Composer David Liptak releases a collection of chamber works, featuring the cycle, "Dove Songs," written for soprano Tony Arnold with pianist Alison D'Amato. Liptak, longtime composition professor at the Eastman School of Music, writes music that is expressively rich and poignantly lyrical. Rounding out the program are pieces for guitar, cello and piano, and violin and piano, featuring guitarist Dieter Hennings, cellist Steven Doane, violinist Renée Jolles, and pianists Margaret Kampmeier and Barry Snyder.
|Tony Arnold, soprano, Alison d'Amato, piano|
|02||2. The Snow King|
2. The Snow King
|03||3. Catherine of Alexandria|
3. Catherine of Alexandria
|04||4. Beauty and the Beast|
4. Beauty and the Beast
|05||5. Catherine of Siena|
5. Catherine of Siena
|Renée Jolles, violin, Margaret Kampmeier, piano|
|09||3. Quick and agile|
3. Quick and agile
|Dieter Hennings Yeomans, guitar|
|10||1. Picasso's Blue Guitar|
1. Picasso's Blue Guitar
|11||2. Les Soupirs|
2. Les Soupirs
|12||3. The Unicorn|
3. The Unicorn
|13||4. Idée Fixe|
4. Idée Fixe
|14||5. Beautiful Dreamer|
5. Beautiful Dreamer
|15||6. Memory's Persistence|
6. Memory's Persistence
|16||7. Petite Reprise|
7. Petite Reprise
Sonata for Cello and Piano
|Steven Doane, cello, Barry Snyder, piano|
“Dove Songs” showcases composer David Liptak’s poignant music in the title work for soprano and piano, and other pieces for violin and piano, guitar, and cello and piano. Throughout, Liptak’s music paints rich, textural scenes with material that is sensual and evocative.
Dove Songs was written for soprano Tony Arnold, whose moving performance with pianist Alison d’Amato is heard here. Based on poems by Rita Dove, the 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner in poetry, Liptak’s music mirrors the storytelling sensibility of the texts, as well as its subtle restraint. The music in the opening movement “Refrain” alternates between lyrical phrases describing a mysterious “man inside the mandolin” and more stark settings of his actual song. “The Snow King” is a portrait of an icy ruler in a hostile land, where “sparrows lie frozen in hallways,” beautifully articulated by the glistening high register gestures in the piano. The paired movements, “Catherine of Alexandria” and “Catherine of Siena”, both tell tales of women who defied authority, were condemned, and managed to transform their fate. “Beauty and the Beast” playfully depicts a domestic setting of marriage, with a recurring short, descending six note phrase. The final song of the set, “Flirtation,” is the lightest in the piece, with coquettish swooping gestures in the soprano and flourishes in the piano that capture the pleasure of obliquely toying with possibility.Read More
Liptak’s three Impromptus, written for and performed here by violinist Renée Jolles with pianist Margaret Kampmeier, are short character pieces that adhere closely to their titles and performance markings. “Rhapsodic” opens with a declamatory octave in the piano, a nod to Schubert, and proceeds to explore a rarefied space, with the piano sounding atmospheric chords and the violin playing sighing figures and short, dancelike turns. “Lyrical” opens with each instrument exploring its first phrases independently, and they slowly begin to overlap more and more in a searching dialogue. “Quick and agile” turns around a short theme, considering it from all angles with a certain degree of intellectual detachment.
The Sighs for solo guitar, performed here with sensitivity by Dieter Hennings, is a seven movement work exploring melancholy through the personas of several legendary artists. “Picasso’s Blue Guitar”, named for the famous blue period painting, revels in dissonant dyad sonorities on the instrument, moving up and down in register. “Les Soupirs” and “Petite Reprise” both borrow music from Rameau’s Pièce de clavecin, and Liptak elegantly weaves in music that evokes Rameau’s purportedly solitary personality into the quoted Baroque material. “The Unicorn” is a fleet, moto perpetuo movement, using registral differentiation around insistent central tones to create a multi-dimensional texture. “Idée Fixe” engages with memory, returning obsessively to certain gestures and sonorities almost as a mantra. “Beautiful Dreamer” is based on the song by the same name by Stephen Foster, and in his setting, Liptak mixes singing phrases with bell-like harmonics. “Memory’s Persistence” is inspired by the Salvador Dalí painting, and contains the most virtuosic music of the set.
