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Shades of Light--Shades of Dark
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Shades of Light--Shades of Dark
Stefania de Kenessey


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Shades of Darkness is a quintet for clarinet and strings. The sound of the clarinet as it weaves around a quartet of strings is stunningly beautiful and deeply expressive, yet strangely enough, few works have been written for this versatile combination (with Mozart and Brahms being the outstanding exceptions). Shades of Darkness expands this repertory with a brooding, agitated work in three contrasting moods: Midnight Blue opens with a tense, dotted-rhythm theme that is later offset by a lyrical, legato melody; Tawny Rose builds from a quietly ascending clarinet tune which first appears over a gently syncopated accompaniment in the strings; Indigo concludes with a great out burst of pent-up energy.

Traveling Light is a breathless, exhilarating musical journey for violin, cello and piano, as well as a tour-de-force, requiring the utmost in both agility and stamina from three virtuoso performers. Driven by a relentless backbeat of fast repeated eighth notes, the music surprises with quirky rhythmic turns and unexpected metric angularities; volatile in mood, it changes from cheeky to serious, hyperactive to calm in an instant. Nonetheless, it never loses its fierce energy: it moves with inexorable momentum from the quietly agitated opening to the full-blown explosion at its close.

The Passing was written as a complement to a nine-minute black-and-white silent film based on the fairy-tale by Christian Andersen. The film follows a mother's search for her lost infant. Death has taken the child and she follows him, encountering several hardships and a mysterious candle maker along the way. The mother finally meets Death and is confronted with a final choice: does she want her child back, regardless of the uncertainty of its future?

The film was a collaborative project realized by Malene Skaerved and Michael Barrett. Skaerved directed the actors, while Barrett was in charge of the lighting and the camera. It was shot in its entirety on Manhattan, using park areas and the chapel of The Riverside Church. Completed in 1996, it featured Laura Bonarrigo as the mother. Ms. Bonarrigo is a popular actress usually seen as Cassie in the soap-opera "One Life to Live." The role of the candlemaker was played by Marian Seldes, a long-time film and Broadway actress who has appeared in many well-known productions including "Three Tall Women."

The musical score is a one-movement, through-composed work that plays an integral role in the film. It employs the plaintive instrumental combination of flute and string quartet.

Magic Forest Dances is a suite for oboe and piano. Guided by the exotic, wistful song of the oboe, the work takes place in a fantastical, other-worldly realm. After a melancholy Entrance into the deep dark woods, the music takes us through a series of encounters with mysterious spirits and playful sprites, then ends on a joyous note with the bright, upbeat dance of the Finale.

"Her music is extremely accessible, appealing, and deserving of a wider audience."

—James Conlon, Music Director, Opera National de Paris

Extensive liner notes accompany the recording.

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