Kevin Oldham: Piano & Vocal Music



Kevin Oldham


Piano and Vocal Music










When I look back upon the mid-1980s and my apprentice years as music critic for The New York Times, it sometimes seems that I did only two things: cover debut concerts and write AIDS obituaries - alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, over and over again. The debut shift was standard training for the junior critic; the AIDS beat was new and dolorous and nobody knew how to handle it. During the epidemic's first few years, the Times editors decreed that we should avoid any mention of the virus in our obituaries, out of a horribly misguided endeavor to spare families, friends (and, indeed, the deceased) any perceived "stigma." And so I spent my late 20s and early 30s writing about my gifted contemporaries. Some of them were starting careers, stepping out into whatever limelight they had generated for themselves. But an awful lot of them seemed to be dying from mysterious pneumonias, cancers, heart attacks, respiratory ailments and that all-purpose euphemism, a "lengthy illness," at an awfully early age.




Kevin Oldham was one of my debuts - a handsome, vibrant, self-assured and splendidly virtuosic young pianist who played his first New York recital at Carnegie Recital Hall in 1985. Eight years later, he too would die from AIDS, and I would write his obituary. But by then he had become a composer, one who had fought a desperate battle to leave the world some fresh and lovely music. Kevin faced his mortality with the stoic realism of a character out of Albert Camus, making the moment count, doing whatever he could with whatever time he had, knowing the situation was hopeless but not always bad, not every day.




Kevin was diagnosed with H.I.V. in 1988, when he was 28 years old. He'd been doing the New York freelance musician thing, paying the rent by working for a veterinary center and later Jim Henson Productions, but living for those moments when he could take the stage. Now, knowing he would soon become unwell, he set out to leave a musical legacy, shifted his attention to composition, and wrote like mad. Most of the music on this disc was written in the face of death but there is nothing morbid about it; rather, for Kevin, impending death spurred on a renewed appreciation of life and determination to hang on to it as long as possible.




Kevin Oldham was born in Kansas City in 1960. He studied piano at Northwestern University and later at The Juilliard School, where he worked with Sascha Gorodnitzki and Herbert Stessin. In addition to the works recorded here, he completed Three Psalms, The Boulding Chorales, Op. 16, Three Carols for flute, voice and pedal harp, and his largest work, the rhapsodic, mercurial, deeply felt and ultimately enormously affirmative Concerto for Piano.




Therein lies a story. In early 1992, Kevin was invited to play the professional premiere of the Concerto with his hometown orchestra, the Kansas City Symphony. The date was set for January 17, 1993 and Kevin set aside all of December to practice.




Instead, by December he was in New York's Lenox Hill Hospital, growing sicker every day. When, after three weeks, Kevin's doctor told him he was continuing to get worse and that the hospital was at a loss as to how to treat him, he checked himself out on his own volition and moved home to his Manhattan apartment. There he rested, shepherded his strength and then, one week before the concert, flew out to Kansas City for what he knew would be his climactic moment as pianist and composer.




Right up to the moment he walked onto the stage of the Lyric Theater in Kansas City, nobody knew whether he would be able to play. The first rehearsal had been a disaster; Kevin couldn't summon the strength to be heard over the orchestra. During the second rehearsal, his arms and hands were trembling uncontrollably.




Still, that Sunday afternoon, through force of will, Kevin, looking gaunt and exhausted, but exhilarated, walked from the wings, bowed smartly, sat down at the keyboard and rolled his eyes nervously toward conductor William McGlaughlin, as if to say, "I'm as ready as I'll ever be."




The resultant performance was certainly not the fire-breathing, slam-bang reading Kevin could have given it a year before. But it was in every way respectable and it made a persuasive case for Concerto, pianist and a very gifted young composer. When it was over, the audience rose to its feet to give Kevin a stomping, roaring ovation. "It should have been Oldham's first triumph, it may well have been his last," I reported in Newsday at the time. "Under no illusions, he blinked out across the footlights and savored the standing ovation - laughing, crying, exhausted, grateful, overwhelmed."




