Jeffrey Jacob  |  Heidi Jacob  |  Steven Block  |  Sergio Cervetti  |  Christina Rusnak

 

Awakening for Piano and Orchestra  Jeffrey Jacob

“Awakening” conjures many images:  consciousness in both senses of the word, rebirth, rhythms of the natural world, reanimation. The works on this album touch and explore these and other themes related to the title.

 

Awakening for Piano and Orchestra, recorded by the Cuban National Symphony in Havana with the composer as piano soloist, takes for its inspiration Thomas Hardy’s magnificent poem of the same name. Hardy’s unforgettable images of the natural world as it struggles toward spring and rebirth were irresistible for the composer.  The work begins with a somber fugato for strings, oboe, and percussion, gradually building in intensity and complexity.  The piano enters as a melodic element and shares melodic themes and phrases with trumpet, horn, and oboe. Despite the complex texture of the work, the main emphasis falls squarely upon the melodic development.  The final climax for full orchestra bursts into the change of season.

 

– Jeffrey Jacob

 

 

untouched by morning and untouched by noon  Heidi Jacob

A set of 8 movements, each approximately one minute in length, untouched by morning and untouched by noon explores the duality of atonality and tonality using a range of musical styles in which I sought to observe the effect of the constraints of this brevity. The larger structural trajectory is determined by juxtapositions of these diverse styles and the interconnection of the various musical materials and texts.

 

The work is framed by the first movement, where the 60-second paradigm is set by the snapping of the baritone’s fingers, and the final movement, whose contrasting syncopations in the piano intend to evoke an ironic timelessness within the same limited boundary of one minute.

 

In a nod to Webern, his tone row from his Op. 21 finds its way into several movements. Various other composers and musical forms are alluded to and again contrasted, including a tarantella, followed by a lazy, jazz-infused bass clarinet solo.  A 12 - tone movement, another with minimalist aspects and an abstract movement modeled after Webern’s Drei Kleine Stücke precede the conclusion.

 

– Heidi Jacob

 

 

“This debut collection [Beneath Winter Light] of crystalline chamber works wears the composer’s technical mastery lightly.  Sparked by figures as diverse as Ingmar Bergman and CPE Bach, Jacob’s compositions are of complex mesmerizing beauty.”

BBC Music Magazine

 

“Heidi Jacob is an American composer with … close[r] stylistic links to European tradition…Her forthright expressiveness exposes a multitude of stylistic associations… The disc’s  most bracing item is Salome Revisited..”

Gramophone Magazine

 

“Heidi Jacobs' Two Inventions, in fact, was somewhere in the next hemisphere, drawing from a tone row in Arnold Schoenberg's largely atonal Serenade in a work that had its own modernist personality. Some of the writing suggested variations on Debussy ….What a musical adventurer.”

David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer

 

“Heidi Jacob is a composer whose music very much bears hearing. She is a true artist. I hope to hear more of her work. Very recommended.”

  Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review

 

 

TEXTS

 

1. Time is a child playing a game of draughts.

 

        HERACLITUS

 

2. The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.

 

         VOLTAIRE

 

4. Duo sunt liquores humanis corporibus gratissimi,

    intus vini, foris olei.

 

    [The two fluids most pleasing to the human body are indoors;

     wine, outdoors; olive oil]

 

        PLINY THE ELDER

 

5.  Nature hath no goal though she hath law.

 

  JOHN DONNE

 

6.                       Bedizened or stark

               naked, man, the self, the being we call human, writing-

       masters to this world, griffons a dark

                “Like does not like like that is obnoxious; ” and writes

                                                                         error with four r’s.

 

         MARIANNE MOORE

 

7. untouched by morning and untouched by noon

 

                                                                          EMILY DICKINSON

 

Click here to view score

 

 

Puttin’ It Together Steven Block

 

Puttin’ It Together was written in 1974 when the composer was 21 and working on his graduate degree at the University of Iowa when the UI Center for New Music was at its height. An ensemble that included then undergraduate student performer Steven Schick on the drum set performed the premier performance. The composition represents a lifelong dedication to Jazz and Free Jazz in particular. As a music theorist, Block later wrote groundbreaking articles on Free Jazz and compositional structure in Music Theory Spectrum 1990 and 1997 (Pitch-Class Transformation in Free Jazz and Bemsha Swing: The Transformation of a Bebop Classic to Free Jazz) and the Annual Review of Jazz Studies 1993 (Organized sound: pitch class relations in the music of Ornette Coleman). As a composer, Block wrote just two jazz-related composition (the second being Thelonious Rex, an ensemble transformation-variation of 5 compositions by Thelonoious Monk).

 

Puttin’ It Together reflects a compositional working out of a highly structured pitch and rhythmic scheme with little improvisation called for. A minimal amount of improvisation is written into the percussion part but the rest of the work was intended for musicians who would not necessarily have a background in Jazz or improvisation. Therefore, such accepted elements like “swing”, bending of notes and intonation, slides, honks, and sound effects are all written into a very detailed score. The result is intended to be heard as a recorded performance that confirms what Block later wrote as a seminal appraisal of Free Jazz in his 1990 article: “While early twentieth century composers constructed their pc relations, jazz musicians heard them in improvisation - which suggests that pitch-class and nontonal relations can develop naturally out of musical practice in the same way that tonal music grew out of modal music and nineteenth-century tonality grew out of that of the eighteenth century.” Puttin’ It Together in a sense reverses the improvisational process as a way of recreating a performance that simulates a highly constructed improvisation.

 

– Steven Block

 

 

And the Huddled Masses Sergio Cervetti

 

The title And the Huddled Masses naturally brings to mind the image of 19th century immigrants greeted by the Statue of Liberty’s silent promise for a brighter future.  Then there are today’s unwelcome migrants and refugees fleeing war-torn homelands to be confronted by closed borders.

