Adam Silverman | Sturm: Compositions of Adam Silverman

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Sturm: Compositions of Adam Silverman

by Adam Silverman

Contemporary classical chamber music, Silverman's debut CD features energetic music with lush, piquant harmonies, sweeping, chaotic gestures, and elegant instrumental lines.
Genre: Classical: Contemporary
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Sturm: I. Forcefully, with bite
6:26 album only
2. Sturm: II. Tenderly, with passion
8:11 album only
3. Sturm: III. Swiftly, with aggression
4:39 album only
4. Nocturnes and Reveries: I. Fleeting
1:06 album only
5. Nocturnes and Reveries: II. Sentimentally
2:40 album only
6. Nocturnes and Reveries: III. Agitated
2:24 album only
7. Nocturnes and Reveries: IV. Tenderly
1:46 album only
8. Nocturnes and Reveries: V. Dolce, sostenuto
3:02 album only
9. Nocturnes and Reveries: VI. Sprightly
2:43 album only
10. Ricochet
8:40 album only
11. Corrie Q's Jigs and Reels: I. Sophie's Set (jigs)
4:11 album only
12. Corrie Q's Jigs and Reels: II. Slippery Waltz
4:58 album only
13. Corrie Q's Jigs and Reels: III. The Hopping Needle (reels)
4:17 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Some composers are manically focused, repeating themselves in some way or another throughout their entire lives, honing in and perfecting a single notion in its multiple extremes—from Rossini to Reich, Lassus to Lutoslawski—while others are absorbent, exploring multiple strands of possibilities, moods and stripes, among them Stravinsky, Poulenc, Schoenberg, Andriessen, and the composer of the music on this disc, Adam Silverman. Neither sort of artist is preferable to the other (where would we be without Reich’s razor-focus and Stravinsky’s wanderings?) but it does say a lot about the person and personality of the composer who chooses to go rogue, even from themselves. The compositions of Adam Silverman reflect his adventurous curiosity—he’s written music in many styles, from tonal to microtonal, from minimal to maximal. He seems to have settled, at least in the last half decade, on music favored by melody and lush, piquant harmonies, music with clear forms and elegant instrumental lines. But what he retains throughout all of the four pieces on this disc is a generous spirit and a caring, inviting approach to music making.
The disc opens with Sturm (2002), a word most often paired with “drang” to make for a German expression meaning roughly “storm and stress.” Silverman is very telling with his title: this will be a storm sans stress, and the title also puns on a fresh and fizzy, intoxicating Viennese wine. He labels each movement with dual descriptions that the title appropriately lacks. The first movement, “Forcefully, with bite” is an essay in waylaid anxiousness; agita lurks but gives way to the quiet bliss of serenity. The second movement, “Tenderly, with passion” is full of gorgeously ghostlike figures, as if the quiet deep-below anxiety of the first movement has moved to the attic. Dreamy reveries cede to a gentle, satisfying ending—the dreamer awakens, perhaps? The third movement “Swiftly, with aggression” is a rock-solid, rollicking scherzo that draws the listener, through the sheer moxie of momentum to a decidedly emphatic ending.
The solo piano work Nocturnes and Reveries (2004) delivers on the promise of the title, daringly offering middle of the night thinking cast in the form of intricate miniatures. The fugitive yet traditionally based harmonies pay homage to the French masters of the early 20th Century—shadows of Poulenc, Satie, and Debussy drip from these delicious moments musicales—but with the quick-change focus and pacing that can only come from our own “age of information.” There’s an unsettling quality to all the well-wrought separate movements, and while each of these pieces can be enjoyed as a separate creature (I can imagine both the first movement, “Fleeting,” and the fourth, “Tenderly,” as good recital fare on their own) the cycle on a whole is a complete journey, beginning in skittishness and ending with quiet succor. Audrey Andrist’s loving performance presents the work with engaging focus and panache.
From a piece called Ricochet (2004), one might expect the high-volume hiccoughing hockets of Andriessen, perhaps a piece favored by brutal velocity, but instead Silverman, once again devilishly playing off the title’s expectations, delivers an essay on motivic development which he allows to sink or swim (the latter, certainly) on its own inherent musicality rather than on a clever notion. The title reflects both how the music quickly bounces from mood to mood, and how its instruments gaily bounce from note to note, key to key, and string to string. From the quiet (but hardly shy) gurgles of the opening moments to the surprising close, Silverman saturates with wry little tunes and his customary bold and broad harmonies; this is another piece in which the composer considers his audience and gives them something sweeping, bright, and amusingly chaotic.
In 2005 Silverman wrote, for the Corigliano Quartet, his third string quartet Corrie Q’s Jigs and Reels as a reaction to the infectious verve and soulful variety of traditional Irish music. In this piece, Silverman, like many other composers before him who folded folk music into a concert work (e.g. Copland’s Appalachian Spring, Brahms’ Hungarian Dances, or just about everything by Bartók), takes the original material and runs with it in a special—and surprising and witty—way. The opening movement is full of the spry jigs for which this music is known, while the closing movement answers with driving reels, moving from a fetching opening glissando to a striking and tap-toe, laugh-out-loud raucous finale. Silverman makes excellent use of these country-dance forms to his own end, absorbing and reflecting rather than simply aping by arranging. But it is the slow second movement, “Slippery Waltz,” that makes this piece so compelling, because, bookended as it is by two barn-burningly seductive sections, this movement speaks to quiet, calm beauty (always a tough assignment for a composer). Without pulling heartstrings in a contrived or self-indulgent way, the composer waxes nostalgic in a manner that is effective and deeply touching; this music longs achingly for simpler times, quieter and more courtly musical experiences, and Silverman does this without sacrificing the spark of quirk and piquancy that lends his music its own shimmer. The music sings for something just out of reach while being entrancing and gorgeous—which is what all good music ought to do.
The notes above are by Daniel Felsenfeld, a composer and sometimes author who lives in New York City.

Adam Silverman’s compositions, noted for their intensity of expression and direct accessibility, have been heard at such venues as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Tanglewood Music Center, Ravinia, The Library of Congress, The Metropolitan Museum, La Jolla Chamber Music Society, and The Spoleto Festival. This music ranges from classical concert works (the piano trio “Sturm” and three string quartets) to opera (Korczak’s Orphans, based on the life of the Holocaust martyr Janusz Korczak) and conceptual music-theater (stars, cars, bars, which sets a text from Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita). Korczak’s Orphans was performed by the New York City Opera’s orchestra and soloists; another work, In Another Man’s Skin, was performed dozens of times throughout 2001-2003 by Eighth Blackbird, who memorized and staged the work with choreography that accentuated musical elements. In 1998, he co-founded the Minimum Security Composers Collective, a group that is dedicated to the presentation of new music. He has taught music at Yale, The City University of New York, and since 2006 at West Chester University in Pennsylvania.

STURM: Compositions of Adam Silverman

[1-3] Sturm
performed by James Stern, violin; Amy Sue Barston, cello; Audrey Andrist, piano

[4-9] Nocturnes and Reveries
performed by Audrey Andrist, piano

[10] Ricochet
performed by Strata (Nathan Williams, clarinet; James Stern, viola; Audrey Andrist,piano)

[11-13] Corrie Q's Jigs and Reels (String Quartet No. 3)
performed by The Corigliano Quartet (Michael Jinsoo Lim and Lina Bahn, violins; Melia Watras, viola; Amy Sue Barston, cello)

Produced and engineered by Judith Sherman.
Engineering and editating assistant: Jeanne Velonis.
2009 New Focus Recordings FCR107.



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