Cleveland Chamber Symphony


Edwin London, Music Director




Ross Lee Finney


Narrative for Cello and Chamber Orchestra


Norman Fischer, cello




Edwin London


Before the World Was Made


Christine Schadeberg, soprano




Francis Thorne


Symphony No. 6 for Stringed Instruments






Minnesota-born Ross Lee Finney (b. 1906), now emeritus professor and Composer-in-Residence at the University of Michigan School of Music, has been a prominent American composer and teacher for over 55 years. As a youth he played cello, piano and guitar. He played in a trio at age 12 and in a jazz group at 21. He continued to sing and play guitar for many years, touring Greece as late as 1960 as a singer of American folk music. His teachers have included Nadia Boulanger, Edward B. Hill, Alban Berg and Roger Sessions. He was awarded two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Pulitzer Scholarship and the Brandeis Medal, and has received commissions from the Coolidge and Koussevitzky Foundations and from Yehudi Menuhin for the Brussels Worlds Fair in 1958. In 1962 he was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters. He has also composed major works for the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Dallas Symphony. He retired from active teaching in 1974. His works include four symphonies, two violin concertos, a piano concerto, an alto saxophone concerto, eight string quartets, several piano sonatas, a quantity of choral music, music for solo instruments and songs. He has written several books, notably The Game of Harmony (1947) and Time Line (1974).










The first movement (adagio con moto) of this miniature concerto for solo cello and 16 instruments was written in 1976, but the second movement (allegro drammatico) was not added until about a decade later, according to the composer. The title Narrative, originally given to the first movement, was adopted for the whole work upon its completion. "I wanted the last movement to be brilliant, but still to refer back to the rhapsodic quality of the Narrative," the composer has stated.




The complete work received its world premiere by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony on November 8/9, 1987 with Linda Atherton as soloist. It was repeated by the CCS in 1990 with Norman Fischer as soloist, and on that occasion the Cleveland Plain Dealer found it a "genuine vehicle" for the solo cellist, a return to the idea of the frankly virtuoso concerto as opposed to today's weightier, less extroverted concerto concept. There are passages of animated figurations for the soloist over a busy orchestral background, there is a certain amount of quirky solo-orchestra dialogue and even, in the high-spirited second movement, a little cadenza for the soloist. The newspaper found the work's general style to be "conservative and communicative," with the second movement evincing a "high-spirited joyfulness."




Narrative was recorded following performances by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony in September, 1995.




Norman Fischer is one of America's most respected cellists, chamber musicians and teachers. Formerly a member of the Oberlin Conservatory faculty, he is now professor of violoncello at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston, Texas. He was a founding member of the Concord String Quartet in 1971 and remained with that group throughout its 16-year career. He has concertized extensively in the U.S. and abroad, recorded over 40 works, premiered some 70 new pieces and received numerous accolades including the Naumburg Chamber Music Award.






Edwin London, music director of the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, has served living music throughout his distinguished career. Described as a "champion of new American music," the composer-conductor has formed two highly acclaimed ensembles: Ineluctable Modality, a new music choral ensemble in 1968 and the award-winning Cleveland Chamber Symphony in 1980. For his efforts he has earned the Letter of Distinction from the American Music Center for "significant contributions to the field of contemporary American music," the ASCAP-John S. Edwards Award for "strongest commitment to new American music" and the Laurel Leaf Award conferred by the American Composers Alliance for "distinguished achievement in fostering and encouraging American music."




Born in Philadelphia in 1929, London began his career as a French hornist playing principal horn in the Orquesta Sinfonica de Venezuela and with other ensembles including the Oscar Pettiford Jazz Band. A graduate of Oberlin College, he received his doctorate from the University of Iowa where he studied with P.G. Clapp and Philip Bezanson. Subsequently his teachers included Luigi Dallapiccola, Darius Milhaud, and Gunther Schuller. London has taught at Smith College (1960-69), the University of Illinois (1969-78), was visiting professor at the University of California at San Diego (1972), and since 1978 has been a professor at Cleveland State University.




As composer, London is recipient of numerous awards, including those from the Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Fromm Foundation, Ohio Arts Council, ASCAP and a recent Meet-the-Composer Consortium commission for five American professional choruses. In 1981 he received the Cleveland Arts Prize and in 1989 was named Individual Artist of the Year by the Ohio Arts Council. London has served on the boards of many organizations including terms as National Chairman of the American Society of University Composers and Co-chair of the Composers Panel of the NEA. He has twice been cited for excellence by the Ohio Board of Regents.




London's music, sometimes literary, often theatrical, and at times humorous, is the product of his broad experience in diverse performance styles. His well-known compositions include In Heinrich's Shoes; Portraits of 3 Ladies (American); Bebop Dreams; A Hero of Our Time; the Psalm of These Days cycle; Death of Lincoln: A Documentary Opera and Before the World Was Made. His works are published primarily by C.F. Peters, Inc., and recordings have appeared on New World Records, GM Recordings, Advance, CRI Acoustic Research/DGG and other labels.






