Eastman American Music Series, Vol. 1



Eastman American Music Series


Volume 1






A Message from the Director




Ever since the appointment of Howard Hanson as Director of the Eastman School of Music in 1924, Eastman has been on a continuing course to encourage the future of music by American composers. From the earliest years of Dr. Hanson's 40-year directorship, Eastman produced each Spring a festival of new works by young Americans, including the first performances of orchestral works by Aaron Copland, Walter Piston, Elliott Carter, Randall Thompson, and Roger Sessions, for example, together with the initial performances of a great many works by Eastman faculty, graduates, and students. Recordings conducted by Hanson, of American composers of his own and earlier generations, helped spread both familiarity with many American composers and the reputation of the Eastman School all over the world.




In the meantime, the strength of Eastman's composition program remains unabated under the current faculty: Sydney Hodkinson, David Liptak, Robert Morris, Christopher Rouse, Allan Schindler, Joseph Schwantner, and Augusta Read Thomas.




Close collaborations are fostered between the School's performers and composers as the result of a long-standing requirement that no student singer or instrumentalist graduate from the School without the performance of some substantive work of the past 40 years. During the School's 75th anniversary celebration in 1996-97, all Eastman concerts will include a performance of a work by an Eastman graduate, faculty member, or student.




We at Eastman are all very proud of the opening of a new recording series with Albany Records, a firm that continues to make the most notable accomplishments in behalf of music in America.




-Robert Freeman


Director, Eastman School of Music






Notes on the program




Diversity is a defining feature of American society. Ours is a country full of differences - differences of race, ethnic heritage, ideology, sexuality, to name just a few. To be sure, this amazing range of differences was probably never envisioned by America's political architects. And certainly, our differences have not always made for smooth sailing; some of our disagreements have been harsh, even violent. But with a healthy mixture of curiosity and good will, America's sometimes bewildering diversity can be a source of rejuvenation and great joy.




The triumphs and challenges of America's diversity are no less evident in our concert music. We have seen a number of musical styles appear: neoclassicism and serialism (imported by way of Stravinsky, Bartók, Hindemith, Schoenberg, and others), indeterminacy, electronic and computer music, minimalism, the new complexity - the list goes on and on. Such diversity can also be found in this series of American music recordings.




It is important to remember that each new "innovation" has not replaced what has come before but, instead, joined in the fray. Now, at century's end, composers as disparate in aesthetic and technique as Philip Glass and Charles Wuorinen (to take two American composers born only a year apart) continue - almost stubbornly - to flourish. There are those who still imagine that one or another of these differing aesthetics will eventually emerge victorious. Perhaps it would be more fortuitous to see musical alternatives multiply and to see larger audiences even more open to new musical experiences.




Born in 1949, Christopher Rouse is professor of composition at the Eastman School of Music, where he has taught since 1981. Rouse has received many awards for his music, including the 1993 Pulitzer Prize. His inclination for gloomy musical subjects and themes earned him the nickname "Mr. Sunshine" during his tenure as ComposerinResidence for the Baltimore Symphony (1986ú89). But the nickname is superficial; it tempts us to focus on the feeling of terror that pervades much of Rouse's music and to ignore other qualities, such as its energy or its solemnity.




The Mitternachtslieder were composed in 1979 to poetry by Georg Trakl. Set for bassbaritone, oboe/English horn (the latter always to be played with a contrabassoon reed), clarinet/bass clarinet, trumpet, piano/celesta, percussion (two players), violin, viola, cello, and double bass, Rouse's setting of this frightening poetry recalls both the harmonies and darkness of Berg's Wozzeck and the extended vocal and instrumental techniques of his former teacher, George Crumb. The music is also viscerally dramatic. Indeed, Rouse has suggested the piece should be performed in dim lighting to heighten its emotional effect. One interesting feature of the score, not immediately apparent, is the function of the instrumental interludes connecting the songs; for Rouse, these interludes depict the gradual descent of an imagined listener into Trakl's nightmarish world.




While the Mitternachtslieder portray a steady decline into psychosis, the Quattro Madrigali (written in 1976 for the Gregg Smith Singers) represent an altogether different sort of journey. The first two madrigals are marked by dissonant harmonies and complicated rhythms that can be traced to Messiaen's Cinq Rechants, a work that Rouse was studying at the time of composition. The remaining madrigals, however, become progressively less dissonant, as can be seen most strikingly in the third madrigal, "Luca serene." Here, Rouse quotes Monteverdi's famous setting of the same poem, from his fourth book of madrigals. Above the Monteverdi original, Rouse adds an additional layer of his own, more harmonically astringent, music.




