A longtime member of two of the world’s most renowned orchestras – The New York Philharmonic and The Philadelphia Orchestra, hornist Howard Wall also performs and records with the All-Star Orchestra, and is an avid chamber music proponent. Among the 19 tracks in his solo album “Horn Monologues”, 10 are world-premiere recordings. This is a kaleidoscopic collection of eclectic styles and genres ranging from Charles Koechlin’s refined impressionism and Elliott Carter’s sophisticated modernism, to Phillip Ramey’s Bartokian reflections, Erika Raum’s virtuosic tone poem, Astor Piazzolla’s melancholic tango mood, David Amram’s blues dedicated to Thelonious Monk, the unabashedly jazzy tunes of Zsolt Nagy, the poetic inspirations of Georges Barboteu, the otherworldly mysticism of Alice Gomez, the profound emotion of Lev Kogan’s Kaddish prayer, the stunning beauty and unique rhythms of Bulgarian folk music and Venezuelan joropo
“Music From Five Centuries: 17th C. – 21st C.” is a kaleidoscopic presentation of short musical works belonging to a multitude of epochs, genres and styles, from J.S. Bach, Handel, Couperin and Biber, to Mozart and Beethoven, to romantic, contemporary, blues, folk, jazz and rock compositions. Violinist Elmira Darvarova (first and only woman-concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra) and hornist Howard Wall (a New York Philharmonic member, formerly with The Philadelphia Orchestra) have selected, arranged and transcribed a number of compositions (some originals, some transcriptions), to compile a Double CD release, brimming with a large number of world premiere recordings (40 out of 45 tracks).
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Baritone Elem Eley describes this very personal album in this way: Some of the most magical moments of my childhood were the eager tearing-away of the plastic wrap from the annual Christmas album, just purchased from the Firestone dealer in our little hometown! It was through these “Stereophonic LP” discs (devotedly and regularly brought home by my father) that I was introduced to much of the classic holiday repertoire, both sacred and secular. Burl Ives, Robert Goulet, Leontyne Price, The Brothers Four, Mahalia Jackson, Isaac Stern, the New York Philharmonic, Mitch Miller and his chorus – these artists, plus many others, each year brought us the magic of the holiday season – entertaining us in this most special musical style!
Christmas Day is not consciously modeled after the Great Songs of Christmas annual series, but the comparison is inescapable. We hope that this album may provide a measure of nostalgia, “Christmas magic,” and inspiring reflection on the true meaning of the season. My own voice is complemented here by a host of outstanding artists — adult and children’s choirs, orchestra, and brilliant instrumentalists. We offer you beloved carols, some composed or newly arranged especially for this project. Join us on our journey to the cradle.
Sonora Slocum was appointed Principal Flute of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra in 2012 at the age of 22 and has performed with orchestras around the country including guest principal flute with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. She has appeared with the Philadelphia Orchestra on flute and piccolo. Her collaborations as guest principal include touring and audio recordings with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra as well as visual recordings with the Philharmonia Orchestra of New York at Lincoln Center. Slocum has worked under such renowned conductors as Charles Dutoit, Christoph Eschenbach, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Sir Simon Rattle, Edo de Waart, Otto-Werner Mueller, John Williams and David Zinman, among many others. A recent review stated that “Slocum has a HUGE sound…and a wizard’s bag resplendent with technical prowess and musical freshness.” The conception of this debut album, Return, stemmed from Slocum’s interest in astrology and reflects on this period of her life; her first Saturn Return.
