DARIUS MILHAUD Sonata for Violin & Harpsichord, Op. 257 / WALTER PISTON Sonatina for Violin & Harpsichord / SAMUEL ADLER Sonata No. 2 for Violin & Harpsichord / BOHUSLAV MARTINU Promenades for Violin, Flute & Harpsichord / EDMUND RUBBRA Fantasy on a Theme of Machaut for Flute, Harpsichord & String Quartet, Op. 86 / Cantata Pastorale, for Tenor Solo, Flute, Cello & Harpsichord, Op. 62 / ANTONIN DVORÁK Bagatelles, for String Trio and Harmonium, Op. 47



Charles Castleman, violin / Bonita Boyd, flute / Barbara Harbach, harpsichord / & Friends

Darius Milhaud (1892-1974) was the descendant of an old Jewish family that had settled in Provence for many centuries. As a student at the Paris Conservatory in the early years of the century, he came under the influence of Charles-Marie Widor, Vincent d'Indy, and Paul Dukas. The First World War led to his first extensive exposure to an exotic culture, that of Brazil, where he served as secretary to the French minister, Paul Claudel, from 1917-1918. During this time he absorbed the influences of folk rhythms and harmonies of Latin American and the West Indies, which would thereafter color much of his music. The outbreak of the Second World War forced his second departure from France, this time to the United States, where he taught at Mills College, in Oakland, California. From 1947 until his death he maintained his close ties to the United States, while residing first in Paris and later in Geneva.

The Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord of 1945 was written for the distinguished harpsichordist/musicologist Ralph Kirkpatrick and violinist Alexander Schneider. This work represents the full flowering of New World influences on Milhaud's music - jazz, blues, and a languorous sensuality. The blues-flavored violin coupled with a striding, syncopated rhythm in the harpsichord contributes to the soulful mood of the first movement, Nerveux. The composer's genius as a first-rate tunesmith is displayed in the long-lined, searchingly beautiful cantabile of the Calme middle movement, the plangent timbres of the harpsichord's lute stop providing a mellow underpinning to the violin's wistful melody. Spiky pizzicati from the violin open the jazz-flavored third movement, Clair et vil, which alternates improvisatory passages of virtuoso abandon with a return to the first movement's intervals of “torch song” lyricism.

Walter Piston (1894-1976) began his musical career as a 1924 summa cum laude graduate of Harvard University, later studying with Nadia Boulanger and Paul Dukas in Paris. From 1926 until his retirement in 1960, Piston taught composition at Harvard, numbering among his students such distinguished musician/composers as Elliott Carter, Leonard Bernstein and Samuel Adler. Although symphonic works are central to his oeuvre (he received the Pulitzer Prize for Symphony No. 3 and No. 7), Piston wrote a number of significant chamber pieces. The Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord was written in 1945, the same year as the Milhaud, also for Alexander Schneider and Ralph Kirkpatrick. Composed in a traditional tripartite form favored by composers for some three hundred years, the Sonatina is an excellent example in Piston's works of neoclassicism in general and the influence of Igor Stravinski in particular. The opening Allegro leggiero combines jazzy rhythms with a typically Piston-like motoric drive, to create an appealing blend of aggressive energy alternating with sections of relative repose. The Adagio espressivo slow movement features a yearning, song-like melody combining aching melancholy with the bittersweet use of dissonance. The concluding Allegro vivo opens with unison forte chords from the violin and harpsichord, dispelling the shadows of the previous movement with a jabbing, thrusting theme that reestablishes the upbeat optimism of the opening movement.

This is the first modern recording of the Sonatina in its preferred version using harpsichord. It makes accessible to listeners one of the finest examples of this composer's work in smaller forms.

Samuel Adler (b. 1928) is a distinguished and prolific American composer whose early work with Walter Piston, Randall Thompson and Aaron Copland places him well within the mainstream of twentieth-century American music. He is currently Professor of Composition at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester and chairman of that department since 1974. During the summer of 1956, while working at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, Adler wrote his Violin Sonata No. 2, in part as a tribute to his teacher Walter Piston, using the earlier Sonatina as a model. The Allegro moderato first movement opens with a nervous, jabbing theme in the violin, alternating with the harpsichord, which gives way to a longer lyric episode. This shifting back and forth from agitation to repose is a prominent stylistic device shared with the earlier Piston Sonatina. The song-like Lento espressivo slow movement provides the violin with a chance for heart-on-the-sleeve rhapsodizing, at time set off by disquieting, even obsessive, trills in the harpsichord. The finale is marked Allegro molto ma non troppo and is a vigorous rondo movement with a country-dance-like tune that bounces along in Adler's best Americana vein.