It would be nice to leave him there. In fact, Kevin went into St. Luke's Hospital the following day, where he spent most of his last two months. There were more invasive tests, more baffling symptoms, more obvious signs he was losing the battle. Yet he kept fighting, with grace and courage. And he was rewarded with a few moments that justified the struggle - a brief period when he felt strong enough to move home with his parents, a few happy, reasonably healthy days with his companion of three years, Stephen Rotondaro. But his condition continued to deteriorate and, on March 11, 1993, Kevin died.




For every Rudolf Nureyev, Michael Bennett or Rock Hudson who has died from AIDS at or near the pinnacle of his profession, there are thousands of writers, dancers, actors, musicians and other artists who didn't have time to fulfill their potential. In the case of Kevin Oldham, AIDS ended the life of a gifted composer who was just getting started. We'll never know what he might have created. Operas? Symphonies? Further concertos? Probably all of these, and more; he was nothing if not ambitious. We regret the music that will never be, and we mourn for Kevin - a brave, funny, smart, articulate and compassionate man. But, through Kevin's own Herculean efforts, something has been saved. You hold the proof in your hands.




-Tim Page




Tim Page is the chief classical music critic for The Washington Post and was the executive producer for BMG Catalyst, the label on which Kevin Oldham's Concerto for Piano was recorded.












In the spring of 1992, I asked Kevin Oldham to write a piano piece for me to premiere on my New York recital debut program. Pleased to comply, he tailor-made the Ballade for me, questioning me closely as to my needs, and taking into account everything from my musical tastes to the size of my hand - hardly small, but considerably smaller than his own. The result was an intensely personal work, from the hushed opening to the final triumphant layering of musical leitmotifs. The Ballade combines the narrative quality of Chopin's works of the same name with echoes of Scriabin's mysticism and feverish chromaticism.




The arias "Sleep and Dream" and "Paint Me" and the dramatic trio, "Row, I Love to Row," were part of an opera in progress (1989-1992) based on Émile Zola's Thérèse Raquin, a novel about a murderous love triangle. The tender lullaby "Sleep and Dream", the arching melody and sensual Straussian harmonies of "Paint Me", and the trio's relentless bolero rhythm and insinuating text are a welcome addition to the contemporary operatic repertoire.




"Across the Sea" projects hope, spirituality, and inner strength. The ecstatic vocal line rides the undulating waves of piano figuration like a sleek vessel. Refreshing as the ocean spray, this song is full of light.




The second movement of Kevin's Concerto for Piano, Op. 14, "Andante Tranquillo," is offered here in an effective transcription for solo piano by Lawrence Rosen. A pastoral mood pervades the outer sections of the ternary form, while the contrasting middle section's relative textural complexity builds to an impassioned climax.




"Not Even if I Try" was written in September, 1989, as a memorial for Douglas Sayers. "Doug was diagnosed with AIDS," Kevin was to write two years later, "and without talking to any of his friends or asking for support, took his own life. During the immediate weeks after his death, I had a peculiar sense of Doug's presence around me. I had so many unresolved feelings: things I never had the chance to say to Doug. It was almost too much for me. And on one of those days, this music, the song with all of those thoughts, came pouring out - in about as much time as it takes to read it through."






Four of the piano pieces were written shortly before Kevin's death: two Nocturnes and the Sarabande and Toccata. Written sketches exist for both Nocturnes, as well as fleshed-out versions on tape performed by the composer. The first Nocturne is the darker of the two, with its moody chromaticism and intricate filigree. The other is a direct, deeply felt statement in which, once again, one may hear the influence of Chopin. Note the bittersweet innocence of the short bridge passage which precedes the recapitulation - a hint of the wistful melancholy found in Mahler's Kindertotenlieder.




