- Featured: Apostolos Paraskevas
- Release Date: 5/9/2006
-In the fall of 2003, guitarist and composer Apostolos Paraskevas commissioned works for solo guitar from his fellow faculty members at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Twelve of his colleagues accepted the challenge Paraskevas gave for them to compose works of a melancholic nature, laments. Surprisingly, given the conceptual parameters of the project, the pieces vary greatly in style, tonality, and in their exploitation of the guitar's expressive resources. Paraskevas premiered all 13 works in March 10, 2004 at Berklee's David Friend Recital Hall. Since that time, the works have received performances in Russia, Ukraine, Greece, Thailand, and Brazil. Paraskevas recorded 12 of laments for this CD in January 2006. -Paraskevas leads off the recording with "tell my wife I love her . . .", a musical scenario that portrays the last five minutes of a soldier's life. After a series of variations on the soldier's theme, the dying man's heart beat speeds then slows until it's last beat says, "I love you." Paraskevas has won numerous awards and accolades from many quarters for both his compositions and his guitar artistry. Lucas Foss has conducted two of Paraskevas' guitar concertos. -Ivana Lisak dedicates her "Lament for the Lost Moment" to "the rain in New Hampshire." A native of Croatia now living in Boston, Lisak is a pianist and composer who has won awards for both her compositions and piano performances. In 2002, Lisak's piano sonata received it's premiere at Carnegie Hall in New York. -Clyde Witmyer describes the approach he took to his "Variations on a Lament" as a blend of "aspects of traditional melody, harmony, rhythm, and form with elements of modernity." For the theme for his variations, Witmyer interpolated the lovely anonymous 19th century Spanish guitar piece "Romanza." Witmyer's six variations draw on such disparate musical sources as rock, jazz, and blues as well as the music of two guitar virtuoso/composers: the twentieth century Paraguayan Agustin Barrios and nineteenth century Spaniard Fernando Sor. -Armand Qualliotine says that the impetus for his "Barcarola Funebre," came while he was traveling in Italy a few years ago. During a stay in Venice, Qualliotine watched a funeral procession on the Grand Canal early one morning. The scene was complete with a black-draped gondola and a lone trumpeter playing a Phrygian plainsong. Qualliotine's initial sketches later coalesced as his "Barcarola Funebre" for guitar. Qualliotine's music has netted him residencies at the MacDowell Colony, the Composers Conference and the Tanglewood Music Center, first prize in the Boston's ISCM composition competition, commissions from the Harvard's Fromm Music Foundation, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. -For her contribution to the Laments project, Marti Epstein penned the piece "Doloroso," dedicated to the late violinist John Daverio, who was Epstein's friend, mentor, and chamber music partner. This version is a recasting of a solo violin piece originally called "Endgame" that was written for Daverio. Many of Epstein's compositions have been heard around the world in performances by such organizations as the San Francisco Symphony, the Radio Symphony Orchestra of Frankfurt, Ensemble Modern, the Interensemble, and the Atlantic Brass Quintet, to name a few. -Bosnian-born Vuk Kulenovic's "Lamento di L'Orfeo Mechanico" takes it's inspiration from one of the many poems German poet Rainer Rilke wrote about Orpheus, the Greek god and minstrel. Orpheus was granted permission to bring his dead wife Euridice back from the Underworld with the condition that he not look back at her as they exited. Hermes, the god of far off places, tells the petrified Euridice, "He turned around!" Absent-mindedly, Euridice asks, "Who?" Ever since, mechanically and endlessly, Orpheus turns his head to look around. Kulenovic has written several hundred compositions, including more than 30 symphonic works and numerous chamber and solo pieces that have received performances worldwide. -Harry Chalmiers composed a trilogy of laments bearing the titles, "The Sad Little Child," "Distant Cries," and "I Will Never Forget." He notes, "These works express a sense of loss and longing experienced by being distant from loved ones. The distance can be in miles, in detachment, in death, or in other ways that cause lamentation. The experience of the lament itself can sometimes bring a measure of solace, which is why these were created. " Chalmiers has composed songs, works for piano, orchestra, electronic pieces, and guitar music in a range of styles. -"Lament for Those Departed Too Soon" was written by Gregory Fritze, a tuba player and Chair of the Composition Department at Berklee. The piece is based on a 12-tone row and a chromatically altered version of the hymn tune "Amazing Grace." The alterations were made to fit into the modern harmonic language Fritze's piece employs and to provide depth of expression in his lament. Fritze has written more than 40 compositions for orchestra, band, chamber ensembles, and soloists in New England and abroad. His music has won numerous awards in Europe and America and his music for concert band has been very warmly received in Spain. -Francine Trester describes her "Lament" as an alternation between lyrical and the macabre elements. The opening melody in e minor is followed by a second lyrical passage that's brighter and more hopeful. A macabre scherazando section interrupts the mood. After it's frenzied climax, the original melody returns in a minor. Trester's music has been performed at Yale, Wesleyan, Tufts University, M.I.T., the Longy School of Music, and the Old First Church in San Francisco and recorded on the Albany and Crystal Records labels. She recently received a commission from the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University. -"The Delta Lament" of James Russell Smith features the passacaglia as the framework for it's six variations and coda. The passacaglia's stepwise, ground bass line rises and falls across two phrases. In the descending second phrase, Smith gives a nod to the laments of Purcell and Bach. Above the bass line, Smith has set what he describes as "a very simple, curiously circular and independent melody that is inextricably bound to [the bass line's] sigh-like contour." He notes that some variations build with "poignant intensity while others almost float in wistful remembrance." Smith has received commissions from the BBC Concert Orchestra, the Southampton Youth Symphony of England, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, and Boston's Back Bay Chorale, among others. -Scott Fessler's "In Memory" has another life a piece titled "Song" that was one movement from a larger work titled Four Soliloquies for Double Bass, that Fessler wrote for Edwin Barker, principal bassist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. From the outset, the piece had a very elegiac, mournful quality and Fessler felt it could be adapted for guitar for the Laments collection. Fessler's compositions range from works for recorder consort to traditional chamber ensembles to electronic tape and computer-generated works. His works have been written for and performed by members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco Opera, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. -Despite the fact that her "Southern Lament" is based on the blues, Beth Denisch's contribution to the Laments project is the most optimistic sounding work of the collection. It ends the CD with a smile. The word "Southern" in the title can be attributed to Denisch's reliance on the blues for the harmonic progression. She let's her melody sing by employing the classical guitar's alluring tremolo technique used to great effect in the works by guitar composers Francisco Tárrega, Emilio Pujol, Agustin Barrios, and others. Such groups as the Dvorak Symphony Orchestra, the Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Composer's String Quartet, Arcadian Winds, and others have performed Denisch's award-winning compositions.
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