Bohuslav Martinu (1890-1959) was trained as a violinist as a child and played with the Czech Philharmonic in his early twenties. His composition teachers were, first of all, Josef Suk and later, after moving to Paris in 1923, Albert Roussel. Martinu was a prolific composer in all media and is now recognized, along with Leos Janacek, as the most important Czech composer of the 10th-Century. Like his contemporaries Milhaud and Piston, Martinu combined an inclination toward neoclassic form and style à la Stravinsky with a graceful command of modern counterpoint and a willingness to use the flavorful melodies and rhythms of his native land.

The Promenades were written at the bleakest time of Martinu's life. In October, 1938, Nazi Germany began its subjugation of Czechoslovakia in the aftermath of Munich, and political realities would thereafter prevent Martinu's returning home. Having recently returned to Paris from working and recreating in the secure isolation of the Swiss Alps, Martinu came face to face with the growing realization of the horror of inevitable war. Its consequences for Czechoslovakia, and the likely fall of his adopted home, France. While the Double Concerto of 1938, certainly on of Martinu's greatest masterpieces, reflects the gloom left on the eve of the Second World War, the subsequent Promenades do not. Perhaps the catharsis of the Double Concerto had completely discharged Martinu's capacity for the musical expression of grief and anguish; perhaps his only choice was to somehow reaffirm the optimism that was so much a part of his basic character. Nevertheless, it is difficult to believe that these light, perky bagatelles were written towards the end of 1939, in the brief months prior to Martinu's flight from France to the United States and into permanent exile from his homeland. Except for the gentle sadness and regret for lost things implicit in the Adagio second movement, the primary emotions are ones of carefree caprice, set off with spicy rhythms and insouciant tunes.

Edmund Rubbra was born in 1901 and died on St. Valentine's Day, 1986. He produced over 160 works, a prolific output for a twentieth century composer, and made major contributions to all forms except opera. He developed a unique and unmistakable style which, although having no progeny, will increasingly be considered to be not a by-way but an integral part of twentieth century music history.

Rubbra was born in Northampton, a thriving midlands industrial town, of parents who were both music lovers. His mother in particular was a fine amateur singer. The young Edmund benefitted from this background and from the fact that, like all English industrial towns of the period, there was a backbone of good amateur music making which helped him to develop his musical talents unfettered at an early age. The musical background may have been parochial, but it did not prevent Edmund from discovering scores of Holst, nor of arranging and playing in a complete programme of the music of Cyril Scott, then an internationally admired composer, in Northampton at the age of 17.

Scott heard of this recital and invited Rubbra to have composition lessons with him. This he did, traveling down to London on a daily basis (Rubbra by this time luckily worked for the railway company!) and his studies eventually led to a composition scholarship at University College, Reading. Here Holst was teaching and thus Rubbra met and was taught by two composers with whom he had great natural affinities and interests. All three were interested in Eastern philosophy and mysticism, then highly fashionable in artistic circles, whilst Scott was an imaginative and, at his best, highly original composer who was very sympathetic to Rubbra's aspirations. It was Holst, however, who released in Rubbra his enduring love of counterpoint and introduced him to the rich treasures of English renaissance music, then only being slowly rediscovered.

A period at the Royal College of Music followed, and it was in 1924 that the work emerged which Rubbra felt able to record as his Op. 1 - The Secret Hymnody for Chorus and Orchestra. This, like many of his early larger works, remains only in manuscript and he obviously felt that a long apprenticeship was necessary before tackling larger works with total success.

Rubbra's assurance with larger musical forms developed slowly. His first string quartet emerged in 1935 and it was not until 1937 that the first of the series of eleven symphonies was performed. This has always been strongly related to the Vaughan Williams Fourth, and Walton's First, with both of which it shares a superficial resemblance. Particularly in the scherzo and finale, however, Rubbra was beginning to find his own unique symphonic style which was to inform all the subsequent series. Symphonies Number 2 and 3 were written in quick succession in 1937 and 1939.

Although Rubbra always regarded himself first and foremost as a composer, he also had two other distinguished careers as pianist and teacher. During the inter-war period in fact most music lovers knew of him more as a pianist, and he broadcast frequently. He introduced radio audiences to much new music, whilst the piano music of Debussy was a particular favorite of his. After the Second World War Rubbra was known as part of a piano trio, with the cellist William Pleeth and the violinist Erich Gruenberg. Again the repertoire was wide ranging, and Rubbra's own two piano trios were often included in programmes.

Rubbra's career as a teacher began formally in 1947 when he was invited to join the staff of the Faculty of Music at Oxford University. He thought long and hard about this, but such honors do not come often, and he accepted. Thus he embarked on one of the most happy periods of his career, and he is still remembered with affection by his old Oxford pupils. He also later taught composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. In his teaching career, therefore, he mirrors very closely that of his great American contemporary, Walter Piston, who also had a highly distinguished career as a teacher.

