About the Music
A renewed interest in chamber music has been one of the hallmarks of modern times. Contemporary musical ideas have often been a reaction against the unrestrained expansiveness so fashionable during the Romantic era. While composers during the nineteenth century overindulged in their penchant for writing voluminous works featuring immense forces, the search for new timbres and textures throughout the twentieth century has led to the use of unusual combinations of instruments with an emphasis on mixed ensembles comprising various members of the wind, string, keyboard and percussion groups.
Much public discussion has recently focused on the apparent failure of orchestras to maintain their musical and social relevance. Orchestral manifestations at the end of this century stand in sharp contrast with the vitality, originality and creativity evident in the chamber music featured on this recording. The listener will be pleasantly surprised by the diversity evident in the five compositions recorded on this disc for the first time. Not only do these recent works represent a wide variety of aesthetic viewpoints, but each work successfully meets the compositional challenges posed by its chosen medium. Great care was taken to preserve the integrity of the concert hall ambiance when this album was recorded and mastered. Indeed, you will find that we successfully captured both the natural resonance of the concert hall and the wide dynamic range of the music without distortion. Please use a moderate volume setting when playing this disc.
Max Lifchitz, New York; July, 1997
About the Composer
Harry Bulow earned degrees in music from San Diego State University and the University of California at Los Angeles. He is currently Director of the MIDI/Computer Music Studio at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Bulow's mentors included composers Aaron Copland, Peter Mennin, Henri Lazarof and David Ward-Steinman. He also studied jazz composition and arranging with Henry Mancini. Bulow's compositions have been performed by the Eastman Wind Ensemble, the Omaha Symphony, the San Antonio Symphony and the Honolulu Symphony. As a concert saxophone soloist he has made solo guest appearances with the Honolulu Symphony and numerous band and wind ensembles throughout the country. His compositions have merited impressive awards including prizes at the International Composers' Competition in Trieste, Italy; the Oscar Esple Prize from the City of Alicante in Spain; and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Lines, Curves and Voluminous Variations employs a mixed chamber ensemble of flute, oboe, clarinet, violin, viola, cello and piano. Composed in 1980 but subsequently revised in 1992, this exciting and colorful work is in five contrasting sections performed without pause. The mysterious opening motivefeaturing the low register of the fluteleads to an angular, rhythmic variation built around the contrasting timbres of the strings, winds and piano. An extended cello cadenza opens the third section of the piece setting the stage for a colorful and gradual textural "pile-up" of rhythmic and melodic motives introduced at the beginning. Another rhythmic and edgy variation, similar to the second section of the piece, takes the music to its final climax eventually giving way to a static and quiet, lullaby-like conclusion that hovers around the interval of the minor third (especially the pitches Bb and G). The music concludes by reiterating some of the most salient motives of the piece which reappear as in a dream, gradually fading into silence. The work was awarded both the Illinois State University Fine Arts Award and the Harvey Gaul Composition Prize from the University of Pittsburgh in 1993. This recording of Lines, Curves and Voluminous Variations was made possible through a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council.
Harold Schiffman (b. 1928; North Carolina) studied composition with Roger Sessions. Appointed to the faculty of the Florida State University School of Music in 1959, Mr. Schiffman retired from the position of Professor of Composition in 1983 and was designated Professor Emeritus in 1985. He has composed in virtually all media and has received commissions from such diverse groups as the Tallahassee Symphony, the Concertino String Quartet, the Apple Trio and the Mallarmâ Chamber Players. Fanfare Magazine praised Max Lifchitz's recording of Schiffman's Nine Piano Pieces and Six Bagatelles which appear on the debut issue of the North/South Recordings label. These sensitive piano compositions were described as "crisp, yet expressive musicconsistently enjoyable after many hearings." North/South Recordings No. 1009 features Jane Perry-Camp's superb performance of Schiffman's Spectrum, an exciting collection of eighteen fugues and postludes for the keyboard. Critics observed that Ms. Perry-Camp "plays with every kind of clarity" and "is a sensitive and convincing interpreter with the devotion and tact necessary to illuminate the music's charm." Members of the international press have described Schiffman's musical style as "thoroughly agreeable on first hearing...pleasingly accessible and highly accomplished... full of long lines and enjoyable sounds... captivating lyricism...poignant and true to life."
Sestetto Concertato is scored for an unusual ensemble consisting of violin, cello, oboe, bassoon, French horn and piano. The work was completed during the summer of 1993 in the mountains of Graham County, North Carolina. The music reflects to some degree the influence of Southern Appalachian folk and bluegrass music, particularly in the last two movements. It displays two aspects of the bluegrass idiom: the lyrical and the athletic, making virtuosic demands on the performers. In a larger sense, one might say that these are archetypal notions of song and dance which seem to pervade much of Schiffman's music. Written at the request of the North/South Consonance Ensemble, it was premiered on March 6, 1994 as part of the Ensemble's concerts at Christ and St. Stephen's Church in New York City.
