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Now and Then
The New York Bassoon Quartet

Christopher Weait, whose musical works include nearly 100 compositions, has been Professor of Bassoon at Ohio State University since 1984. He was principal bassoonist of the Toronto Symphony for 17 years, where he worked under music directors Ozawa, Ancerl, and Andrew Davis and founded the Toronto Chamber Winds. He played with the Chamber Symphony of Philadelphia and the U.S. Military Academy Band at West Point. Weait has been a visiting professor at the Eastman School of Music and Indiana University and has recorded solo and chamber albums on the CBC, Coronet, Crystal, d'Note, Kneptune, Lyrichord and Innova labels. His book Bassoon Reed-Making: A Basic Technique [3rd edition] is available from McGinnis & Marx.

Suite of Early American Tunes was Weait's first published work. "The arrangements were made partly to provide music for the charming and exotic sound of the bassoon quartet and partly out of my interest in American music from the 19th century. The first, third and fourth movements. are drawn from the Merrimac Collection, edited by American lexicographer Henry Eaton Moore (1803-1841) and published in Concord, New Hampshire in 1833. The second movement is based on the hymn tune Work, for the Night is Coming by the important American musician and educator Lowell Mason (1792-1872)." C. Weait

John Corigliano, internationally celebrated as one of the leading composers of his generation, is widely known for such works as The Ghosts of Versailles, written to commemorate the centenary of the Metropolitan Opera in New York; his Clarinet Concerto; and soundtracks for three movies, including The Red Violin, which won him the Academy Award. Commissioned by the Chicago Symphony when he was Composer-in-Residence there (1987-90), Corigliano's Symphony No. 1, an impassioned response the AIDS crisis, won the Grammy awards for both "Best New Composition" and "Best Orchestral Performance." The Symphony has already has been played by nearly 125 different orchestras worldwide, and continues to be scheduled by virtually all of the leading U.S. orchestras. The recording of Corigliano's 40-minute String Quartet won Grammy Awards both for "Best Performance" and again for "Best New Composition," making Corigliano the first composer to win twice in the history of that award.

How Like Pellucid Statutes displays a number of Corigliano's trademarks, including a descriptive nature and the element of chance. "The frozen translucent statues seemed to me to be a marvelous foil for the pulsating hot energy of an engine ­ both images, as seen through the eyes of a child, readily evoked musical ideas. The unique sound of double reeds seemed at once to be the right choice, and fulfilled a desire I have always had to write for multiple bassoons. The work utilizes row techniques and is in two parts ­the first a picture of the frozen pellucid statues and the second, an aural portrait of the energy and acceleration inherent in the words "...an engine." ­J. C.

Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) was born in the Ukraine. His mother, a well-educated woman, was the most important influence on his early musical development. He often lay awake in bed at night listening to her play works by Beethoven, Anton Rubinstein, Chopin, Liszt and others. By age five, he had written his first piece. His mother let him discover music on his own, and did not give him formal piano lessons until he was 7. After hearing two operas on a family trip in 1901, he wrote the libretto and music for an opera of his own, "staging" a production of the work with family members and friends. Recognizing his exceptional talent, and leaving Sergei's father behind, mother and son moved to St. Petersburg when Sergei was 13 so he could pursue further studies at the St. Petersburg Conservatory (1904-1914). His music was in many ways much more advanced than that of his teachers, and he gained the nickname "enfant terrible" at the conservatory, a name he actually enjoyed.

Prokofieff traveled widely, spending many years in London and Paris, and toured the United States five times. His music was both reviled and triumphed in the musical press of the time, and he received many scathing reviews, often even as audiences embraced his music. He returned to his homeland permanently in 1936. Like other great composers, he mastered a wide range of musical genres, including symphonies, concerti, film music, operas, ballets, and program pieces. In his time, his works were considered both ultra-modern and innovative. Referred to as Humerous Scherzo for Four Bassoons or just Scherzo for Four Bassoons, Op 12 bis, this piece is based on the ninth work from Ten Pieces for Piano, Op 12, written between 1906 and 1913. Prokofiev wrote this arrangement in 1915. (These Prokofieff notes were condensed and edited from extensive biographical materials at www.prokofiev.org. Used by permission.) Sergey, Sergei Prokofieff

