Composers are often tasked with creating from a void, an emptiness. The blank page is an easel. The parts of a structure of a piece of music – melody, accompaniment, line, harmony, tension, and release – must take shape to reach the listener’s ear. Sometimes, instead of starting with an empty sheet of staff paper, a composer creates something which is pollinated by another source. Perhaps it is a folk song, a poem, a melody, or an even larger work, such as a full-length opera. New works are then realized. In the case of this two-cd set, an East South African folk tune receives new life as a romantic piano ballade. A sonnet of Petrarch resurfaces centuries later as a dramatic declaration of love, through a solo piano work. The repertoire on these discs traces Kristin Ditlow’s own growth as a pianist and musician. Each work marks a chapter of her development and artistry to the present. The song transcriptions are pieces that have been played countless times with vocal partners: the operatic works are works that she has coached or conducted. Her passionate pursuit of travel is also a thread which weaves throughout the discs: the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor spiritual arrangements are works that she became acquainted with as a high school choral accompanist: meeting her husband while on tour in China in 2012: the Mongolian Shepherd Song is her arrangement of a traditional folksong from the Chinese Mongolian community, a work introduced to her by her husband in China originally for erhu and pipa (traditional Chinese instruments) accompaniment but transcribed for violin and piano. Kristin Ditlow has spent five summers performing, teaching, and coaching in Hungary and the Bartók selections all harken back to those times in the Hungarian countryside. Pianist, coach and conductor Dr. Kristin Ditlow dedicates her musical career to collaboration and connection. She has been seen in concert throughout North America, Mainland China, and Western Europe as a soloist, collaborative pianist, and conductor. The set of music pieces in this album is representative of her “Passages” in her career.
“My Faith Stands Firm – Cristoph Graupner Cantanas for bass voice” – Michael Hix, baritone
Very often discussions regarding the composer Christoph Graupner (1683-1760) places him in comparison with J.S. Bach. If one has heard of Graupner, it is usually the bit of trivia that he was offered the Leipzig Thomaskirche cantor position before Bach. Of particular interest, however, is the vastness of extant material Graupner composed. There are scores for over 1,400 of Graupner’s church cantatas. Forty-seven of these are for solo bass voice with a variety of instrumental pairings. One can assume that the majority of these works were written for the bass (and composer) Gottfried Grünewald (1665-1739), whom Graupner knew in Leipzig and with whom he worked at the opera in Hamburg. Grünewald served as the vice-capellmeister in Darmstadt under Graupner from 1713 until his death. In addition to the forty-seven solo bass cantatas, Graupner also wrote seventeen duet cantatas for soprano and bass. Alongside the staggering number of cantatas, Graupner composed a wealth of instrumental music including keyboard works, more than 100 sinfonias, and a canon with 5,626 inversions. The sheer volume of this relatively unexplored repertoire is thrilling but also overwhelming, making categorization of Graupner’s overall musical style problematic. This recording, featuring cantatas and instrumental works composed between 1720 and 1745, offers the listener an introduction to Gaupner and an important, if small, piece in the larger puzzle that is Graupner’s life and work. It premieres Graupner to a wider music world largely ignorant of this talented and nearly unknown Baroque composer by baritone Michael Hix, Chair of the Department of Music at the University of New Mexico, praised by critics for his “expressive voice” and “commanding stage presence”, and whose research has brought Christoph Graupner to light through this album.
“We Praise Our God” – Music from the Chapel of St. Mary the Virgin
“We Praise Our God” captures the daily and uniquely beautiful rhythm of chapel worship at Nashotah House Theological Seminary, an Anglican seminary in Nashotah, Wisconsin, founded in 1842. Each day of the academic year begins with Morning Prayer and Holy Eucharist. The day ends with Evensong, the music taken from The Hymnal 1982 and the Nashotah House Plainsong Psalter or the New Nashotah House Anglican Chant Psalter. Once a week, on Thursdays, the day begins with sung Matins in the morning, followed by a community music rehearsal when new music and a brief singing lesson are offered. Thursday’s Solemn High Eucharist in the evening is usually attended by the wider community of student and faculty families. This album attempts to recreate the experience of the “Alleluia, Sing” LP recording of the early 1970s, from the opening track of Nashotah’s beloved bell, Michael, to new settings of the Mass Ordinary used in the chapel, along with compositions by Nashotah faculty. The album was primarily recorded from live services during the celebration of the Feast of the Annunciation of our Lord Jesus Christ to the Blessed Virgin Mary on March 24 and 25, 2022.
