Eastman American Music Series, Vol. 3


American Music


Volume 3

Albright • Dinerstein • Hamer • Silsbee

A Message from the Director

The Eastman School of Music is pleased to be a partner with Albany Records in the production of this series featuring American composers. Beginning with the appointment of Howard Hanson as Director in 1924 and proceeding consistently ever since, the Eastman School has stood for innovation in American music. While the Hanson era was characterized by consistency of genre as he established his concept of American music, succeeding generations of Eastman leaders and composers have promoted diversity in expressive means. These recordings are a fine example of this latter principle of exploration and discovery.

The series follows in Eastman's spirit of promoting opportunities for artists with significant voices to be heard in a society increasingly seduced by clutter. I salute Albany for its commitment to higher ideals.

James Undercofler

Acting 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.

William Albright has concertized widely in Europe, Canada, and the United States, specializing in programs of new music for piano and organ. He has given first performances of over thirty new works, and is also widely known as an interpreter of classical ragtime and early jazz styles, such as Harlem stride and boogie-woogie. As a composer, Albright is probably best known for his keyboard works, although he has produced works for almost every medium (several of which involve electronic, visual, and theatrical elements). His composition teachers have included Ross Lee Finney, Olivier Messiaen, and George Rochberg, and he studied organ with Marilyn Mason. Albright has received two Koussevitzky Foundation awards, two Guggenheim Fellowships, and an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has been professor of composition at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor since 1982, and also serves as the associate director of Michigan's Electronic Music Studio.

Four Fancies for harpsichord - commissioned by Douglas Reed with a grant from the Mesker Trust Fund of Evansville, Indiana - was written at the American Academy in Rome in 1979. Albright's original program notes follow:

"The title of this suite evokes the fancies (fantasias) of seventeenth-century English keyboard music and it provides four distinct approaches to idiomatic writing for the instrument. The first movement, 'Excentrique,' is not so much like the character piano pieces by such Romantic composers as Moszkowski and Grieg as it is like a French overture, complete with extravagant ornaments and obsessive dotted rhythms. The piece is to be played 'pompously, on the border of sanity.' The second movement, 'A Mirror Bagatelle' (pun intended), exploits the harpsichord's two manuals and its ability to provide the same pitches with different colors and timing - in a word, heterophony. 'Musettes' is the French word for bagpipes; it is also a typical movement of a Baroque suite. The last movement, 'Danza ostinata,' owes its existence to several predecessors: Near-Eastern music, boogie-woogie, the Spanish composer Soler, and Terry Riley. The harpsichord is a superb rhythm instrument because of its strongly accented timbre. For this reason, the harpsichord sounds best when it is made to dance. Overall, the key relationships among the four movements - C-G-F-C - form a neatly classical design."

Norman Dinerstein was born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1937. He studied composition with Witold Lutoslawski, Gunther Schuller, Aaron Copland, Lukas Foss, Roger Sessions, and Milton Babbitt, but considered Arnold Franchetti as his most important teacher. Dinerstein's distinguished career included appointments to the composition faculties of several major universities. It culminated with a long tenure at Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where Dinerstein chaired the departments of composition, musicology, and theory; he was Dean at Cincinnati when, in 1982, he died suddenly of a heart attack. Love Songs, composed in 1980 to texts by Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Rossetti, and words from the Song of Solomon, was premiered in the spring of 1981 by soprano Nelga Lynn and pianist Kelly Hale. The work is an example of Dinerstein's late music, which Jonathan Kramer describes as "tonal, expressive, and deeply humanistic." Dinerstein's description of the piece reflects these sensibilities well:

"Love Songs (1980), as the title suggests, is on the subject eternal. Composers throughout the ages have set lyrics of praise, adulation, passion, longing, desire, and of every other conceivable adjectival category and, in a sense, this group of four songs is a continuation of that tradition. In addition, it is also this writer's expression of appreciation and tribute to some earlier composer, for each of the present songs uses in its musical texture a melodic or an accompanimental idea borrowed from three vocal compositions.

"Texts of four different writers are used and, although there is no scenario as one can find in many song cycles, the poetry has been arranged so that a dramatic balance and flow is created. Furthermore, all of the texts are affirmative statements; these declarations of love appear not to go unrequited. The settings capture this wide variety of positive moods with correspondingly appropriate gestures, and the musical means employed are frequently and explicitly tonal."

