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News and information about WSCL's Classical Music Programming

Friday, February 13, 2015

Just Opened - February 13, 2015

We continue our celebration of African American History Month with works by modern African composers and African American composers as well.  Traditional and new works for solo cello, romantic works for clarinet and piano, and the pulse-jumping orchestral works of Jack Gallagher round out today's new selections, Just Opened.

ASA: Piano Music by Composers of African Descent
William Chapman Nyaho, piano
Nyaho's Official Website
MSR 1242
ISBN# 6 81585 1242 2 2
My Delight of the Week!  Nyaho is a Ghanian American with music degrees from his native Ghana, London, Oxford and the Eastman school of music, and if that weren't enough, he has also studied in Switzerland.   In addition to his teaching career, he has compiled and edited a 5 volume graded anthology, "Piano Music of the African Diaspora" (Oxford Univeristy Press)  As this CD clearly demonstrates, his lecture-rectials and workshops advocate the knowledge of, and performance of works by Composers of African descent.   Some of these works have the lyricism of the romantic European tradition and will challenge your idea of what the work of an African Composer would sound like.  Some challenge in the direction of sounding like atonal concerts works, and others have the infectious syncopation that is infinitely appealing and exactly what you might expect.  This collection is a marvelous introduction to all these things encompassed in the work of Nyaho, and to a broader array of African-related music than we usually get. 

Symphony No. 2 'Ascendant'
JoAnn Falletta, conductor
London Symphony Orchestra
JoAnn Falletta's Official Website
London Symphony Orchestra Website
NAXOS 559768
ISBN# 6 36943 97682 1
Gallagher was a trumpeter, and it apparent in his compositions - his strengths make a tremendous and rich use of the brass.  And the most compelling parts of his symphony sound like wonderful band music.  Just as Wagner used brass to fine effect, the slower movements - with more effective use of the full orchestra - are very reminiscent of Wagners extension of the melodic line and slow development.  His brassy "Ascendant" symphony is paired on this cd with a work that is bound to be very successful, due to its melodic accessibility and it's short length (12 minutes).  

Transcriptions for Clarinet and Piano
Jonathan Cohler, clarinet
Rasa Vitkauskaite, piano
Jonathan Cohler's Official Website
Rasa Vitkauskaite's Official Website
ISBN# 7 62738 01232 7
These two performers have extensive individual performance careers, as well as an on-going performance partnership of several CDs.  Both have won numberous awards, and as we are sharing several of their CDs here within the past few months, they clearly have a breadth of musical influences and adaptability.   Vitkauskaite is the pianist for the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra.  This is an exceptionally accessible and engaging collection of works.   Like it or not, we are all still children of the romantic era, musically-speaking, so these melodic works speak easily to us.  Works bye Schumann, Prokofiev and Gaustavino.   If you are interested in getting to know the "solo" voice of the clarinet better, this would be an effective and enjoyable choice.

Suzanne Mueller, cello
ISBN# 8 84501 93803 7
For information and purchase
Mueller has infused her selection with a sense of personal taste and musical activism.   Her selections on this CD include composers well known to our listeners, JS Bach and Rick Sowash, as well as a wealth of new composers and new works which she credits to "Composers Voice."  That organization's calls for compositions has provided Mueller with material, contact with young composers, and the ability to ask composers to transcribe work intended for other instruments to work for her instrument.  Mueller commissioned the title track by Carol Worthey as a birthday present to herself - a theme and variations as varied as life itself.  
           I regularly  mention to our listeners that if they want to truly support the artist, they should buy the CD, both because CD purchase provides the largest income back the the artist, but also because the CD allows the listener to hear the musicians throughline and intention in creating a musical "story" line.  This CD by Mueller is a perfect, clearly personal, example of the intimacy of the CD.

Special thanks to our SU practicum Taylor Goebel for her work pulling together the basic CD info.- pictures, label info & websites - the better to help you find the CD you want.  Join us next week for more new releases, Just Opened.
Kara Dahl Russell

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