Affirmations: Four Works by Richard Wilson





Four Works by Richard Wilson






David Fedele, flute • Allen Blustine, clarinet


Rolf Schulte, violin • Dorothy Lawson, cello Blanca Uribe, piano






Blanca Uribe, piano




Civilization and Its Discontents


Stephen Johns, tuba




Transfigured Goat


Mary Ann Hart, mezzo-soprano


Richard Lalli, baritone • Allen Blustine, clarinet Richard Wilson, piano










Four Works by Richard Wilson


Affirmations (1990)


My beleaguered friends, all too aware of my downcast and woebegone leanings, had to ponder the struggle involved for me when I wrote a piece entitled Affirmations. This is the music of someone whose chromatic style ran counter to current trends, who was approaching the age of 50 certain that mental and physical decline waited just around that corner, who lost his father - only remaining parent - in the course of writing the piece and thus became, overnight, the older generation. What was there, amidst this graying obscurity, to affirm?


I found that, in 1990, I was as enchanted with non-tonal sonorities as when I first heard Boulez's music 30 years before. Unlike Boulez, however, I believed that the differentiation of thematic material and its recurrence, modified to varying degrees, provide necessary interest and coherence. I thus affirmed a kind of music that one can follow and remember. And I wanted it to have line and pulse - the proverbial song and dance.


In Affirmations, the first movement is declamatory; the second, ironic; the third wistful - a memorial to my father, James F. Wilson, who died on February 25, 1990. I sough to bring the disparate timbres together in an uneasy rapport.


Affirmations was commissioned for the Da Capo Chamber Players by Chamber Music America. Da Capo gave its premiere at Kaufmann Concert Hall of the 92nd Street YMHA on March 7, 1991.




Intercalations (1986)


What makes an `intercalation' more appealing to a composer than an `interpolation' or `insert' is its association with time: a day added to the calendar in order to reconcile our figuring of the 12 months of the solar year. The 29th of February, that mysterious gift of extra time available every fourth year, is an intercalation. It stands outside the system and does not seem to make us any older.


Each of the four pieces bears a subtitle and can be related to a traditional keyboard model. The first, Interspace, alternates passages of imitative counterpoint with excursions that often involve figuration or ornamentation rather in the manner of a preludial ricercare. Interplay is toccata-like, with steady rapid motion that features repeated notes. Interlacing is a song wtihout words: meditative, lyrical, improvisatory and moody. The last, Interaction, the most orchestral of the four, is a narrative perhaps akin to the ballade or tone poem.


Intercalations was written in 1986 for Margaret Mills, who gave the premiere in Merkin Concert Hall, New York City on November 19, 1986.


Civilization and Its Discontents (1992)


I have fantasized the following note for my piece for solo tuba:


Among personal effects left by the reclusive, little-known elder brother of Sigmund Freud - Hieronymus Guglielmo Freud - was the following memorandum:


My brother suffered a terrible frustration in his early youth. He harbored a burning desire to play the tuba. But his diminutive stature caused the band director to force him to learn the piccolo instead. It is my opinion that this had a marked effect on him in later life.


In response to this remarkable revelation I wrote Civilization and Its Discontents for solo tuba, taking title and the following movement subtitles from Freud's famous essay of 1930:


1. Overcoming the Forces of Nature


2. Soap as a Measure of Civilization


3. Love, Necessity, and the Death Instinct


4. The Aggressive Impulse Thwarted


5. Bad Conscience and the Superego


Stephen Johns gave the premiere on March 22, 1996 at Vassar College.


Transfigured Goat (1996)


Transfigured Goat was composed as a curtain-raiser for my opera, Æthelred The Unready. It features two unnamed characters, a man and a woman, who are accompanied by clarinet and piano. The text is of my own formulation; it is inspired by certain favorite quotations from plays of Joe Orton. These quotations have been rewritten and scrambled, with the effect of parody. Interwoven are references to our dog Tracy, who died in 1983. This work was premiered on November 8, 1996 at Vassar College, with Mary Ann Hart and Richard Lalli as the two singers. Larry Guy was the clarinetist and Richard Wilson the pianist.