Stephen Albert (1941-1992) was an American composer whose life was cut short tragically at the height of his career. He shared with many of his contemporaries a great disdain for the high modernist achievement of much post1945 music. However, Albert's condemnation of this music (particularly serialism) was unusually strident. He viewed the history of Western concert music prior to 1900 as "a sixhundredyear continuum, disrupted by the psychological shock and despair of the world wars, one hopeless cold war, and two disillusioning wars in Asia." That he wished to restore that continuum is evident from one of the major projects left uncompleted at the time of his death, a treatise entitled A General Theory of Tonality and the Harmonic Fields of Western Music.




Into Eclipse, a song cycle for tenor and chamber ensemble or orchestra, sets texts from Ted Hughes's adaptation of the Roman playwright Seneca's Oedipus. The themes of patricide and man's inability to control his destiny, already violent in Seneca's original, are graphically expressed in the Hughes version. Accordingly, Into Eclipse is more violent than some of Albert's other vocal works, such as his later Flower of the Mountain, which borrows a theme from the earlier work. Most striking, perhaps, in Albert's work is the logic of his harmonic progressions and his convincing sense of musical continuity.




-Robert Haskins






Albert: Into Eclipse




I. Prologue and Riddle Song




show us


show us


a simple riddle lift everything aside


show us


a childish riddle


what has four legs at dawn


two legs at noon three legs at dusk


and is weakest when it has most?


“I will find the answer” is that an answer?


show us






II. Oedipus I




And I was happy fleeing from my father


Feeling, yes, but unafraid


Till I stumbled, as God in heaven saw me,


I stumbled on this kingdom.


Fear came after me


it followed me


The fear, someday, I'd kill him


I would kill my father.


And worse!


What could be worse?


The words stick


It is not possible.


My father's bedchamber


My mother's bed


I would marry my mother.


Murder him! Murder him! Murder him!


The dog star the lion


One on top of the other


A double madness


Everyday closer! closer!


I was terrified — I was so terrified


But the fear came with me


It followed me


And it grew till it now surrounds me


Fear, my shadow


I stand in it


Like a blind man in darkness.




Get out of this land


Get away from these cries


This unending funeral.




This air that you've poisoned


With the curse that you carry


Oedipus — get away!


Oedipus — run!


As you should have done long ago


The truth is not human


It has no mercy


Do not force it


Away from these cries


This land of death.


Oedipus! Oedipus!




III. A Quiet Fate




If only our fate was ours to choose


You would see me on quiet waters


Whose airs are gentle


Full sail but a light wind


No more than a breath


Easy voyage


No blast no smashed rigging


No flogging downward into cliffs


Under surge


Nothing recovered


No vanishing


If Fate were ours to choose.


Give me a quiet voyage


Neither under cliffs


Nor too far out


On the black water


Where the depths open


The middle course is the safe one


The only life


Easily on


To a calm end


Surrounded by gains.






IV. Ghosts




I see things in darkness moving


Many pale masks lifted sinking


I see writhing things


And they come!


A growling sound a humming


That seems to silence everything


Like a vast flock of autumn starlings


A rushing gloomy wind of twitterings


Beating up at the light


Swirling back and round and round


A growing sound


They come


And they come grabbing at the earth


Grabbing at the earth


The tree roots at out clothes


In their pale ghostly voices


Till at last one of them


Lays hold of the earth


And clings there


His face pressed in the earth


"I am the man you murdered


Your father


I shall break your heart


O men O men drive him away


O men O men take the earth from him


His father will take the light!"






V. Oedipus II




All is well


I like this darkness


My father has been paid


What he was owed


All is well.




I wonder which god I've pleased


Which of them has brought me peace


Given me this dark veil






The light


That never let me rest


And followed me everywhere




All is well


At last you've escaped it


You killed your father


It's abandoned you


It's left you your new face


The true face of Oedipus




from Ted Hughes's


Adaptation of Seneca's Oedipus.


Reprinted with permission of Mr. Hughes.






