Higdon, Clearfield, Primosch: Metamorphosis

Higdon, Clearfield, Primosch: Metamorphosis

Three major choral works on three human themes
Jennifer Higdon
Andrea Clearfield
James Primosch
Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia
Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia
Sanford Sylvan
Alan Harler
Catalog Number: 
new classical

Philadelphia, PA

Release Date: 
Feb 28, 2012
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

Three original works by contemporary American composers, Andrea Clearfield, Jennifer Higdon and James Primosch, all based in Philadelphia, are featured on the new CD recording of performances by Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia.  All three works were commissioned by Mendelssohn Club and premiered in concert with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia over the past five years.  

Under the dynamic leadership of artistic director Alan Harler, Mendelssohn Club has demonstrated a major commitment to new music, commissioning nearly fifty choral works over the past two decades. METAMORPHOSIS is the first recording of all original commissions in the 138-year history of the chorus. 

The three works chosen for the new CD confront and reflect on such fundamental themes as the power of redemption over evil, the numbing indignity of modern warfare, the timeless quality of collective memory and our potential for compassion and forgiveness. Jennifer Higdon’s work was commissioned to be performed on a program with the Verdi Requiem, and the composer chose a sermon by poet and clergyman John Donne to match the Requiem in weight and mood. The Golem Psalms, by Andrea Clearfield, recounts the famous legend of the Golem of Prague, a Frankenstein-like creature from Jewish folklore. A seven-note motif set to the phrase “form and life and change and death” spins endlessly through the work like a wheel. Performed in seven sections, The Golem Psalms forms the centerpiece of the Metamorphosis CD and features the voice of baritone Sanford Sylvan. 

The two concluding tracks by Primosch are based on two thematically related poems by Denise Levertov. Fire-Memory exposes the anonymous brutality and senselessness of war while River-Memory conveys, in a very spiritual sense, the circle of life moving inexorably forward.

Recored by Joe Hannigan / Weston Sound


“What makes the work a Clearfield triumph is the evolution of strengths in this composer-her way of elucidating text meaning in deeply vivid ways. In The Golem Psalms (she does so) within well-weighted, singable phrases that reflect mastery with large choral and instrumental force.”
David Patrick Stearns

"[B]eautiful choral writing ... permeates the work as a whole ... [A] satisfying look at a marvelous choral organization." [FULL ARTICLE]
Greg Edwards