No written sketches exist for the Sarabande, which had to be transcribed from a working version on tape. Impressionistic in style, it is an excellent example of Kevin's improvisational abilities. Its gentle demeanor greatly contrasts with the obsessive angularity of the Toccata (the two are meant to be performed in tandem). Left unfinished at the time of the composer's death, the work was completed by Steve Cohen, a fine composer and arranger who also transcribed


the Nocturnes and the Sarabande, and had worked closely with Kevin on the orchestration of his piano concerto. The sharply etched lines of the Toccata are accentuated by shifting metrical patterns; the tempo indication is presto volando.




The earliest work presented here is the song cycle entitled Gaspard de la Nuit. As a pianist, Kevin was much taken with the music of Maurice Ravel, and his repertoire included the formidable piano triptych of 1909 bearing the same name. Both composers' works are based on the three poems of Aloysius Bertrand (1807-1841). The seductive fluidity of "Ondine," "Le Gibet's" expressive use of sprechstimme (speech-song), coupled with the relentless ostinato of a bleakly tolling bell, and the nightmarish "Scarbo," with its breathless vocal line and fleet piano accompaniment, make Gaspard de la Nuit a most imaginative and attractive contemporary song cycle.




The Variations on a French Noël is part of Kevin Oldham's live performance in 1986 at the Chicago Public Library for the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series. The theme is based on a seventeenth-century French Christmas carol entitled "Noël nouvelet"*. Modeled after the Brahms Variations on a Theme of Paganini, this work exudes rhythmic verve, and clearly illustrates the composer's evident delight in pianistic acrobatics. The return of the theme in its original simple setting concludes this exciting set.




-Karen Kushner




*Text (first verse only)




Noël nouvelet, Noël chantons ici:


Christmas anew, let us sing Noël here,




Dévotes gens, crions à Dieu merci:


Pious folk, let us shout thanks to God,




Chantons Noël pour le Roi nouvelet


Let us sing Noël for the new little King;




Noël nouvelet, Noël chantons ici!


Christmas anew, let us sing Noël here.








Born to musical parents in 1960 in Kansas City, KEVIN OLDHAM began piano studies at an early age with a well-respected teacher, Latha Blim, for whom he always had the greatest affection and admiration. He spent three undergraduate years at Northwestern University under the tutelage of Gui Mombaerts and completed his formal training with Herbert Stessin and Sascha Gorodnitzki at The Juilliard School in New York City, where he received both Bachelor and Master of Music degrees. In 1980, he made his orchestral debut with the Detroit Symphony under the baton of Erich Kunzel, performing Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, and gave numerous recitals in New York, Washington, D.C. (Kennedy Center debut 1986), Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Kansas City and several European capitals.




Oldham was a recipient of a national "Meet the Composer" grant, which, along with the Festival of the Atlantic Young Composers Award, enabled him to complete his Concerto for Piano, Op. 14. National Public Radio broadcast a recording of the premiere which featured Oldham performing with the Orchestra of St. Peter-by-the-Sea; the same recording was presented on "ITT's Salute to the Arts" program on WQXR, which won a 1991 Angel Award in Radio Broadcasting. The composer also appeared as soloist in the second performance of his concerto in January of 1993, with the Kansas City Symphony under William McGlaughlin. Sixteen days after Oldham's death, the Concerto was recorded with the same orchestra (with Ian Hobson as soloist) and was released as the centerpiece of BMG Catalyst's CD, Memento Bittersweet.




An active member of the Estate Project for Artists with Aids (Alliance for the Arts), Oldham helped other artists to ensure the survival of their work. In a December 1992 New York Times interview, he stated: " whether you stay alive or not seems the trivial part. It's your work itself that must have a life of its own. If I can make sure that my music will continue to have life, that seems to be the more important consideration." Oldham's music can be heard on two VAI Audio CDs: Out of the Depths - The Choral and Organ Music of Kevin Oldham and Kevin Oldham - The Art of the Piano Transcription; additionally, his "Silent Night" setting is performed on the Nimbus Records Christmas collection, Nativitas.