Rouse: Mitternachtslieder


poetry by Georg Trakl · translations by Alan Waldron




1. Nähe des Todes




O der Abend, der in die finsteren Dörfer der Kindheit geht.


Der Weiher unter den Weiden


Füllt sich mit den verpesteten Seufzern der Schwermut.




O der Wald, der leise die braunen Augen senkt,


Da aus des Einsamen knöchernen Händen


Der Purpur seiner verzückten Tage hinsinkt.




O die Nähe des Todes. Laß uns beten.


In dieser Nacht lösen auf lauen Kissen


Vergilbt von Weihrauch sich der Liebenden schmächtige Glieder.




1. Nearness of Death




O the evening that enters the darker hamlets of childhood.


The pond under the willows


Fills up with the pestilent sighs of sorrow.




O the wood that softly lowers its eyes of brown


As from the lonely man's bony hands


The purple of his rapturous days sinks down.




O the nearness of death. Let us pray.


In this night unloosen on lukewarm cushions


Yellowed with incense the delicate limbs of the lovers.




2. Die Ratten




In Hof scheint weiß der herbstliche Mond.


Vom Dachrand fallen phantastische Schatten.


Ein Schweigen in leeren Fenstern wohnt;


Da tauchen leise herauf die Ratten




Und huschen pfeifend hier und dort


Und ein gräulicher Dunsthauch wittert


Ihnen nach aus dem Abort,


Den geisterhaft der Mondschein durchzittert




Und sie keifen vor Gier wie toll


Und erfüllen Haus und Scheunen,


Die von Korn und Früchten voll.


Eisige Winde im Dunkel greinen.






2. The Rats




In the courtyard shines white the autumnal moon


From the roof-edge fall fantastic shadows.


A hush resides in empty windows;


Now softly surface the rats




And whisk peeping here and there


And a grayish fume wafts


After them out of the toilet


Through which the moonlight spookily shivers




And they squabble like mad with greed


And overrun house and silo


Full of grain and fruits.


Icy winds in the darkness keen.




3. Föhn




Blinde Klage im Wind, mondene Wintertage,


Kindheit, leise verhallen die Schritte an schwarzer Hecke,


Langes Abendgelaüt.


Leise kommt die weiße Nacht gezogen,




Verwandelt in purpurne Träume Schmerz und Plage


Des steinigen Lebens,


Daß nimmer der dornige Stachel


ablasse vom verwesenden Leib.




Tief im Schlummer aufseufzt die bange Seele,




Tief der Wind in zerbrochenen Bäumen,


Und es schwankt die Klagegestalt


Der Mutter durch den einsamen Wald




Dieser schweigenden Trauer; Nächte,


Erfüllt von Tränen, feurigen Engeln.


Silbern zerschellt an kahler Mauer ein kindlich Gerippe.






3. Föhn




Blind lament in the wind, moony winter days,


Childhood, softly steps die away at the black hedge,


Long evening chimes.


Softly the white night draws on,




Transforms into purple dreams pain and torment


Of stony life,


That never the thorny spur


let up from the decaying body.




Deep in slumber, the anxious soul sighs out,




Deep the wind in shattered trees,


And there staggers the plaintive shape


Of the mother through the lonely wood




Of this silent grief; nights


Filled with tears, with fiery angels.


Silver smashes on a bare wall a childish frame.






4. Trompeten




Unter verschnittenen Weiden,


wo braune Kinder spielen


Und Blätter treiben, tönen Trompeten.


Ein Kirchhofsschauer.


Fahnen von Scharlach stürzen


durch des Ahorns Trauer,


Reiter entlang an Roggenfeldern,


leeren Mühlen.




Oder Hirten singen nachts


und Hirsche treten


In den Kreis ihrer Feuer,


des Hains uralte Trauer,


Tanzende heben such


von einer schwarzen Mauer;


Fahnen von Scharlach, Lachen,


Wahnsinn, Trompeten.






4. Trumpets




Under pruned willows


where brown children play


And drive leaves, trumpets are sounding.


A churchyard shudder.


Banners of scarlet plunge


through the maple's mourning


Riders along by ryefields, empty mills.




Or shepherds sing at night, and deer step


Into the circle of their fires,


the grove's age-old grief,


Dancers lift themselves from off a black wall;


Banners of scarlet, laughing,


madness, trumpets.






5. Untergang




Über den weißen Weiher


Sind die wilden Vögel fortgezogen.


