VISIONS IN METAPHOR
John Sampen, saxophone
Marilyn Shrude, piano
Internationally-recognized saxophonist John Sampen is dedicated to the promotion and performance of contemporary art music. His sponsorship of new music has resulted in premieres of over sixty works, including commissions by Rands, Subotnick, Cage, Adler and Babbitt. Sampen has also presented first performances of saxophone arrangements by Lutoslawski, Stockhausen and Tower.
John Sampen's world-wide performances include concerts with the Nurnberg Symphony, the Biel Swiss Symphony, the Osaka Municipal Winds, the Toledo Symphony, the Orchestra Internazionale d'Italy and the New Mexico Symphony. He has recorded with the Belgian and Swiss National Radio as well as the Capstone, CRI, Neuma and Orion labels. A clinician for the Selmer Company, Sampen has presented master classes at important universities and conservatories in Asia, Europe and North America. Dr. Sampen is presently Distinguished Artist Professor at Bowling Green State University and president of the North American Saxophone Alliance.
Award-winning composer/ pianist Marilyn Shrude is an active proponent of contemporary music in America. Her honors include the Kennedy Center Friedheim Awards for Orchestral Music, the Cleveland Arts Prize, Alverno College Alumna of the Year, and a recent Rockefeller Foundation residency in Italy. Shrude's compositions are performed internationally in Prague's Smetana Hall, Taiwan's National Concert Hall, Brussels Town Hall, Carnegie Recital Hall, Merkin Hall, and the Kennedy Center.
Dr. Shrude is founder of the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music and was director of the nationally-acclaimed BGSU New Music & Art Festival for 19 years. She served as chair of the Theory and Composition Department at Interlochen Arts Camp and was a visiting faculty member at Indiana University. She is currently professor and chair of the Musicology/Composition/ Theory Department at Bowling Green State University. Shrude has performed as collaborative pianist with John Sampen since 1972.
VISIONS IN METAPHOR
Since the 1960s, the American composer has consistently rejected conformity; indeed the concept of free expression has led to intense creative experimentation and its divergent compositional lineage. This recording seeks to celebrate the eclectic American music of the recent past.
In 1994, John Sampen and Marilyn Shrude initiated a commissioning project designed to represent this diversity. Seven major American composers were invited to contribute “postcard pieces” highlighting their unique musical styles. The resulting collection, which comprises an interchangeable suite for saxophone and piano, demonstrates serialism, aleatory, improvisation, and a variety of other musical languages, styles and genres. Sampen and Shrude premiered the works by Babbitt and Oliveros at Michigan State University (1995), Husa's composition in Taiwan (1997), and the remaining “postcards” at the 11th World Saxophone Congress in Valencia, Spain (1997).
In addition to the postcard pieces, this compact disc includes five works complimenting the musical and cultural melange of late 20th Century America.
John Adams (b.1947)
(from Fearful Symmetries)
JOHN ADAMS is former composer-in residence with the San Francisco Symphony and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. A graduate of Harvard, he studied composition with Leon Kirchner, David Del Tredici and Roger Sessions. Recognized today as a leading minimalist composer, John Adams is famous for his large operatic projects (e.g., Nixon in China and The Death of Klinghoffer).
Concerning his orchestral work Fearful Symmetries of 1988, Adams writes that “the essence of minimalistic music has been its wonderful smoothness of transitions between tonalities, usually between thirds, which I like to compare to automatic transmission. Fearful Symmetries goes in the opposite direction by using the most jagged modulation available, which is by half steps—it's like shifting without a clutch.”
Adams' orchestration features a quartet of saxophones which are used as both melodic soloists and as accompanists in ostinato patterns. Postmark is Marilyn Shrude's setting of the soprano saxophone solo from Fearful Symmetries.
Milton Babbitt (b. 1916)
“A man with legendary brillance,” Milton Babbitt is a renowned composer, teacher, writer and spokesman for new music. He is an accomplished musician and mathematician, who taught both disciplines at Princeton University until his retirement in 1984. Babbitt was a pioneer in the development of electronic music after World War II and was co-founder and director of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center. He is currently on the faculty of the Juilliard School.
Accompanied Recitative is a brief, serialized composition for soprano saxophone and piano. Babbitt's style is marked by wide leaps, complicated rhythmic configurations and precise and detailed dynamic indications.
