Modern American Works for Clarinet & Piano
- Featured: David Peck & Edith Orloff
- Release Date: 6/17/2008
"As strong advocates of contemporary music, we have chosen to independently produce this album in order to highlight repertoire that represents our association with the composers John Thow and Richard Lavenda. The 'Sonata da Camera' is performed out of gratitude and respect for the artistry of it's composer, Ingolf Dahl, who was a great influence on David Peck during his years at the University of Southern California." - Edith Orloff and David Peck DAVID PECK - With a varied career encompassing symphony, opera, chamber music, and teaching, clarinetist David Peck enjoys the full benefits of a life in music. A native of southern California, Mr. Peck is long-time principal clarinet of the Houston Symphony Orchestra. Recordings of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with the Houston Symphony, under Christoph Eschenbach, and of several major chamber works with the Houston Symphony Chamber Players make up the core of a diverse discography. In 2005, he gave the premiere performance of Richard Lavenda's Clarinet Concerto with The Houston Symphony Orchestra under Hans Graf. The concerto was written for Mr. Peck and commissioned by the HSO. Formerly a student of Mitchell Lurie and Frank Salazar, he is now a highly regarded pedagogue himself. After many years of teaching at Rice University's Shepherd School and at the University of Houston, Mr. Peck currently maintains a home studio. He is a regular participant in the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival and the Idyllwild Arts Chamber Music Festival. EDITH ORLOFF - Known for her versatility as a performer, pianist Edith Orloff has concertized with equal success as recitalist, chamber musician, and soloist with orchestra. She is a founding member, since 1980, of the Los Angeles-based Pacific Trio, which annually tours the U.S. and Europe. Ms. Orloff is long-time program co-ordinator and faculty member of Idyllwild Arts summer chamber music festival, where the Pacific Trio serves as ensemble-in-residence. She has helped to launch new festivals of contemporary music in Houston and in Santa Barbara, and has been guest artist with many chamber ensembles. Ms. Orloff has recorded for Brio, Resort, and Carlton Classics. Her latest disc is with the Pacific Trio in a recording of the Beethoven Triple Concerto with the Czech National Orchestra. She is a graduate of the California Institute of the Arts, where she studied piano with Earle Voorhies and chamber music with Cesare Pascarella. Guest Artists: Christopher French, cello (Shadowplay); Barbara Downie, violin, and Richard Brown, percussion (Chumash Songs) ABOUT THE COMPOSERS: John Thow, (1949-2007), a native of southern California, began his musical studies on flute and piano in Ventura, CA. He began composing early on and studied with Adolph Weiss and Frank Salazar and subsequently attended both the University of Southern California and Harvard University. A Fulbright fellowship brought him to Italy, where he studied with Luciano Berio in Rome and Franco Donatoni at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena. He returned to Italy to study under Harvard travel grants and the Rome Prize Fellowship in composition to continue work with Berio. In 1981 John Thow joined the music faculty at the University of California. Berkeley, after having taught at Harvard and Boston University. For several years, he was music director of the Berkeley Contemporary Music Players. Thow was a prolific composer whose work was distinguished by it's tender lyricism and modernistic approach to rhythm and harmony. His knowledge of many different kinds of music, cultures, and repertoires is reflected in his music. He received commissions and awards from many prominent performing groups and institutions in the United States and abroad. These include the Boston Musica Viva, Brooklyn Philharmonic, l'Orchestra Sinfonica della RAI (Rome), the San Francisco Symphony, the Detroit Chamber Winds, and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. His compositions have also been featured at the Tanglewood and Edinburgh Festivals, and he received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Goddard Lieberson Award in Music. Carl Fischer, G. Schirmer, Falls House Press, and Theodore Presser publish his music. It is recorded on the Neuma, Music&Arts, Cantilena, Fleur de Son, and Fish Creek labels. Richard Lavenda (b. 1955) - A native of New Jersey, Lavenda received his education at Dartmouth College, Rice University, and the University of Michigan, where he received a doctorate in 1983. His principal teachers were Ross Lee Finney, William Bolcolm, Paul Cooper, and Ellsworth Milburn. He joined the faculty of the Shepherd School of Music, Rice University, in 1987, and is now Professor of Composition and Theory. Richard Lavenda's music has been performed around the world by ensembles and soloists including the Houston Symphony Orchestra, the Slovak Radio Orchestra, Musica Nova of Tel Aviv, Da Camera, the Pierrot Plus Ensemble, Zawa!, Earplay, the Fischer Duo, the Sun and T'Ang String Quartets, Duo Synergy/Prague, Leone Buyse, David Peck, Edith Orloff, Donna Coleman, and many others. His compositions include an opera, numerous pieces for orchestra, and a wide diversity of chamber music. Among his recordings are Quintet for Clarinet and String Quartet, released to critical acclaim on the RedMark label, and Liquid Dialogues, commissioned by the Miyazawa Flute Company for Zawa!, who have performed it on several nationwide tours and recorded it on their debut album for Neuma Recordings. Lavenda's music is published by Norruth Music, Inc. He has been a guest composer on many campuses and concert series, and at festivals in Germany, the Czech Republic, Australia, Ukraine, Finland, and Slovenia. Since 1999, he has been a featured composer at the Colorado College Summer New Music Symposium. Ingolf Dahl (1912-1970) - The prolific career of Ingolf Dahl is reflected in his distinguished legacy as a composer, performer, conductor, and educator. Born in Hamburg of Swedish parents, he grew up in a stimulating intellectual and cultural atmosphere at home, as his parents were hosts to frequent visits by well-known artists, scientists, and educators. His preliminary studies were at the Cologne Hochschule für Musik and at the Zurich Conservatory, and it was in Zurich that his professional career began with a coaching and conducting post at the Zurich Staatsoper. In 1938 he left Europe for the U.S. and settled in Los Angeles. From then on, the range of his musical activities was enormous, including work for radio and film