Am Abend weht von unseren Sternen ein eisiger Wind.




Über unsere Gräber


Beugt sich die zerbrochene Stirne der Nacht.


Unter Eichen schaukeln wir auf einem silbernen Kahn.




Immer klingen die weißen Mauern der Stadt.


Unter Dornenbogen


O mein Bruder klimmen wir blinde Zeiger gen Mitternacht.






5. Decline




Over the white pond


The wild birds have departed.


At evening blows from our stars an icy wind.




Over our graves


Bends the broken brow of the night.


Under oak trees we rock in a silvery boat.




Always sound the white walls of the city.


Under arches of thorns,


O my brother, climb we blind hands towards midnight.






Rouse: Quattro Madrigali


translations by Tom Donnan




I (Anonymous)




Vezzosi augelli in fra le verdi fronde


Tempran' a prova lascivette note.


Mormora l'aura e fa le foglie e l'onde


Garrir, che variamente ella percote.


Quando tacciono gli augelli, alto risponde;


Quando cantan gli augei, più lieve scote


Fia caso od arte or accompagn' ed ora


Alterna i versi lor la musica ora.








Charming little birds among the green boughs


vie with each other, intoning wanton notes.


The breeze murmurs and makes the leaves and the waters


rustle, which it strikes this way and that.


When the birds are silent, loudly it answers;


when the birds sing, more lightly it strikes.


Whether by chance or by art, sometimes it accompanies, other times


It alternates their verses with music.






II (Tasso)




La giovinetta scorza che involge in tronco e i rami


D'un verde lauro, Amor vuol ch'io sempre ami;


E le tenere fronde fra cui vaghi concenti


Fan gli augeletti al mormorar de' venti;


E l'ombra fresca e lieta che da le foglie acerbe


Cade co' dolci somni in grembo a l'erbe


Quivi la rete asconde nè'n parte più secreta


Stanco di saettare Amor s'acqueta.








The young and tender bark that wraps the trunk and the branches


of a green laurel tree, Love wishes me always to love;


and the tender boughs among which the little birds


make lovely music to the murmuring of the winds;


and the cool and delightful shade which from the green leaves


falls with sweet slumber upon the meadow's lap.


Here he hides the snare, and in some secret place,


tired of shooting his arrows, Love rests.






III (Guarini)




Luci serene e chiare, Voi m'incendete; ma prov' il core


Nell'incendio diletto, non dolore.


Dolci parole e care,


Voi mi ferite; ma prov' il petto


Non dolor ne la piaga, ma diletto.


O miracol d'amore,


Alma ch' è tutta foco e tutta sangue


Si strugg' e non si duol, mor' e non langue.








Lights clear and bright,


you set me afire; but my heart feels


in the flame delight, not pain.


Words sweet and dear


you wound me; but my breast feels


not pain in the wound, but delight.


O miracle of love,


a soul that's all afire and bathed in blood


wastes away but feels no pain, dies but does not languish.






IV (Michelangelo Buonarroti)




In me la morte, in te la vita mia.


Tu distingui e concedi e parti il tempo;


quanto vuo', breve e lungo è il viver mio.


Felice son nella tua cortesia


Beata l'alma, ove non corre tempo,


per te s'è fatta a contemplare Dio.






In me death, in you my life.


You mark and grant and divide time;


my life is as short or as long as you wish.


Happy am I in your kindness.


Blessed the soul where time does not course,


through you it has arrived at contemplating God.






Stephen Albert, Into Eclipse




Stephen Oosting, tenor · Eastman Musica Nova Ensemble; Sydney Hodkinson, Conductor · Susan Reath, flute · Alan Keating, clarinets · Craig Smith, horn · Frank Tamburro, trumpet · David Brickman, Julie Gigante, Florence Schwartz, Tamara Mickel, violins I · Sara Briggs, Mary Corbett, Kristine Fink, Rachel Waldron, violins II · Pamela Wert, Laura Kuennen, Nancy Holland, viola · David Crumb, Mark Stewart, cello · Joseph Carver, double bass ·John Manno, harp · Bryan Pezzone, piano · Kristin Shiner, John R. Beck, percussion