Born in 1939, Ann Silsbee studied at Radcliffe College and Syracuse University, and received her doctoral degree in composition from Cornell University under Karel Husa. She has held fellowships from both the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo, as well as grants from the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Doors was composed in 1976 for pianist George Pappastavrou, to whom it was dedicated, and in 1978 it received second prize in the Burge-Eastman composition contest. "Doors," writes Silsbee, "is in two movements drawn together in part by the use of a single 'quasi parlando' style, in which the piano seems to speak. An initial cluster figure opens like a door leading to new musical regions, one by one: the first clusters opened into filigree, then into more clusters, big or small, rolled up or down, later interspersed with single pitches, then runs, and so on. At the end of the first movement, a new filigree of trills falls off into silence, out of which emerges the second movement, through a knocking on the wood. Gradually the music comes back to life, turns to the keyboard; small fragments expand until they grow into actual melody.

"At the climax, the keyboard seems nearly swallowed in one giant rolled cluster played with both arms, projecting the music over the threshold again to the beginning with the original rhythmic cluster motif as if the whole exploration were to start over. The work makes important use of the sostenuto pedal, creating a metaphorical atmosphere as it holds chords or clusters as if subterranean resonances stimulated by and then lingering after the principal events."

Janice Hamer studied at Harvard University, and holds a master's degree in conducting from Westminster Choir College, and a Ph.D. in composition from the City University of New York. She taught and conducted at St. Paul's Girls' School and at the Guildhall School of Music in London, where her music was performed in concert halls and on the BBC. She served as choral director at Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges before turning to composition full-time. Among the composition awards and honors she has received are a fellowship at the Bunting Institute at Harvard University (where she began Two Morning Asanas in 1975); grants from the American Music Center, the Mid-Atlantic States Arts Consortium, and the New Jersey State Council for the Arts; three residencies from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts; and, awards from ASCAP. Two choral works were recently performed by the BBC Singers in London. Other recent performances include Daughter, Awake With the Moon III for chamber ensemble, commissioned by Orchestra 2001 of Philadelphia

and premiered in 1995. As the winner of the 1993 Dale Warland Singers New Choral Music Competition, Hamer was commissioned to write On Paper Bridges, and she is currently working on a commission for the Eaken Piano Trio.

Concerning Two Morning Asanas, Hamer writes: "The word asana signifies a position or exercise in the Indian system of hatha yoga. Many asanas have a mythological connotation. As I was interested in yoga while writing this piece, I used the following two asanas as a sculptor uses an armature. Virabhadrasana is the position of the lively mythical warrior Virabhadra. The shape of the position - body standing on one leg, with the trunk and the other leg perpendicular to it, forming a 'T' - is reflected in the registral structure of the piece, with a recurrent motive in the central register of the piano interpolated with episodes extending and dissolving toward the two registral extremes. In Akarna Dhanurasana (the position of the archer), the yogi sits and pulls one leg toward the ear as if drawing a bow, paralleled musically by an opening ostinato that becomes increasingly rhythmically intense. The arrow's release is suggested by the middle section, which is contrapuntal and rising in pitch and dynamic level. The target is a dissipated version of the opening ostinato."

Robert Haskins

Dinerstein: Love Songs

1. Sonnet XLIII, from Sonnets from the Portuguese

(Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of everyday's

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

2. Excerpts from Chapter II of The Song of Songs

(King Solomon)

I am the rose of Sharon and the

lily of the valleys.

As the lily among thorns, so is

my love among the daughters.

As the apple tree among the

trees of the wood, so is my beloved

among the sons. I sat down under

his shadow with great delight,

and his fruit was sweet to my


He brought me to the banqueting

house, and his banner over me

was love.

Stay with me flagons, comfort

me with apples: for I am sick of


I charge you, O ye daughters

of Jerusalem, by the roes, and

by the hinds of the field, that ye

stir not up, nor awake my love,

till he please.

The voice of my beloved!

Behold, he cometh leaping upon the

mountains, skipping upon the hills.

My beloved spake, and said

unto me, Rise up, my love, my

fair one, and come away.

For lo, the winter is past, the

rain is over and gone;

The flowers appear on the

earth; the time of the singing of

birds is come, and the voice of the

turtle is heard in our land;

O my dove, thou art in the

clefts of the rock, in the secret

places of the stairs, let me see thy

countenance, let me hear thy

voice; for sweet is thy voice, and

thy countenance is comely.

