Pause and Feel and Hark

Pause and Feel and Hark

Stop and hear the roses
Jeremy Beck
Elizabeth Sadilek
Emilio Colon
Gretchen Brumwell
Heather Coltman
Jean McDonald
Robin Guy
Catalog Number: 
new classical
solo voice

Louisville, KY

Release Date: 
May 2, 2006
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

Jeremy Beck has created a special kind of musical world; one which combines hope with a gentle sadness and nostalgia. It is the kind that you glimpse upon waking on a Sunday morning and seeing a steady rain in the garden, knowing that you can go right back to bed. Satisfying, warm inside, and with little self-pity.

His Sonata for Cello and Piano No. 3 may as well have been composed looking over the drenched rooftops of Paris rather than in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Following on the heels of his orchestral CD from innova, "Wave," this one contains Beck’s same emotional liquor but in chamber-sized bottles.

The three works on "pause and feel and hark" range from abstract music, and music inspired by poetry (but without voice), to a vocal monodrama (singing and all). And it is hard to go wrong with the inspiration of poets such as Pablo Neruda, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Vikram Seth, and Joyce Carol Oates. The latter’s novel forms the basis of Black Water, a monodrama bringing to life a slightly veiled fictional account of the events of Chappaquidick in 1969. More unutterably lovely than it is mournful, Beck’s music bathes the ears, and gives pause to feel and to hark.


"[One of the] best new recordings from North America[.] … [N]ow that the ‘neo’ movement has legitimised tonality, Beck’s aesthetic is … in vogue. His music is dulcet but intelligent; easy-going but not anodyne. Sonata No. 3, Moon, impresses with a form symbolic of the tides, in that the A section of the first movement’s avowed ABA only truly returns to end the three-movement work. Emilio Colon, cello, and Heather Coltman, piano, imbue it with lambent timbre and elegant vivacity. … Black Water, a monodrama for soprano and piano based on Joyce Carol Oates’s tragic novel … showcase[s] Beck’s dramatic flair. … [This work] is dramatically taut in its account of a fatal auto accident. Reality and semi-consciousness entwine as the female protangonist drowns, abandoned by the philandering senator who had picked her up at a party.”
—Andrew Druckenbrod

"Beck is a composer who ... looks into his own emotional responses for musical inspiration[.] ... [His] Sonata No. 3 '[M]oon' for cello and piano is ... written in an appealing style[;] ... [t]he harmony ... reflects the influence of jazz, but in a way that avoids a predictable outcome. ... A more overtly 'serious' tone is struck in the monodrama [B]lack [W]ater. Sung and spoken by Jean McDonald, ... the drama plays out well, and Beck's impulsive, non-linear accompaniment reflects his interest in literary/cinematic programming over the typical musical program. ... pause & feel & hark is very good; the purely instrumental selections represent very lyrical and lovely music that makes one want to hear more. All of Beck's music is lovingly played here, in some cases by the musicians for whom the works were written." [FULL ARTICLE]
—David N. Lewis

"Louisville composer Jeremy Beck has released a [new CD] on the Innova label that captures a poetic voice too often absent from 'modern' composers. ... The Sonata No. 3 ('Moon') for cello and piano ... sings with elegance and uncompromising identity and is played in this recording with equal fervor and care. ... Black Water ... takes the listener on a journey that eschews linear time to create a vivid, first person and fictional account of the events at Chappaquidick in 1969. This is a gripping musical setting, full of the emotion that is so clear in Oates' text."
—Daniel Gilliam

"American composer Jeremy Beck makes imaginative use of the inherited tradition. [The first movement of his third cello sonata,] Aria da Capo[,] begins with some attractively singing music for the cello and, in what follows there are passages of lively interplay between the two instruments. Expectations that we will return to the original da capo aria are not, however, fulfilled. Analogously the second movement Pavane again seems to imply a ternary structure which isn’t completed; the rapid section of this movement is particularly exhilarating. In [the third movement,] Galliard[,] Beck plays a witty hand, formally speaking. The missing‚ third section of the second movement is unexpectedly introduced and is followed, in turn, by the absent‚ repeat of the aria from the first movement. This neat way of belatedly keeping the formal promises‚ made earlier is a nice example of how traditions can be (and always are) made new by gifted composers. The longest work here is Black Water [which] gets a powerful performance from Jean McDonald [soprano] and Robin Guy [piano]. There is a considerable range of moods, many rapid switches of pace and idiom, a sustained intensity all communicated in a performance which has both force and subtlety. If I say that I would like to hear other performers tackle this work I don’t mean in any way to denigrate McDonald and Guy; I say it because I think this is a work which would reward other performers too and which would lend itself to a variety of interpretations. Black Water is a compelling work [and] the interestingly inventive [third] Cello Sonata gets an excellent performance from Emilio Colón and Heather Coltman[.] In short, this is a fine sampler of a composer whose work I shall certainly look out for in future." [FULL ARTICLE]
—Glyn Pursglove

Jeremy Beck's music is firmly rooted in free tonality, and is — judging by the works recorded here — warmly melodic and colourful with unexpected harmonic twists. ... [His] music is yet another example of what can be successfully achieved within the boundaries of tradition, for it is never reactionary and holds enough harmonic and rhythmical surprises to sustain the interest. These three pieces are superbly served by the performers who play and sing with all their heart in a most convincing way. Well worth investigating." [FULL ARTICLE]
—Hubert Culot

"Jeremy Beck … is a composer of engaging music[.] … Songs Without Words, for flute and harp, is … cannily idiomatic[.] … Flutist Elizabeth Sadilek and harpist Gretchen Brumwell play beautifully.  … Black Water [is] a cleverly written monodrama for soprano and piano crafted by Beck from [Joyce Carol] Oates’ 1992 novel.  Beck’s music finds a strong theatrical bent in this fictionalized tale[.] … Music of Bernstein-like energy alternate[s] with dramatic sequences that climax in high notes (“I hear him say, ‘Hey – ’ as we fly off the road”), and there is a returning fragment (“As the black water filled her lungs, and she died”) that by the time it recurs for a final time at the end has taken on the character of a prayer. … Jean McDonald and pianist Robin Guy offer a committed, intelligent performance[.] … [This is a] disc by a composer with much to offer."
Greg Stepanich