Karel Husa (b. 1921)
Postcard From Home
The Czech-American composer and conductor Karel Husa studied with Arthur Honegger and Nadia Boulanger. He served as a distinguished professor of composition at Cornell University and holds both the prestigious Grawemeyer Award (1993) and the Pulitzer Prize (1969). He writes that “Music, like other arts, mirrors what composers admire, what touches us, be it joy or tragedy, beautiful colors of sounds, remembrances, mosaic-like work with notes, threads, strands.”
Postcard From Home is inspired by two Moravian melodies and begins with a short echoing recitative expressing joyful singing in the mountains. The second part resembles an aria and describes a young man's emotions upon departing from his home and native land.
Pauline Oliveros (b. 1932)
Pauline Oliveros helped change the course of American music through her work in improvisation, electronic techniques, teaching methods, myth and ritual, and meditative and physical-consciousness. She is founder and director of the Deep Listening ™ program for the Oliveros Foundation and has developed a compositional style which typically emphasizes attention strategies, musicianship and improvisational skills.
In a playful spirit appropriate to “The Postcards,” Oliveros sent her score for Mirrorrim on a single postcard . The composition begins and ends on a concert Eb; otherwise, the score is entirely verbal. Improvisational instructions include: “If he goes up she goes down. If he goes down she goes up. Try to do this more or less simultaneously without knowing what the other is going to do… PLAY. If you get confused it's part of the piece…”
William Albright (1944-1998)
Postcard from Kansas:Welcome to Interstate-70
William Albright was a versatile and eclectic musician with national recognition as an organist, piano soloist, composer and champion and interpreter of Scott Joplin and other ragtime piano masters. A faculty member at the University of Michigan for over thirty years, Albright's compositions suggest a playful irreverence to the traditional conventions displayed by academic composers.
The manuscript forPostcard from Kansas arrived in the mail (September 16, 1997) on nine separate postcards with the instruction: “some assembly required.” At the time of his death, Albright was planning a 50-piece set of short works, one from each state. He wrote that “this postcard, a bleak unchanging overhead view of boring-ness, is real.” The nine cards are interchangeable with clever subtitles such as “we drive at night,” “fines doubled in contruction zones (speed limit =144),” “vamp K-C style (Kansas City style),” “coda: rest stop, one mile,” and “Wild Card from Amsterdam.”
Samuel Adler (b.1928)
Samuel Adler is a world-renowned conductor, author, teacher and composer with a catalog listing of over 400 published works in every media. He has taught at the Eastman School and at the Juilliard School and has been guest composer or conductor at more than 300 universities worldwide. A tireless promoter of American music and musicians, Adler helped initiate the Composer's Hall of Fame in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Pensive Soliloquy is an introspective composition reiterating a motive of two thirty-second notes and a dotted eighth in the saxophone followed by the piano which provides a calmer answer. The material is developed through the final phrase, when the piano echoes the saxophone's insistent cry and brings the entire work to a quiet close.
Marilyn Shrude (b.1946)
Continuum (Postscript '97)
The music of Chicago-born composer Marilyn Shrude is recognized for its “shimmering sounds” and “sensuous beauty.” Her many honors include citations from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and from the Kennedy Center Freidheim Awards. Active as a composer, pianist, teacher, and contemporary music advocate, Shrude has consistently promoted American music through her many years directing both the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music and the Bowling Green State University New Music & Art Festival.
Continuum (Postscript '97) is a brief but virtuosic study in perpetual motion. The lines of the alto saxophone and piano continuously swirl and intertwine in a joyous “tour de force.”
Bernard Rands (b.1934)
Bernard Rands blends “dramatic intensity” with a “musicality and clarity of idea allied to a sophisticated and elegant technical mastery” — qualities developed from his studies with Dallapiccola and Berio. A 1984 Pulitzer-Prize winner with more than 90 works to his name, Rands is currently the Walter Bigelow Rosen Professor of Music at Harvard University.
Memo 6 for Alto Saxophone is one of eight works in the memo series which includes solos for contrabass, trombone, harp, flute, piano, female voice and oboe. Each addresses contemporary virtuosity in its respective medium. The title Memo (as in memorandum) suggests that the score be a reminder of each instrument's heritage or repertoire as well as an urging to explore new expressive potential.
Memo 6 was commissioned by John Sampen and twenty-six current and former students from Bowling Green State University.
