The Woods for woodwind quintet (2008)
Capitol Woodwind Quintet
1. Birds 1:24
2. Water 1:56
3. Alone 1:36
4. Carefree 2:00
5. Racconto for solo piano (1996) 6:03
New Paths (2008)
Mark Hill, oboe; Katherine Murdock, viola; Audrey Andrist, piano
6 Changing times (2:48)
7 Playful (1:35)
8 Voices (2:13)
9 Dancing (1:47)
10 In Darkness, Light (3:43)
Together for 2 trumpets (2010)
Chris Gekker, Brent Madsen, trumpets
11 Rhythmically (2:54)
12 Humorously (2:20)
13 Solemnly (1:09)
14 Gaily (1:09)
15. Flutepaths for flute and electronics (2003)
Sarah Eckman McIver, flute (7:02)
String Quartet #4 (2006)
Left Bank String Quartet
16. Moving/Still (4:00)
17. Running (2:10)
18. Song (3:45)
19. Scherzo (1:43)
20. From Darkness, Light (4:15)
1. Korean Peaks for 2 violins (2008) (8:21)
David Salness, Sally McLain, violins
2. The Swan for violin and piano (2000) (7:16)
David Salness, violin; Evelyn Elsing, cello
Either/Or for soprano & percussion (2009)
Kathryn Hearden, soprano; William Richards, percussion
3. Vivace (1:01)
4. Heimlich (0:45)
5. Langoureuse (0:48)
6. Interlude (1:13)
7. Otherworldly (0:53)
8. Epilogue (1:30)
From the Chinese (2010)
Kathryn Hearden, soprano; Lura Johnson, piano
9. Cloth of Gold (1:28)
10. Rice (1:33)
11. Crossing Han River (1:53)
12. Dao De Jing (3:04)
Emily’s World for soprano, mezzo-soprano and piano (2010)
Kate Egan, Marlene Bateman, sopranos; Juliana Osinchuk, piano
13. A Bird… (2:32)
14. A Long, Long Sleep (1:46)
15. A Thought… (2:03)
Village Scenes for violin and piano (2009)
James Stern, violin; Audrey Andrist, piano
16, Dance (1:55)
17. Northern Lights (2:31)
18. Lullaby (1: 52)
19. Spring (1:13)
20. Alone (3:58)
Another Dawn for soprano and chamber ensemble (2002)
Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players; Samantha Guevrekian, soprano
21. Spring Dawn (2:05)
22. Early Morning Meditation (2:27)
23. Passing Beauties (2:30)
24. Evening Flute Song (2:17)
25. Saying Goodbye (2:18)
“New paths in old forests. My music takes the tradition, which I love, along new paths to places where the old growths have been transformed - same old genes, newly expressed,” writes composer Lawrence Moss. Moss was born in Los Angeles and received his doctorate from the University of Southern California in 1957. He has taught at Mills College (1956 – 1958), Yale University (1960 – 1968) and the University of Maryland (1969 - ) where he received a Distinguished Scholar/Teacher Award in 1982. He has received commissions from, among others, the Fromm Commission, the Chamber Music Society of Baltimore, the Kindler Foundation of Washington, D.C., the National Endowment for the Arts (several times), the Warsaw Autumn Festival and, most recently, the Barlow Foundation (New Paths, in this album). He has also held grants from the Guggenheim Foundation (1959, 1968) and the Fulbright Association (1953). His works have been performed by such distinguished soloists as Phyllis Bryn-Julson, Harry Sparnaay, Esther Lamneck, and Chris Gekker. Performing groups have included the Baltimore Symphony; Theater Chamber Players and the Left Bank Concert Society of Kennedy Center; Continuum, The New Juilliard Ensemble and Speculum Musicae of New York City; and Verge Ensemble of the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC. Other groups include Monday Evening Concerts of Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. His opera, The Brute, was the US. entry to the “20th International Youth Festival” held in Bayreuth in 1971.