A native of Nebraska, KAREN KUSHNER began her piano studies at the age of six. Since receiving a Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School in 1982, she has appeared internationally as a piano soloist, including performances at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, the Ethical Culture Chamber Series, the Kosciuszko Foundation, and the United Nations in New York City, the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, and the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series in Chicago. Summer performances have included Spain (the International Festival of Deià in Majorca), France (L'Académie Internationale d'Été in Nice), and in the United States, the festivals at Aspen, Newport, Ravinia, the Festival of the Atlantic, and Music in the Mountains. She has been interviewed and featured on such radio stations as New York's WQXR, WNCN, and WNYC, Chicago's WFMT, Boston's WBUR, and WGTS in Washington, D.C. Ms. Kushner has taught at the Mannes College of Music and teaches at the Turtle Bay School as well as privately in New York City. While an undergraduate at Northwestern University, her teachers were Wanda Paul and Robert Weirich. During that time she was a prizewinner in several Midwest competitions, including the Ravinia Festival in Chicago. She has also studied with Jerome Lowenthal, Jeanne-Marie Darré, Russell Sherman, Herbert Stessin, and at Juilliard with Adele Marcus and William Masselos, and she is a member of the New York Musicians Club, "The Bohemians."




Her two-CD debut recording of the complete Mazurkas of Chopin for Connoisseur Society has been received with the greatest critical acclaim and has been highly praised by such periodicals as Newsday, the New York Daily News, Fanfare, and Stereophile. An authority on the music of the late composer-pianist Kevin Oldham, Karen Kushner also appears on the VAI Audio release entitled Out of the Depths - The Choral and Organ Music of Kevin Oldham. A CD of nineteenth-century piano music entitled The Romantic World of Robert Schumann - The Poet Speaks for Epiphany Recordings will be available in spring 1997.






CAMELLIA JOHNSON was born in Wilmington, Delaware and grew up in Florida, where she graduated from Bethune Cookman College in Daytona Beach. She pursued graduate studies in voice at the Manhattan School of Music and received a first prize in the Opera Index Awards (1989), a special study grant from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation (1990), a George London - William Matheus Sullivan Grant (1990), and a fellowship from the Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund. She made her professional debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1985 in Porgy and Bess, in which she went on to sing the Strawberry Woman at Glyndebourne under Simon Rattle. Appearances include performances with the symphony orchestras of Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, London, St. Louis, Montreal, and Quebec, among others, and with Opera Pacific (Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana and the title role in Aida), the Michigan Opera Theatre, and the opera companies of Mobile and Atlanta (title role in Aida), the Metropolitan Opera (High Priestess in Aida, Serena in Porgy and Bess, and Madelon in Andrea Chénier). She was the sole winner of the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in 1993 and has performed recitals under its auspices. Concert engagements have included Beethoven's Ninth in Chicago (Hugh Wolff, conductor), in Detroit (Neeme Järvi, conductor), at Carnegie Hall (under Gerard Schwarz) and with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. She has also sung Beethoven's Missa Solemnis in Baltimore for Gunther Herbig and with the Oratorio Society of Washington at the Kennedy Center, "Ah, perfido!" with John Nelson, the Verdi and Mozart requiems, Rossini's Stabat Mater, Poulenc's Gloria, Berlioz's Les Nuits d'été, Strauss' Four Last Songs, and Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder. She has sung Schubert and Beethoven at the Mostly Mozart Festival at Avery Fisher Hall in New York, as well as Gershwin at the Ravinia Festival with Erich Kunzel and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and at the Gershwin Years Festival at the Barbican in London with the London Symphony Orchestra under Michael Tilson Thomas.