—Richard Wilson


Richard Wilson


Richard Wilson was born in Cleveland, where he studied piano with Leonard Shure and cello with Ernst Silberstein. His first compositions (now under lock and key) date from about the age of ten and were supervised first by Roslyn Raish and then, a few years later, Howard Whitaker. At Harvard he studied composition with Robert Moevs. After graduating magna cum laude in music, he received the Frank Huntington Beebe Award which allowed him to study abroad for one year. He worked with the Austrian pianist Friedrich Wührer in Munich and with Moevs in Rome. Back in the United States he did further study with Moevs at Rutgers University and then joined the faculty of Vassar College.


The composer of more than 70 works in many genres, including opera, Mr. Wilson has received such recognition as the Hinrichsen Award (from the American Academy /Institute of Arts and Letters), the Stoeger Prize (from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center), the Cleveland Arts Prize (from the Women's City Club of Cleveland), a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a major commission from the Koussevitzky Music Foundation. His orchestral works have been performed by the San Francisco Symphony, the London Philharmonic, the American Symphony, the Pro-Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston, the Orquesta Sinfonica de Colombia, the Residentie Orkest of The Hague, and the Hudson Valley Philharmonic. Conductors who have recently performed his works include Herbert Blomstedt, Imre Pallo, Luis Biava, Gerard Oskamp, Randall Craig Fleischer and Leon Botstein.


His music is available on two previously-issued Albany CDs: TROY074, which contains Persuasions, for soprano and instruments, Lord Chesterfield to his Son for solo cello, Fixations for solo piano, and Sonata for Viola and Piano; and TROY333, Stresses in the Peaceable Kingdom, which features ten choral works.


Also active as a pianist, Mr. Wilson has performed as concerto soloist with the American Symphony Chamber Orchestra, the Residentie Orkest of The Hague, and the Hudson Valley Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra.


Mr. Wilson holds the Mary Conover Mellon Chair in Music at Vassar; since 1992 he has been Composer-in-Residence with the American Symphony Orchestra, for which he gives pre-concert talks.


Alan Blustine, clarinet, has performed with the New York Philharmonic, New York City Ballet Orchestra, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. A member of New York Chamber Soloists, the Festival Winds and Speculum Musicae, he has premiered many solo works by such composers as Milton Babbitt, Donald Martino, Elliott Carter and Wayne Peterson. He was principal clarinetist with the Japan Philharmonic, has appeared at the Bath Festival, the Warsaw Autumn Festival, and has been in residence at the Yale Summer Music School. He is a member of the faculty of Columbia University.


David Fedele, flute, is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and The Juilliard School, where he studied with Julius Baker. He presented his New York debut recital as a winner of the Young Concert Artists International Audition Award. Additional prizes have come from the Olga Koussevitsky Competition of the Musicians Club of New York, the Second Kobe International Flute Competition in Japan, and the New York Flute Club Competition. Mr. Fedele has performed recitals in Japan, Italy, Mexico and many other locations. He has been a guest artist with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, The Group for Contemporary Music, Bang on a Can and The New Music Consort.


Mary Ann Hart, mezzo-soprano, is currently a member of the faculty of the School of Music, Indiana University. She made her New York Philharmonic debut under Kurt Masur and has appeared with the New York Chamber Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, American Composers' Orchestra, Boston Baroque, and has been a guest artist with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Recital appearances have taken her to Austria, Germany, Rumania, Canada, and to 26 American states. Her recordings of songs of Charles Ives have been especially acclaimed.


Stephen Johns, tuba, who has degrees from The Manhattan School, Juilliard, and Columbia University, has performed and recorded with The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Ballet, The Opera Orchestra of New York, and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. He plays principal tuba with the New York City Opera, The American Symphony Orchestra, The Bard Festival Orchestra, and The New York Chamber Symphony. He is on the faculty of Mannes College of Music and Montclair State University.


