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Diane Heffner, Maria Ferrante, Klaudia Szlachta, Julia Okrusko, Lilit Muradyan & Ming-Hui Lin | Phantasmagoria

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by Diane Heffner, Maria Ferrante, Klaudia Szlachta, Julia Okrusko, Lilit Muradyan & Ming-Hui Lin

Three contemporary classical string quartets (one plus clarinet) with accessible and stretchable inspiring, poignant, and entertaining moments by Beth Denisch; and two string quartets by Rebecca Clarke, one plus voice.
Genre: Classical: Chamber Music
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  Song Share Time Download
1. The Hermit: I. Lantern (Live)
Klaudia Szlachta, Julia Okrusko, Lilit Muradyan & Ming-Hui Lin
1:28 $0.99
2. The Hermit: II. Staff (Live)
Klaudia Szlachta, Julia Okrusko, Lilit Muradyan & Ming-Hui Lin
1:35 $0.99
3. The Hermit: III. Cloak (Live)
Klaudia Szlachta, Julia Okrusko, Lilit Muradyan & Ming-Hui Lin
2:37 $0.99
4. Five on Five: I. Allegretto con moto (Live)
Diane Heffner, Klaudia Szlachta, Julia Okrusko, Lilit Muradyan & Ming-Hui Lin
3:35 $0.99
5. Five on Five: II. Moderato con leggerezza (Live)
Diane Heffner, Klaudia Szlachta, Julia Okrusko, Lilit Muradyan & Ming-Hui Lin
2:16 $0.99
6. Five on Five: III. Adagietto con piccanteria (Live)
Diane Heffner, Klaudia Szlachta, Julia Okrusko, Lilit Muradyan & Ming-Hui Lin
1:53 $0.99
7. Five on Five: IV. Adagio con riposa (Live)
Diane Heffner, Klaudia Szlachta, Julia Okrusko, Lilit Muradyan & Ming-Hui Lin
3:32 $0.99
8. Five on Five: V. Presto con forza (Live)
Diane Heffner, Klaudia Szlachta, Julia Okrusko, Lilit Muradyan & Ming-Hui Lin
6:06 $0.99
9. Phantasmagoria: I. Pastoral (Live)
Klaudia Szlachta, Julia Okrusko, Lilit Muradyan & Ming-Hui Lin
3:01 $0.99
10. Phantasmagoria: II. Illumination (Live)
Klaudia Szlachta, Julia Okrusko, Lilit Muradyan & Ming-Hui Lin
5:06 $0.99
11. Phantasmagoria: III. Phosphoresce (Live)
Klaudia Szlachta, Julia Okrusko, Lilit Muradyan & Ming-Hui Lin
2:35 $0.99
12. Phantasmagoria: IV. Grand Dance (Live)
Klaudia Szlachta, Julia Okrusko, Lilit Muradyan & Ming-Hui Lin
1:48 $0.99
13. Phantasmagoria: V. Jubilare (Live)
Klaudia Szlachta, Julia Okrusko, Lilit Muradyan & Ming-Hui Lin
2:18 $0.99
14. Daybreak (Live)
Maria Ferrante, Klaudia Szlachta, Julia Okrusko, Lilit Muradyan & Ming-Hui Lin
2:32 $0.99
15. Carols (Live)
Klaudia Szlachta, Julia Okrusko, Lilit Muradyan & Ming-Hui Lin
4:05 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Denisch’s music:
“…fierce rhythmic patterns,” Bernard Holland, New York Times
“... brimmed with personality and drive ...” Anthony Tommasini, The Boston Globe
“... delightfully jazzy romp …highly entertaining and imaginative work,” Peter Burwasser, New Music Connoisseur

Beth Denisch (1958– ) was born in Augusta, Georgia, raised just north of Baltimore, Maryland; she completed her undergraduate studies at the University of North Texas in 1982 (then North Texas State University), and moved to Boston for her graduate studies completing the Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition at Boston University (1993). Denisch is Professor of Composition at Berklee College of Music in Boston where she teaches music composition and theory. She is the author of Contemporary Counterpoint (2017) published by Berklee Press/Hal Leonard.