American soprano SUSAN ROSENBAUM is a recipient of a William Matheus Sullivan grant (1993) and won the James Schwabacher first prize at the Grand Finals Concert of the San Francisco Opera's Merola Program in 1992. That same year she joined the Western Opera Theatre tour of the United States and Japan, singing the role of Musetta in Puccini's La Bohème. Ms. Rosenbaum made her debut singing the title role in Massenet's Cendrillon with Colin Graham at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis and has sung Musetta with the Atlanta Opera and Connecticut Opera Theatre, Najade in Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos at the Washington Opera, Polly Peachum in Weill's The Threepenny Opera, and Rosmene in Handel's Imeneo. In the fall of 1994 she made her New York City Opera debut singing Pamina in Mozart's The Magic Flute.




A native of Illinois, Ms. Rosenbaum attended Swarthmore College, where she studied sociology and anthropology, and went on to study voice at The Juilliard School, where she performed Helena in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Anna I in Weill's The Seven Deadly Sins, Nella in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi, and the Female Fan in William Schuman's Mighty Casey. She has also performed at Alice Tully Hall with The Juilliard Symphony Orchestra.




Ms. Rosenbaum was a finalist in the 1992 Pavarotti International Competition and the winner of the 1991 Sigma Alpha Iota Competition.






A native of Rome, New York, MARIA RUSSO completed her musical training at Northwestern University in Chicago and at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. As a participant in the Merola Program at the San Francisco Opera, she made her debut as Rosalinda in Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus. Having won first prize in the East and West Artists Competition, Ms. Russo made her New York recital debut at Carnegie Recital Hall. Ms. Russo has performed the role of Abigaille in Verdi's Nabucco in more than ten theaters, including those of Bergen and Vienna. She has sung title roles in Verdi's Aida (Taipei, Taiwan), the Robert Wilson production of Gluck's Alceste (State Opera in Stuttgart), and Puccini's Turandot. Other roles include Marie in Berg's Wozzeck and Odabella in Verdi's Attila. Wagner heroines include Senta in Der fliegende Holländer (Opera Bergen), Elsa in Lohengrin (Caracas, Venezuela), Brünnhilde in Die Walküre (Aspen, Colorado, and Vienna), and Isolde in Tristan und Isolde (Lübeck, Germany, and Trieste, Italy). She has sung Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos (Corfu, Greece), the Kaiserin in Die Frau ohne Schatten (the Hans-Peter Lehmann production in Basel, Switzerland), the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier (Linz, Austria), and Chrysothemis in John Dew's production of Elektra. For this performance, Opern Welt magazine in Germany singled her out as the "emerging artist of the year". Ms. Russo was awarded first prize in the 1984 German Radio Competition in Munich, as well as the International Voice Competition in Mantua, Italy. As a special honor she was asked to give a solo concert at the International Music Festival of Korea in Seoul. She has recorded with the radio orchestras of Berlin, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, and Hamburg.






A graduate of Yale University and The Juilliard School, tenor CARL HALVORSON is known internationally as a concert, opera, and recital artist, having appeared with such major orchestras as the Israel Philharmonic and the Boston and Indianapolis Symphonies. As a recitalist, Mr. Halvorson has appeared at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, London's Wigmore Hall, Ambassador Auditorium in Los Angeles, the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., as well as at the festivals of Spoleto, Marlboro, Aspen, and Tanglewood. In concert, Mr. Halvorson has performed Haydn's Mass in the Time of War with Masterworks Chorus and the New York Oratorio Society, Bach's St. John Passion with the Youngstown Symphony and Brahms' Liebeslieder Waltzes with the Feld Ballet. Performances of Handel works include Dixit Dominus with Pro Arte Chorale of New Jersey, Judas Maccabaeus with the Bach Society of St. Louis and the Berkshire Choral Institute, and Messiah with the Detroit Oratorio Society. Mr. Halvorson has appeared with the Berkshire Opera in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia and Turn of the Screw (Peter Quint), the Boston Lyric Opera in Robert Aldridge's Elmer Gantry (Frank), Westergaard's The Tempest (Ferdinand), and Honegger's Jeanne d'Arc au Bûcher at Seiji Ozawa's Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto in Japan.




