Music of Henri Lazarof


SPECTRUM for Solo Trumpet, Orchestra and Tape (1972-73) (13:53)

1 Scene I(6:52)

2 Scene II(6:58)

Thomas Stevens, trumpet

Utah Symphony

Henri Lazarof, conductor


3 I. - Il piu lento possible. (9:40)

4 II. - ♩ = 108-120. (8:53)

James Galway, flute

New Philharmonia Orchestra of London

Henri Lazarof, conductor

5 CANTI (1971) (16:24)

Roger Wagner Chorale

Roger Wagner, conductor


6 I. — ♩ = 54-60. (7:41)

7 II. — ♩= 50-60 (con liberte). (5:06)

8 III. — (sempre) = 160. (7:29)

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Henri Lazarof, conductor



® 1977,1980, 1982,1990 Composers Recordings, Inc.Cover painting: 11 Piccolo Concerto,

/em>© 1990 Composers Recordings, Inc. © Franco Assetto 1980.


HENRI LAZAROF was born in 1932 in Sofia, Bulgaria. He received his musical training in Europe at the Music Academy Santa Cecilia in Rome and the United States at Brandeis University. In 1959, he joined the faculty of the University of California, Los Angeles, where he is currently a Professor Emeritus of Music. Lazarof has been awarded numerous prizes for his compositions including First Prize, International Competition of Monaco (1962), First International Prize, City of Milan, La Scala Award (1966) and several grants from the Ford Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He is the recipient of commissions from the Berlin Philharmonic, the Baltimore, Houston, Seattle and Utah Symphonies, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and the Lon­don Sinfonietta, among others.

In October, 1989, the Chamber Music/LA Festival Ensemble toured the United States with a complete program of recent chamber works by Henri Lazarof and during the same month, The 20th Century Consort presented his Concertante II in its world premiere at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

In addition to his numerous recordings for CRI, his music appears on the Delos label in a recent compact disc, and on the Everest, Laurel, Vanguard, Vox and Crystal labels.

Lazarof has been drawn to compositions of the concerto type, and his catalogue includes several works for piano and orchestra as well as concertos for both the viola and the cello. SPECTRUM/or Solo Trumpet, Orchestra and Tape was written in 1973 and first performed in January 1975 in Salt Lake City by the Utah Symphony Orchestra with Thomas Stevens as soloist, and the composer conducting. The work is in two movements and the soloist uses both the regular trumpet and the flugelhorn. The orchestra is comprised of a group of six instrumentalists surrounding the soloist, eight string basses, and wood winds, brass and percussion.

The tape consists of pre-recorded trumpet on 4 channels prepared by Thomas Stevens, to whom the work is dedicated.

CONCERTO FOR FLUTE AND ORCHESTRA was written in 1973 and is dedicated to James Galway and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, who gave the first performance in March, 1975. The work is as symmetrical as possible; it consists of two movements separated by an interlude for the soloist alone.

The solo part begins on the alto flute, but switches to the normal instrument near the half­way mark of the first movement and does not change again. His part incorporates quarter-tones, which are largely confined to the opening stages and to the final unaccompanied passage.

The work begins with aseries of short sessions separated by pauses. While they have an introductory character, they also contain the cells out of which much that follows is built. Although there are several "free" passages during the course of the work, and individual instrumentalists (notably the two percussion play­ers the cellos and basses) are allowed to improvise, the bulk of the composition is precisely fixed.

The CONCERTO FOR ORCHESTRA was commissioned by the Baltimore Symphony and received its premiere performance under Sergiu Comissiona, to whom it is dedicated, on April 19,1978. It is divided into three movements of approximately equal duration. Each movement defines a particu­lar structural space, aided by an outsized orchestra that includes quadrupled winds, six horns, three batteries of percussion (with their castanets, tarn tarns, torn toms, marimbas, and tubular bells, the latter held in reserve for some awesome moment), two harps, celesta, and piano.

In many respects the vehement tutti chord with which the concerto commences contains the seeds of the remainder. Not only is this sonority the goal of the finale but it is also the basis of motivic material (particularly for the contrabasses, so important in the slow movement) and an endlessly varied series of pedal points and piled-up vertical simultaneities. The first movement alternates between these slow-moving, floating tuttis and more individualized episodes of greater rhythmic articulation. Lazarof has always had an unerring ear for clarity, and even where the part-writing is complex (whether percussion ensemble for six horns and four trombones) each voice reflects a seemingly spontaneous equilibrium with its neighbors. The result of these two contrasting forces is a contemporary transfor­mation of the venerable Baroque

concerto grosso.

One day in 1971, while vacation­ing with his family in the Swiss resort town of Winterthur, Henri Lazarof was startled to awake in the early morning hours with a series of poetic lines waiting to be written down. He was further surprised at their character, overflowing with the soft sensuality of onomatopoeia yet shaped by the rigor of palindrome.

Having been conceived in a dream, as it were, the text of CANTI is first and foremost a series of sound images. Each of them — eight in all — revolves around a particular sound. The literal message of the individual words and phrases is supported by, but in some senses subservient to, the individual sounds. This leads to what may be the most difficult characteristic for listeners, especially for those familiar with the euphonious sounds of centuries of a cappella vocal music.

The pure vision of a dream culminating in a call for new songs led Lazarof quite naturally to a four-part unaccompanied chorus as the most appropriate vehicle. But his goal was not the kind of homogeneous blend sought by composers from Palestrina to Brahms; the range of moods and meaning evoked by this text demanded a more variegated and individual treatment. The ensemble (ideally about one hundred and twenty singers, divided into as many as sixteen different parts) is treated more like a Mahlerian orchestra than a traditional chorus. Each singer is asked to perform with a host of unconventional expressive techniques: lines with the pitches notated only approximately (to be declaimed somewhere between speech and singing); lines to be spoken in a metrical pattern; lines to be spoken or whispered freely (sometimes pp and as fast as pos­ sible); and, passages involving en­ergetic foot-stomping, and those involving rapid glissandi from one pitch to the next.

  • Adapted from original notes by Robert Winter.