March Releases Out Now on Navona and Ravello Records

Kimiko Ishizaka

In the world of J.S. Bach, music was considered transcendent, serving a purpose beyond earthly desires. It was used to explore and answer questions of human existence, including love, death, happiness, and divinity. For a performer, reflecting on these subjects accurately means immersing oneself in every aspect of the music. Navona Records presents THE WELL-TEMPERED CLAVIER, BOOK 1 performed by award-winning pianist Kimiko Ishizaka, whose interpretations are singular to this repertoire. From the clarity of sound and balanced articulations to the seriousness and emotional depth, Ishizaka commits herself to the virtues of transparency, passion, and intellect.
Regarded as “a gifted and obviously devoted Bachian” by the New York Times, Ishizaka studied the notes and phrases of Bach’s solo keyboard works in a systematic manner in order to discover an interpretation which adheres to the strictures of the great composer’s writing. On the analysis of Bach’s music, Ishizaka says, “Each voice should be clear, independent, and consistent from start to finish. Each voice should have its own phrasing and dynamics that are logical to its narrative.” Furthermore, the pianist eschews the pedal for the benefit of lucidity and precision, while achieving cantabile lyricism and fluid passagework through superior technique and control. READ MORE
Zae Munn | Timothy McAllister

On her debut Navona Records release THEY WERE MYSTERIOUS GUESTS, composer Zae Munn showcases works for alto saxophone in eclectic chamber combinations, featuring internationally-renowned saxophonist Timothy McAllister.
Broken Tulip, which features Henry Skolnick on the contraforte, a modern reworking of the contrabassoon, is inspired by the notion that the perception of an idea or an object can undergo a radical shift while the idea or object itself remains static. Music: A Love Story is a musical narrative that depicts the ironic process of creating and writing music, while the three movements of They Were Mysterious Guests, Hard to Capture illustrate the unbidden nature of emotions, such as grief and the pain of remembrance. In Cascade, the composer addresses two associations of the word – interconnectedness found in electronic circuits and series of waterfalls over rocks. The themes in Disclosure focus on the non-static nature of personal discourse and how, as the composer says, “the act of disclosing inevitably changes what is disclosed, reveals new connections and implications, is nuanced by the one to whom the disclosure is made, and by the context of the disclosure.” Various images of vines and hanging, from Tarzan swinging in the jungle to references of the fruit-bearing branches in the Gospel of John, are presented in Hanging onto the Vine. The Old Songs, Scena for Soprano and Three Instruments is a small drama in 12 Italianesque pieces, the text taken from a poem by Munn’s brother Paul Munn about memories and memory loss. READ MORE

Yves Ramette, Steven Block, Rain Worthington, Paula Diehl, Allen Brings

Navona Records’ latest offering of chamber music ELEMENTS RISING highlights contemporary composers who re-imagine the building blocks of music, such as melody, harmony, rhythm, dynamics, and timbre, in innovative ways, applying them to a number of duo and ensemble settings.

French composer Yves Ramette’s Introduction et Allegro, written in 1945 for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and piano ensemble, uses space, harmonic tension, and texture to create a sense of brooding and propulsion. Fire Tiger by Steven Block, written for violin and piano, is a dramatic work that combines structural unity and a consistent non-tonal language to convey emotional intensity. In her impressionistic work Night Stream, Rain Worthington reflects on the flowing textures of life and time, while her Rhythm Modes uses various rhythmic patterns to articulate and animate the motives and melodies of the piece. Gambit by Paula Diehl uses a compositional system created by the composer called Separation, which uses sets of interlocking perfect 4ths in a process of phases that gradually isolates the intervals from each other. Allen Brings’ Duo for Violin and Cello emphasizes melody, an area in which the composer finds influence from Gregorian chant to Lieder repertoire, building to an energetic and lively end.  READ MORE

Yehuda Yannay, Donald J. Young, Geoffrey Gordon, Joel Naumann, Ryan Maguire, Joseph Koykkar | Jeri-Mae G. Astolfi

On the Ravello Records release WISCONSIN SOUNDSCAPES, pianist Jeri-Mae G. Astolfi performs solo piano works by six Wisconsin composers that highlight people, places, scenes, and events chosen by each composer to create a well-rounded portrait of the state.

Yehuda Yannay’s Midwestern Mythologist, a six-movement theater work, is a tribute to the composer’s friend Steve Nelson-Raney, a pianist and saxophonist, composer, poet, and visual artist working in Madison and Milwaukee. Donald J. Young’s Three Root River Scenes depicts various imagery of Wisconsin’s Root River, from pleasant afternoons on the banks near the rolling water to the destructive flooding of the river in 2008. Reflecting on three Wisconsin towns, Geoffrey Gordon’s Three Summer Sketches illustrates impressions of the rich and evocative name of Black Earth, the old mining town of Mineral Point, and the theater and cultural center of Spring Green. READ MORE

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