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Ernest Bloch's Sonata (1935) is an extroverted and passionate work characterized by vigorous melodies and strong rhythms. Even the soft, lyrical sections rarely stay quiet for long--the melodies soon become florid and their accompaniments agitated. Bloch fills the work with brilliant sonorities by employing the full range and dynamic palette of the piano. Melodies are often thickened with octaves or outlined in chords instead of single notes.
Ernest Bloch (1880-1959) was born in Switzerland, but became an American citizen in 1924. He received many honors throughout his life, including two New York Critics Circle Awards.
"Lullaby" is the principal movement of the piano suite Before Sleep and Dreams (1990). The piece is a short rondo that begins and ends with a sensuous melody in the treble over a rocking accompaniment. Several intense sections intrude on this tranquility, but each time the music resolves the tension by returning to the rocking motion. "Lullaby" is distinguished by its beautiful melodies and interesting, rich harmonies.
Aaron Kernis (b.1960) is one of America's leading composers. His prizes include a New York Foundation for the Arts Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Pulitzer Prize.
Or Like a...an Engine (1994) is a perpetual-motion arabesque--almost an etude. Joan Tower chains together dozens of short ostinatos (repetitive patterns), moving smoothly from one to another by subtly shifting pitches and rhythms. The result is a piece that seems to metamorphose as you listen, gradually building power for the final climax on an arpeggiated A-minor chord.
Joan Tower (b.1938) is the Asher Edelman Professor of Music at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. She received the Alfred I. DuPont Award for Distinguished American Composers and Conductors in 1998, and is composer-in-residence for the Orchestra of St. Luke's.
Music of Twelve Centers was written for Barry Hannigan. It is a collection of eleven lyrical pieces which explore twelve tonal centers (the fifth piece has dual tonal centers of D and A flat). The pieces employ a wide variety of styles from jazz to etudes to game-processes. A common thread is that Larry Nelson introduces musical themes and then fragments them. The resulting short patterns are juxtaposed with contrasting ideas, creating both musical tension and formal structure.
Larry Nelson (b.1944) is Professor of Music Theory and Composition at West Chester University in Pennsylvania where he is also director of the Center for Music Technology.
Four Done Deals was written for Barry Hannigan in 1994. The four movements bear descriptive titles:
"Beyond and here--as if through stillness" is a conversation between two voices: a harmonic character and a melodic character. The harmonic character speaks pianissimo, as if through concealment. The melodic character, assertive and brusque, speaks in a melody thickened by accompanying intervals.
"Scherzando grazioso" is a short rondo. The beginning and ending sections are jazzy, with a main melody that weaves through outer and inner voices. These sections frame a tender dance in 4/4 time.
"Night Song" is a nocturne whose main melody is presented first as a single line shadowed two octaves above. As it continues, the melody receives an arpeggiated accompaniment that is interrupted by sections where the harmonies stall. Within these interrupting sections, quick, ornamental gestures create unsettling counterpoint to the overall mood of lyricism.
"With delicate, energetic good humor." Fanfares surround a wry tango. The tango is briefly intruded upon by terse, two-voice canons.
Alexandra Pierce (b.1934) composes in multiple formats, including symphonies, string quartets, and works for chorus. She is a founding member of Moving and the author of two books: Generous Movement and Expressive Movement: Posture and Action in Daily Life, Sports, and the Performing Arts.
Into the Maelstrom was written for Barry Hannigan in 1992 and premiered at the national convention of the Society for Electro-Acoustical Music at the University of Texas. The tape part is constructed entirely from piano sounds, which were subjected to various transformations using CSOUND software. The word "maelstrom" means whirlpool, and it is possible that this work describes, in James Mobberley's words, "either the swirling chaos in the geopolitical developments around the globe, or the increasing levels of chaos which occur when young children enter one's life."
James Mobberley (b.1954) has recently been named Curators' Professor of Music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Major awards include grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Recorded at Weis Center for the Performing Arts
Recording Engineers Dale Hourlland, Hourlland Audio and John Uhl, Rheincastle Audio and Visual
Design & Photos A.Lyon - monkeymatic.com
Sculpture "Our Hands" (c) 2000 Donna Billick - firstname.lastname@example.org