Her music has been performed at Moscow’s Concert Studio of Radio “Kultura,” in Russia, at Jordan Hall in Boston, and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York, across the U.S., and in Canada, China, Ecuador, Finland, Greece, Japan, and Scotland. Tracks are available online; CDs from Albany, Juxtab, Odyssey, and Interval record labels. Scores are published/distributed by Juxtab Music, ClearNote Publications, and TrevCo Music.

Denisch frequently draws inspiration from artists as well as authors such as Henry James in Sorrow and Tenderness (commissioned by the Handel and Haydn Society), Jeanette Winterson, for Jordan and the Dog Woman (commissioned by the Equinox Chamber Players), and Kathleen Jamie’s The Tree House (commissioned by the Concord Women’s Chorus). The Calyx Trio recently commissioned Factor Fiction, inspired by political concerns. Many ensembles and organizations have awarded Denisch, including the Chamber Orchestra Kremlin in Moscow for Fire Mountain Intermezzo, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts with the Philadelphia Classical Symphony for The Singing Tree (inspired by the Maxfield Parrish painting), and the Composers Guild for Motherwell Lorca’s Bagpipe Lament (piano solo version).

The two string quartets and the clarinet quintet by Denisch are a trilogy in the composer’s oeuvre. In her own words, “Every piece has its own creative process. Each time I came back to the string quartet it felt like a continuation of the same piece -- as if the medium of the string quartet itself had become a single creative process. The Hermit discovered particular themes, textures and timbral sounds that were more fully developed and explored in Phantasmagoria. Five on Five transforms the integration of these musical ideas with a sense of reunion, a home-coming, and, ultimately, finding equilibrium and peace. These three pieces move from struggle and exploration to reconciliation.

The Hermit (1985), an early composition of Denisch’s, creates sonic portraits of the hermit’s lantern, staff, and cloak in three brief movements, each with its own group of eight notes (discrete octatonic aggregates). I. The Lantern features natural harmonics of illumination. II. The Staff pounds dissonances in rhythmically diverse imitative passages that quickly transform from fleeting wisps to bold stomps. And III. The Cloak incorporates micro-intonations while it gradually builds to cascading glissandi that slide throughout the ensemble’s registers.

Phantasmagoria (1989) was commissioned by the Boston Composers String Quartet and premiered at Weill Hall in Carnegie Hall and Jordan Hall in 1990. It was well-received and reviewed by Anthony Tommasini. In this quartet the hermit is on an inner journey of discovery. I. Pastoral begins with ornamental phrases introducing the viola solo; the others gradually return for a brief chorale-like closing. In II. Illumination the cello’s expressive opening line is interrupted with a col legno tratto section that continues to fragment the melody between the tratto and then tremolo passages. Both violins play the melody, separately and together, and the concluding chorale phrase is heard here, too. III. Phosphoresce creates an altissimo environment of harmonics and tremolando where pizzicato flickers of light descend and then rise with bowed intertwinings of rubato-like phrases, taking a breath and then rising again to timbre modulating plateaus that gradually moving between sul ponticello and sul tasto. Resting and moving, bowed and then plucked, and a return of the tremolo, these phrases alternate between suspension and movement until the tremolo turns into a repetitive articulation, demanding an answer with descending glissandi that bring on IV. Grand Dance. Here the aggressively reiterated and re-voiced chords ascend and descend in a 3/8 dance of wild abandon. Just as the third movement flows directly into the fourth (attacca) so the fourth continues into the fifth as legato prestissimo passages announce V. Jubilare. Here the octatonic passages run wild across the entire range of the strings resting only occasionally on timbre-modulating plateaus of micro-tonality in sul ponticello and sul tasto colors. Phantasmagoria exudes transcendence and exuberance, and progresses from the opening movement of quiet reflection to the prestissimo finale of virtuosic display.