Mr. Halvorson won the Young Concert Artists International Auditions (1988), Joy of Singing Award (1987), The Elly Ameling Prize from the S'Hertogenbosch Competition, and the William Waite Concerto prize from Yale University. He has received grants from the Bagby Foundation, the Sullivan Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. His new CD of music by Schönberg, Poulenc, Barber, and Bolcom will be issued by Music Masters.




Born in St. Louis, baritone ANDREW SCHROEDER now makes his home in New York City. He is a recipient of an Opera America William Matheus Sullivan grant (1991) and the winner of the Bruce Yarnell Award (1994), awarded at auditions held under the auspices of the George London Foundation. Mr. Schroeder received his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Northern Colorado and trained with the Metropolitan Opera Young Artist Development program in New York.




In the summer of 1995, Mr. Schroeder performed the title role in Heinz's Der Prinz von Homburg at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston. He made his European opera debut in the title role of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin with the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse with Catherine Malfitano under the direction of Michel Plasson; with that company he has also sung Mercutio in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette (a role he has also sung in St. Étienne and at the Opéra-Comique in Paris), the title role in Britten's Billy Budd, and the Count in Strauss' Capriccio. Additionally, Mr. Schroeder has appeared in concert performances of Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia (title role) with the Indianapolis Symphony and Raymond Leppard, Valentin in Gounod's Faust with the Vancouver Opera, Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan Tutte with the Vancouver Opera and the Washington Opera, and Marcello in Puccini's La Bohème, Germont in Verdi's La Traviata with the Minnesota Opera and Roberto Abbado, and in New York's Avery Fisher Hall in the role of Splendiano in Bizet's Djamileh with the American Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Schroeder has also sung with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Metropolitan Opera, and the Wolf Trap Opera Company.




Sleep and Dream Text by Kevin Oldham




Sleep and dream, dream of a day where warmth and light confound the darkness we have left.




Sleep and dream.




Sleep and dream, dream of a day, to live and fear nothing...




No more suffering...




No more walls to close us in...




Sleep and dream.




Dream to be joyful, dream and be loving...




Dream to be filled with success and life forever.




Dream! Dream of that day!




I seize these dreams and pray that God will assist me to make them happen.










Across the Sea Text by Kevin Oldham




I know a place where my heart has built a home...




Where my thoughts have made my friends...




Where my spirit longs to be...




I know this place across the sea.




I know a place where the sky is bright with gold...




Where the water shimmers clear...




Where the wind blows wild and free...




I know a place across the sea.




Some say it's heaven I speak of; they're not quite right.




I know a way to get there - no, you don't have to die.




Follow the lead and look inside your heart.




It's not so far that we travel; just turn around.




Oceans of waves to lift us - take a deep breath and soar.




Watch and expect the other side.




It's almost in sight.




Let sun blitz the night - and rise!




I know a place where my dreams turn into life...




Where my love can have no end...




Where my wishes start to be...




I know a place across the sea.




I know this place and if you can come along




Leave your cares and things behind...




Take a hand and follow me.




I know this place... oh, such a place.




I know this place across the sea.






Row, I Love to Row Text by Kevin Oldham








Row, I love to row.


To pull my boat to and fro.


The oars, my arms I grip their shafts


and stroke the deep water wide.








Row, I long to row.


Through deeper waters I go.


To cast away this heavy load


and follow the surging tide.








I'm frightened, I'm frightened,


Laurent can we go back?


Oh, God, I mean it! Laurent can we go back?


Oh... Oh the water's deep and...


No. No, we musn't go... I'm frightened. Laurent.


Laurent can we go back? Can we go back?


Does he hear me? I wonder, does he hear me?








Row, a little faster...


Pull a little harder


Oh, the water is closing us in.


Feel the power grow.


Steady as you go.


The tide must bring us home.








Row, I need to row.


This pow'r continues to grow.


My body aches to free my soul


and loosen the thoughts I hide.








Go back! Laurent please turn the boat around.


I mean it... It's crazy for us to be out here.


The water is rising all around us.


