Matthew McCright, Piano
Five Preludes for Piano
I. I (2:21)
2. II (1:38)
3. III (2:05)
4. IV (1:28)
5. V (2:10)
Evening Air (6:45)
7. Kirsten Broberg
8. John Halle
9. Waltz (3:18)
10. Tango (2:46)
11. Rag (3:33)
12. Blues (4:45)
13. Tango la Falda (3:35)
14. MattÕs Boogie (2:39)
15. John Halle
Second Childhood (6:53)
About three years ago I was performing John HalleÕs Gaze in NYC and after chatting, I gained much insight from him, developing an even further respect for his music. I asked for some of his solo music (www.johnhalle.com) and chose to play Second Childhood and Lullaby among his many pieces. As I played them around the country, an idea formed to record a CD with piano music that conjured images from my childhood- ˆ la Schumann or Debussy. So I found other composers willing to take the plunge and this disc is the result.
The pieces reflect the music I studied, listened to, and was exposed to as a budding pianist by some great music teachers (many of whom were great jazz players themselves!). The title track, Second Childhood, represents to me the ever-changing and precocious nature of growing up. It is a wild carnival-like ride, traveling through a dizzying array of meters and keys, styles and dynamics, with an air of curious, child-like freedom to it all.
Every young pianist who decides to make performing a career heads down a somewhat predictable path of repertoire. I cut my teeth on the preludes of Chopin and Bach, but as I was exposed to more styles of music I found that a multitude of composers wrote in this ÔclassicalÕ form. Well, Bruce Stark and Dan Nass both wrote a set of preludes, a timeless form, but use very different sound worlds. Bruce StarkÕs Five Preludes for Piano (www.brucestarkmusic.com) mix jazz stylings, Gamelan, and American Folk together with soaring melodies that tantalize the senses. Using the ÔpreludeÕ as his canvas, Daniel Nass (www.baldnass.com) was commissioned by the Greenville Symphony Society to write pieces that mimic three popular dance styles in Dance Preludes. These quirky pieces lure you in and then dart like quicksilver in other directions. The last of DanÕs preludes is a rag, a form not unknown to pianists. Scott Joplin inspires countless generations of pianists and composers to explore this popular style. Greg Hutter wrote a collection of rags and graciously dedicated Evening Air to me; a rag in the traditional form that closes with an alluring tango. John HalleÕs Lullaby also uses a ragtime style in a delicate, yet virtuosic twist on the idea of a lullaby.
The Etude — The word can strike fear in the hearts of many pianists. ÔTeachingÕ pieces, as they are commonly known, place extreme technical demands on the musician. Etudes by such luminaries as Chopin, Debussy and Ligeti stand at the height of the concert literature. As I played some of these works, I realized the wealth of information that is contained in them about the composerÕs sound world. When I asked my dear friend, Laura Caviani (www.lauracaviani.com) to compose a piece for this disc, I was thrilled when she came upon the idea of writing Jazz Etudes. Each of these pieces gives the listener a limitless supply of jazz devices and presents each etude using borrowed tunes and progressions in a remarkable way, highlighting the great sounds of big band and vaudeville that surrounded me as a youth. When I was not consumed with music of all sorts, my curiosity led me to astronomy. I spent many nights lying on the grass viewing the stars, peering into a telescope and poring over books on the subject. Kirsten Broberg (www.kirstenbroberg.info) composed the work constellations for me. It conjures images of the vastness of space, the twinkling of stars, and gives a sense of a childÕs wonderment at looking into the night sky. Something I know all about!
Each of the works presented here have become personal recollections for me and I hope you enjoy the view into a small part of my world and are able to relive your own second childhood through this great music!
American pianist Matthew McCright has performed extensively throughout the United States and Europe as piano soloist and chamber musician. He has devoted his life to performing works by living composers and has thrilled audiences and critics alike with an imaginative repertoire that spans both the traditional and a wide range of contemporary works. He has premiered numerous new pieces, many written for him, and has collaborated with such composers as Pauline Oliveros, Terry Riley, Michael Gordon, Mary Ellen Childs, Julia Wolfe, Evan Ziporyn, Mark Anthony Turnage, Kirsten Broberg, Laura Caviani, Garrett Sholdice, Alvin Lucier, Linda Buckley and Judith Lang Zaimont among many others.
McCright currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota and is a member of the piano faculty of Carleton College. He is curator of the Open Doors music series, partnering performing artists with charitable causes and is housed at Saints Martha and Mary Episcopal Parish, where he is pianist-in-residence. Upcoming releases include a disc of the piano works of Minnesota composer Gene Gutch‘ on Centaur Records.
He has been featured in articles in the NewMusicBox magazine, Tutti magazine, and the American Composers ForumÕs Sounding Board. A member Mu Phi Epsilon, American Music Center, and Chamber Music America, he has performed in collaboration with a variety of ensembles including RenegadeEnsemble, dal niente, Gypsy Hocket, Zeitgeist, Taipei Trio, Tempus Fugit, New Sound, New Century Piano Duo, Dixie Five, ComposerÕs Ensemble, Westminster Triptych, WC Jazz Ensemble, and with countless chamber music groups. He maintains a 15+ year performing relationship with soprano, Nora Frances Drake. He has presented programs in the Music in a Great Space concert series in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Young Artist Showcase Concerts, American Composers Forum and the Schubert Club. The recipient of numerous awards, grants, and prizes, McCrightÕs festival participation includes Bang on a Can at MassMOCA, Printing House Festival of New Music (Dublin), Late Music Festival (UK), Hampden-Sydney Chamber Music Festival, Kod‡ly Institute, Perilous Night, Fringe, Spark Festival of Electronic Music, Seward Arts, Duquesne UniversityÕs Summer Music Institute, Music 2000, CCM Village Opening, Minnesota Composers Alliance, and was accepted to the Chautauqua Music Institute.
McCright completed his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Piano Performance from the University of Minnesota, under the tutelage of Lydia Artymiw. In addition to private study in New York City with Lisa Moore, he also holds a Master of Music Degree in Piano from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati studying with Richard Morris and earned his Bachelor of Music Degree in Piano Performance, Magna Cum Laude, from Westminster College with Nancy Zipay DeSalvo. He has coached with some of the worldÕs leading artists such as Jorja Fleezanis, Burt Hara, Ronald Feldman, Anne Epperson, Sandra Rivers, Amernet Quartet, Pridonoff Duo, Daniel Shapiro, James Tocco, Joanne Polk, and Jeremy Denk. For more information please visit: www.matthewmccright.org
Recorded on December 15 -16, 2008 at Carleton College Concert Hall, Northfield, MN.
Sound Engineer: John Scherf
Piano: Steinway D
Technician: Mark Humphrey
Design Assistant: Kelsey Marks
McCright adult photo: Justin Thai
This recording is made possible by the generous support of Carleton College Department of Music, Carleton College Development Office, Robert H. Baker, MD; James A. Vela-McConnell, PhD; Gregory Bullard, American Composers Forum, and the Greenville Symphony Society.
This project is supported in part through subito, the quick advancement grant program of the American Composers Forum.
Innova is supported by an endowment from the McKnight Foundation.
Philip Blackburn: director, design
Chris Campbell: operations manager