studios, composing, conducting, performing as solo and ensemble pianist, and lecturing. He joined the faculty of the University of Southern California in 1945 and remained there until his death. His contribution to the musical scene in Los Angeles was far-reaching, as he was dedicated to featuring performances of works by American composers, either as premieres or first hearings on the West Coast, including Copland, Diamond, Foss, Ives, Piston, and Ruggles. He also introduced major works by Berg, Hindemith, Schoenberg, and Stravinsky to the West Coast. Dahl was also vital as planner, pianist, and regular conductor for the legendary Concerts on the Roof and Monday Evening Concerts series, both in Los Angeles. ABOUT THE MUSIC: Tríptico; Remembering Op. 109; Chumash Songs Notes by John Thow Tríptico was written to commemorate Frank Salazar, conductor, clarinetist, and teacher who was mentor to both David Peck and myself as we grew up in Ventura, California. I hoped to reflect some of Frank's wide-ranging interests both in music and the arts as well as his Hispanic heritage, of which he was proud. The first section of the piece, Evocación (Evocation) is introductory in nature, with rising trills in the piano and rising and falling arpeggios in the clarinet. This leads to a series of variations in the opening, which climax in a quote from the end of the first movement of the Second Symphony ("The Camp Meeting") by Charles Ives. This quote is itself a paraphrase of the spiritual Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. Salazar was devoted to the music of Charles Ives and performed it frequently. The middle panel of this triptych, Piñón, was the first to be written. The piñón is a species of pine tree found throughout the Southwest and in southern California - areas where Frank Salazar grew up (New Mexico) and conducted (California). The pinyon pine, as it is called in English, produces edible seeds in it's cones, the pine nuts of southern European and Latin American cooking. This second movement is an aria for clarinet and piano, and features the haunting sounds of quarter-tones and multiphonics on the clarinet. The last section El Dueño de la Casa (Duende) is a result of a discussion I had with Frank Salazar about Piñón, which had been written to commemorate his 70th birthday. He brought up the subject of duende, a word with several meanings. The Spanish poet Garcia Lorca used the term to describe the soul of flamenco. Frank told of it as a household gnome always playing tricks on the unsuspecting. I use both senses of the word in the scherzo, which gradually brings back material from both the other movements and makes reference twice to a traditional flamenco prelude, one quoted by composers from the 17th century on. Tríptico received it's world premiere by Mr. Peck and Ms. Orloff, for whom it was written, at the convention of the International Clarinet Society in New Orleans in August of 2001. Remembering Op. 109 was written as a tribute to Joseph Kerman, the eminent American musicologist and a good friend, on the occasion of his retirement from the University of California, Berkeley. Beethoven's late pianos sonata is one of my favorite pieces, and I thought it's opening bars an appropriate motto for this brief celebratory bagatelle. Mementos of other late Beethoven surface as well from the eddies and ripples resulting from my excursion into the tranquil stream of intervals that begin the Sonata in E major. Chumash Songs (Kapumi Xucu) - I learned about the Chumash (the coastal native Americans in California from Malibu to San Luis Obispo) as a child growing up in Ventura. My family took me to the famous rock painting sites ad to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, where I was both intrigued with their culture and appalled at their dismal history after the arrival of their Western conquerors. It was only later that I discovered that there was, in fact, a small collection of recordings of Shumash vocal music, fourteen short selections, which had been made at the turn of the last century, while the memory of the traditional Chumash culture was still possible to document. From this small group of recordings, I transcribed and reworked music for the Chumash Songs. I attached some music of my own, but only as a frame for the Chumash music. I grouped these adaptations into two movemets: I. Tapakutu momini (Lullabies and Laments). A tranquil melody, possibly a lullaby, alternates with a searing lament and another melody perhaps derived from Anglo-American tradition. The Chumash seem to have had a different language when singing as opposed to speaking, so the meaning of the original words is not known. II. Tomol Journeys. The Channel Islands were central to the spiritual life of the Chumash, whose tar-sealed plank canoes, Tomol, could navigate the difficult waters of the Santa Barbara Channel. The songs here are associated with Santa Cruz Island and the religious ceremonies performed there. Shadowplay Notes by Richard Lavenda I named this piece after I had finished composing it, but I think the title describes it well. Shadowplay is a one-movement work whose form is generated by the shifting relationships, the play, among the three instruments. Lyrical gestures in one part are "shadowed" in a variety of ways by the other parts. And an important feature of the piece is how each instrument emerges into and recedes from the center of our attention. Sonata da Camera ( Ingolf Dahl) Notes by Edith Orloff Dahl's interest in writing a piece for clarinet and piano stemmed in part from his stay at the MacDowell Colony in the spring of l967. During that time, he collaborated with his clarinetist-composer friend Nicolas Roussakis in readings of virtually the entire clarinet-piano repertoire. In fact, Dahl had already been approached early in 1966 by Thomas Ayres, a professor of clarinet at Iowa State University, about the possibility of writing such a piece, and had begun sketches a year later while on sabbatical. Roussakis demonstrated some of the sketches for Dahl and discussed certain technical aspects of clarinet performance. The resulting Sonata da Camera for Clarinet and Piano was composed in 1967 and revised in 1970. This four-movement work in neo-classical form is imbued with considerable musical, technical, and ensemble challenges for both instruments. The keen listener can discern influences of Copland, Stravinsky, Hindemith, and German Expressionism, along with traces of impish humor throughout the piece. Dahl, although drawing on a myriad of forms and styles, maintains an absolutely distinct musical language in this seldom-heard but engrossing work.
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