Oh God... We'll never make it home.




Turn the boat around.








I will keep on rowing.








Ah... this is torture.


God, must I wait any longer for you to be mine.


The hours could pass like days


'til I am free from this prison,


bound in chains, forever in chains to him!








God, give me strength for I can't wait any longer.


The time at last arrives


when I can row from this prison,


bursting the bonds...forever to be with her.








When I reach the other shore...


I'll jump out and save her...


I will make him listen next time I call out...


Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!


I don't think they can hear me.


No, I'm sure of it.








Ah, look at him row...


such manly prowess he shows!


Takes massive legs and arms of steel


to row like a man...


to kill like a man...


to row ... Row! Row! Row!








Row, I love to row.


A manly prowess I show.


Takes courage great and sweat of brow,


To row like a man...


To kill like a man... to row.








God... I don't want to die!


I think we're going to die.


It's not too late.


Turn around! please listen to me!


Please listen and stop, now!


Stop now! Stop!








Camille, my friend, you look so pale!


A bit green in the gills! Are you sick?








Camille, are you well?








Uh... uh... no... yes! uh...








Good! Then why don't you switch places with me...
















and you can row for a bit.








Uh... oh... yes. Yes, Laurent, I will...


Laurent... what are you doing?




Thérèse... Thérèse... Thérèse...








Thérèse! He's down, Thérèse...
















Call for help...








What have I done, oh God, what have I done?








Thérèse, call for help...








Please God, forgive me in your heav'n above.








Thérèse... Thérèse...








Is this the way of love? Is this the way of love?








Thérèse... Thérèse...






Paint Me Text by Kevin Oldham




Paint me. Color my cheeks, brush my lips, stroke my arms.




Paint me, so they'll wonder who I am.




Bring me somewhere to life... for my everywhere is death.




Paint me... a woman not timid and lifeless but a thousand times more vivid in your eyes.




Paint me. Watch and study me! Capture me.




Hold me there, and with abandon, and resolve... paint me! over and over, paint me again and again!




Paint me.






Not Even if I Try Text by Kevin Oldham




You meet my eyes, you smile at me, you speak to me, you hold me close.




My thoughts are clear, my heart is breaking. You're oh so far away.




I meet your gaze, I smile at you. I listen closely and reach for you.




You're in my thoughts, I hear your heartbeat. It feels so far away.




I'll try to sleep. I'll hold my pillow. I want you here with me.




I can't forget... not even if I try.




I walk alone beneath the sky. This time apart moves slowly by.




I can't escape, my heart is breaking. I feel so far away.




It may be soon... I'll wait around. I'll say a prayer and hope I'm found.




My thoughts are clear. my body yearns to be somewhere with you.




I'll try to sleep. I'll hold my pillow. I want you here with me.




I won't forget... not even if I try.




Do you suppose that things will change? Is there a chance you'll return?




And if you do or even try, I'll be here waiting, watching... my eyes are open wide.




I search the stars. I watch the clouds. Look down to me... I'll catch your gaze.




My thoughts are clear. My heart is aching. You're oh so far away.




I'll send these words out on the wind. You'll feel their warmth, it's in the breeze.




The thought is clear. My heart is breaking. You're oh so far away.




I'll close my eyes. I'll hold my pillow, and say a prayer for you.




I won't forget, I can't forget. Not even if I try.






Gaspard de la Nuit Poetry by Aloysius Bertrand; English translation by Rollo H. Myers








Listen! Listen! 'tis I, Ondine, sprinkling with drops of water your window-pane lit by the pale moon's rays while over there the Lady of the Manor is gazing from her balcony at the beauty of the starry night and slumbering lake.




Every little wave is a water sprite swimming with the current, and every current like a path to my palace leads, and my palace is built of water at the bottom of the lake in a triangle formed of fire, earth and air.




Listen! Listen! it is my father dipping a branch of alder into the bubbling water while my sisters caress with their foaming, transparent arms... the cool islands of herbs and water lilies whose flags are laughing at the weeping willow fishing in the stream.




