1 Werther 8:32
2 Gazebo Music 5:26
3 Secret Ground 14:46
4 Dreamtigers† 14:15
Akhmatova Songs§ 12:56
5 The Muse 3:05
6 All Is Plundered 4:06
7 The Souls of All
My Dear Ones 5:59
View from Mt. Nebo 15:13
8 Determined 3:55
9 Ecstatic 5:39
10 Impassioned 5:44
Da Capo Chamber Players
†William Zito, Guitar
§Lucy Shelton, Soprano
Werther: Scored for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano, Werther was inspired by Goethe's 1774 novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther. In a series of letters to a friend, Werther tells of his yearning for Lotte, already betrothed to Albert. Despairing that their deepening friendship cannot lead to the fulfillment he desires, Werther ultimately commits suicide. The story, which draws on episodes from Goethe's life, is filled with German Romanticism's Sturm und Drang, its stormy desire, impetuousness and inner struggle. The music expresses a yearning for the unattainable: it starts with a piercing cry that serves as the emotional anchor. The relationships among the instruments build on this, suggesting the fraught atmosphere and ominous turning. In a final frenzy, the instruments echo the novel's shattering conclusion, with a series of sharp stabs, culminating in the slam of the piano lid.
Gazebo Music, for flute and cello, is a pastoral and intimate piece inspired by a sylvan setting at Duke University, andcreated during the composer/choreographer program at the American Dance Festival there in 1981. The musicians played in a charming gazebo while the dancers glided through the woods, peeked over the railing of the gazebo, and scampered off, coming to rest lying on the branches of a huge magnolia tree. The intertwining of the flute and cello lines creates its own musical choreography. The roles of the instruments are mixed, matched, and inverted. The music, which begins with interlocking flute/cello chords, and lightens into scherzo-like hide-and-seek, ends with a wave-like rocking of interlocked seventh chords.
Secret Ground was inspired by a phrase in Martin Buber’s I and Thou, and by his notion of revelation. The music slowly reveals the instruments, when the shadowy sounds of the opening crystallizes around the changing instrumental relationships, with two duets soaring out of the quartet texture, and two extended solos responding before the music comes to rest in a resonant quiet. The title also refers to the traditional musical notion of the “ground,” a repeating bass line that weaves the structure together. Here, the “ground” is more hidden, and refers to the underlying pitch structure around which the four instrumental parts are built. The shifting surface relationships flow against the constancy of this background.
Dreamtigers: “In my childhood, I was a fervent worshipper of the tiger,” Jorge Luis Borges once wrote. “My childhood outgrown, the tigers and my passion for them faded, but they are still in my dreams.” In Dreamtigers, Borges recalls his efforts to call up these tigers in his dreams and how he fails. They came back in bits and pieces, in broken reflections. The music for Dreamtigers, scored for flute and guitar, was inspired by his effort to reclaim these images. The title also suggests something of animal struggles, and the sense of wrestling that also exists in my compositional process. Dreamtigers unfolds in one movement, with transformations that curl back on themselves and ultimately evaporate.
Akhmatova Songs: Having lived from 1889-1966, Akhmatova suffered through political ravages from the Russian Revolution to Stalin’s reign, and endured the execution of her ex-husband and the imprisonment of her son. The three poems of the cycle: The Muse, Everything is Plundered and The Souls of All My Dears, share themes of loss and transcendence. The first sings of the muse’s gift and the mystery of creativity. The second opens with a burst of anger at senseless destruction, but is transformed as the scent of cherry trees wafts in. The third is poignant, reflecting on Akhmatova’s own past in Tsarskoye Selo, where Pushkin had attended the Lyceum (high school). Here, she sees her own place as a singer of poems. I first came to the poetry of Anna Akhmatova, by turns searing and luminous, in the fine translations of Stanley Kunitz. However, I decided to set the original Russian, with the help of Akhmatova scholar Sharon Leiter; it is her new translations that follow.
1. The Muse
When late at night I wait for her arrival,
My life seems to hang by a thread.
