rhythms, and tempos juxtapose each other, building webs of contrasting musical elements and textures. In Ross’ Clarinet Concerto, the two outer movements, “Fantasia” and “Capriccio,” move with the energy of dance rhythms while the middle movement, “Romanza,” drifts with dreaminess and impressionistic lyricism. His Piano Concerto, Mosaics opens with an episodic first movement, pairing syncopated rhythms with tuneful melodies. The second movement, “Largo malincolico,” dynamically matches a melancholic section with a celebratory section as the third movement, considered a “devil’s dance fantasy,” builds suspense and mystery before going into a playful and percussive flourish. Read More
THE DAYDREAM is the debut release on Big Round Records of children’s music by The Daydream, a family music group consisting of Scott and Cathy Liebenow with their children McKenna, Mark, and Mia. Combining their music education and composition experience, the Liebenows present original, engaging, and educational songs for the whole family. Songs like My Amazing Nose, Billions of Bugs, What’s in My Backpack, and 10 Little Bowling Pins teach kids about the wonders of the world around them while tunes like Fun on this Train, Pop Goes the Popcorn, and My Cell Phone are enjoyable sing-alongs. Entertaining and informative, this album is geared towards the development of a child’s appreciation of music and the world, whether it be in the classroom or at home. Read More