Five on Five (2005-2013), was premiered at the concert recorded here, December 15, 2013, in five movements for string quartet and clarinet. I. Allegretto con Moto features the clarinet in a quasi-sonata form with a few concerto-like passages for the clarinet. II. Moderato con Leggerezza celebrates the dance with Latin rhythmic influences and transforming (rhythmic) modulations. In III. Adagietto con Piccanteria the strings play pizzicato exclusively and are in canonic inversions with each other. While each string line oscillates through crests and troughs of rhythmic diminution and augmentation the sustained and slowly descending clarinet line serenely balances above the waves. IV. Adagio con Riposa rests peacefully in the beauty of lush chords and a gentle melody. V. Presto con Forza’s demanding meter changes alternate between 9/8 and 4/4, measure by measure, in an unceasing rhythmic drive. The simple melody gradually unfolds within and between these storm-crashing waves, getting stronger and stronger until the final statement is pounded out by the viola and cello. Both exhilarated and exhausted by these demands, a rhythmically modulating and descending section subsides and recedes. A closing passage whose stillness levitates after the storm is followed by a brief coda.

Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979) was born in Harrow, England (just northwest of London), to an American Father and a German mother; amateur music-making was a passion of her parents. She studied violin at London's Royal Academy of Music, but made composition her specialty and studied with Charles Stanford at the Royal College of Music. At Stanford's suggestion, she switched her performing specialty to viola. As a composer, her Viola Sonata of 1919, written for a competition sponsored by Mrs. Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge and held in western Massachusetts, brought her some degree of fame. Her Piano Trio, also written for a Coolidge competition in 1921, and some songs and a few other chamber works also drew acclaim in the 1920s. She performed extensively as a violist based in London, but by the 1930s she was composing very little.
When World War II broke out in 1939, she was in the U.S. visiting her two brothers. The British government discouraged her from going back, saying she would be an "unproductive mouth." The next two years saw a renewal of her of compositional productivity (eight pieces), but this was curtailed when she took a job as a nanny in Connecticut. In 1944 she married pianist James Friskin (noted both as a performer and a teacher at the Juilliard School), an old friend from her Royal College days. She settled with him in New York City, where generations of Friskin's students knew her only as Mrs. James Friskin. Having only published 20 pieces, at her death she left more than 80 works unpublished.
"Daybreak" for voice and string quartet was one of those unpublished pieces. It probably dates from late 1940. Clarke sets the first stanza of a longer poem by John Donne (1572-1631),* one that has been widely anthologized (although scholars now question the attribution of the first stanza to Donne). In setting a 17th century text, Clarke invokes a musical language from that era, including a smooth contrapuntal texture and cross-relations such as that heard in what is sometimes called "the English cadence" . Musicologist Bryony Jones suggests that Clarke might consciously allude to Henry Purcell's "The Fairy-Queen" in the use of this cadence. Clarke was part of the English musical renaissance of the time (along with her older colleagues, Vaughan Williams and Holst), in drawing from the earlier English musical Renaissance in creating a 20th-century musical language.

Also in the early 1940s Clarke wrote her "Combined Carols" for string quartet, probably with the home music-making of the families of her two brothers in mind. The contrapuntally interwoven melodies are "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," "O Come All Ye Faithful," and "Silent Night." Clarke included a humorous subtitle: "or, 'Get 'em all over at once'" but when she then expanded the quartet version to string orchestra, she left off that subtitle. That latter version was performed in New York City conducted by Leon Barzin (director of the National Orchestral Association), and broadcast on WQXR Radio. It is Clarke's only work for orchestral forces.

The Rebecca Clarke Society, Inc. was founded in 2000 to promote research about Clarke and performances of her music.

*"Daybreak," attributed to John Donne
STAY, O sweet and do not rise!
The light that shines comes from thine eyes;
The day breaks not: it is my heart,
Because that you and I must part.
Stay! or else my joys will die
And perish in their infancy.
Soprano MARIA FERRANTE has become familiar to audiences the world over in recital, oratorio and in over 15 leading operatic roles. A winner of the Mario Lanza Voice Competition, she has received praise by numerous critics. Richard Dyer of The Boston Globe called her “a true singing actress... Maria Ferrante broke my heart last night.” Ms. Ferrante has recorded for Naxos, Albany, AFKA and Navona labels and has four highly praised solo CDs to her credit: Boston Herald: [Ms. Ferrante] known for her lilting soprano voice and probing mind...brings a supple and colorful approach to a broad variety of repertoire.” By invitation, she received lessons from Elly Ameling and studied with Franco and Loretta Corelli. An engaging teacher and coach, Maria has taught many master classes. www.mariaferrante.com