 

Two years ago a clarinetist friend of mine suggested that I write a clarinet quintet since the literature of this genre is rather limited.  It was an appealing challenge. Added impetus came when I read the tragic story of a young Ecuadorian girl who made the desperate journey from her native country to join her parents, illegal immigrants living in New York, and then committed suicide at the Mexican border when her entry was thwarted by immigration authorities. Because I was an immigrant to the U.S., under kinder, different circumstances in 1962, and because of today’s plight of Middle Eastern immigrants in Europe, I felt the need to express my thoughts and feelings in this work for clarinet and string quartet.

 

The elusive, fragmented, and introspective melodies, wavering harmonies, and disciplined elegance in the first and third movements that bracket the second movement’s ostinato 7/8 rhythm, reverently celebrate surely cherished but often unfinished lives. The final movement is an elegy for this young girl lost in the struggle faced by illegal immigrants today.  A quote from Mozart’s canon, Ach, zu kurz ist unsers Leben Lauf, appears in order to reflect on the brevity of life and how suddenly it can be extinguished.

 

With no geography of discrimination that can originate due to nationality, creed, race or the state of one’s heart, mind, body and soul, there is some measure of comfort that music abolishes borders. Significantly this work was recorded in Havana in 2016 at a moment in U.S. and Cuban history when borders are opening up following restoration of diplomatic relations in 2014 after a long period of acrimonious isolation.

 

– Sergio Cervetti

 

Click below to view study scores

The Tired, the Poor, and the Huddled Masses

Hâves, déguenillés

Noemí Alvarez Quillay

 

Dearly Beloved  Christina Rusnak

 

Dearly Beloved was composed for the wedding of a close family member. This person has been my staunchest supporter for most of my compositional life – both my cheering section and my most honest critic. More traditional than many of my works, Dearly Beloved is not only my gift for him and his bride, but also a personal extension of myself, and the love I wanted to share with them on their wedding day. For nine parts, I envision the piece to be performed with nine or eighteen performers. With some adjustment, larger groups could perform it as well.

 

The piece opens with the most common phrase in the wedding liturgy. The vow text is not taken from any one source, but really a summary of the most common historical wedding vow statements. I interspersed with this, my own text, asides really, defining and/or describing the vows, comments from the wedding attendees, and the innermost thoughts of a bride and groom. The piece ends with a celebratory presentation of the marriage couple as the wedding concludes.

 

–  Christina Rusnak 2011

 

 

LYRICS

 

Dearly beloved,

   Friends and family

   Those who love and care so much

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here together

To join our son and our daughter

To join this man and woman in holy matrimony

 

Marriage is the union of husband and wife in heart, body and mind

   What greater thing is this,

   What greater joy,

   For two human souls to feel joined together

   Our souls feel joined

Strengthening each other

Sharing gladness, nursing sorrow

   Sadness and death

   As lovers and friends – best friends

I take you

   Take me

   Will you take me forever?

I take you to be with me, to have and to hold, from this day forward, always

   To be with me

   I want you, I take you

For richer and poorer, in sickness and health

   I’ll be here, I’ll stay with you

To love you, to honor you, to cherish you always

Forsaking all others

   I only want you

 

All here have witnessed this act of faith

   Faith in each other’s hearts

This joining together

   Take both my hands, hold them

   Hold your hands

By the power vested in me

I now pronounce you

   Here it comes

   We’ve been waiting

I now pronounce you husband and wife

 

Click here to view study score

 

 

Dearly Departed  Christina Rusnak

 

In planning to compose this piece, I researched liturgy from across faiths and found to my surprise that many, like my own hymnal, present a sequence of events with suggested psalms and scripture to be read, and hymns to be sung. Composers across the ages have created requiems and masses to remember a loved one who has passed on. Many people choose popular songs – often favorites of those the deceased.

 

I sought to create a piece, which would be equally appropriate for use in a congregational worship service, in a home, or at the graveside. I integrated fragments of liturgy, scripture, and, De Profundis (Psalm 130, out of the depths), which has been used by composers as diverse as Mozart, Arvo Part, and Jonathan Newman, and by poets such as Alfred Tennyson, Oscar Wilde and Federico Lorca. I’ve interspersed with this, is my own text, asides really, expressing the feelings of the funeral attendees and the innermost thoughts of a grieving family and friends.

 

–  Christina Rusnak 2016

 

 

LYRICS

 

We are gathered here today

   We are here because you’re gone

   We are here for you

We are gathered here today to mourn

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be consoled

   I don’t feel consoled at all

   I just miss you

   Dearly Departed, we are here for you

 

Give us grace

Give us grace to remember all that was good in her/his life

   Life is so short, so short

Like the flowers in the field, we blossom, and then fade

 

We are gathered here today

  It doesn’t feel real

To commend her/his spirit

  Please tell me you’re not gone

  You’re spirit lies in my heart

Eternal rest given to her/him, and perpetual light shine upon her/him

 

Courage and faith to those who are mourning

   Please give us strength

   I will remember the joy we shared

Joy and Laughter

   I will remember laughter

   I will remember sorrow

   Your voice was music to my ears

   I remember love we shared

 

Blessed, Blessed

Eternal rest given to her/him, and perpetual light shine upon her/him

Blessed are those who mourn

We are gathered here today

   You lie in my heart

   Like the flowers in the field

   Like the grasses in the wind, we scatter

 

  I remember, I’ll remember always

We are gathered here

  Rememb’ring

We are gathered here today

  We are here because you LIVED.

 

Click here to view study score

 

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