Home Page
Back to this CD
CD Index

CD Notes

Character Sketches
Solo Piano Works by 7 American Women

Victoria Bond's Sandburg Suite was written for the dancer Margaret Beals, who recited Sandburg's poem "Working Girls" while dancing to the score. In keeping with the populist spirit of Sandburg's poem, Bond gives us a brief nostalgic journey through musical Americana. The folk-like opening theme is followed by five variations, all different forms of the blues. The third variation presents a simple Joplin-type rag with a tune Bond claims springs from a childhood memory of a merry-go-round.

Tania León's first solo piano piece, Momentum, was commissioned by the International Congress of Women in Music. New York Newsday perhaps best described the piece: "a brief, dense synthesis of American, Latin and international styles. After one echoing note produced by holding a string inside the instrument, the work combines what sounds like serial tone rows with touches of Latin dance rhythms, stride piano and blues in a thick, moody jumble. It is quick, intense and highly personal."

Jane Brockman writes of Character Sketches: "Stylistic 'characters' from the music of Debussy, Schoenberg, Wagner, and Mussorgsky serve as a point of departure in these three movements. Sometimes the references appear in the form of quotations; at other times, they are simply evocative. The strategy for this work was to uncover the similarities and relationships among these different characters - and to guide their evolution still further into materials which are mine alone. The listener can identify three bell-theme quotations: from Wagner's Parsifal, Schoenberg's Sechs Kleine Klavierstücke (Op. 19, No. 6), and Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov. These unify the three movements."

Ruth Schonthal writes: "Fiestas y Danzas was written in 1961 as a tribute to Mexican music and the contagious spirit of joie de vivre of its people, both of which had impressed and influenced me while I lived there. The music, which combines Latino folk-like melodies and rhythms along with bitonality, is meant to exude a kind of blissful intoxication."

Gwyneth Walker's Cantos for the End of Summer consists of three short piano pieces which are "character studies" of several facets of the composer's style and personality. Prelude represents an Italian melodic "flourish." (Walker is of Italian ancestry and studied with the Italian composer Arnold Franchetti.) Caper indulges in rhythmic fun, humor, and a bit of a rag. Evensong is "a nostalgic portrait of the village green, surrounded by white-steepled churches...the bells are ringing out the call for Evensong service...it is late August, and summer is fading."

Marga Richter's Exequy, written at the death of her father, is an effective mood piece expressing both anger and resignation. It bears the inscription "Sleep on, my love, in thy cold bed, Never to be disquieted" from "Exequy" by Henry King, the inspiration for the title. Fragments is a collection of five miniature pieces, each developing motivic cells, with interrelations among them.

Judith Lang Zaimont's music uses a chromatic, fully-evolved tonality, and is characterized by its lyricism, expressive strength, and rhythmic vitality. In writing for the piano, Zaimont is apparently fascinated with the moods associated with the months of the year. In addition to Calendar Collection she wrote A Calendar Set, another set of twelve études based on the months. Calendar Collection is a series of twelve descriptive preludes, each identified by the name of the month and a depictive title, and differentiated from the others in texture, tempo, mood, and dynamics, creating an impressionistic, kaleidoscopic tonal microcosm of the year.

-Nanette K. Solomon



Links to alphabetical list of composers
Bios and links to their recordings at this site

 A   B  C-E F-G H-I J-K  L   M  N-Q  R   S  T-V W-Z