Marilyn Shrude (b.1946)
Visions in Metaphor
“Visions in Metaphor” had its genesis in 1986 as a work for solo clarinet and dancer. The work was envisioned as a series of tableaux or metaphors around which the soloist and the dancer could create a mood or impression—thus the somewhat sectionalized nature of the piece. Ten years later it was transcribed for alto saxophone with some substantial changes befitting the nature of the instrument and the lack of dancer. The present version shows off the virtuosity of the saxophonist, who is asked to perform the usual pyro-techniques for which the instrument is famous.
Philip Glass (b. 1937)
Recognized as one of the architects of minimalist music, Philip Glass studied composition with Milhaud, Persichetti and Boulanger. He is founder and director of the Philip Glass Ensemble (established 1968) and has been honored with distinguished awards including Musical America's Musician of the Year (1985). His monumental film scores and dramas include Einstein on the Beach, Koyaanisattsi and Akhnaten.
Facades was written in 1981 to be played by either two soprano saxophones or two flutes and strings. It was originally intended for Koyaanisattsi 's visual montage of Wall Street in New York City on a Sunday morning. Marilyn Shrude arranged this setting for solo soprano saxophone and piano.
Joan Tower (b. 1938)
Joan Tower is the 1990 recipient of the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition. Her bold and energetic music is noted for its striking imagery and novel structural forms. She has served as composer-in-residence with the Saint Louis Orchestra and is currently the Asher Edelman Professor of Music at Bard College, where she has taught since 1972.
Tower's Wings was originally composed in 1981 for clarinetist Laura Flax. Discussions with John Sampen led to the preparation of a saxophone version which was premiered by him in April of 1991. In speaking of Wings, Tower suggests that “the image behind the piece is one of a large bird—perhaps a falcon—at times flying very high, gliding along the thermal currents, barely moving. At other moments, the bird goes into elaborate flight patterns that loop around, driving downward, gaining tremendous speed.”
Karel Husa (b. 1921)
Élégie et Rondeau
Karel Husa's Élégie et Rondeau first appeared in 1960 as a saxophone/piano work commissioned by the concert saxophonist Sigurd Rascher. Husa's orchestration for saxophone and orchestra was completed in 1962 and premiered by Rascher at Cornell University during the same year. The opening Élégie, which was composed shortly after the death of Husa's mother, mirrors a similar setting of the composer's solo piano composition. The New York Times (1969) suggests that “the Elegy is somber and atonal, the Rondo angry and flamboyant with spectacular tour de force writing for the solo instrument.”
Cover Art: Robert Motherwell Redness of Red, 1984-1985. Silkscreen printed in red; lithograph from one alumnium plate printed in red; collage on Arches Cover. Image size: 24 x 16 inches. c Dedalus Foundation, Inc./Licensed by VAGA, New York.
Production Engineer: Mark Bunce. Recording, Editing & Mastering: Mark Bunce.
Recording funded in part by the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music (Bowling Green State University) and by the Distinguished Artist and Scholar Funds (Bowling Green State University).
John Adams' Postmark is published by Boosey & Hawkes; Milton Babbitt's Accompanied Recitative and William Albrights's Postcard from Kansas are published by C.F. Peters; Karel Husa's Postcard from Home is published by G. Schirmer, Inc.; Pauline Oliveros' Mirrorrim is published by Deep Listening Publications; Samuel Adler's Pensive Soliloquy is published by Theodore Presser; Marilyn Shrude's Continuum (Postscript '97) and Visions in Metaphor are published by MJS Publishing; Bernard Rands' Memo 6 is published by European-American; Philip Glass' Facades is published by Dunvagen; Joan Tower's Wings is published by American Music Publishing; and Karel Husa's Élégie et Rondeau is published by Leduc.
VISIONS IN METAPHOR
John Sampen, saxophone
Marilyn Shrude, piano
1 Postmark (fromFearful Symmetries)+ [2:35]
2 Accompanied Recitative* [1:56]
3 Postcard from Home* [3:05]
4 Mirrorrim* [2:44]
5 Postcard from Kansas:
Welcome to Interstate-70* [3:14]
6 Pensive Soliloquy* [5:25]
7 Continuum (Postscript '97)* [1:22]
8 Memo 6* [9:50]
9 Visions in Metaphor+ [6:32]
10 Facades+ [7:14]
11 Wings+ [9:35]
12 Élégie et Rondeau [8:27]
Total Time = 62:36
*Commissioned and premiered by Sampen or Sampen/Shrude +Arrangement premiered by Sampen or Sampen/Shrude