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David Jolley, French Horn
William Meredith, oboe
The North/South Consonance Ensemble
Max Lifchitz, conductor
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1. Leo Kraft: L'Unicorno
2-4. Hilary Tann: Water's Edge
5-7. Harold Schiffman: Concertino for Oboe
8-11. Mark Alburger: Symphony No. 1, Op. 21 in C
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Highly regarded as composer, teacher, and author, Leo Kraft, has had a long and active career in the musical life of the United States. Born in Brooklyn in 1922, he was educated in the New York City public schools, Queens College, and Princeton University. His composition teachers included Karol Rathaus, Randall Thompson, and Nadia Boulanger. His catalogue includes symphonic works, chamber compositions, pieces for solo instruments, as well as vocal and choral works.
Recent compositions include the Symphony in One Movement, first performed by the American Composers Orchestra in Carnegie Hall, The Vision Of Isaiah for chorus and orchestra, commissioned and first performed by the Florilegium Chamber Choir, Five Pieces for clarinet, cello, and piano, written for the American Chamber Ensemble, The Five Winds commissioned and first performed by the Dorian Quintet, and Jacob Wrestles with the Angel for large orchestra.
Mr. Kraft is a past president of the American Music Center and Professor Emeritus of the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College CUNY. His compositions are published by Seesaw Music and Carl Fischer, and appear on the CRI, Capstone, Albany, Centaur, and Arizona University Recordings labels.
Written especially for North/South Consonance's 24th concert season, L'Unicorno was completed in the Fall of 2003 and premiered by the performers heard on this recording on January 11, 2004.
A concise chamber concerto for French horn and string orchestra, the rousing single movement composition comprises five interconnected sections. The first, third, and fifth serve as a refrain built around a march-like idea. The second and fourth sections bring forth strong tempo and textural contrasts. The music provides the soloist and the ensemble with ample opportunity for virtuosic display. The work is dedicated to David Jolley and Max Lifchitz.
From her childhood in the coal-mining valleys of South Wales, Hilary Tann (b. 1947) developed the love of nature, which has inspired all her work. Since 1980, she has lived south of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York where she chairs the Department of Performing Arts at Union College. She holds degrees in composition from the University of Wales at Cardiff and from Princeton University. From 1982 to 1995 she was active in the International League of Women Composers and served in a number of Executive Committee positions. Her music is published exclusively by Oxford University Press.
Numerous organizations have supported her work, including the Welsh Arts Council, the New York State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer/Reader's Digest Consortium Commissioning Program, and Meet the Composer/Arts Endowment Commissioning Music/USA. The recording of her Nothing Forgotten—for violin, cello and piano—was released to much critical acclaim on an earlier North/South Recordings volume (N/S R 1027).
Hilary Tann writes about her string orchestra work:
"Water's Edge (1993) is in three interlinked movements, each of which may be performed separately. The 'edge' of the title refers to the upper surface of the water as it reflects or refracts light. In the first movement (Dawn Light), the light is held at the surface, while in the second movement (From the Riverbed), the light dances through the upper surface of the water to the riverbed below. During the final movement (Toward Dusk), echoes of the previous two movements are heard as the light fades from view."
The work was originally composed as a piano duet for advanced students in response to a commission from the New York State Music Teachers' Association in 1993. The composer's transcription for string orchestra was premiered the following year by the Presteigne (Wales) Festival Orchestra under the direction of George Vass. Max Lifchitz and the North/South Chamber Orchestra presented the first New York City performance of the work as part of a concert celebrating the musical achievements of New York composers held at the Merkin Concert Hall on January 15, 2002.
This recording of Water's Edge was made possible, in part, with a grant from the Humanities Development Fund of Union College.
Harold Schiffman (b. 1928; Greensboro, North Carolina) has composed in virtually all media. In addition to North America, his works have been heard throughout Europe, Latin America, and the Far East. His commissions include those from such diverse groups as the International Trombone Association, the Apple Trio, the Concertino String Quartet, as well as from a number of individuals including conductors Richard Burgin, Mátyás Antal, and Nicholas Harsanyi; flutist Albert Tipton, soprano Janice Harsanyi, and pianist Jane Perry-Camp.
Schiffman's principal composition teacher was Roger Sessions, a further influential mentor being Ernst von Dohnányi. Appointed to the faculty of the Florida State University School of Music in 1959, Harold Schiffman retired from the position of Professor of Composition in 1983 and was designated Professor Emeritus in 1985. He was founding director of the Festival of New Music there in 1981.
Schiffman's symphonic, choral, chamber, and solo compositions appear on highly acclaimed recordings issued by North/South Recordings (N/S R 1035, 1021, 1013, 1009 and 1001), Centaur, and Seven Seas (King, Ltd., Japan).
The Concertino for Oboe and Chamber Orchestra was written in 1977. It received its first performance at Florida State University February 21, 1978, with Nancy Fowler as soloist and Carl Bjerregaard conducting. Oboist William Meredith and the North/South Chamber Orchestra introduced the work to New York audiences as part of an all Schiffman concert held at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall on March 10, 2003.