What are homage, youth or freedom compared to
My dear guest with the flute in her hand?
And now she’s come. She sheds her heavy wrappings
And looks attentively at me. I guess,
“Are you the one who dictated to Dante
The lines of his Inferno?” She answers, “Yes.”
2. All is Plundered
All is plundered, betrayed, torn asunder,
The wing of black death gleams in flight.
All is gnawed by sorrowing hunger –
Why then have our hearts filled with light?
By day, wondrous woods near the city
Send cherries’ sweet breath drifting by.
At night the new galaxies glitter
From deep in the clear July sky.
And miracles walk near the houses
Adrift in their dirt and their stones –
That thing we’ve forever desired,
That no one has ever known.
3. The Souls of All My Dear Ones
The souls of all my dear ones are on high stars.
How good, there’s no one left for me to lose
And I can weep. The air of Tsarskoye Selo
Was made for songs to echo through.
Touching the bright September waters
A silver willow idles by the shore.
Out of the past, in silence,
My shadow comes to me once more.
So many lyres hang on these branches,
And yet. It seems, mine has a place here, too.
And now this shower, sparse and sunstruck,
Brings consolation and good news.
Translation © 1983, Sharon Leiter
View from Mt. Nebo: Moses looked out to the Promised Land he would never reach from Mt. Nebo, 2500 feet above the Judean desert. It is the same mountaintop that Martin Luther King, Jr. called upon in his I Have a Dream speech. When I spent a year in Israel as a student, I felt the power of the monumental landscape, with its compelling starkness and luminescent atmosphere. Moses' and King's reaching for sacred and unattainable goals parallel the creative process. I have tried to capture some of this longing as well as the joy of pointing toward a goal, even if one might not attain it. Moses and King showed their people a promised land, even though they never settled there. This trio is cast in three movements. The first reflects the difficult journey of Moses and his people; the second, marked Ecstatic, is a meditation on faith. The last ends with a radiant finale, which I see as a radical acceptance of fate. The Washington Post observed "…View from Mt. Nebo, whose fervor recalls Shostakovich with a carefully wrought tension that raised more than bow hairs."
Werther: Composed for and premiered by Da Capo Chamber Players, Weil Recital Hall, NY, NY, 1985
Gazebo Music: Premiered at the Composer/ Choreographer program of the American Dance Festival by flutist Dorothy Stone and cellist Erica Dukes, 1981.
Secret Ground: Commissioned and premiered by The Roxbury Chamber Players, at the Woman’s Club of Richmond, 1991
Akhmatova Songs: Commissioned and premiered by Sistrum Ensemble at Strathmore Hall in Rockville, MD,1983. Transliteration and translation by Sharon Leiter. Text used by permission.
Dreamtigers: Commissioned and premiered by Ekko! At the University of Virginia, 1996. Composed at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts.
View from Mt. Nebo: Commissioned by the Garth Newell Chamber Players with the Virginia Commission for the Arts; Premiered at the Garth Newel Music Center; Hot Springs, VA, 1986.
Described as “…fresh and bold,” (The Denver Post), JUDITH SHATIN’S music ranges from acoustic to electronic and multimedia, from chamber and choral to orchestral. Her music is internationally preformed, from BAM’s Next Wave Festival to venues such as the International New Music Festival Manuel Enriquez in Mexico, the World Music Days in Slovenia, and Portugal’s Música Viva Festival. She is the recipient of commissions from groups including the Ash Lawn Opera, Barlow Foundation, Core Ensemble, Garth Newel Chamber Players, Hexagon Ensemble, Kronos Quartet, newEar Ensemble, Roxbury Chamber Players, The National Symphony (Hechinger Commission) and The Women’s Philharmonic.