My beloved is mine, and I

am his: he feedeth among the


3. A Birthday

(Christina Rossetti)

My heart is like a singing bird

Whose nest is in a watered shoot:

My heart is like an apple-tree

Whole boughs are bent with thick-set fruit

My heart is like a rainbow shell

That paddles in a halcyon sea;

My heart is gladder than all these

Because my love has come to me.

Raise me a dais of silk and down;

Hang it with vair and purple dyes;

Carve it on doves and pomegranates,

And peacocks with a hundred eyes;

Work it in gold and silver grapes,

In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;

Because the birthday of my life

Is come, my love is come to me.

4. Grow Old Along With Me, from Rabbi Ben Ezra

(Robert Browning)

Grow old along with me!

The best is yet to be,

The last of life, for which the first

was made:

Our times are in his hand

Who saith, "A whole I planned,

Youth shows but half; trust God:

see all,

nor be afraid!"

Douglas Reed, harpsichord, is professor of music and university organist at the University of Evansville. He has performed extensively on the harpsichord and organ throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. Reed holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in Organ Performance from the University of Michigan, and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music.

Teresa Ringholz, soprano, was born in Rochester, New York, and received both her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the Eastman School. First prize awards at international vocal competitions in Toulouse and Barcelona helped to launch her impressive operatic career. Since 1985, she has performed with the Cologne Opera and has appeared as Liu in Puccini's Turandot; Sophie in Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier; Susanna in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro; and The Wife in the premiere of Schnittke's Life With an Idiot.

Robert Spillman, piano, studied at the Eastman School of Music and the Hochschule für Musik, Stuttgart. A composer and pianist, Spillman was associate professor of piano and opera coordinator at the Eastman School from 1973-1987. He is presently professor of music at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

David Burge was professor of piano at the Eastman School from 1975 to 1993. Particularly renowned for his performance of twentieth-century music, his recordings encompass works by virtually every composer of the present century. He is also recognized for his contributions as a conductor and composer, and as a columnist for the magazine Contemporary Keyboard.

Albright, Four Fancies 12:20

I. Excentrique

II. A Mirror Bagatelle

III. Musettes

IV. Danza ostinata

Douglas Reed, harpsichord

Recorded in Eastman School Room 120 3/27/82 by Ros Ritchie; Sydney Hodkinson and John Santuccio, producers

Dinerstein, Love Songs 20:52

1. Sonnet XLIII, from Sonnets from the Portuguese (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

2. Excerpts from Chapter II of The Song of Songs (King Solomon)

3. A Birthday (Christina Rossetti)

4. Grow Old Along With Me (Robert Browning)

Teresa Ringholz, soprano ·Robert Spillman, piano

Recorded in the Eastman Theatre 2/20/84 by Ros Ritchie and Mary Van Houten; Sydney Hodkinson and John Santuccio, producers

Hamer, Two Morning Asanas


Akarna Dhanurasana

David Burge, piano

Recorded in the Eastman Theatre 5/17/82 by Ros Ritchie; Sydney Hodkinson and John Santuccio, producers

Silsbee, Doors

David Burge, piano

Recorded in the Eastman Theatre 5/17/82 by Ros Ritchie; Sydney Hodkinson and John Santuccio, producers

All selections were recorded in the Kresge Recording Studios of the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music. 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, Department of Recording Arts and Services.

The cover is a portion of a painting by the American artist 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.

William Albright

Four Fancies (12:20)

I. Excentrique (3:08)

II. Mirror Bagatelle (2:56)

III. Musette (1:45)

IV. Danza Ostinata (4:19)

Douglas Reed, harpsichord

Norman Dinerstein

Love Songs (20:52)

I. How Do I Love Thee? (4:49)

II. I am the Rose of Sharon (10:05)

III. A Birthday (2:33)

IV. Grow Old Along with Me (3:14)

Teresa Ringholz, soprano · Robert Spillman, piano

Janice Hamer

Two Morning Asanas (15:20)

Virabhadrasana (3:31)

Arkarna Dhanurasana (11:43)

David Burge, piano

Ann Silsbee

Doors (12:58)

David Burge, piano

Total Time = 61:46