Before The World Was Made




In 1948, after being discharged from the Air Force, and as a freshman at college, I took an English literature class that introduced me to Understanding Poetry, an anthology annotated by Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren. This was one course that has stuck with me for a long time, particularly in its development of a life-long fondness for the poetry of the great Irish poet, William Butler Yeats (1865-1939).




The order of the more or less early seven Yeats' miscellaneous poems utilized in Before The World Was Made was chosen to form a sort of dramatic nexus of narrative development in which the character of a complex tragi-comic mortal persona continually moves toward the realization of its own metaphysical destiny. The self-conscious search for "the face I had" is central in the unfolding transformational process. The quest is a serious undertaking,


but inclusion of care-free moments is meant to widen and enliven the range of portrayal.




Scored for 11 instruments and written for the soprano, Christine Schadeberg, Before The World Was Made was completed in January of 1994.




Edwin London




Before The World Was Made was premiered by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony on March 13 and 14, 1994 at Karamu House and Cleveland State University. The work was recorded following subsequent performances in February, 1995.




Soprano Christine Schadeberg is recognized as one of America's outstanding singers specializing in 20th-century music. She has performed with chamber ensembles and orchestras across the United States and Europe and has premiered over 120 works, many written especially for her unique vocal and dramatic talents. After making her Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and Kennedy Center debuts, she has continued her guest appearances with such groups as Speculum Musicae, The New York New Music Ensemble, Boston Musica Viva and the Dallas and Memphis Symphonies. Also in demand as a recitalist, she is noted for her interpretation of American song. Recording is a vital part of Ms. Schadeberg's career, and she can also be heard on the CRI, Opus One, Bridge, Centaur, New World and MODE labels.




I. A Coat




I made my song a coat


Covered with embroideries


Out of old mythologies


From heel to throat;


But the fools caught it,


Wore it in the world's eyes


As though they'd wrought it,


Song, let them take it,


For there's more enterprise


In walking naked.




II. A Drinking Song




Wine comes in at the mouth


And love comes in at the eye;


That's all we shall know for truth


Before we grow old and die.


I lift the glass to my mouth,


I look at you, and I sigh.




III. A First Confession




I admit the briar


Entangled in my hair


Did not injure me;


By blenching and trembling


Nothing but dissembling,


Nothing but coquetry.


I long for truth, and yet


I cannot stay from that


My better self disowns,


For a man's attention


Brings such satisfaction


To the craving in my bones.


Brightness that I pull back


From the Zodiac,


Why those questioning eyes


That are fixed upon me?


What can they do but shun me


If empty night replies?




IV. A Deep-Sworn Vow




Others because you did not keep


That deep-sworn vow have been friends of mine:


Yet always when I look death in the face,


When I clamber to the heights of sleep,


Or when I grow excited with wine,


Suddenly I meet your face.




V. Before The World Was Made




If I make the lashes dark


And the eyes more bright


And the lips more scarlet,


Or ask if all be right


From mirror after mirror,


No vanity's displayed:


I'm looking for the face I had


Before the world was made.


What if I look upon a man


As though on my beloved,


and my blood be cold the while


And my heart unmoved?


Why should he think me cruel


Or that he is betrayed?


I'd have him love the thing that was


Before the world was made.






VI. Crazy Jane On God




That lover of a night


Came when he would,


Went in the dawning light


Whether I would or no;


Men come, men go:


All things remain in God.




Banners choke the sky;


Men-at-arms tread;


Armored horses neigh


Where the great battle was


In the narrow pass:


All things remain in God.




Before their eyes a house


That from childhood stood


Uninhabited, ruinous,


Suddenly lit up


From door to top:


All things remain in God.




I had wild Jack for a lover;


Though like a road


That men pass over


My body makes no moan


But sings on:


All things remain in God.




VII. A Last Confession




What lively lad most pleasured me


Of all that with me lay?


I answer that I gave my soul


And loved in misery,


But had great pleasure with a lad


That I loved bodily.




Flinging from his arms I laughed


To think his passion such


He fancied that I gave a soul


Did but our bodies touch,


And laughed upon his breast to think


Beast gave beast as much.




I gave what other women gave


That stepped out of their clothes,


But when this soul, its body off,


Naked to naked goes,


He it has found shall find therein


What none other knows,




And give his own and take his own


And rule in his own right;


And though its loved in misery


Close and cling so tight


There's not a bird of day that dare


Extinguish that delight.




A First Confession, A Deep Sworn Vow, Before The World Was Make, Crazy Jane On God, and A Last Confession, taken from The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats, are here reprinted by kind permission of A.P. Watt Ltd., on behalf of Anne Yeats.






Francis Thorne (b. 1922) left a highly successful career as a Wall Street Investment broker in his mid-30s to become first a jazz pianist and later a composer of concert music. His maternal grandfather was Gustav Kobbe, noted critic and author of the celebrated Kobbe's Opera Book, still in print and widely used.