The Sonata for Cello and Piano is in two movements, “Lontano” and “Caccia.” “Lontano” does indeed begin from afar, but the developing dialogue between the two instruments, performed here by Stephen Doane and Barry Snyder, intensifies the texture before it fades away again at the end of the movement. “Caccia” is a vigorous chase scene; Liptak writes, “Everywhere is the breathlessness and quickened heartbeat of the hunt.”
– D. Lippel
David Liptak’s music has been described as “luminous and arresting,” “richly atmospheric,” and having “transparent textures, incisive rhythms, shimmering lightness.” His compositions have been performed throughout the United States and abroad by the San Francisco Symphony, the Montreal Symphony, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Group for Contemporary Music, EARPLAY, the Ying, Cassatt, and JACK String Quartets, the Dinosaur Annex Ensemble, the New York New Music Ensemble, the 20th-Century Consort, baritone William Sharp, soprano Tony Arnold, and by many other soloists and ensembles. In 1995 David Liptak was awarded the Elise L. Stoeger Prize, given by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in recognition of distinguished achievement in the field of chamber music composition. He has received awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, both in 2002, and he is the 2006 recipient of the Lillian Fairchild Award from the University of Rochester. Commissions for new music have included those supported by the Fromm Foundation, the Koussevitzky Music Foundation, Meet the Composer, the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, the California Music Center, and the Hanson Institute for American Music. Recordings of David Liptak’s music can be found on Bridge, Innova, Albany, Centaur, and other recording labels. He is President of the American Composers Alliance, and his music is published by several publishers, including Keiser Classical, Alfred Music - Donald Hunsberger Wind Ensemble Library, and American Composers Edition. Much of his music written very recently has explored the poetry and magical quality of stars and starlight, imagined and real. A dedicated teacher of composition students for the past three decades, David Liptak is Professor of Composition at the Eastman School of Music, where he has taught since 1986.
Celebrated as a “luminary in the world of chamber music and art song” (Huffington Post), Tony Arnold is internationally acclaimed as a leading proponent of contemporary music in concert and recording as a “convincing, mesmerizing soprano” (Los Angeles Times) who “has a broader gift for conveying the poetry and nuance behind outwardly daunting contemporary scores” (Boston Globe). Her unique blend of vocal virtuosity and communicative warmth, combined with wide-ranging skills in education and leadership were recognized with the 2015 Brandeis Creative Arts Award, given in appreciation of “excellence in the arts and the lives and works of distinguished, active American artists.” Arnold’s extensive chamber music repertory includes major works written for her voice by Georges Aperghis, George Crumb, Brett Dean, Jason Eckardt, Gabriela Lena Frank, Josh Levine, George Lewis, Philippe Manoury, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Christopher Theofanidis, Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, John Zorn, and numerous others. She is a member of the intrepid International Contemporary Ensemble and enjoys regular guest appearances with leading ensembles, presenters, and festivals worldwide.
With more than 30 discs to her credit, Arnold has recorded a broad segment of the modern vocal repertory with esteemed chamber music colleagues. Her recording of George Crumb’s iconic Ancient Voices of Children (Bridge) received a 2006 Grammy nomination. She is a first prize laureate of both the Gaudeamus International and the Louise D. McMahon competitions. A graduate of Oberlin College and Northwestern University, Arnold was twice a fellow of the Aspen Music Festival as both a conduc- tor and singer. She currently is on the faculties of the Peabody Conservatory and the Tanglewood Music Center.
Pianist Alison d'Amato is passionately engaged as performer and teacher in the full spectrum of collaborative music genres, particularly skilled in song and text-based projects. She is Artistic Co-Director of Florestan Recital Project, Assistant Professor of Vocal Coaching at Eastman School of Music, and Lecturer in Voice at University at Buffalo. In all these activities, Alison is dedicated to energizing the relationships and communication in music and bringing students’ love for music to the forefront of their work. Alison pursues interdisciplinary arts and new approaches to the performer-audience relationship. She is Program Director of Art Song Lab (www.artsonglab.com), an intensive that presents new songs in collaboration with composers, poets, and performers. Her projects include one with Florestan and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts on a Leonard Bernstein program in Florestan’s series “Composers in Words and Song,” audio-biographical programs with songs and read correspondence from the composer’s life. In 2017, she joined the faculty of ArtsBridge in their flagship Artsong summer intensive. Recent recording projects include The Complete Songs of Virgil Thomson (New World Records) and Music for Violin and Piano by Joseph Achron with violinist Michael Ludwig (Naxos).