The three-movement work opens with a cadenza-like passage for the oboe, later joined by the orchestra, which provides the thematic basis for the entire composition. A dance-like movement in three sections punctuated by cadenzas follows. The second movement is lyrical and somewhat subdued in character, in the manner of a nocturne. The final movement, a rondo in brisk march tempo, gives the soloist opportunities for virtuoso display and recapitulates, near the end, the opening cadenza. A brief resumption of the march concludes the piece quietly.
The founder and editor of the journal 21st Century Music, Mark Alburger is clearly an eclectic composer of post-minimal, post-popular, and post-comedic sensibilities. Born in Upper Darby, PA in 1957, Alburger has resided in the hills above San Rafael in Northern California since 1987. He is active as oboist, pianist, vocalist, recording artist, musicologist, author, and music critic. Alburger studied composition with James Freeman, George Crumb, and Richard Wernick. He also worked with Karl Kohn at Pomona College, Joan Panetti and Gerald Levinson at Swarthmore College (B.A.), Jules Langert at Dominican College (M.A.), Roland Jackson at Claremont Graduate School (Ph.D.), and Terry Riley. The May 2001 San Francisco premiere of Alburger's second opera Sidewalks of New York: Henry Miller in Brooklyn was a critical success. Max Lifchitz's recorded performance of his piano collection The Twelve Fingers (North/South Recordings 1026) received a GRAMMY nomination in 2003.
Symphony No. 1 Opus 21 in C Major received its first performance on January 7, 2001 at Christ and St. Stephen's Church in New York City. Max Lifchitz directed the North/South Chamber Orchestra. The work employs flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, French horn, piano and strings.
Mr. Alburger kindly provided the following commentary for his work:
"Symphony No. 1 In C Major, Op. 21 ('It wasn't classical, it was symphonic...' 'It wasn't a symphony, because it did not have a sonata allegro...') is the first of a projected series of nine 'grid' symphonies based on corresponding numbered works by older composers. The magic book for this composition is that of Beethoven's Symphony No. 1, from which is taken form and spirit (including exact number of measures, tempo markings, key, and even opus number), but little content. The lengthy subtitle refers to overheard comments which form the melodic bases of two themes in the opening sonata-allegro movement. The Andante cantabile con moto is a solemn and stately procession through stubbornly contrapuntal processes. The third-movement Menuetto e Trio is a manic and melancholy gallop that was written in two days: the first sunny (a bright Menuetto), the second cloudy (a dark Trio). Philip Glass and Beethoven's Für Elise commiserate in the latter section's sour snap rhythms for a grim brood. The concluding Adagio/Allegro is based on Nevada casino slot-machine pulsations, the 'Bed' section from Glass's Einstein on the Beach, Alburger's Uncertain Need from For My Brother For My Brother, and notes sketched in a hot desert sun."
David Jolley, French horn, has appeared as guest artist with the Guarneri String Quartet, the Beaux Arts Trio and the Chamber Music Society at Lincoln Center. His recent orchestral engagements include the Detroit Symphony, The Phoenix Symphony, The Memphis Symphony, The Oklahoma City Philharmonic, and the Kamerata Chamber Orchestra of Athens. Mr. Jolley recently premiered Ellen Taaffe Zwilich's Concerto for Horn and String Orchestra with the Rochester Philharmonic, and performed it at Carnegie Hall with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. He has made frequent appearances abroad and has recorded more than two-dozen compact discs with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, including Mozart Concerti, in addition to several solo albums.
A graduate of The Juilliard School, Mr. Jolley has taught at the Manhattan School of Music, Mannes College, CUNY's Aaron Copland School and the North Carolina School for the Arts. The New York Times commented on his remarkable virtuosity while Gramophone Magazine acclaimed him as "a soloist second to none."
Oboist William Meredith made his first solo appearance with the Kansas City Philharmonic at the age of thirteen before attending the Manhattan School of Music where he studied with Harold Gomberg. In addition to performing regularly with North/South Consonance, his professional experiences include the Westchester Symphony, the Virginia Opera Company, the New Jersey Symphony, the Long Island Symphony, the American Symphony and the Caramoor Festival. In much demand as a chamber musician, Mr. Meredith is a member of the Andiamo Ensemble as well as the Linden Woodwind Quintet. He has recorded for BMG, RCA and other major labels. His recording of Stefania de Kenessy's Magic Forest Dances (North/South Recordings No. 1023) was greeted with the highest critical acclaim.
Max Lifchitz was awarded first prize in the 1976 International Gaudeamus Competition for Performers of Twentieth Century Music held in Holland. Robert Commanday, writing for The San Francisco Chronicle described him as "a young composer of brilliant imagination and a stunning, ultra-sensitive pianist." New York Times music critic Allan Kozinn praised Mr. Lifchitz for his "clean, measured and sensitive performances" while Anthony Tommasini stated that he "conducted a strong performance." Payton MacDonald writing for the American Record Guide remarked, "Mr. Lifchitz is as good on the podium as he is behind the piano."
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