All works, except for Another Dawn, were recorded in Dekelboum Hall at the University of Maryland, College Park, MD. Antonino D’Urzo was the recording engineer. Another Dawn, (track 21) is a live performance in the Morgan Library, New York, on Nov. 8, 2007. New Paths is produced by Lawrence Moss and Antonino d'Urzo, Opusrite™ and is engineered, edited and mastered (except for track 21 as noted above) by Antonino d'Urzo. Performances of Korean Peaks, The Swan and String Quartet #4 were funded in part by the Left Bank Concert Society.
1 – 4. The Woods for Woodwind Quintet The Woods is performed by the Capitol Woodwind Quintet (Alice Kagan Weinreb, flute; Lora Ferguson, clarinet; Kathleen Golding, oboe; Laurel Bennett Ohlson, horn; and Truman Harris, bassoon). The Quintet gives an annual series of concerts in Washington DC. Woods literally explores New Paths, in this case trails in the neighboring woods where the composer likes to go jogging. Track 1 (“Birds”) reproduces the call of the Carolina wren (down a few octaves, but at the same pitch and tempo). A little later the wrens reappear as they sound in a garden – a little slower. The intervening runs and staccato bursts are a free rendition of bird chatter. A stream runs through the woods, hence “Water” (track 2). No attempt at literalness is intended, though some might hear an echo of Debussyean water (Old Paths?) in the horn. “Alone” (track 3) is in a more introspective, expressive mood, while “Carefree” (track 4) is just the opposite – an exuberant rendition of “Sing a Song of Sixpence”. A flock of wrens takes the place of blackbirds, just before the end. www.capitolwoodwindquintet.org
5. Racconto is dedicated to Alaskan pianist Juliana Osinchuk. It is a piece for piano solo. The title is Italian for “story”, and indeed the piece does tell a “story” - although about exactly what, it is difficult to say. It is at any event a story of deep contrasts - fiery romantic gestures alternating with contemplative asides, something in the manner of Chopin.
6 – 10. New Paths for oboe, viola and piano. Two of the performers (Mark Hill, oboe, and Katherine Murdock, viola) are husband and wife and members of the Los Angeles piano quartet and the Left Bank Concert Society. Audrey Andrist, piano, is a member of the Verge Ensemble. Both the Verge Ensemble and the Left Bank Concert Society give annual series of concerts in Washington, DC. New Paths gives the album its name. It was commissioned by the Barlow Endowment and is dedicated to the Left Bank Concert Society which premiered it in 2009 at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. “Changing Times” (track 6) refers to the continuously changing rhythms in the first movement. “Playful” (track 7) is just that – playful bird chatter in the oboe and viola interrupted by an abrupt, but equally playful piano. “Voices” (track 8) is the dramatic, romantic core of the piece, while the following “Dancing” (track 9) is an American/Bulgarian hybrid: brash, syncopated gestures grafted onto a basic 3 + 3 + 2 “Bulgarian” rhythm. “From Darkness, Light” (track 10) begins quietly and darkly, gradually working itself up to an airy, leggerissimo coda “(From darkness, Light!”)
11 – 14. Together for 2 trumpets is dedicated to trumpet virtuoso Chris Gekker. Throughout the piece he and Brent Madsen toss motives and mute changes back and forth, closely following each other - i.e. together. On Track 11 they take turns exchanging muted and open sounds. On Track 12 there are a series of humorous contrasts merging in the middle to a short quote from Stravinsky’s Fanfare for a New Theater. Toward the end of the track they move offstage to give an antiphonal version of Taps (track 13) after which they move back on stage. Track 14 recaps the opening a 4th higher and climaxes in a series of bright, contrasting scales.
15. Flutepaths for flute solo and electronics is performed by Sarah Eckman McIver.
The electronics (tape part) are entirely derived from a few sampled flute sounds. Through electronic modification they become clusters, swirls and even sweeps of sound which lead the performing flutist wildly away from, and at the end back to, a bright D major chord. The piece could be described as a flutepath for an adventurous flutist - into the wilds and back.