Sarah Meneely-Kyder, Composer/pianist, is a graduate of Goucher College, Peabody Conservatory and Yale University. Her composition teachers have included Robert Hall Lewis, Robert Morris and Earle Brown. Meneely-Kyder's works have been performed by the American Music/Theatre Group, the Albany Pro Musica Chorus, the Wesleyan University Orchestra and the New Haven Symphony. As a pianist, she has performed frequently with the New London Contemporary Players and the Nutmeg Chamber Ensemble. Kyle Gann, writing for The Village Voice, praised warmly her performance of Alvin Lucier's piano music. Meneely-Kyder is currently on the faculty of Wesleyan University. A founding member of Connecticut Composers, Inc., her creative endeavors have been rewarded with several grants and prizes including Yale University's Rena Greenwald Memorial Prize and an Artist Project Grant from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts.
Weep, The Mighty Typhoons for voice and piano was written in 1982 at the request of Laura Cook. The text juxtaposes Meneely-Kyder's own poem Yonedaloosely modeled after the Japanese wakawith classical haiku writings of Lao Tzu and others, as well as the contemporary poetry of Eisaku Yoneda who survived the first atomic blast in Hiroshima. A poignantly moving lament, the music conveys unequivocally the composer's revolt at destructive uses of contemporary technology which she considers disgraceful aberrations from the premises of love and humanity. The work gradually progresses from the exuberant sense of renewal that spring brings both visually and emotionally to the more restrained sense associated with winter cold and desolation. The imaginative piano writing makes effective use of many extended techniques including harmonics and the direct plucking, sweeping and muting of strings. The work's musical language reveals the use of expressive melodic lines, surprising harmonies built around triadic and non-triadic intervals, and a clear sense of direction.
Max Lifchitz (b. 1948, Mexico City) is active as composer, performer and educator. A graduate of The Juilliard School and Harvard University, Mr. Lifchitz has appeared in concert and recital throughout the US, Latin America and Europe. His performances and compositions may be heard on the Classic Masters, CRI, Finnadar, New World, North/South, Opus One, Phillips, RCA Victor and Vienna Modern Masters record labels. Awarded first prize in the 1976 International Gaudeamus Competition for Performers of Twentieth Century Music held in Holland, his compositional and performance activities have also merited support from the ASCAP, Ford and Guggenheim Foundations; the University of Michigan Society of Fellows; the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust; the New York State Council on the Arts; the National Endowment for the Arts and the US Fund for Artists at International Festivals. Robert Commanday, writing for The San Francisco Chronicle described him as "a young composer of brilliant imagination and a stunning, ultra-sensitive pianist." The New York Times music critic Allan Kozinn praised Mr. Lifchitz for his "clean, measured and sensitive performances." In recognition of his work on behalf of living composers, Mr. Lifchitz was awarded the 1982 United Nations Peace Medal.
Transformations No. 3 for solo marimba was written in 1984 at the request of Tracie Lozano. It belongs to a series of compositions featuring solo instruments which are meant to provide the performer with ample opportunity for technical and musical display. The music exploits the contrasting registers of the marimba and its polyphonic capabilities. Cast in a single movement with four inter-related and contrasting sections, the music builds unhurriedly around protracted transformations of the opening gesture. The three-note motive heard at the opening grows unrelentingly across the registers, gradually achieving rhythmic and metrical definition while at the same time becoming more vital and agitated. The final section recapitulates the opening idea intensified by unexpected harmonic doublings.
Randall Snyder, educated at Quincy College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, joined the faculty of the School of Music of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1974, and in 1996 was designated Composer-in-Residence. In addition to composition, he teaches courses in ethnomusicology, jazz and popular music. Snyder has also served as resident composer with the Nebraska Chamber Orchestra. His contributions to the Nebraska music scene have been further acknowledged by three Artist Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. Active as a performer of jazz and contemporary music, he has appeared as bassist in two documentaries with pianist Jay McShann and founded the Lincoln Improvisation Ensemble at the University of Nebraska. Snyder's numerous compositions enjoy frequent performances including recent ones in the Czech Republic, Germany, Uruguay, Korea and Japan. His recent works are published by Dorn, Southern, J.P. Publications, Brixton and Vienna Modern Masterworks. Recordings of his music are available on the Coronet, CRS and Vienna Modern Masters labels.
The music of Shalimar seeks to evoke the opulence of Mogul India as well as the fin-de-siecle decadence typical of late Nineteenth Century French Music. Scored for a mixed quartet consisting of flute, viola, cello and piano, the composition is in seven movements performed without pause. The movements are marked: Prologue, Languid, Crisp, Melodramatic, Pellucid, Languid and Epilogue. The shape of the piece reveals the use of a modified arch-form, pairing the first and last movements (Prologue and Epilogue); the two movements marked Languid; and the two scherzo-like movements marked Crisp and Pellucid. Different members of the ensemble are featured as the music progresses. Thus, the piano leads in the Prologue, the flute in the Crisp, the cello comes to the fore in the climactic central movement (Melodramatic), and the viola brings the music to its conclusion in the Epilogue. The composition is tightly constructed around the thematic material first heard in unison at the opening. The implications of this timbric-melodic ideacrafted around major and minor thirdspermeate the entire work. The material reappears one last time in the final Languid movement, fully assembled as a flowing, lyrical theme. The composer reminds us that the following well known couplet appears above the gate of the Shalimar pleasure garden at Lahore, India: Sweet is this garden through envy of which the tulip is spotted, The rose of the sun and moon forms its beautiful lamp. Shalimar was commissioned by flutist Rebecca Van de Bogart and the Bachman Trio. This recording was made possible in part through a research grant from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.