The violinist Renée Jolles enjoys an eclectic career as soloist, chamber artist, and pedagogue. She has premiered hundreds of works, including the American premiere of Schnittke’s Violin Concerto No. 2. Jolles is a member of the Jolles Duo, Continuum, Intimate Voices, the Bedford Chamber Players (with Baroque harpsichordist Anthony Newman), the New York Chamber Ensemble, and is a Concertmaster of the Grammy Award-winning Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Honored to be a featured soloist in three world premieres as part of the Orpheus “New Brandenburg” commissions, she can be heard as soloist on the WQXR website in live performances from Carnegie Hall performing the music of Paul Moravec, Melinda Wagner, and Peter Maxwell Davies. Committed to recording new music, she can be heard as soloist and chamber artist on the Cambria, CRI, North/South Recordings, Albany, and New World record labels. A dedicated teacher, Jolles is a Professor of Violin at the Eastman School of Music, in addition to teaching each summer at Bowdoin International Music Festival and Aria Summer Music Academy. She received her bachelor and master degrees from The Juilliard School, where, upon graduation, she was presented with the school’s highest award, the William Schuman Prize. Her teachers have included Lewis Kaplan, Felix Galimir, Jacob Lateiner, and members of the Juilliard, Tokyo, and American Quartets.
Pianist Margaret Kampmeier, Artistic Director and Chair of MSM’s Contemporary Performance Program, enjoys a varied career as soloist, collaborative artist, and educator. Since receiving her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at SUNY Stony Brook, she has performed in hundreds of concerts, premiered numerous works, and recorded extensively. “Envy any composer who secures Kampmeier’s services. Here is an artist with astounding technique, dramatic intensity and clarity of purpose,” wrote Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco Chronicle. Ms. Kampmeier is a founding member of the Naumburg Award-winning New Millennium Ensemble and performs regularly with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. She has appeared with the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera Chamber Ensemble, New York Philharmonic Ensembles, Kronos Quartet, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Cassatt Quartet, Sherman Chamber Ensemble, Saratoga Chamber Players, Richardson Chamber Players, Peter Schickele, Sequitur, Speculum Musicae and New York New Music Ensemble. In addition to her work at MSM, Ms. Kampmeier teaches piano at Princeton University. She joined the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music in the fall of 2012.
The musical endeavors of Dieter Hennings Yeomans span from new music on guitar to early music for lute, baroque guitar, and theorbo, and he can be heard on the Nonesuch, Bridge, Parma, Nre Branch, and Innova recording labels. He has been a soloist with Canada’s New Music Concerts Ensemble, Tito Sccipa Orchestra of Lecce, Italy, Eastman BroadBand Ensemble, Eastman School Symphony Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfónica de la Universidad de Guanajuato, Orquesta Filarmónica de Sonora, the University of Arizona Philharmonia, the Orquesta Filarmonica de Monterrey, among many other ensembles. Dieter Hennings is an active proponent of new music, particularly that of Latin America, having worked with composers Mario Davidovsky, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Juan Trigos and Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon. He has premiered works by Jacob Bancks, Wes Matthews, John Aylward, Beth Wiemann, Hebert Vazquez, Luca Cori, Juan Trigos, Scott Worthington, and many other composers. His professional grants to commission and premiere contemporary works for guitar have included those from the Howard Hanson Institute for American Music, the Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (México), and the Fondo Estatal para la Cultura y las Artes (Sonora, México). Among his performances have been concerts with pop-singer Natalie Merchant and baroque violinist Monica Huggett as well as appearances at the Mexican Embassy in Rome, Festival SpazioMusica of Cagliari, Conservatorio de las Rosas in Morelia, Mexico, the University of Chicago, Festival Internacional de Chihuahua, New York’s Joyce Theater, Juilliard’s Paul Hall, and the New England Conservatory of Music. Dieter Hennings is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Kentucky where he curates the International Guitar Series, which has brought to Lexington some of the finest guitarists in the world.
Internationally known soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, recording artist, and pedagogue Steven Doane appears at festivals and on concert series throughout the United States and overseas. Doane received his BM from Oberlin Conservatory and his MM from SUNY Stony Brook. He received a Watson Foundation Grant for overseas study in 1975, and had further studies with Richard Kapuscinski, Bernard Greenhouse, Jane Cowan, and Janos Starker. Steven Doane and pianist Barry Snyder have made a series of recordings for the Bridge label. The duo’s recording of the complete music of Gabriel Fauré for cello and piano was awarded the Diapason D’or in France, and it has been broadcast throughout the United States and Canada, over the BBC in England, and throughout Europe. The second recording in the series, of works by Benjamin Britten and Frank Bridge, was also released to critical acclaim. Professor of Cello at the Eastman School of Music, Steven Doane received Eastman’s Eisenhart Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1993. As a member of the New Arts Trio, Doane was awarded the Naumburg Chamber Music Award in 1980. He made his Carnegie Hall and Kennedy Center debuts in Don Quixote with David Zinman and the Rochester Philharmonic in 1983. His Tully Hall recital debut occurred in 1990 and has been followed by numerous recital appearances, including in London’s Wigmore Hall, which elicited the following remarks in The Strad: "The quality of his playing continually aspired toward genuine greatness. He treads the tightrope between technical rigor and total expressiveness, never sacrificing one for the other." In addition to his appointment at Eastman, Steven Doane currently holds the title of Visiting Professor at the Royal Academy of Music, London, where he has done several residencies.