16 – 20. String Quartet IV is dedicated to the Left Bank Quartet (David Salness, Sally McLain violins; Katherine Murdock, viola, Evelyn Elsing, cello) who premiered it. Track 16, “Moving/Still”, pairs gently moving voices at dawn – all moving at contrasting speeds - with quiet moments of stillness. “Running” (Track 17) has been described as “Bartok – out of breath!” Again, the quartet starts out together – in presto running 16ths - but gives way to tremolos and glissandi. These at times sound like a flock of birds (“Chirping”), right before “Wild!” and a gentle, humorous - at the expense of the viola - end to the movement. The big middle movement (Track 18) is a dramatic cantabile, with the mysterious dedication: “for J.B.” (Hint: this composer was on a “New Path” way before Moss!) Track 19, “Scherzo”, has another, easier, dedication: “for F.M.” It is a kind of spoof, but done with love. The final movement (Track 20) bears the same title as the final movement of New Paths. The task is the same: to go from an opening dark turbulence back to the lightness of dawn.
1 Korean Peaks for 2 violins features the Left Bank Quartet's two violinists: David Salness and Sally McLain. The full title of the piece is Korean Peaks: Improvisations for 2 Violins. The “Improvisations” part is important, since Peaks tries to capture the experience of two Korean violinists improvising (the ”improvisations” are all written out) on the beautiful and soulful tune “Arriroh”, which also happens to be the Korean national anthem. It is dedicated to Mr. Salness and Ms. McLain who premiered it on a Left Bank Concert Society program in Washington, DC.
2. The Swan. Like Korean Peaks, The Swan was premiered by the Left Bank Concert Society. It is dedicated to Mr. Salness and Ms. Elsing. The Swan is a miniature tone-poem based on the poem of the same title by Reiner Maria Rilke. The first few moments depict the clumsy waddling of the land-bound Swan. There is a hint of his anxious dip into water - by which perhaps Rilke meant to convey the pain and mystery of dying. Finally the Swan "lets go": swirls of watery 16th-note runs. He finds his way at last and bravely sails on. His final release comes with the great spiritual “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” (quoted in harmonics at the end).
This misery – getting through what’s still undone,
Weighed down and as though fettered –
Is like the clumsy walking of a swan.
And dying – letting go the very ground
On which we daily stand –
Is like the anxious dip
Into the water, which takes him softly
And happily flows past him.
Wake on wake;
While he, infinitely sure and silent
And ever more majestically,
Glides calmly on his way
(translation by LKM)
3 – 8. Either/Or for solo soprano and percussion is a play on the two words of its title. First comes the English version (Track 3), then the German (Track 4) followed by the French (Track 5) and, finally, the Italian version (Track 6). Track 7 is a brief solo for percussion, after which Track 8 gives us the answer from the founder of Taoism, Zhuang Tzi, in the composer’s translation:
The fire goes out.
A new fire begins!
Performers Kathryn Hearden and William Richards are members of the Verge Ensemble.
9 – 12. From the Chinese for soprano and piano sets four traditional poems from China. Track 9, “Cloth of Gold,” is by an anonymous poet, and expresses the famous sentiment of Omar Khayam’s Rubaiyat: “Gather ye rose buds while ye may”; Track 10, “Rice,” comes from the classic Tang Dynasty and expresses a sentiment that Mao would have approved of: “Crops are worked; The sun beats down … Who would think your bowl of rice was filled at such a bitter price?” Crossing Han River” (Track 11), also a Tang Dynasty poem, expresses a traveler’s fears setting out on a dangerous journey. The great Taoist philosopher, Lao Zi concludes the cycle with Track 12. It is the 11th chapter of the Dao de Jing and thus contemporary with the earliest Greek thought (ca. 500 B.C.). It is equally profound, but from an entirely different, Eastern perspective.
Take thirty spokes to make a wheel.
But it’s the emptiness within – the hub –
that makes it useful.
Earth and water make a bowl
But it’s the emptiness within –
that makes them useful.
Take walls and windows to raise a room
But it’s the space within –
that makes it useful.
Therefore, the things you make may yield you profit.
But the emptiness within –
this makes them useful.
(translation by LKM)
Texts for the other poems in From the Chinese may be found on www.lawrencemossymusic.com>CDs>Innova777
Kathryn Hearden as well as Lura Johnson, are both of the Verge Ensemble.
