LA COMMEDIA MUSIC OF DANIEL KINGMAN innova 504
La Commedia: Nine pieces for solo piano 13:00
1. Harlequin dances (1:27), 2. Columbine dances (1:16), 3. Pulcinella plays a crude practical joke (0:58), 4. Love-sick Pierrot sings a mournful song in the moonlight (2:24), 5. Harlequin does a magic trick (1:46), 6. Harlequin and Columbine lull Pantaloon to sleep with a Nocturne (1:37), 7. Pantaloon, duped by Harlequin and Columbine, complains vehemently about the miscarriage of his designs (1:37), 8. The Doctor delivers a tedious discourse (1:39), 9. Harlequin performs acrobatic feats (1:13)
Richard Cionco, piano
Scenario musical I for viola, cello, and piano 19:04
10. Preambbule et caprice (6:24), 11. Menage a trios (4:09), 12. Danse du batelier (2:39), 13. Rejouissance (5:52)
James Een, viola; Susan Lamb Cook, cello; Richard Cionco, piano
14. Fantasy-Mosaic: Homage to Stephen Foster 7:37
Richard Cionco, piano
Dances and Ghost Dances for two pianos 16:35
15. Allemande (1:21), 16. Allemande Double (2:03), 17. Courante (2:00), 18. Courante Double (1:57), 19. Sarabande (2:40), 20. Sarabande Double (4:06), 21. Gigue (1:14), 22. Gigue Double (1:13)
Betty Woo and Justin Blasdale, pianists
Scenario musical II for flute and piano 11:14
23. Sonatine (3:20), 24. Petite mazurka (1:11), 25. Rhapsodie sur la mazurka (3:03), 26. Petite valse (1:52), 27. Tarantelle sur la valse (1:48)
Laurel Zucker, flute; Marc Shapiro, piano
Total Time 68:21
LA COMMEDIA is a set of pieces based on characters from the old commèdia dell'arte, a type of improvised comedy in which stock comic characters were placed in various predicaments (much as in the "situation" comedy of today). Harlequin, with his costume covered with diamond-shaped patches of many bright colors, was the quintessential clown; yet he also had an element of mystery. His slap-stick could become a magic wand. (In this set of pieces, Harlequin does a magic trick is a reminder of the ancient spectre-devils of the medieval stage from whom Harlequin is partly descended.) To play Harlequin it was not enough to be an actor - one had to be a dancer and an acrobat as well. Harlequin was in love with Columbine, the clever, witty, coquettish servant,and together the two of them hatched and carried out their schemes - resourceful survivors in a hostile world. Pulcinella was a rude, doltish clown, cruel and malicious. Portrayed typically as a short hunch-back with a large nose, in England he became the brash, menacing Punch, of the Punch and Judy puppet shows. Pierrot (Pedrolino in Italian, Petrushka in Russian) was also a clown, but a wistful one, with an air of pathos. His costume was always white; he was the clown portrayed so memorably in the paintings of Watteau. Pantaloon, the "first old man" of the plays, was avaricious, miserly, lustful, slanderous, quarrelsome, wily yet credulous, and subject to sudden vehement explosions of fury and invective. He was invariably mocked and outwitted by clown-servants such as Harlequin and Pulcinella. The Doctor, the "second old man" of the plays, was the foolish and loquacious pedant. Always a presumptuous, incompetent busybody, he was given to making long, rambling, and irrelevant speeches full of misquotations.
In linking together the four contrasting movements of SCÉNARIO MUSICAL I and giving them titles, I was reminded of the works of the French clavecin composers of the early 18th century (notably Couperin and Rameau), who, after the fashion of the time, often gave fanciful titles to their keyboard works. The Préambule sets the stage of the musical scenario with an idea forthrightly declamatory and serious. The Caprice which follows is a kind of fantastic scherzo which accumulates a demonic energy, and leads to the return of the idea of the Préambule. There is no satisfactory English translation of ménage à trois. It represents in this case not a domestic but a purely musical arrangement. The viola projects a long sung line, occasionally supported by the more reticent cello playing mostly in perfect fourths. The piano is the most detached; it sings away on its short intermittent G major phrases, almost as if in another room. This arrangement proceeds without pause into the Danse du batelier, a movement based on a popular 19th century American minstrel song by Dan Emmett. For me this is brought close to home by the phrase in one version of the song "...on the banks of the Sacramento." The accumulation of the fugue-like entries (based on Emmett's tune) suggests the broadening of the great river as it flows south out of the Klamaths, joined by tributary after tributary from the Sierra Nevada to the east. Finally the Emmett tune can no longer resist appearing in its clearly recognizable form as The Boatman's Dance. Réjouissance was a title given to joyous and festive finales in the 18th century. The present finale begins with another treatment of the Préambule motive. The Réjouissance proper which follows expresses, as the name implies, a calm joyousness which contrasts with the bizarre witchery of the Caprice. The underlying scenario of the trio, then, is the progression, with diversions, from the troubled fantasy of the Caprice to the tranquil rejoicing of the Réjouissance.
Listeners to FANTASY-MOSAIC: HOMAGE TO STEPHEN FOSTER may not, and in fact need not, be aware of the identity of the six songs by “America’s troubadour” upon which this brief homage is based. None of the songs is heard in its entirety; instead, significant fragments, sometimes transformed rhythmically, form motives which are woven into the fabric of the piece or at times are allowed to blossom out as “new” melodies. It is not the manipulation of the songs themselves that is the aim of this piece; rather, it is the evocation of their spirit - a spirit in which comic gaiety and deep pathos are often inextricably mingled. This to me constitutes the musical meaning of the familiar phrases which I have known since childhood.
