Music of Dennis Riley, Hugh Aitken, David Evan Thomas & Stanley Wolfe

CR 595 Dennis Riley/Hugh Aitken/David Evan Thomas/Stanley Wolfe

Dennis Riley's APPARITIONS (1984) is a little masterpiece of wit, charm, delicacy, and ever subtle musical invention. The instrumentation for flute, harp and viola, inevitably reminds us of Debussy's late sonata, and indeed, this score stands in spirit as a loving homage to Debussy.

Movement one opens with a rushing flute solo in a variety of expressive articulations. Sudden breaks in speed with accented articulations both change and intensify the mood. The opening flowing 16th notes return and finally give way to slower values, arriving on a unison cadence on D.

Movement two is the largest and richest in thematic invention. Again, surprising changes in mood enliven the discourse; notice the scherzo-like turns of direction that follows a reflective four-bar introduction. The variety of themes is masterly throughout.

The third movement is divided into four sections: first, a hesitant and quietly dramatic introduction; followed by a bright, graceful waltz. These two sections are repeated with variations, the second, and slower, statement of the waltz closing on a final B-flat trill.

A perfect sense of timing and true gift for melodic invention, plus seamless instrumental colors, all make Apparitions a joy to hear and, I suspect, to play. May it reach the wide audience it deserves!

-Charles Fussell

DENNIS RILEY, born in Los Angeles in 1943, received his undergraduate degree in piano from the University of Colorado in 1965. He spent the following two years as Composer-in-Residence for the Rockford, Illinois Public Schools under the auspices of the Ford Foundation and the Music Educators National Conference. After receiving graduate degrees from the University of Illinois (1968) and the University of Iowa (1973), he had teaching posts at California State University, Fresno and Columbia University. Among the many honors he has received are two BMI Awards, the Joseph H. Bearns Prize, a Guggenheim fellowship, grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony. He now lives in New York City.

Mr. Riley's music has been performed widely in the United States, Canada, and Europe, and has been received enthusiastically by audiences and critics alike. Included among his many works (most of which are published by C.F. Peters) are a viola concerto, a symphony, works for solo piano, for various chamber groups, and a large number of works for solo voice and for chorus, as well as two operas.

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SOLEDADES, Cantata VII, was written in 1986 for Irene Gubrud, who gave the premiere performance, with Margo Garrett, at Alice Tully Hall in New York on February 26, 1987. The third and fourth songs first appeared in my Cantata IV for soprano and four instruments. This piece, also based on Machado's poems, is recorded on CRI 365 by Jean Hakes and the New York Chamber Soloists.

For me, the most expressive and beautiful instrument is the human voice. In my two operas, choral works, and nine solo cantatas I have paid heartfelt homage to singers and their wonderful repertoire. Soledades is my largely spontaneous response to Machado's marvelous poetry. As musical analysis belongs to theory classes and not in record or program notes, I will spare you a verbal description of the music and of my aims in wiring it. Just listen.

For her 1990 tour of the Soviet Union, Diane Walsh commissioned ROSA DE FUEGO, which I composed during the autumn of 1989. I found myself thinking of other ways to use some of the melodies and accompaniments form Soledades, and ended up with a free-wheeling rhapsody, integrating material from three of the songs in the cantata with newly-composed music. There are also a few references to a tune those of you with a sharp ear and a familiarity with the popular music of the forties might recognize.

-Hugh Aitken

HUGH AITKEN IS CURRENTLY TEACHING AT William Paterson College in Wayne, New Jersey. During his years on the faculty at The Julliard School, both Irene Gubrud and Diane Walsh were students in his classes on the literature and materials of music. His most recent works are a Duo for Cello and Piano commissioned by Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax, and a full-evening oratorio for very large forces based on The Revelation of St. John the Divine. His music is published by Oxford University Press, Theodore Presser Co., E.C. Schirmer and Summy-Burchard.

* * *

The seven brief movements of MANY HAPPY RETURNS are unified by a frenetic first-movement ritornello, a feature suggested by the ritrornelli in Monteverdi's L'Orfeo, which stand out in memory as some of the first music I came to love. In Many Happy Returns, the ritornello is played a total of four times, if one counts the finale. It does not change, though it is abbreviated in repetition, varied in movement V and finally transformed to D major. The remaining movements share no material and their contrast deepens with passing time, as increasingly slower music alternates with quick music. While the work is not programmatic, a curious, skittish mountain goat found its way from my summer campsite at Ousel Lake in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana into the third movement waltz.