Richard Lalli, baritone, is a graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy, Oberlin Conservatory and Yale School of Music. He is an Associate Professor of Music at Yale, where he has taught since 1982. Mr. Lalli has given solo recitals at Wigmore Hall, the Spoleto Festival USA, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, Merkin Hall in New York, Salle Cortot, and the United States Embassy in Paris. During the Schubert bicentenary year he presented the three Schubert cycles at Yale University, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and in Paris.


Dorothy Lawson, cello, holds both master's and doctoral degrees from the Juilliard School where she studied with Leonard Rose and Harvey Shapiro. She received the diploma of the Vienna Academy and her bachelor's degree from the University of Toronto. Regularly performing with such groups as the New York Philharmonic, American Symphony Orchestra, Sea Cliff Chamber Players, Philharmonia Virtuosi and the Lincoln Center Community Concerts, Ms. Lawson has also made recent concerto appearances with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the Lithuanian National Philharmonic.


Rolf Schulte was born in Cologne, Germany. After winning top prize in the Munich International Radio Competition he came to the United States to study with Ivan Galamian at the Curtis Institute of Music. His other teachers include Yehudi Menuhin and Franco Gulli. Mr. Schulte has collaborated with conductors Christoph von Dohnányi, Dennis Russell Davies, Max Rudolph, György Léhel, Hiroshi Wakasugi and John Nelson in concertos from Beethoven to Berg, Sessions, and Elliott Carter. He has just recorded the Schoenberg Concerto with the Philharmonia of London conducted by Robert Craft.


Blanca Uribe was born in Bogota, Colombia into a family of many generations of professional musicians. She studied in Vienna at the Academy of Music and Dramatic Art with Richard Hauser and in New York at the Juilliard School with Rosina Lhevinne and Martin Canin. Her extensive repertoire ranges from Scarlatti to works of the present. Particularly notable are her interpretations of the 32 Sonatas of Beethoven, which she has performed in cycle on several occasions, and the complete Iberia Suite of Isaac Albeniz. Ms. Uribe's many honors include the General Francisco de Paula Santander Medal, awarded for outstanding contribution to Colombian Culture, and the Order of Saint Charles, which she received in 1986 from the President of Colombia.




Civilization and Its Discontents was recorded on April 3, 1996. Intercalations was recorded on May 25, 1998. Affirmations was recorded on July 7, 1999. Transfigured Goat was recorded on July 8, 1999. All works recorded at Skinner Recital Hall, Vassar College.


Engineer:Gregory K. Squires, Squires Productions




All selections are published by Peermusic Classical.




Cover Art: Third Theme (1946-48) by Burgoyne Diller, 42 x 42 in. Collection of Whitney Museum of American Art. Gift of May Walter.


© Estate of the Artist. Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York.




Cover Design: Bates Miyamoto Design






Four Works by Richard Wilson




1 Insistent [6:41]


2 Playful [4:27]


3 Doleful [9:48]


David Fedele, flute • Allen Blustine, clarinet


Rolf Schulte, violin • Dorothy Lawson, cello Blanca Uribe, piano




4 Interspace [6:02]


5 Interplay [3:23]


6 Interlacings [4:49]


7 Interaction [5:42]


Blanca Uribe, piano


Civilization and Its Discontents


8 Overcoming the Forces of Nature [1:27]


9 Soap as a Measure of Civilization [:56]


10 Love, Necessity, and the Death Impulse [1:55]


11 The Aggressive Impulse Thwarted [1:20]


12 Bad Conscience and the Superego [1:10]


Stephen Johns, tuba


Transfigured Goat


13 1. [1:48]


14 Interlude I [1:40]


15 2. [1:48]


16 3. [2:25]


17 4. [2:01]


18 Interlude II [1:46]


19 5. [1:44]


20 6. [4:38]


Mary Ann Hart, mezzo-soprano


Richard Lalli, baritone • Allen Blustine, clarinet Richard Wilson, piano


Total Time = 65:39