Vierne – The Complete Organ Symphonies
Louis Vierne inhabits a unique place in the development of the Organ Symphony. Following in the footsteps of his teacher, Charles-Marie Widor, Vierne brought the organ symphony to its pinnacle with his six symphonies, written between 1895 and 1930. Symphonic in style, structure, and form, rather than forces, these solo organ works are exquisite composition examples of the last great late French Romantic organ composer. As the thirty-one movements of these symphonies offer a staggering variety of character, from majestic to whimsical, and from deep despair to unbridled joy; the venues offer an equally broad variety of organs and acoustics. Concert Organist Eric Plutz performs the Complete Organ Symphonies of Louis Vierne superbly and spectacularly on six separate organs around the United States from New York to Texas. This album is the culmination of “The Vierne Project,” a series of performances of the complete Vierne organ symphonies in celebration of the composer’s 150th birthday in 2020. The University Organist at Princeton University, Eric Plutz is one of only a handful of organists to embark on such a venture. As an organ concert soloist, he has performed on distinguished and historic instruments across the United States and abroad including in Germany, Austria, and France.
The Genius of Ysaÿe
“THE GENIUS OF YSAŸE” presents several masterpieces by the legendary Belgian violinist and composer Eugène Ysaÿe (1858-1931), including three world premiere recordings – the first recording of his recently discovered Introduction for Solo Viola, as well as the world premiere recordings of Ysaÿe’s final versions of his Two String Trios for violin, viola and cello (Op. 33 and Op. 34). Ysaÿe’s marvelous Sonata for Solo Cello, Op. 28 is also among the gems on this album, in addition to his most wellknown masterpiece – the “Ballade” (Sonata No. 3) from his Six Sonatas for Solo Violin Op. 27. The performers of this splendid album – violinist Elmira Darvarova, violist Ronald Carbone and cellist Samuel Magill – have been involved for years with Ysaÿe’s String Trio No. 1, Op. 33, also known as “Le Chimay” (a work, hailed in the press as one of the greatest chamber music compositions of the 20th Century), and they presented its New York premiere in 2008. After thoroughly studying and researching manuscripts and various editions of Ysaÿe’s Trios, the artists came across the recently published editions of Ysaÿe’s final versions of his Two String Trios for violin, viola and cello, Op 33 and Op. 34 – as revised and finalized by the composer. These magnificent works reflect the undiminished power of the immortal legacy of Eugène Ysaÿe as a genius musician whose extraordinary achievements as a superstar performer, teacher, ensemble leader, orchestra conductor and composer spread beyond his time. This album brings superb interpretations of stunningly beautiful compositions, as a glorious tribute to one of the most brightly shining stars that ever graced the world of virtuoso artists – the incomparable Eugène Ysaÿe.
JUSTICE FOR EVERY CHILD–AN INITIATIVE OF KAILASH SATYARTHI CHILDREN’S FOUNDATION
“We for Love” is a project curated, produced and presented by young sarod virtuosos, Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash, to raise awareness for Justice For Every Child campaign launched by Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation (KSCF). This campaign provides legal and mental health support to child victims of rape and sexual abuse. Through this campaign, KSCF aims to intervene in nearly 5000 strategic cases across 100 districts in India.
In their “We For Love” project, Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash have been joined by some of the most reputed names from the music world and entertainment industry including Karan Johar, Karsh Kale, Malini Awasthi, Mahesh Kale, Shubha Mudgal and the iconic Sarod Grand Master Amjad Ali Khan. The cover art has been created by the prolific Paresh Maiti. The proceeds of this project go directly to KSCF.
Children are our future. Their protection is an issue which should concern all of us. There are many such subjects which require immediate attention. However, we need to place children above everything else as their development is critical to their future. Donate to the campaign to ensure that child victims of rape and sexual abuse receive the much-needed support in their quest for justice. Together we can and we must ensure justice for every child.
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