Barry Snyder is an internationally acclaimed pianist and teacher, whose entry onto the international stage came after winning three major prizes at the 1966 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition: Silver Medal, Pan American Union Award, and the Chamber Music Prize. Since then, Snyder has toured the world performing concerti, presenting solo collaborative recitals, and leading master classes. Snyder has performed with conductors such as Robert Shaw, Leopold Stokowski, David Zinman, Sixten Ehrling and Arthur Fiedler. He has appeared with such orchestras as the Detroit Symphony, Houston Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Singapore Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, Krakow Radio Symphony, Brno Radio Symphony, Japan Philharmonic, Toronto Chamber Orchestra, and the Aspen Summer Festival Orchestra. A well-known collaborator, Snyder has appeared with artists such as Hermann Prey, Jan DeGaetani, Zvi Zeitlin, Ani Kavafian, Sylvia Rosenberg, Bonita Boyd, Steven Doane, and the Chilingirian and Cleveland Quartets. Many of these collaborations can be heard in Snyder’s substantial discography of over fifty-four recordings. Snyder is committed to performing 20th and 21st century repertoire, and he has given world premieres of works by such composers as Sydney Hodkinson, Toshio Hosakawa and Augusta Read Thomas. Many compositions, such as those by Carter Pann and Verne Reynolds, have been written specifically for him. Since 1970, Snyder was Professor of Piano at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York and has given masterclasses in the United States, Europe, and Asia. As of 2018, Snyder became Professor Emeritus at Eastman and accepted an Adjunct Professor position at New York University.
American composer David Liptak composes texturally rich, colourful and contrasting musical sounds in four compositions here. The title track, Dove Songs, is a six-part song cycle composed for soprano Tony Arnold, who performs it with superb pianist Alison d’Amato. Arnold’s enchanting voice grasps all the contrasting storytelling/musical elements of the work, based on poetry by 1987 Pulitzer Prize-winner Rita Dove. Great moments include the dramatic vocal high pitches and piano tinkling like snow and frost in The Snow King, short phrases with subtle humourous undertones emulating domestic life’s ups and downs in Beauty and the Beast, and faster lighter lines with a final high-pitched vocal note and piano flourish in Flirtation.
More intense lyricism and held notes feature in Impromptus, composed for and played by violinist Renée Jolles with pianist Margaret Kampmeier. The duo shines in the contrasting conversational solo lines which shorten until they overlap simultaneously in the second movement, Lyrical. The seven-movement guitar solo suite, The Sighs, explores the melancholy of seven artists. Guitarist Dieter Hennings Yeomans brings out the clever compositional use of Rameau’s Baroque counterpoint in the fluctuating guitar line in the Les Soupirs and Petite Reprise movements. The extremely moving musical sentiment of Beautiful Dreamer, based on the Stephen Foster song of the same name, is unforgettable. Sonata for Cello and Piano has cellist Steven Doane and pianist Barry Synder perform a zippy second-movement race to the finish!
David Liptak’s memorable, lyrical, original compositions are timeless!
— Tiina Kiik, 5.30.2019
David Liptak’s (b. 1949) music is beautiful. Why it is not better known is itself an unknown, and something that has been commented upon previously during the course of the very few reviews of his music on the Fanfare Archive.
It is difficult to imagine a finer exponent of the music of our time than Tony Arnold, whose interpretations of composers such as Webern, Crumb, Carter, and Babbitt have confirmed her status as a musician the vanguard of the music of our time. The cycle Dove Songs (2014) was written expressly for her and therefore works with her strengths. The “Dove” of the title is the poet Rita Dove, whose poetry Liptak set two decades previously in a 1993 song-cycle. The texts of Dove Songs take in fairytale and legend (“The Snow King”), gritty realism referencing fairy tale (“Beauty and the Beast”) and the uncomfortable realities of Catherine of Alexandria’s intimate life, this last chillingly told in textures of a fragility that threatens to break at any moment.