William Schuman (1910-1992) was born in New York and began composing in high school, forming a jazz ensemble in which he played violin and banjo. He studied at Columbia University Teachers College and at Juilliard with Roy Harris, who strongly influenced him and brought him to the attention of Serge Koussevitzky, who championed many of his early works. Schuman taught at Sarah Lawrence College from 1935 to 1945, and by the age of 35, he had been director of publications for G. Schirmer, Inc. and appointed President of the Juilliard School, a post he held until 1962, when he was appointed first president of the newly-founded Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. He wrote a plethora of works in virtually every musical genre, and incorporated American jazz and folk traditions into works which ranged from a harmonically conservative early style to later excursions into dissonance and polytonality. In addition to his election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Royal Academy of Music, Schuman received the National Medal of Arts and was honored by Washington's Kennedy Center.

John Harbison is one of America's most prominent composers. Among his principal works are three string quartets, three symphonies, three operas, and the cantata The Flight Into Egypt, which earned him a Pulitzer Prize. Harbison has been Composer-in-Residence with the Pittsburgh Symphony; Los Angeles Philharmonic; the Tanglewood, Marlboro, and Santa Fe Chamber Festivals; and the American Academy in Rome. His music has been performed by many of the world's leading ensembles, and more than thirty of his works have been recorded. Harbison did his undergraduate work at Harvard and earned an MFA from Princeton. Following completion of a junior fellowship at Harvard, he joined the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 1989 and is currently on the faculty of the Aspen Music Festival.

Composer, musician, author and satirist Peter Schickele is internationally recognized as one of the most versatile artists in the field of music. Mr. Schickele has created music for four feature films, among them the prize-winning Silent Running, as well as for documentaries, television commercials and several Sesame Street segments. He was also one of the composer/ lyricists for Oh, Calcutta, and has arranged for Joan Baez, Buffy Sainte-Marie and other folk singers. Schickele arranged one of the musical segments for the Disney animated feature film Fantasia 2000, and also created the musical score for the film version of Maurice Sendak's children's classic Where the Wild Things Are, issued on videocassette along with another Sendak classic. Among his ongoing projects is a weekly syndicated radio program, Schickele Mix, which has been heard nationwide over Public Radio International since 1992 and which won ASCAP's prestigious Deems Taylor Award.

Schickele's commissions are numerous and varied, ranging from works for major orchestras, the Minnesota Opera, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and the Audubon and Lark String Quartets, to compositions for distinguished instrumentalists and singers. He is, of course, best known as the inimitable Professor Peter Schickele, discoverer of the works of history's most justifiably neglected composer, P.D.Q. Bach, and instigator of numerous and delightful musical spoofs. In testimony, Vanguard released 11 albums of the fabled genius' works, Random House published 11 editions of The definitive Biography of P.D.Q. Bach, Presser printed innumerable scores, and VideoArts International produced a cassette of P.D.Q. Bach's only full-length opera. That all adds up to "the greatest comedy-in-music act before the public today." (Robert Marsh, Chicago Sun-Times) Last Tango in Bayreuth, a tongue-in cheek tribute to Richard Wagner, is based on motifs from his operas. In two brief sections, the first is an expansion of the famous "Tristan" chord from Tristan und Isolde, while the second is borrowed from the "Overture to Act III" of Loehengrin. The coda abandons the tango rhythm for a chorale-like setting, incorporating the "Tristan" chord within a jazz-like tonality. The work ends in a final gesture to Bayreuth, with the famous "transcendental" chord.

Katherine Hoover resides in New York, where she maintains an active career as composer, conductor, and flutist. She is the recipient of a National Endowment Composer's Fellowship and many other awards, including an Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Composition. Her tone poem Eleni: A Greek Tragedy has been performed by 13 orchestras, including the Harrisburg and Fort Worth Symphonies. Her Clarinet Concerto, written for jazz virtuoso Eddie Daniels, was premiered with the Santa Fe Symphony and her Cello Concerto was performed by Sharon Robinson with the Long Beach (CA) Symphony. Ms. Hoover conducted the premiere of her Night Skies, a 25-minute work for large orchestra, with the Harrisburg Symphony. The commissioning, rehearsing, and premiere of Hoover's Dances and Variations at Kennedy Center are the subject of Deborah Novak's Emmy-winning television documentary, New Music.