Through the whole body of Rubbra's work characteristics emerge which are in many ways encapsulated in the two works on this recording. Firstly, there is his fondness for medieval and other early texts to which he was always attracted - the choice for Cantata Pastorale is no exception to this. Secondly, there is the influence of early Tudor music - the compositional techniques of the Fantasia on a Theme of Machaut particularly reflect this. Thirdly, what many commentators have described as the essential vocal character of much of this writing is clearly illustrated in both works. The two pieces were commissioned by and dedicated to Carl Dolmetsch, the youngest son of Arnold Dolmetsch, who not only carried on the work of his father as an advocate of early instrumental music, but also commissioned many new works to give the recorder a good twentieth century repertoire.

The Cantata Pastoral Op. 92 dates from 1956 and is scored for high voice, recorder (or flute), cello and harpsichord (or piano). It sets three inter-linked texts translated into English. The first is from the Greek of Plato, translated by Walter Leaf, whilst the second and third are anonymous medieval Latin texts translated by Helen Wadell. The theme of all three is pastoral idyll and the musical style has a decidedly lush, almost Eastern flavor - a style echoed in Rubbra's later “Jade Mountain” song cycle for high voice and harp, Op. 116. The flowing tenor and flute lines often contrast sharply with the chordal keyboard writing and the harpsichord underlines the poignancy of the sadder second text in a most moving way. The third text, however, returns to the joyous nature of the first and the setting is very much in the character of a dance.

The Fantasia on a Theme of Machaut Op. 86 for recorder (or flute), string quartet and harpsichord again dates from the mid-1950s. In contrast to the Cantata it is far more contrapuntal, and as the name suggests, uses the renaissance fantasia as its model. The recorder part, however, dominates, with the other instruments often playing only a supportive role. Clearly the Fantasia is one of Rubbra's best works for recorder, and although comparatively short, it certainly contains the essence of his style.

-- Adrian Yardley

Antonin Dvorák (1841-1904) wrote his Bagatelles, Op. 47, for string trip and harmonium in 1878, at the same time that he was completing his first set of popular Slavonic Dances. As a good example of Hausmusik, they were written for the private enjoyment of a group of musicians, all friends of Dvorák, who met regularly in an apartment to perform chamber music together. The keyboard instrument available for their use was a reed organ or harmonium. The wheezy droning of the harmonium combines gracefully with the strings to produce an utterly delightful, bucolic sound-picture redolent of the Bohemian countryside. In the first and third movements (both marked Allegretto scherzando), Dvorák uses the Czech folk-song, “The bagpipes played in Pobuda,” prompting the composer to some vivid imitation from the harmonium. In between, the second movement Tempo di minuetto offers one of Dvorák's loveliest melodies in a quick triple meter, in the manner of a Bohemian peasant dance, the sousedska. The fourth movement, Andante con moto, uses canonic imitation of a slower, passionate theme to generate the work's emotional climax. The finale, Poco allegro, brings the work to a close with a rousing polka in A-B-A (fast-slow-fast) form.

Even though the Bagatelles are rarely heard in performance, due no doubt to their odd instrumentation, the never fail to delight with the outpouring of melody straight from Dvorák's top drawer. As such, they form an important appendix to the just famous Slavonic Dances.

Under normal domestic circumstances, the wind for the harmonium comes from a set of bellows operated by two foot pedals while the fingers are occupied at the keyboard. In the interests of steady wind-pressure for this recording, the Kimball Harmonium (which has been in Ms. Harbach's family since 1890) was temporarily outfitted with a small motorized organ blower.

Notes - © 1990 by John M. Proffitt

Charles Castleman, violinist, gave his first public performance at the age of four at the MacDowell Artists' Colony, followed by an appearance three years later with the Boston Pops, a New York Town Hall debut recital at the age of nine, and a concerto appearance with the New York Philharmonic two years later.

A top prizewinner in the international Tchaikovsky, Brussels, and Leventritt competitions, Mr. Castleman has appeared as soloist with the orchestras of Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Mexico City, Montreal, Moscow, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. As a winner of the Ford Foundation Concert Artist Award, he commissioned the David Amram Concerto and performed its premiere with Leonard Slatkin and the St. Louis Symphony. He was cited by the Eugene Ysaye Foundation in Brussels for his Nonesuch record and New York Tully Hall recital of Ysaye's Six Unaccompanied Sonatas. As a member of the New String Trio of New York and the Raphael Trio, he also has recorded for BASF, Desmar, EMS, and Newport Classics.

His recitals often have been broadcast on National Public Radio, as well as in Berlin, London, Paris and Vienna. Charles Castleman has participated in the summer music festivals of Marlboro, Newport, Deer Valley (Utah), Juneau (Alaska), Quray (Colorado), Round Top (Texas), Sarasota and Saratoga. In 1970 he founded The Quartet Program (now in residence at the Great Woods Festival in Norton, Massachusetts).