Recorded in Eastman Theatre 3/26/83 by Ros Ritchie




Christopher Rouse, Mitternachtslieder




Leslie Guinn, baritone · Eastman Musica Nova Ensemble; Sydney Hodkinson, Conductor · David Simon, oboe/English horn ·Mark Gallagher, clarinet ·James Hynes, trumpet ·Tracy Davis, Christopher Norton, percussion · Karen Marx, violin · Laura Kuennen, viola ·Karl Parens, cello · Paul Ousley, double bass ·Kathryn LeCouf, piano/celesta


Recorded in Eastman Theatre 11/29/83 by Ros Ritchie




Christopher Rouse, Quattro Madrigali




Eastman Musica Nova Ensemble; Donald Neuen, Conductor · Graduate Chamber Singers: Paula Miller, soprano · Leslie Umphrey, soprano · Erma Gattie, alto · Allyn Muth, alto · Kenneth Davis, tenor ·Rafael Bundage, tenor · Keith Frederick Howard, bass · Daniel McCabe, bass


Recorded in Eastman Theatre 2/22/84 by Ros Ritchie and Mary Van Houten;




John Santuccio, producer






Leslie Guinn, bass-baritone, has performed with the Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Baltimore, National, and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestras and l'Orchestre de Monte Carlo. He made his European debut in 1983 with the Stuttgart Opera singing Wozzeck. He has premiered and recorded many new works, including William Bolcom's Songs of Innocence and Experience, Menotti's Song of Hope, Rochberg's String Quartet No. 7 with Voice, and Rouse's Mitternachtslieder, which was dedicated to Mr. Guinn. He is currently director of the Division of Vocal Arts at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.




Stephen Oosting, tenor, is a graduate of Michigan State University, and holds a doctorate and Performer's Certificate from the Eastman School of Music. He has performed with Musica Sacra in New York, the New York Philharmonic, and with the symphony orchestras of Detroit, Rochester, Kalamazoo and Youngstown. He serves on the faculties of Wagner College, Upsala College and William Patterson College in New Jersey. Mr. Oosting's recordings appear on the Newport Classics, RCA, Pro Viva and Vox labels.




Sydney Hodkinson, Director of Eastman Musica Nova, the Eastman School's primary contemporary music ensemble, has held a joint appointment as professor of composition and ensembles at the Eastman School of Music since 1973. A noted composer as well as conductor, Mr. Hodkinson's works appear on the Nonesuch, CRI, Advance, Grenadilla, INNOVA, Novisse, Centaur and Louisville labels.




Donald Neuen was professor of conducting and director of choral activities at the Eastman School from 1981 to 1993. During 1970-72, he held the joint appointment of Director of Choral Activities and assistant conductor for Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and Director of Choral and Orchestral Activities for Georgia State University. He has guest-conducted major choral works in over 30 states and Canada, and is currently professor of choral conducting at the University of California, Los Angeles.




All selections were recorded in the Kresge Recording Studios of the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music. Session engineer, Ros Ritchie. Remastering engineer, Brian Sarvis. Digital signal processing by Dusman Audio, Rochester, NY. Digital tape transfers, Brian Regan and John Ebert. Notes by Robert Haskins; special production assistance by Suzanne Stover. Producer for the Eastman American Music Series is Sydney Hodkinson. Production supervision by David Peelle, Director of Recording Arts and Services.




The cover is a portion of a painting by Ilya Bolotowsky, Untitled (Relational Painting), 1950, from the collection of the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester Marion Stratton Gould Fund. The entire work may be assembled by the joining of this cover with others in this series. Concept and artwork preparation by Marybeth Crider, Creative Arts Manager, Eastman School of Music.






Stephen Albert




Into Eclipse


I. Prologue and Riddle Song (6:43)


II. Oedipus I (3:38)


III. A Quiet Fate (6:51)


IV. Ghosts (5:12)


V. Oedipus II (8:15)






Christopher Rouse








1. Nähe des Todes (5:37)


2. Die Ratten (1:42)


3. Föhn (7:06)


4. Trompeten (1:59)


5. Untergang (4:14)




Quattro Madrigali*




I (Anonymous) (1:58)


II (Tasso) (2:41)


III (Guarini) (3:27)


IV (Michelangelo Buonarroti) (2:49)




Eastman Musica Nova Ensemble


Sydney Hodkinson, Donald Neuen*, conductors


Stephen Oosting, tenor


Leslie Guinn, bass-baritone




Total Time = 62:52