Keeping Time

Keeping Time

Contemporary gems for piano
Vivian Fung
Jennifer Higdon
Katherine Hoover
Jing Jing Luo
Judith Shatin
Stefania de Kenessey
Nancy Bloomer Deussen
Mary Kathleen Ernst
Catalog Number: 
new classical

Reston, VA

Release Date: 
Mar 25, 2014
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
Keeping TimeiTunes Artist's PageiTunes Album Page
Song TitleTimePrice
1.Keeping Time03:49$0.99
2.Secret and Glass Gardens09:39$0.99
3.Dream Dances08:52$0.99
5.Chai Variations on Eliahu HaNavi: Theme (1)00:31$0.99
6.Chai Variations on Eliahu HaNavi: Variation 1, Lighthearted00:33$0.99
7.Chai Variations on Eliahu HaNavi: Variation 2, Flowing00:38$0.99
8.Chai Variations on Eliahu HaNavi: Variation 3, Sly00:47$0.99
9.Chai Variations on Eliahu HaNavi: Variation 4, Whimsical00:52$0.99
10.Chai Variations on Eliahu HaNavi: Variation 5, Dark00:52$0.99
11.Chai Variations on Eliahu HaNavi: Variation 6, Shining01:59$0.99
12.Chai Variations on Eliahu HaNavi: Variation 7, Yearning00:38$0.99
13.Chai Variations on Eliahu HaNavi: Variation 8, With Cunning01:16$0.99
14.Chai Variations on Eliahu HaNavi: Variation 9, Droll00:32$0.99
15.Chai Variations on Eliahu HaNavi: Variation 10, Majestic01:56$0.99
16.Chai Variations on Eliahu HaNavi: Variation 11, Mysterious01:27$0.99
17.Chai Variations on Eliahu HaNavi: Variation 12, Tender01:45$0.99
18.Chai Variations on Eliahu HaNavi: Variation 13, Deliberate00:49$0.99
19.Chai Variations on Eliahu HaNavi: Variation 14, Pensive01:43$0.99
20.Chai Variations on Eliahu HaNavi: Variation 15, Menacing01:18$0.99
21.Chai Variations on Eliahu HaNavi: Variation 16, Flamboyant00:42$0.99
22.Chai Variations on Eliahu HaNavi: Variation 17, Whirling00:34$0.99
23.Chai Variations on Eliahu HaNavi: Variation 18, Gentle01:05$0.99
24.Chai Variations on Eliahu HaNavi: Theme (2)00:50$0.99
25.Spontaneous D-Combustion, "Piano Concerto No. 1": I. Vivace e giocoso03:56$0.99
26.Spontaneous D-Combustion, "Piano Concerto No. 1": II. Molto tranquillo07:14$0.99
27.Spontaneous D-Combustion, "Piano Concerto No. 1": III. Vivace05:04$0.99
28.Musings, Circa 1940: No. 1, A Recollection04:02$0.99
One Sheet: 

The works on pianist Mary Kathleen Ernst’s Keeping Time span a broad swath of years, from Jing Jing Luo’s “Mosquito” (1991) to Stefania de Kenessey’s “Spontaneous D-Combustion” (2012). But at the album’s heart lies a through-line that, in Ernst’s own words, “celebrates the timelessness of friendship and the ways in which great music binds us together.”

While at Juilliard over 30 years ago, Ernst discovered the wealth of music composed by women through her colleague and friend Judith Shatin. “During my early years of growth,” she says, “the music of these exceptional women captivated me and became an integral part of my repertoire as a pianist.”

On Keeping Time she repays that influence and friendship with deep, sensitive renditions of works by a range of women composers, including Vivian Fung, Jennifer Higdon, Katherine Hoover, Nancy Bloomer Deussen and the aforementioned Luo, de Kenessey and Shatin. The styles on display are wide-ranging, encompassing jazz, neo-classical, post-modern and serial, and Ernst, whose “refined technique and confident maneuverings” have been praised by the Washington Post, is sterling throughout.

Ernst has served on the faculties of the University of Virginia and Shepherd University. Her awards include a top prize in Spain's Jose Iturbi International Piano Competition, a US Information Agency Outstanding Artistic and Human Qualities award, and grants from Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Arts Partners Program, National Endowment for the Arts, and arts councils of Virginia and the District of Columbia.


"The piano keys melted like wax under the fingers of Mary Kathleen Ernst."

– El Pais, Madrid

"Mary Kathleen Ernst’s new collection, Keeping Time, ups the ante ... by limiting her selection not only to recent music by American composers, but exclusively to women. Ernst’s restriction is anything but limiting and proves that worthy music is being created by everyone. ... Secret and Glass Gardens ... offers a glimpse of sumptuous lyricism. ... Mosquito is, as its title implies, unbridled flittering; it is tense but very exciting." [FULL ARTICLE]
Frank J. Oteri

“[A] strong program of solo piano works with equally strong performances. … Jennifer Higdon's ‘Secret And Glass Gardens’ sounds shimmering and ethereal, almost suspended in time and space. … ‘Spontaneous D-Combustion’ has catchy, tonal melodies, supported by full, rich chords and a rhythmic pulse that has more than hint of pop sensibilities.” [FULL ARTICLE]
Ralph Graves

“With its mysterious and graceful ambience created through the use of luminous polychords, rhythms that develop into polyrhythms and quickly unravel, and ethereal, meandering motifs, Secret and Glass Gardens shares a decided correspondence with the compositional material and aesthetic of Debussy. Ernst’s performance exhibits a keen understanding of the subtleties of expression and the refinement of technique. … Ernst’s arrangement of [Chai Variations] juxtaposes the dark solemnity of the theme with moments of serene beauty and virtuosic majesty without overpowering or diminishing the sincerity of the Jewish folk musical material. … Ernst delivers a meticulous, nuanced performance and is able to convey the essence of each composition. Keeping Time is a moving, personal offering that pays homage, with gratitude, to the hands that created these works.”
Kimberly Greene


Ernst’s recital begins with Fung’s bright etude, Keeping Time, which circles around a constant pulse. Higdon’s Secret and Glass Gardens uses dreamy impressionistic chords with darkened edges, and a peak occurs near the golden section point. A sequence of dances is grouped in Hoover’s single-movement Dream Dances. Luo’s Mosquito bears resemblance to the particular pest, although with a welcome variety of digressions. The Chai Variations comprise 18 explorations on Eliahu HaNavi, in turn recalling Rzewski’s People United because of the treatment of the traditional Jewish tune. The last two entries are intentional tonal visitations. Spontaneous D-Combustion sets itself up as a perky fast-slow-fast Tin Pan Alley concerto. Recollections comes from a pair of pieces together titled Musings: Circa 1940. The aching tune reminds of an earlier, perhaps simpler time. - Grant Chu Covell