Listen! Listen! 'tis I Ondine!




Le Gibet




Ah! What is that sound I hear? Is it the night wind howling, or the sighing of the corpse that hangs from yonder gibet?




Is it a cricket singing in the moss and barren ivy in which the gallows stand?




Is it a fly sounding its hunting horns in those deaf ears?




Is it perchance some blundering cockchafer trailing a hair plucked from that bald head?




Or would it be some spider weaving a length of muslin as a cravat for that strangled neck?




It is the sound of a bell tolling from the walls of a town far away on the horizon, and a corpse hanging from a gibet reddened by the rays of the setting sun.








How many times have I seen and heard Scarbo when at midnight the moon is shining in the sky like a piece of silver on an azure banner sprinkled with golden bees.




How many times have I heard him laughing in the shadows of my room, while scratching at the silk of the curtains 'round my bed! Scarbo!




How often have I seen him descend from the ceiling, pirouette on one foot, and roll across the floor like a bobbin from a witch's distaff! Scarbo!




And if I expected him then to disappear, the little dwarf would grow taller and taller and stand towering between me and the moon like a cathedral spire, whose golden bell rings like the tip of his pointed cap! Scarbo!




But soon his body would turn blue and translucent like the wax in a candle and his face would grow pale, then suddenly he would vanish.






Executive Producer - Stephen Rotondaro


Produced for Pilot Music by André Gauthier


Engineers: Anthony Salvatore and Robert Friedrich


Mastering by Jeremy R. Kipnis at Optical Digital Laboratories


Recorded in November, 1994, at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City


Steinway Piano CD - 166; Bösendorfer Piano in Variations on a French Noël


Cover art by Kevin Oldham · Cover design by Sean D. Lewis






Special thanks to: Steve Cohen, Charles Hamlen, Nancy Helwig, IMG Artists, Igor Kipnis, Charles Lovett and the Lovett Foundation, Tim Page, and radio station WFMT in Chicago.


Ballade and Variations on a French Noël © Neil A. Kjos, San Diego, California.


"Andante Tranquillo" © Notevole Music Publishers, New York City.


Other works available from the Oldham estate, 677 West End Avenue #15D, NY, NY 10025.






Ballade, Op. 17 (1991) (6:34)


Karen Kushner, piano




Sleep and Dream (1990) (3:10)


from Thérèse Raquin


Camellia Johnson, soprano · Karen Kushner, piano




Across the Sea (1990) (2:28)


Susan Rosenbaum, soprano · Karen Kushner, piano




Sarabande and Toccata, Op. 19 (1993) (9:24)




Sarabande (6:01)




Toccata (completed by Steve Cohen) (3:23)


Karen Kushner, piano




Row, I Love to Row (1990) (4:47)


from Thérèse Raquin


Maria Russo, soprano · Carl Halvorson, tenor


Andrew Schroeder, baritone · Karen Kushner, piano




Andante Tranquillo (1991) (arr. Lawrence Rosen) (6:20)


Second movement from Concerto for Piano, Op. 14


Karen Kushner, piano




Paint Me (1990) (3:26)


from Thérèse Raquin


Maria Russo, soprano · Karen Kushner, piano




Not Even if I Try (1989) (4:41)


Carl Halvorson, tenor · Karen Kushner, piano










Piano and Vocal Music






2 Nocturnes, Op. 15 (1992-1993) (7:38)


No. 1 in C (3:31)


No. 2 in A Flat (4:07)


Karen Kushner, piano




Gaspard de la Nuit, Op. 3 (1977-1980)


Ondine (2:53)


Le Gibet (3:23)


Scarbo (1:46)


Karen Kushner, piano


Susan Rosenbaum, soprano




Variations on a French Noël, Op. 7


(1981-1985) (10:00)


Kevin Oldham, piano


From a live performance at the


Chicago Public Library, June 1986






Total Time = 67:34