The settings are unfailingly intelligent, beginning from a place of near silence (one has to strain to hear the opening), greeted with exquisite droplets of piano courtesy of the excellent Alison d’Amato. Just listen to the lightness and accuracy of the voice/piano exchanges in the penultimate song, “Beauty and the Beast,” or the sense of conversation between singer and piano in the final “Flirtation.”
The Impromptus (2016) for violin and piano begin with an unmistakable nod to Schubert’s op. 90 set before taking the path less travelled into a world of enigma (in the first one, “Rhapsodic” and the second, “Lyrical”). The more capricious final “Quick and agile” has a playfulness, as if the musicians are passing around the material like kittens with some wool. Violinist Renée Jolles is immensely agile and again completely at home (it comes as no surprise to learn she gave the American premiere of Schnittke’s Second Violin Concerto).
Perhaps, though, it is the purity of The Sighs (2015) for solo guitar that is most impressive. This is a seven-movement suite that centers on the concept of melancholy, with two movements using material from Rameau’s Les Soupirs (The Sighs) from the 1724 Pièces de Clavecin. It is the actual person of Rameau that reminded the composer of Picasso’s The Old Guitar. Dalí, too, is an influence; still another is the songwriter Stephen Collins Foster. This is a virtuoso performance from Dieter Hennings Yeomans (try “The Unicorn” for speed and virtuosity married to a supreme understanding of the flavor to Liptak’s music). Inspirations both sonic and visual intersect to create an inviting tapestry of sound as Liptak plays with our memories, be they of Rameau or of Foster’s well-known Beautiful Dreamer.
As a sequence of miniatures, The Sighs works brilliantly well, and in context here complements the more substantive statements of Liptak’s Sonata for Cello and Piano of 2007. There are only two movements, “Lontano” and “Caccia.” A formally symmetrical first movement (the gorgeously delicate far-away sounds gradually move closer before receding again) leads to a highly contrasting chase scene. The piece is performed here, with suavité in the first movement and outright virtuosity in the gritty, rhythmically delightfully wonky second one, by its dedicatee, cellist Steven Doane. The present pianist, Barry Snyder, also performed at the 2008 premiere.
The recording and production standards are all remarkably high. It is always nice when a disc comes along as something of a revelation, and that is the case here. David Liptak’s music deserves far greater currency, and this disc should go some way towards achieving that.
— Colin Clarke, 2.22.2021
A composer and educator whose work has been interpreted by the San Francisco Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, among many others, here David Liptak offers a collection of chamber works, where classical ideas are richly textured and executed with much imagination.
The title track starts the listen, where unpredictable piano from Alison d’Amato and expressive soprano vocals from Tony Arnold populates the pretty atmosphere that’s full of vivid storytelling, and Impromptus follows with Renée Jolles handling moody violin that aligns with warm keys from Margaret Kampmeier in a setting that’s capable of being haunting yet stirring.
The remainder of the listen includes the guitar fueled The Sighs, where careful picking and gorgeous strumming fill the 7 movements with Dieter Hennings Yeomans exploring graceful melancholy, and Sonata For Cello And Piano exits the listen with sublime interaction between Steven Doane and Barry Snyder.
Liptak illustrates much diversity in these 4 compositions, as his articulate, eloquent and universally embraceable vision is illuminated by the exceptional musicianship that is Dove Songs.
— Tom Haugen, 12.19.2020
This educator checks in with some cutting edge modern classical works that are purely ars gratia artis. Solidly in the Sunday recital pocket, eggheads need love too and this gives it to them in spades. Inspired by dedication and devotion to craft, this set hits all those high marks.
-Chris Spector, 3.8.19, Midwest Record
This collection takes its name from the first piece: a song cycle for voice and piano with poetry by Rita Dove, a former Poet Laureate of the United States. She won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and is currently Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia. This work is extraordinary and elegiac, from the very first bit of text—”The man inside the mandolin plays a new tune every night, sailing past the bedroom window”. Liptak’s notes and Arnold’s voice and D’Amato’s fingers reel you into the dark fantastical world of Dove’s poetry. This song cycle is a masterpiece. The Sighs, a suite for guitar played by Dieter Hennings Yeomans, is another favorite of mine. With subject matter ranging from the Unicorn Tapestries to ‘Picasso’s Blue Guitar’, this is a multi-faceted work that all guitarists should know about. This album is a delight.
-Stephanie Boyd, 6.25.19, American Record Guide