Mr. Castleman earned Bachelor's degrees from Harvard and The Curtis Institute, and a M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. He is currently Professor of Violin at The Eastman School. His violin is the “Marquis de Champeaux” Stradivarius, built in 1707.

Barbara Harbach is Coordinator of Keyboard Studies, State University of New York at Buffalo, and tours extensively as both a concert harpsichordist and organist. Her appearances have included recitals throughout North America, Japan and Europe, as well as performances in both solo continuo roles with symphony and chamber orchestras. She holds degrees from Penn State, Yale and the Eastman School of Music and is the winner of a Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst scholarship for study abroad. During he stay in Germany, she became both the first American and the first woman to receive the Konzertidiplom from her teacher, the renowned organist and pedagogue Helmut Walcha, at the Musikhochschule in Frankfurt.

Harbach's teachers have included Charles Krigbaum, Leonard Raver and Russell Saunders in organ; Maria Jager and Colin Tilney in harpsichord; Alan Mandel in piano; and Samuel Adler in composition. As a composer, she has published several anthems for church use. In addition to her teaching and performing duties, Harbach has begun a series of organ and harpsichord recordings, including her own published transcriptions of vocal music by Bach and Handel for trumpet duet and organ; Baroque harpsichord works of Bach, Handel and Scarlatti; twentieth-century organ preludes; ensemble works in collaboration with violinist Charles Castleman; acclaimed organ recitals of the works of Bach; contemporary works for solo harpsichord and harpsichord music by women composers.

Harbach is also engaged in the research, editing and publication of manuscripts, otherwise unavailable, of keyboard works by eighteenth-century women composers. The first volume in that series was recently published by Elkan-Vogel. She is the Director of the SUNY at Buffalo Women in Music Symposiums.

“Billed as the greatest artist of her generation, she may well be; she certainly sets a mark for young )and older established) flutists for aim for,” Fanfare magazine thus lauded Bonita Boyd in reviewing her recording of the Paganini Violin Caprices transcribed for solo flute. Boyd's artistry and dazzling virtuosity on the flute is being recognized by her current rapid rise in the concert field as one of the most exciting young flutists. She has performed as soloist extensively throughout the United States, South America, Europe, Australia and Japan. Her recordings have been enthusiastically reviewed, with “Flute Music of Les Six” being honored by Stereo Review in its 1983 Record of the Year Awards and by Hi Fidelity on its “Critics' Choice List.” Her performances and recordings have been heard nationally and internationally on National Public Radio, National Public Television and National Radio Stations in Europe and Latin America.

Ms. Boyd's earlier career was marked by appointments as principal flutist of the Rochester Philharmonic and Chataqua Symphony at age 21, as the youngest principal player in a major United States orchestra, and by her appointment as Flute Professor at Eastman School of Music at age 25.

Born in Pittsburgh, Ms. Boyd grew up in Long Beach, California. She studied with Maurice Sharp of the Cleveland Orchestra, Roger Stevens of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Joseph Mariano, legendary teacher at the Eastman School of Music. Ms. Boyd has recorded for Philips, Spectrum, Tioch, Pantheon and Vox records.

Cellist Pamela Frame studied at Eastman with Alan Harris and Ronald Leonard. While continuing her studies with Bernard Greenhouse and Mstislav Rostropovich, she began an active career as soloist and chamber musician, appearing at the Marlboro Festival in Vermont, the Festival Casals in San Juan, and on tour in Germany and Poland.

Following a critically acclaimed New York recital debut, Ms. Frame was chosen for support by the Pro Musicus Foundation, which presented her in a series of recitals and community concerts in New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Los Angeles. She was invited the following year to join the distinguished roster of Affiliate Artists, under whose auspices she presented some 250 performances in a variety of residencies across the United States.

Pamela Frame is a founding member of the Leonore Trio, and has toured and recorded in recent seasons with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Ms. Frame returned to Rochester in 1989 to take a position on the cello faculty of the Eastman School of Music.

Samuel Adler's Violin Sonata No. 2 is published by Oxford University Press; Walter Piston's Sonatina is published by Boosey & Hawkes; Darius Milhaud's Sonatine is published by Elkan-Vogel; Bohuslav Martinu's Promenades is published by Barenreiter; Antonin Dvorák's bagatelles, Op. 47 is published by International; Edmund Rubbra's Fantasie on a Theme of Machaut and Cantata Pastorale are published by A. Lengnick & Co.

Producer & Engineer: John M. Proffitt

Digital Remastering: John M. Proffitt

Recorded in 1983 in the Auditorium of the Colgate-Rochester Divinity School, Rochester, New York.

Production Assistance for Albany Records: Michael Bregman

Cover art by David Scott Alan