Many Happy Returns was commissioned by the Eastern Montana College Foundation and the Yellowstone Chamber Players of Billings, Montana. It was premiered by that ensemble in billings in 1988. The work premiered in New York in 1991 at the 92nd Street Y on a National Orchestra Association “Resoundings” concert featuring the performers who recorded it for this disc.

-David Evan Thomas

DAVID EVAN THOMAS, born in Rochester, NY in 1958 received his B.A. degree from Northwestern University and his M.M. degree form the Eastman School of Music. He is currently a student in the Ph.D. program at the University of Minnesota, where he has held a fellowship and taught in theory and composition. A trained trumpet player, Thomas has studied compositions with Dominick Argento. Samuel Adler, Alan Stout and Robert Morris. He received further training at the Charles Ives Center for America music, the Aspen Center for Compositional Studies, and the Atlantic center for the Arts, where he was an associate of David Diamond.

In 1989, his Oboe Concerto received its premiere in New York's Borden Hall at the opening concert of the National Orchestral Association's New Music Orchestra Project, with Jorge Mester conducting. Thomas' music has also been performed by the Eakins and Cascade Quartets, the Northwestern University Wind Ensemble, and the Eastman Wind Orchestra.

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The CANTICALE FOR STRINGS was completed in 1957. It is a one movement work lasting a bit under 10 minutes. It is typical of my style even though it is a fairly early piece. Melody abounds, although there is an intensity throughout that gives the work a bitter-sweet flavor. The form seems to be rhapsodic, but the clear-cut material returns in a way that accents the tightness of the musical ideas. The piece sings in an uninhibited fashion and thee is a directness about the work that many have found appealing.

-Stanley Wolfe

STANLEY WOLFE STUDIED COMPOSITION WITH William Bergsma, Vincent Presichetti and Peter Mennin at the Julliard School of Music. He received a master's degree in composition in 1955 and joined the faculty the same year. At Julliard, he has taught theory, contemporary music and composition. In 1956 he became the Director of Julliard's Extension Division, a post he held for 33 years until he retired from administrative duties in 1989.

Wolfe has also been a professor of music at Fordham University at Lincoln Center (1969-73) and a lecturer in the New York Philharmonic's Pre-Concert series (1985). Among Wolfe's awards are a Guggenheim fellowship (1957), an Alice M. Ditson/American Symphony Orchestra prize (1961) and three grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (1969, 1970, 1977).

Wolfe, who describes himself as “primarily a symphonist, “ has written six symphonies. The Fifth Symphony, commissioned under the auspices of Lincoln Center, was given its world premiere in April, 1971, by the Julliard Orchestra conducted by Jorge Mester. Other of his symphonies have been played by the Houston Symphony Orchestra, the buffalo Philharmonic and the Eastman Philharmonia. His list of works includes additionally, a dance score, King's Heart (1956, written for Jose Limon and commissioned for Julliard's 1956 Festival of American Music), Lincoln Square Overture (1958) and String Quartet (1961).

In 1989 Wolfe completed a Violin Concerto which received its world premiere by the New York Philharmonic. Mark Peskanov was the soloist and Leonard Slatkin the conductor. Six weeks later the Chicago Symphony gave the work an additional four performances with the sane soloist and conductor. Currently, he is working on his Seventh Symphony.

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MINDY KAUFMAN, flute, joined the New York Philharmonic at age 22 and became one of the youngest members in its history. She has performed as soloist with both the Rochester and New York Philharmonic orchestras, and appeared with many other ensembles. Ms. Kaufamn is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, and is on the faculties of Columbia University, and Mannes College of Music in New York.

MAUREEN GALLAGHER, viola is the newest member of the renowned contemporary music group, Sepculum Musicae. Avidly interested in new music, she has premiered and recorded many new works. She is a member of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and the New Jersey Chamber Music Society, and has appeared with Orpheus, St. Luke's, and numerous other ensembles. Born in Grants Pass, Oregon, Ms. Gallagher is a graduate of Indiana University.

