The Authority Of Intent

This Tuesday, January 28, PARMA’s labels release new music by the Apollo Chamber Players, Chris Wild, Robert McCormick, and finally an album called RESOLVE, an historic collection by Grammy-winner Richard Stoltzman featuring clarinet music by Paul Hindemith. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Dick for a number of years on recording projects of many types, ranging from the most massive of orchestral concerti to the most intimate of modern chamber music, and his music is always nothing short of spectacular, moving, and inspiring. 

Listening to the recording we did last year of Hindemith’s “Sonata For Clarinet & Piano” with Pulitzer Prize-winning pianist extraordinaire and all-around unbelievably terrific guy Yehudi Wyner, I recall one particular conversation we had during a session years prior about recording with the composer of a given piece.

In that discussion Dick expressed a deep appreciation for working with living composers to create a ‘definitive’ rendition of a composition, particularly a premiere recording where there is a degree of permanence, and especially when the composer himself is the performer. Going to the source, directly to it, is not only the best but often the only way to get what one truly needs artistically.

Stoltzman and Wyner in the studio
(Image by ClearEye Photo)

On RESOLVE, we hear the work of a great master, one of the most prominent forces of 20th century music, as performed by his student at Yale – Yehudi Wyner, himself a composer of breathtaking talent, skill, and renown, and a prime mover of the century and beyond – and the student of the student, another mighty master and mover in Stoltzman, who studied with Wyner at Yale. The musical insight here is deep, distilled, nuanced, the view of artists who themselves have perspectives from both inside and outside.

What if we could hear Bach play Bach? Can you imagine how much that would clear up? We could clean the oceans in the spare time we’d collectively save.

It can of course be argued that not all first performances or recordings are ‘definitive’ in their interpretation regardless of who is involved – it is essential to hear Gershwin and Whiteman play “Rhapsody In Blue,” a must, sure, fine, but there’s these Bernstein recordings…

Here are some other angles, both oblique and direct, by composers who perform:


Douglas Detrick’s AnyWhen Ensemble
Coming March 25, 2014

Trumpet player and composer Douglas Detrick has created a chamber-jazz opus that is simultaneously coiled and unbridled, utilizing his crack ensemble as not only a transmitter of musical information but a generator of it as well. People talking about the “death of classical music” would be well-advised to tune into the new paradigm of composers, players, bands, and bandleaders like Detrick who are blurring all the sharp genre edges in their sight. Eraser, please.  


Don Freund
Released April 3, 2012

Variation on a theme: a composer himself finding new routes of discovery in some of the best-known works in musical history. Freund approaches the WTC as a translator, focused in part on effectively harnessing the modern instrument to transmit the original intent of the work. A third DVD disc is included with the physical product, featuring Freund offering a thoughtful and thorough analysis of various methods and techniques used by Bach in the planning and execution of the work. 

“… an unusual amount of intimacy, clarity and understanding that are remarkably in touch with the piano’s own physical characteristics.” 


Patrick Beckman feat. Richard Stoltzman
Released July 28, 2009

Beckman’s exploration of American roots and idioms is as spontaneous as it is studied, with big flourishes and small gestures alike coming together in his own singular voice. I’ve worked with Pat on a couple of albums, and his personality always beams through clearly – and not just because of the improvisational elements that he frequently employs, either. There are few composer/performers who are so adept at creating engaging, appealing music that speaks as well to the mind as to the gut. Final note about Pat: I am not breaking any confidences by saying he once described a movement from his Mass to me as, quote, “a real shoot-’em-up Sanctus,” and I have never before or since heard any other human put those words in that sequence.

“Instantly appealing work fusing jazz and contemporary musical language.” 
(MusicWeb International)


And we all know EXACTLY what Leonard Bernstein felt about Ravel:

Be back later… have to go practice after watching that…

Bob Lord
CEO, PARMA Recordings

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