Shatin is equally at home creating musical alchemy from sounds of the environment and those of traditional instruments. Her path-breaking Singing the Blue Ridge (2002), commissioned by Wintergreen Performing Arts through the Americans for the Arts Animating Democracy project, includes mezzo, baritone, orchestra and electronics fashioned from the calls of wild animals. Her multimedia and electroacoustic music has been featured at ICMC, SEAMUS, and Spring in Havana festivals. Acoustic pieces, such as her wind sextet Ockeghem Variations, her piano quartet Run, or her Songs of War and Peace (SATB, piano), still figure prominently in her oeuvre.
With awards from the Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Arts Partners Program, National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer, the New Jersey State Arts Council, and the Virginia Commission for the Arts, Shatin has held residencies including Bellagio (Italy), Brahmshaus (Germany), La Cité des Arts (France), Mishkan Amanim (Israel) and in the US at MacDowell, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Yaddo. Her music is published by Wendigo Music, distributed by MMB; and by Arsis Press, Colla Voce, C.F. Peters and Time Warner. Educated at Douglass College (AB), The Juilliard School (MM), and Princeton University (PhD), Judith Shatin is William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor and Director of the Virginia Center for Computer Music at the University of Virginia. More information is available at www.judithshatin.com.
ANDRÉ EMELIANOFF serves as cellist of the Aeolian Chamber Players, and has been cellist and Music Advisor of the Music Today Ensemble. Winner of a 1985 Solo Recitalist Award from the NEA, he been guest artist with the Houston Da Camera, New Jersey Chamber Society, and Lincoln Center Chamber Society, participant in Marlboro, Chamber Music West, and Piccolo Spoleto Festivals, and soloist with the New York Chamber Symphony and Albany Symphonies. He has recorded for CRI, Opus One, New World Records, Nonesuch, GM Recordings, RCA, Bridge Records, and Pro Arte. He teaches at the Mozarteum Salzburg summer course as well as the Round Top (Texas) Festival and the Perlman Program, and is on the faculty of The Juilliard School.
EVA GRUESSER enjoys an international career as soloist and chamber musician, and now serves as concertmaster of the American Composers Orchestra. As first violinist of the Lark Quartet, she was winner of the 1990 Naumburg Chamber Music Award and the Gold Medal at the 1991 Shostakovich International String Quartet Competition in St. Petersburg, Russia. She has recorded with Decca/Argo, Arabesque and New World Records and premiered numerous works. She has performed as soloist with the Freiburg State Orchestra, BBC Scottish Orchestra and in recitals in Germany, Holland, Switzerland, and Israel. From 1976-78 she played in the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Ms.Gruesser studied with Ilona Feher, Ramy Shevelov, Szymon Goldberg, Zinaida Gilels and is a graduate of Juilliard School.
JO-ANN STERNBERG, clarinetist, is a member of the Riverside Symphony, the Greenleaf Chamber Players and Sequitur, and performs with ensembles including Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, St. Luke’s Chamber Orchestra, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Musicians from Marlboro and New York Philomusica, in addition to Da Capo. Festivals include Marlboro, Tanglewood and Schleswig-Holstein. She received an M.M. from The Juilliard School. Ms. Sternberg’s has recorded for Nonesuch, Troy, CRI, Archetype and St. Cyprien labels.
LISA MOORE has dedicated herself to creating a new way to experience the piano and has commissioned and premiered hundreds of works. She has recorded for Nonesuch, BMG, Deutsche Grammophon, Sony Classical, Canteloupe, CRI, New Albion and Tall Poppies. Moore is the pianist for the Da Capo Chamber Players and Bang on a Can All-Stars. She has performed as a guest artist with ensembles, including the New York City Ballet, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, St Luke's Orchestra, Barge Music, ISCM, Steve Reich Ensemble and Paul Dresher Ensemble, among others. Moore was the winner of the 1992 'Sounds Australian Award' and the silver medal in the 1981 Carnegie Hall 'International American Music Competition'. Of Australian origin, Lisa Moore moved to the USA in 1980. Moore earned her DMA degree from SUNY Stonybrook. For more information, visit www.lisamoore.org.