BARBARA ALLEN, harp, is a graduate of the Julliard School and second prize winner in the Seventh International Harp Competition. She is a member of the acclaimed Aureole Trio, as well as principal harpist with the Greenwich Symphony Orchestra and the Colorado Music Festival. She has recorded extensively and has also performed with the San Francisco Symphony, American ballet Theater, American Composers Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic, among others.

IRENE GUBRUD, soprano, is a winner of the Walter W. Naumburg International Voice competition. She has performed with the major orchestras of this country under Erich Leinsdorf, Lorin Maazel, Pierre Boulez, Eugene Ormandy, Leonard Slatkin and others. She is an artist/member of the Aspen Music Festival.

MARGO GARRETT, piano, is a very widely heard accompanist in New York City. She is currently the coordinator of the Master's degree program in accompanying at New York's Julliard School.

DIANE WALSH, piano, has been a soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony, and the Munich, Frankfurt and Berlin Radio Symphonies. Among her many international awards are the First Prize in the Munich Piano Competition. As a member of the Mannes Trio, she also won the Naumburg Award for Chamber Music. Miss Walsh holds degrees from the Julliard School and the Mannes College of Music. She has been a faculty member at Mannes since 1982.

DENISE HOFF, clarinet, is a graduate of Manhattan School of Music, and principal clarinet of the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra (MCO). In addition to performing with many orchestras in the New York City area, Ms. Hoff is an active chamber music recitalist and has also recorded on the Newport Classics label.

BYRON TAUCHI, violin, is a graduate of the University of California Berkeley where he majored in computer science. He is currently doing graduate work at the Manhattan School of Music. Tauchi has appeared in solo and chamber recitals in both New York and California.

ALLISON VOTH, piano, is a native of Vancouver, British Columbia. She received her masters degree in accompaniment from the Manhattan School of Music and has studied privately with martin Katz and Warren Jones. As an accompanist, she has performed and given master classes in the U.S. and Canada. Voth has appeared with such groups as the New Music Consort and the Group for Contemporary Music. She appears courtesy of Tillander Enterprises.

PAUL FREEMAN is a widely regarded orchestra conductor. He is Music Director of the Chicago Sinfonietta and is known for his interpretations of works by African-American composers. He supervised and conducted most of the works on the landmark Black American Composers series on CBS Records.


Produced by Marc Aubort and Joanna Nikrenz.

Recorded at Rutgers Church, NYC on March 27, 1989.

Engineering by Elite Recordings, Inc. NYC.

Published by C.F. Peters (BMI)


Produced by Marc Aubort and Joanna Nikrenz.

Both recorded at Rutgers Church, NYC (Soledades,

November 18, 1988: Rosa de Fuego, July 12 1990).

Engineering by Elite Recordings, Inc. NYC.

Both published by Oxford University Press (ASCAP).


Recorded by Mikhail Liberman at LRP Digital Studios,

NYC on April 30, 1991.

Published by E. C. Schirmer (BMI).


Produced by Stephanie Rogers.

Recorded by Antonio Oliart Ross in Mexico City, Mexico on

May 22-27, 1991. Rights held by the composer (ASCAP).

Art Direction and production: Brian Conley.

Cover Art and Design: Cecilia Smith.


APPARITIONS (1984) (12:40)

  1. I. (2:23)

  2. II. (4:49)

  3. III. (5:18)

Mindy Kaufman, flute and piccolo

Maureen Gallagher, viola

Barbara Allen, harp


SOLEDADES - Cantata VII (1986) (16:54)

  1. Rosa de Fuego (1:45)

  2. Yo voy so�ado caminos (3:06)

  3. Mi Buf�n (1:22)

  4. Oh tarde luminosa! (2:19)

  5. Pegasos (1:10)

  6. Se�or, ja me arrancaste (1:51)

  7. El sol es un globe de fuego (2:09)

  8. So�� que t� me llevabas (2:48)

Irene Gurud, soprano

Margo Garrett, piano

  1. ROSA DE FUEGO (1989) (10:49)

Diane Walsh, piano


  1. MANY HAPPY RETURNS (1987) (13:37)

Members of the National Orchestral Association

(Denise Hoff, clarinet: Byron Tauchi, violin; Allison Voth, piano)


  1. CANTICLE FOR STRINGS (1957) (11:00)

The Mexico Philharmonic

Paul Freeman, conductor