DANCES AND GHOST DANCES adheres to the basic plan of the Baroque suite with its four stylized dances, each followed by a “double.” In my re-interpretation of these Baroque dances in contemporary terms, the main dances are played at the keyboard and the doubles are played inside the two pianos. The term "double" has, in itself, certain ghostly connotations; these correspond perfectly with what I feel to be the "other-worldliness" of many inside-the-piano sounds. Each "double," therefore, is a kind of ghostly commentary on some musical aspect, or gesture, of its preceding dance.
In SCÉNARIO MUSICAL II, the opening Sonatine presents in succinct classical form two distinct musical ideas contrasting in feeling and tempo. The two ideas gradually become intertwined until they coincide in the return, beginning pianissimo, of the original fast tempo. The rest of Scénario musical II unfolds around two small musical "objects" - miniatures really. The tiny mazurka and the little valse are each heard as in a dream, and each calls forth a musical response, the first in the form of a rhapsodie and the second in the form of a tarantelle.
Daniel Kingman has composed continuously since the 1940's for virtually every medium. He holds degrees from Pomona College, the Eastman School of Music, and Michigan State University. His awards include five resident fellowships at The MacDowell Colony. Recent works with text include The Golden Gyre, a full evening’s work based on letters and diaries from the California Gold Rush, and César Chávez: Gran Hombre de la Tierra for two narrators and orchestra. Kingman’s works have been published by Theodore Presser, Edwin Kalmus, and Western International Music, and recorded by the Kronos Quartet, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet, and the Camellia Symphony. Until his recent retirement, he taught at California State University, Sacramento. His extensive work as a conductor has included twelve seasons as Music Director of the Camellia Symphony, a community orchestra with a reputation for venturesome programming. Kingman’s scholarship in the field of American music is evidenced by the publication of his American Music: A Panorama (2nd edition, Schirmer Books, 1990).
Richard Cionco, praised by Donal Henahan of the New York Times for his “sensitive pianism,” has performed throughout the United States. In New York City, he has delighted audiences in Carnegie Recital Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, and at Lincoln Center. He made his Washington, D.C. recital debut at the Phillips Collection, and has been heard on National Public Radio as well. A winner in many competitions, including the Prague Spring International Music Competition, he is also a recipient of a Solo Recitalist’s Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a career grant from the Bagby Foundation for the Musical Arts. He earned degrees from The Juilliard School and the University of Maryland; his major teachers include Rudolf Firkusny, Thomas Schumacher, and Audrey Brown. Presently Mr. Cionco is serving on the piano faculty at California State University, Sacramento.
James Een holds two undergraduate degrees from Mankato State University, Minnesota, and a Master of Music from Arizona State University. His teachers include Dr. William Magers, Marilyn Bos, and Theodore Brunson. Currently in his eighth season with the Sacramento Symphony, he has also performed with the Arizona Opera, the Phoenix Symphony, and many chamber music groups including the Chamber Music Society of Sacramento and Music Now.
Susan Lamb Cook holds the degrees of Bachelor of Music and Master of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa, and a Performance Degree from the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna. She has performed as soloist and chamber musician in Europe and the Middle East as well as in this country. Ms. Lamb Cook has performed as soloist with orchestras throughout northern California, and is heard frequently in solo and chamber music recitals in the area. She currently teaches cello and chamber music at the University of California, Davis.
Betty Woo has made major appearances in London, New York, Beijing, and in her native Hong Kong. She received a special prize for the best performance of a 20th-century piece in the Gina Bachauer International Competition, and a special award in the International American Music Competition. Ms. Woo has appeared as soloist in recitals throughout California, at such events as the Festival of New American Music in Sacramento and the concert series presented by the University of California at Davis and Berkeley. She has given many world and West Coast premieres of works by composers such as Andrew Imbrie, Donald Martino, Richard Swift, and Daniel Kingman. At present, Betty Woo is the music coordinator and assistant professor at Holy Names College in Oakland.
Justin Blasdale made his Carnegie Recital Hall debut as winner of the Concert Artists Guild Annual Auditions. He performs extensively in the United States and has also played in China and Greece. His awards and prizes include the Joseph Lhevinne, the William Kappell, and the Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Scholarship Awards, as well as prizes in the International Bach Competition and the American Music Competition. He has performed with the San Francisco, Seattle, Pittsburgh, and China-Wuhan Orchestras and has recorded for MMC and New World Records, Mr. Blasdale teaches in the Yehudi Menuhin program at the Nueva Learning Center and is on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Laurel Zucker graduated from The Juilliard School of Music, where she studied with Samuel Baron, and also studied with Paula Robison at the New England Conservatory. She has performed with numerous orchestras and festivals in Europe and in the U.S. An active recording artist, she has brought out six CDs to date on her own label, in addition to recording with orchestras in Hungary, Russia, and Israel. Her many awards include ones from Artists International Competition, The New York Flute Club Competition, and The National Flute Association Competition. She is currently Professor of Flute at California State University, Sacramento.
Marc Shapiro received his B. M. And M. M. from Peabody Conservatory. He has performed as principal keyboardist with the San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Chamber Music West, and the San Francisco Choral Artists, and with such distinguished musicians as John Mack, Elaine Douvas, and Philip Myers.
Cover Art: Pat Musick
Recording engineers: Victor Pietrzak; Don Ososke (for Scénario musical II)
Piano technicians: Brad Larson; Peter Clark (for Dances and Ghost Dances)
Special thanks to: Music Dept., California State University, Sacramento
Larick Piano and Organ Company
Design Direction: Adam Kapel
Executive Producer: Homer Lambrecht