Diane Heffner is a Boston based freelance clarinetist and teacher on both modern and historical instruments. She plays period clarinets and chalumeau with Handel & Haydn Society, Arcadia Players, Boston Baroque, and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra San Francisco, and Pacific Musicworks, Seattle. As a modern clarinetist Ms. Heffner performs regularly in ensemble and as soloist with Dinosaur Annex Music Ensemble, Alea III, Solar Winds, The Boston Gay Men’s Chorus and has played with the Vermont Symphony and Emmanuel Music, and many others. Playing saxes and clarinet, she enjoys jazz freelancing and is a member of Boston’s only all-women big band “The Mood Swings Orchestra.” Ms. Heffner is on the applied faculty at Tufts University and the All-Newton Music School as clarinet, saxophone and chamber music instructor. She received BM and MM with honors at New England Conservatory of Music, studying clarinet with Joseph Allard.

Established in Boston, MA in 2007, the New England String Quartet (NESQ) is dedicated to expanding the contemporary chamber music tradition through performances, recordings, broadcasts, educational activities and community outreach projects. The ensemble seeks to develop robust collaborations with contemporary composers, soloists and other ensembles.

NESQ has made debut recordings of contemporary works on the PARMA label, including works by Alan Beeler, Michael Cunningham, Sarah Wallin-Huff, Larry Read, and Kyle Peter Rotolo. Among their recent world premieres are Romance and Descent No.1 (Brian Buch), Exquisitries and Light Excelleth Darkness (Betsy Schramm) and String Quartet No.2 (Pasquale Tassone). The quartet has been ensemble-in-residence at Harvard University's Dudley House and actively participates in community outreach. Supported by The Foundation for the Advancement of String Education, the quartet’s past educational activities include hands-on chamber music work with students.

Klaudia Szlachta (Violin I), an award-winning violinist, was a scholarship recipient, earning her Bachelor of Music degree from Boston Conservatory, summa cum laude. Her Masters and Doctorate of Musical Arts degrees were achieved at Boston University, where she won both the Bach prize and the Concerto Competition. Recently, she showcased a new composition by Ketty Nez at the Festival of New Music in Florida, as well as toured the U.S. as a member of the Hubbard Quartet. Locally, she performs on a regular basis with the Cantata Singers and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. Currently, Ms. Szlachta is on the faculty of the School of Music at Boston University, and BUTI’s summer program at Tanglewood. She is also the Director of the Violin Workshop at Tanglewood.

Julia Okrusko (Violin 2) holds a Master's Degree and Performance Diploma from Boston University studying with Dana Mazurkevich. Julia performs as a founding member of the New England String Quartet and is a laureate of The International W. A. Mozart Competition in Riga, Latvia, B. Dvarionas Competition in Vilnius, Lithuania, Berlingske Tidende Competition in Copenhagen, Denmark, J. Fledzinskis Violinists' Competition, chamber music competition „Pavasario Sonata", International A.Glazounov Competition in Paris, and J. S. Bach Competition in Boston. Julia has performed in Denmark, Holland, Germany, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, France, Italy, Turkey, Switzerland, Austria, and USA as a soloist and member of chamber ensembles.

Lilit Muradyan (Viola) began studying violin at the age of 8 in Yerevan, Armenia. She earned her undergraduate degree in viola performance with distinction from the Yerevan State Conservatory in Armenia and subsequently moved to the U.S. to continue her studies. Lilit received full scholarship for her Master’s degree at the Miami University, Ohio and for current doctoral program at Boston University. She has extensively participated in orchestral tours throughout Armenia, Canada, Germany, Luxembourg and Austria. Lilit is currently a student of Michelle LaCourse, and performs throughout the Boston area, and teaches violin and viola at the Boston Arts Academy Outreach program.

Ming-Hui Lin (Cello) Hailed as one of the 100 Passionate People (Taiwanese American Project), Ming-Hui Lin is a versatile cellist, an avid chamber musician, and a devoted teacher. Lin’s concert engagements have taken her to Europe, Asia, and throughout the United States and Canada, including such venues as Carnegie Recital Hall, Kennedy Center, and Jordan Hall. She has appeared with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and has been assistant principal cellist with the Claflin Hill Symphony Orchestra. Lin holds a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from Boston University, and is a member of the faculties of New England Conservatory Preparatory School and the Powers Music School.



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