he Montclaire and Colorado Quartets; Dorian, Sylvan and Richards Quintets; and the Huntingdon, Verdehr and Eroica Trios have featured her work. The New Jersey Chamber Music Society premiered her Quintet (Da Pacem) for piano and strings at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center. Julius Baker, Eugenia Zukerman, Carol Wincenc and Metropolitan Opera bass John Cheek have also presented her pieces. Ms. Hoover attended the Eastman School of Music and holds a Masters in Music Theory from the Manhattan School of Music, where she taught for years. "The idea of writing a bassoon quartet fascinated me, and the temptation to write for such fine players was irresistible. The central section of Sinfonia, the "Funeral March," was inspired by the form of a scene from Stiffelio, an obscure Verdi opera. It features a repeating bass motif with increasing layers and densities of sound. The "Introduction" is a bit freer and more experimental in nature. The last movement is an up tempo fugue, with elements of jazz and some rather silly and difficult grace-note figures." ­K. H.

Relentlessly active as composer, performer, teacher, and administrator, Alvin Brehm's credentials are well established in virtually all areas of music. A distinguished composer, Brehm has received numerous commissions from such organizations as the Naumburg Foundation, American Brass Quintet, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Y Orchestra. He has been guest composer at the American Academy in Rome, Chairman of the National Endowment Chamber Music and New Music Committees, Chairman of the New York State Arts Council Music Panel, and Dean of Music at the Purchase campus of the State University of New York. His performance credits as a double bassist include guest appearances with the Guarneri, Budapest, Lenox, and Manhattan Quartets; the Jacques Thibaud Trio; and many other groups. A former artist-member of the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society, when he is not busy pursuing the muse, Brehm sails a 31 foot sloop, builds furniture, and suffers an addiction to spy stories. "Colloquy and Chorale was composed as a memorial to my good friend Eli Carmen, the heroic and indomitable dean of American bassoonists who had suffered a tragic death shortly before. The first movement is an attempt to convey a sense of Eli's rhythmic vitality and buoyant humor; the second, a quiet chorale a gentle farewell. ­A.B.

Vaclav Nelhybel (1919-1996) studied musicology at Prague University and the University of Fribourg and composition and conducting at the Conservatory of Music in Prague. He began his career as a conductor at Radio Prague and the City Theater of Prague from 1939 to 1942. After World War II, he was named conductor and composer-in-residence at Swiss Radio and lecturer at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. Nelhybel was the musical director of Radio Free Europe in Munich from 1950 to 1957. His guest conducting appearances included the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Munich Philharmonic Orchestra and the Bavarian Symphony Orchestra, among others. Nelhybel became a U.S. citizen in 1962 and worked as a composer, conductor and lecturer. His more than 400 published works include operas and works for orchestra, band, chorus, and smaller ensembles, especially wind instruments. His works have been performed by the Vienna Symphony, Orchestra de la Suisse Romande, Prague Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony and many other groups. "Concert Etudes for Four Bassoons is an exploration of many musical elements: various bassoon sonorities, contrasting contrapuntal ideas, snatches of chorales, and lively rhythmic patterns. The effect is witty, and altogether delightful." K. Hoover

Rudolph Palmer's compositional output comprises numerous works for large symphonic and choral forces as well as chamber pieces. His recently recorded works include Laudate Dominum, a festival anthem for brass ensemble and choir; and O Magnum Mysterium for mezzo-soprano, chorus and harp. Palmer's extensive discography as conductor includes premiere recordings of Handel operas and oratorios on original instruments: Deidamia, Alexander Balus, Siroe, Berenice, Faramondo, Muzio, Imeneo (nominated for Ovation magazine's "Mumm's Opera Recording of the Year") and Joshua (critics' "Best Recording" lists in both Gramophone and Fanfare magazines). Other recordings include Pergolesi's La Serva Padrona (best recording in the early music magazine Alte Musik Aktuell), Alessandro Scarlatti's Ishmael, Haydn's La Canterina and Telemann's Pimpinone. Palmer received his doctorate from the Juilliard School of Music, where he studied composition with David Diamond. He is on the conducting and composition faculty at the Mannes College of Music and is director of the Palmer Singers. Contrasts for Four Bassoons was written when Palmer was a student. "My main concern was to write a piece with equal activity for all the players. The first movement is lyrical, consisting of long, breathless lines with an occasional punctuation. The second is a highly contrapuntal tour de force with a brief reminiscence of the first movement." ­R.P.



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