PATRICIA SPENCER’S highly acclaimed premiere of Shulamit Ran's flute concerto, Voices, for the 2000 National Flute Association convention, was a fresh highlight in a career devoted to new music. She has toured internationally, including a solo performance at the 1999 International Computer Music Conference in Beijing, China. An exciting repertoire of pieces has been written for her, including title works of her solo CD, Thea Musgrave's Narcissus and Judith Shatin's Kairos. Ms. Spencer has received awards from The National Endowment for the Arts, the Mary Flagler Cary Trust, and the Aaron Copland Fund for Music for her solo recordings and commissioning projects. She has commissioned more than 70 solo, duo, and chamber works for flute. A graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory, Patricia Spencer continued her studies with Marcel Moyse, John Wummer, and Josef Marx. She teaches flute and chamber music at Bard College and Hofstra University.
LUCY SHELTON is the winner of two Walter W. Naumburg Awards – for chamber music and solo singing, and is a foremost interpreters of today’s composers, with more than 100 works written for her. Ms. Shelton has exhibited special skill in dramatic works, including Berio’s Passaggio with the Ensemble InterContemporain, Tippett’s The Midsummer Marriage, Dallapiccola’s Il Prigioniero (her BBC Proms debut), Rands’ Canti Lunatici and staged performances of Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire. Her diverse recordings (including innova 606) showcase music by a multitude of composers. Ms. Shelton coaches privately at her studio in New York City, and is on the vocal faculty of the Tanglewood Music Center.
WILLIAM ZITO has toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe and is as at home on the Renaissance lute as he is on the guitar. He was an Artist International Competition prize winner, and has premiered many works for the guitar. He is a member of the Strathmere Ensemble and Long Island Baroque, has been a featured soloist with Philharmonia Virtuosi and performs with both Da Capo Chamber Players and Orpheus. Mr. Zito is on the faculties of Hofstra University and Nassau Community College.
DA CAPO CHAMBER PLAYERS is known for its exciting musical directions and its openness to a wide spectrum of styles. Winner of the Naumburg Chamber Music Award in 1973, Da Capo is a leader in building a strong heritage of American chamber music, now pointing with pride to more than 90 chamber music works written especially for the group. Da Capo now has a growing international presence, having performed at the Moscow Forum Festival in April 2003 and three programs at the Belarussian Musical Autumn in November 2003. Da Capo's annual New York concert series has included gala concerts honoring major composers, plus groundbreaking programs that stretch the definition of chamber music. In February 2000 Da Capo gave a newly staged performance of Peter Maxwell Davies’ Le Jongleur de Notre Dame. A tribute to George Perle was presented in honor of his 85th birthday. A memorable 30th Anniversary gala was given in June 2001, with three works commissioned for the occasion.
Produced and engineered by Judith Sherman
Editing assistants: Jeanne Velonis and Hsi-Ling Chang
All recordings were made in the Recital Hall of the Conservatory of Music, Purchase College, SUNY Purchase
Gazebo Music, Secret Ground and Dreamtigers, recorded 5/19 and 5/20/2000
Werther and View from Mt.. Nebo, recorded 12/19/2000
Akhmatova Songs, recoded 1/16/2002
Cover design and art: Rob Winter, Winter Digital Arts, www.winterdigital.com
Music on this CD is published by Wendigo Music (BMI), distributed by Norruth Music, a subsidiary of MMB Music Inc. All music on this disk © Wendigo Music.
This CD was made possible in part through a generous gift from Mr. Gerald Morgan and in part through research support from the University of Virginia.
Capstone, CPS-8727, Piping the Earth, Stringing the Bow, Ruah, The Passion of St. Cecilia
Centaur CRC2454, Sea of Reeds and Three Summers Heat
Neuma, 450-95 Gabriel’s Wing, Fasting Heart and Kairos
New World 80559-2 1492
New World 80504-2 Adonai Ro’i
Sonora SO22591 Hearing the Call and Fantasía sobre el Flamenco
innova is supported by an endowment from the McKnight Foundation
and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts