PIATTI: 12 CAPRICES FOR SOLO CELLO
A renowned cellist in his own time, Carlo Alfredo Piatti (1822-1901) is known for composing his 12 Caprices, a set recognized for its technical difficulty and complexity, and widely used as developmental exercises for cellists. On his debut Navona Records release, PIATTI: 12 CAPRICES FOR SOLO CELLO, Venezuelan-American cellist Carmine Miranda interprets Piatti’s virtuosic solo cello pieces, masterfully showing them as works that withstand treatment as significant concert repertoire.
Each of Piatti’s caprices has its own character with distinct writing style, musicality, and emotion, while illustrating the prominence of violin music on Piatti’s writing. As Miranda portrays, these pieces create a unity between the musician and his instrument, making the cello an extension of the player’s body. Not only does this collection expand the possibilities of the cello, it explores the potential for self-accomplishment. Miranda’s performance places these pieces among the esteemed body of concert repertoire that includes Niccolo Paganini’s 24 Caprices for Solo Violin. Read More
GODDESSES is the third offering in Navona Records’ The Shakespeare Concerts Series, which presents several works by composer Joseph Summer from his collection of settings of Shakespearean scenes, sonnets, and soliloquies, Oxford Songs. These particular works are reflections on feminine divinity, from the literal – as in the triumvirate of Roman goddesses in the piece Honour, Riches, Marriage-Blessing – by way of the metaphorical – as exemplified by the depiction of women in the sonnets, In The Old Age Black Was Not Counted Fair and Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day – and to the figurative – contained in the idealized, eternal female characters of Juliet, Olivia, and Ophelia, respectively portrayed in the works, Gallop Apace You Fiery-Footed Steeds, If Music Be The Food of Love, and There Is a Willow Grows Aslant a Brook. Summer’s deep knowledge of Shakespeare’s works and rich compositional technique produce a musical and literary experience that adds layers of insight to Shakespearean characters and themes. Read More
DARKNESS TO LIGHT
Occasionally, moments of happiness and comfort can rise from experiences of anxiety and doubt, during which we learn about ourselves and our limits. Composer and pianist Jeffrey Jacob depicts the experiences of struggle and pain, and of triumph and joy on his debut Navona Records release DARKNESS TO LIGHT.
Death and Transfiguration (Symphony No. 3), a contemporary version of Richard Strauss’s tone poem, expresses the emotions of a dying man, who, fearing death, later finds exaltation in it. String Quartet No. 2 and Elegy portray turmoil, the former showing the defeat of inner darkness, and the latter referencing the violent conflict between Israel and Palestine. The short and lyrical piece Adagietto Misterioso builds tension to illustrate feelings of nostalgia and transitoriness, while Symphony No. 1 presents ideas about timelessness, taken from T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets. Through his music, Jacob discusses the vulnerable moments of human existence and how through our vulnerability, we can open ourselves to growth toward a brighter perspective. Read More
As composer and pianist Mitch Hampton admits, HARD LISTENING, his debut solo album on Navona Records, “aims to dissolve all boundaries of style or taste,” while providing an earnest yet sometimes humorous reflection on the questions of society and musical aesthetics. Hampton explains the focus of his compositions is on the building blocks of music – rhythm, harmony, and melody – and their innate value regardless of “extramusical” or sociological meanings: “For me music is about the art object, the piece of music itself, which communicates emotion quite powerfully on its own, quite apart from specific representational associations.” Petite Dirge places the style of 19th-century composers like Chopin in a 20th-century context while Large Dirge in memory of my father takes its form from the Rodgers and Hart tune “Where Or When.” Pieces such as “Feminist Singer-Songwriter Song Without Words” and Goodbye Cornelius present extremes in both style and emotion. Read More
THE REAL BEELER
On his debut solo Navona Records release, THE REAL BEELER, composer Alan Beeler presents his refined and distinguishable orchestral voice, exploring various harmonic and melodic forms and structures as well as the serial techniques of the Second Viennese School. In Symphony No. 1 and No. 4, the composer creates intricate atmospheres and moving textural soundscapes, generally derived from the composer’s preset tone rows. Beeler’s Marimba Concerto in Sixths highlights colorful and open conversations among the instruments, while his Marimba Concerto da Chiesa builds dramatic ensemble passages, followed by reactionary interludes from the marimba. Homage to Roger Sessions and Mad Song After William Blake both retain stylistic elements from their original settings for solo piano and chorus. As Beeler himself remarks about his compositional style, “I write music that pleases me…form and technique are useless unless they produce a pleasing result.” His symphonic music carries an air of mystery and abstraction, yet remains expressive, leaving space for the listener to take his or her own journey. Read More
Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra; John Page
Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique (1830) is regarded as one of the most significant works from the early Romantic period, memorably portraying the introspective and troubled life of an artist. The French composer’s use of materials such as the recurring idée fixe to illustrate the protagonist’s obsessive mind-state has influenced composers ever since. Conductor John Page calls Symphonie Fantastique “unquestionably the most vividly programmatic symphony in the entire orchestra repertoire.”