He studied music with Paul Hindemith at Yale, then, after Navy service in World War II, joined his father's brokerage firm. He left that world to study piano and ended up playing jazz six nights a week for two years in a New York night spot. Eventually he resumed classical studies with composer David Diamond in Italy.




One night in New York, Thorne met Dennis Russell Davies, and the idea for the American Composers Orchestra was born as a strategy for giving American composers a performance outlet for their work. The orchestra gave its first concert in 1977, and has since performed more than 350 works by 250 composers, including 80 commissions and 90 world premieres.




Thorne has written over 100 works, including seven symphonies and 13 concertos. He has also served as executive director of the Naumberg Foundation, the American Composers Alliance and the Music-Theater Group. In 1988 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters and is currently its vice-president for music.




Symphony No. 6 for Stringed Instruments was written in the summer of 1992 in Provence, France. It was commissioned by Paul Underwood, a vice president of the Smith Barney investment firm. In addition to the normal string orchestra, the symphony, which is about 21 minutes long, employs a harp in the second movement, and piano and banjo in the third.




The first movement, allegro con gioia, opens with a theme that rises over two octaves in five-four meter. A contrasting allegretto for solo strings uses a variation on that opening idea. The original tempo then returns with a headlong dash to a loud ending.




The second movement, adagietto cantabile, is modeled on the famous adagietto movement of Mahler's fifth symphony, also scored for strings and harp and employing a rising theme. Two faster contrasting sections create a five-part song form in the present piece.




Piano and banjo enter in the presto vivacissimo finale in six-eight meter. There is a single contrasting andante section leading to the concluding presto and a loud virtuosic ending.




Symphony No. 6 for Stringed Instruments was premiered by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony on March 4 and 5, 1996 at Cleveland State University and Old Stone Church (Cleveland).




The Cleveland Chamber Symphony is a professional ensemble-in-residence at Cleveland State University whose mission is to present new music along with neglected masterworks of the past. Since its founding in 1980 by music director Edwin London, the orchestra has performed the world premieres of more than 120 works, presented concerts throughout Ohio and on prestigious series across the country, and gained national recognition for its performances of adventurous repertoire. The Cleveland Chamber Symphony has received the Letter of Distinction from the American Music Center, the Laurel Leaf Award


from the American Composers Alliance and major ASCAP awards, including the John S. Edwards Award for "strongest commitment to new American Music."




Orchestra Personnel:




Finney: Laura Russell, concertmaster; Peter Briedis, violin; Heather Walker, viola; Dianna Richardson, bass; Sean Gabriel, flute; David McGuire, oboe; Robert Hill, John Stavash and Lisa DeCesare, clarinets; David Nesmith and Cynthia Wulff, horns; John Brndiar and Geoff Hardcastle, trumpets; James Taylor, trombone; Gary Adams, tuba; Joseph Patrick, percussion.




London: Gary Kosloski, concertmaster; Jane Pitman, viola; Heidi Pankratz, cello; Dianna Richardson, bass; Barbara Peterson, flute; David McGuire, oboe; Louis Gangale, clarinet; Mark DeMio, bassoon; James Taylor, trombone; Joseph Patrick, percussion; Jocelyn Chang, harp.




Thorne: Laura Russell, concertmaster; Pedro Morales, Norman Ludwig, Sarah Kreston, Mary Beth Ions, Ben Robison, first violins; Peter Briedis*, Timothy Staron, Phyllis Saunders, Bonnie Maky, Susan Britton, Ann Stupay, second violins; Heather Walker*, Adrienne Elisha, Diana Packer, Ann Marie Hudson, violas; Heidi Pankratz*, David Russell, Nicole Johnson, Andrea Mills, cellos; Dianna Richardson*, Sue Yelanjian, basses; Robert Fraser, banjo; Jocelyn Chang, harp; Christine Hill, piano.




* principal




Production Coordinator: Christina Thoburn · Recording Engineers: James Abbott (Finney and London), Bruce Gigax (Thorne) · Recorded in Drinko Recital Hall at Cleveland State University. Cover art by Arnold Roth.




This recording was made with the generous support of Cleveland State University, the Ohio Board of Regents and individual donors.






Cleveland Chamber Symphony


Edwin London, Music Director


Norman Fischer, cello · Christine Schadeberg, soprano




Ross Lee Finney


Narrative for Cello and Chamber Orchestra (17:36)


Adagio Con Moto (8:50)


Allegro (8:46)






Edwin London


Before the World Was Made (31:50)


A Song Cycle for Soprano and Chamber Orchestra


A Coat (3:59)


A Drinking Song (3:47)


A First Confession (3:45)


A Deep-Sworn Vow (2:54)


Before the World Was Made (3:32)


Crazy Jane on God (7:52)


A Last Confession (5:48)






Francis Thorne


Symphony No. 6 for Stringed Instruments (21:44)


Allegro Con Gioia (6:08)


Adagietto Cantabile (11:01)


Presto Vivacissimo (4:32)




Total Time = 71:23