13 – 15. Emily's World is a duet for soprano, mezzo soprano, and piano. The three poems describe Emily Dickinson in her garden, encountering A Bird… (Track 13), her own mortality (A Long, Long Sleep…Track 14), and finally A Thought… (Track 15). The performers are Kate Egan, soprano, Marlene Bateman, mezzo soprano and Juliana Osinchuk
Texts for Emily’s World may be found on www.lawrencemossymusic.com>CDs>Innova777
16 – 20. Village Scenes for violin and piano is dedicated to husband and wife James Stern and Audrey Andrist. It opens (Track 16) with an exact transcription of a native Alaskan (Inuit) dance. The violin takes the tune, and the piano gives the steady beat – if not the timbre – of the accompanying Inuit flat drum. Track 17, Northern Lights, hints at the mystery and serenity of an aurora borealis. Track 18 is an Inuit Lullaby (piano, right hand). Spring (Track 19) is a light-hearted scherzo, more suited perhaps to temperate climes: in Alaska, spring is also known as “mud month”! The last movement (Track 20) is titled “Alone”. It is the emotional heart of the piece, and eventually finds its way back to the opening Inuit exuberance.
21. Another Dawn for soprano solo and chamber ensemble, was premiered by the Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players 20 years ago, and recently performed on a Festival. This recording is a live, unedited copy of its New York City premiere. The five poems, as in From the Chinese, are drawn from Chinese classics. You must imagine first a delicate Spring Dawn, where the poet finds he has slept through a violent storm during the night. He next visits a Buddhist shrine (Early Morning Meditation). After that we witness a parade of court beauties at a nearby spa (Passing Beauties). An Evening Flute Song follows, and with it a lonely conscript’s thoughts of home. Finally, Saying Goodbye: two scholars lament the fact that after an evening of wine and talk, they must part, perhaps forever. The signal for their parting is the rising sun – Another Dawn.
Texts for Another Dawn may be found on www.lawrencemossymusic.com>CDs>Innova777
Another Dawn is a live performance by the Stonybrook Contemporary Chamber Players who premiered it. I would like to express my gratitude to the Players as well as to the group's sponsor, Prof. Perry Goldstein, for permission to use this recording of Dawn's New York City premiere at the Morgan Library on Nov. 8, 2007. The performers are: Samantha Guevrekian, soprano; Erica Chung, flute; Karisa Werdon, oboe; Xuan Ngo, violin; Ko-Ni Chen, viola; Jonathan den Herder, cello; Levy Lorenzo, percussion; Michelle Gott, harp. Eduardo Leandro, conductor.
All performances (except Another Dawn) were recorded in the University of Maryland's Dekelboum Hall.
Antonino D'Urzo of Opusrite recorded and edited the entire disc except for Another Dawn.
Innova is supported by an endowment from the McKnight Foundation.
Philip Blackburn, director, design
Chris Campbell, operations manager
Capitol Quintet goes into "The Woods"
Joan Reinthaler in the Washington Post 12/08/08
“The good news is that "The Woods," Lawrence Moss's new quintet premiered by the Capitol Woodwind Quintet at its concert at Temple Micah on Sunday, was far and away the best music on the program. The bad news is that the rest -- pieces by Zemlinsky, Pilss and Reicha (especially Reicha) -- sounded like recyclings of the stylistic idioms these composers felt comfortable with, unencumbered, however, by focus or ideas. The "woods" referred to in Moss's piece is one in his Maryland neighborhood where he (at age 82!) jogs, and its four short movements -- "Birds," "Water," "Alone" and "Carefree" -- sketch both an external and internal landscape with skillful and imaginative use of the variety of timbres offered by the quintet's instrumentation. "Birds" has the instruments creating astonishingly literal bird songs (in his notes, Moss identifies the bird as a Carolina wren) and then transposing and stretching them into fascinating patterns. "Water," with its hints of Debussy-like textures, highlights playfulness, and the last two, more personal movements are by turn lyrical and wry.”
Alea III: Alea International
David Cleary in New Music Connoisseur 07/12/05
“Two duos provided the evening’s most satisfying aural experiences. For violin and cello, The Swan by American composer Lawrence Moss speaks brusquely but unfolds in compelling fashion. Motivically tight, it outlines a large-scale diminuendo shape that persuades without seeming the least bit derivative.”