This digital release captures a powerful live performance by Page and the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra. Recorded by PARMA Live on June 2, 2013 at the orchestra’s 2012-13 season finale at The Music Hall in Portsmouth NH, Berlioz’s dramatic work is given a compelling, dark, and ominous reading in the skilled hands of Page and the PSO. Read More
AND SO IT BEGINS
Composer Debra Kaye’s debut Ravello Records release, AND SO IT BEGINS, catapults the listener into her deep universe of sound – an expedition down one New York City street and up another, through the warp and weft of interior landscapes, to Taos Mountain, on a journey through a dream, a dying, a love – as she blends her classical roots with traces of jazz, pop, world music, the pulse of city rhythms, and the expansiveness of spacious landscapes.
In Finding Accord, the 3-way conversation goes in and out of agreement in a tête-à-tête of musical opposites as the composer creates new timbres for the piano trio using prepared piano techniques and percussive accents of an ankle bell. Incidental Ducklings brings quacking ducks to life through Kaye’s playful wit and irony. Béla Fleck meets Schubert in Africa in The Doppelganger as Kaye explores the colors of the trombone, while The Beauty Way and Visions bring us the light, the air, the magic of Taos NM. Read More
SOLO NON SOLO
SOLO NON SOLO, the debut Ravello Records release of the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma’s bass clarinetist Sauro Berti, presents contemporary works for solo bass clarinet as well as for traditional and unusual duos, including those with percussion, saxophone, narration, and electronics.
Reconciling Berti’s passions for classical and jazz music, pieces such as Blue Buk and Cosmic Turtles Sidekick are inspired by the swing and improvisation of jazz while Due Pezzi Brasiliani uses two popular, distinctive Brazilian rhythms, baiao and choro, as its primary motifs. The latter work shows Berti’s faculty of other woodwinds, specifically the basset horn, the instrument also employed in Adagio e Allegro. Spasm proves a remarkable piece for Berti by displaying his comfort with challenging scores, stretching the limits of his bass clarinet, and using electronic accompaniment. Read More
STARS STORIES SONG
David Liptak / Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon
Our human history, our search for something greater than ourselves, and our discoveries in the process are reflected in the tales we tell. As with words, music can express our stories, and composers David Liptak and Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon present several sonic narratives, referencing authors, poets, astronomers, folk musicians, and more on their debut Ravello Records release, STARS STORIES SONG.
Each of the pieces in Liptak’s Preludes focuses on a single idea, from movements of celestial objects to imagery of lightness and darkness to short phrases from literary works, while yo no / tú sí / yo tú / sí no and Flores de Viento III by Zohn-Muldoon respectively use texts by Raúl Aceves and Laura Zohn. Liptak’s The Eye that Directs a Needle and Freight make reference to works by historical figures, the former being Maria Mitchell, one of America’s first professional astronomers, and the latter being folk guitarist Elizabeth Cotten. Daphne, for solo marimba, by Zohn-Muldoon is a musical metaphor of the Greek myth of Daphne and Apollo, depicting the nymph’s dizzying race from her pursuer. These two composers shape tales about what’s real and imagined, and what’s yet to be discovered. Read More