The tracks on this album represent both pivotal repertoire for flutists and some of the most technically demanding. Samuel Barber (1910-1981) spent a summer in Martha’s Vineyard where he wrote Canzone for flute and piano for his friend Manfred Ibel, a German art student and amateur flutist. Several years later Barber found a new application for the music as the second movement of his Piano Concerto, commissioned for the opening of Lincoln Center. The Suite Paysanne Hongroise by Béla Bartók is a perfect example of Bartók’s affinity for transcribing traditional folk songs and adapting them to a concert performance setting. Originally for solo piano, Paul Arma, a student of Bartók, transcribed most of the work for flute and piano in 1952. Copland’s Duo was commissioned by the Curtis Institute students of former Philadelphia Orchestra principal flutist and Curtis flute teacher, William Kincaid, and led to Sonora Slocum’s decision recording the album at Curtis, Slocum’s alma mater. Movement 1 has sweeping lyricism and broad, appealing musical themes while the second movement has a forlorn and lonely mood, poetic, and is somewhat mournful; the third is buoyant and dance-like to close to the work. Chopin was the first Western Classical composer to employ Slavic elements in his compositions. Nocturne in C-sharp minor, Op. Posthumous, originally for solo piano written in 1830, was published 21 years after his death in 1870. The work is sometimes called Reminiscence, fitting perfectly with the concept of this album. George Hüe’s Fantaisie is far from the realm of impressionism, showcasing the musical exploration of French composers at the turn of the century. The piece is dedicated to Paul Taffanel, a professor at the famous French flute school. Ballade by Swiss composer Frank Martin is a musical gem, written as an examination piece for the 1939 International Geneva Competition. The Ballade is a short, technical work for flute regarded as almost a ‘right of passage’ for flutists. Syrinx, by Claude Debussy, paints the story of the nymph Syrinx and the god Pan. Though the piece is rather short, it has been credited as a pivotal part of developing solo flute repertoire in the early twentieth century.
Love So Amazing – The hymn arrangements of Stuart Forster – Michael S. Murray, conductor; Stuart Forster, organist
Hymn singing is a foundation of the protestant churches, but not normally the subject of an album released worldwide. The musicianship presented here is singular, sung by two volunteer choirs with power and emotion. The inspired arrangements heard on this recording have developed over decades of working with wonderful choirs and congregations, as well as by singing with, and listening to, many inspired colleagues. Some of the descants were conceived for particular services, while other arrangements grew further for special occasions. Several of the brass arrangements were composed for the ordination and consecration of the Rt. Rev. Alan Gates as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts in 2014.
Australians Michael S. Murray and Stuart Forster, outstanding individual musicians, have worked together for more than 20 years, including conducting and accompanying in one another’s Episcopal churches, Christ Church in Cambridge and Church of the Redeemer in Chestnut Hill, located on opposite sides of the river Charles in Boston, Massachusetts, and during choir tours throughout America and Europe. Waiting and planning for the right moment to share their combined parish traditions of engaged singing from the vast legacy of hymnody bestowed upon the Anglican tradition has been fulfilled in this album. The installation of the exquisite Schoenstein organ at Church of the Redeemer, the restoration of the acoustic in Henry Vaughan’s exquisite architecture, and the publication of some of Stuart Forster’s hymn arrangements made the timing just right. What you will hear on this album is a superlative combined choir of about eighty voices singing some of the best-known hymns accompanied by a newly designed organ as they’ve never been heard before.
This live recording features the New Jersey Chamber Singers 40th Anniversary concert celebration. The program is anchored by the Mozart Requiem and also features festive works of Haydn’s Te Deum and Bach’s Reformation Cantata, Ein feste Burg, because 2018 also marked the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. While it is more common to hear these works performed by larger ensembles, this historically-informed performance honors the repertoire’s intimacy by only employing 32 voices and a similarly sized orchestra.
All three pieces on this album were touched by hands beyond those of their composers. While many purists have worked extensively to cleanse iconic works of foreign elements, this performance embraces them. Bach’s Ein feste Burg proudly features the extra parts for three trumpets and timpani added by his son, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach. Haydn’s Te Deum was written for Empress Marie Theresa even though he was employed to write music for the Esterhazy court in Eisenstadt. Even though the complete autograph is lost, trombone parts were later discovered to have been written in the hand of his copyist, Johann Elssler. So, it is probable that Haydn delivered a large-scale work including three trombones and three trumpets to the Empress, even though he performed a slightly down-sized version of the same work in Eisenstadt to accommodate the orchestral forces available to him. This recording boasts all extant parts. Finally and most famously, Mozart’s Requiem was completed by Süssmayr following his death in 1791.
This album honors a perspective in which early music is still a living art that is capable of change and worthy of exploration.
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