Cliff Eidelman, London Symphony Orchestra, Michael McHale, Piano & Tom Poster, Piano | Eidelman: Symphony for Orchestra and Two Pianos and Night in the Gallery

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Eidelman: Symphony for Orchestra and Two Pianos and Night in the Gallery

by Cliff Eidelman, London Symphony Orchestra, Michael McHale, Piano & Tom Poster, Piano

The London Symphony Orchestra performs a grand work inspired by the movement of water, followed by a character driven chamber work inspired by paintings by Rembrandt, Watteau, Géricault, Boucher, de La Tour, Chagall and others.
Genre: Classical: Symphony
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Symphony for Orchestra and Two Pianos: Movement I
Cliff Eidelman, London Symphony Orchestra, Michael McHale & Tom Poster
7:35 album only
2. Symphony for Orchestra and Two Pianos: Two Piano Cadenza Prelude - Movement II
Cliff Eidelman, London Symphony Orchestra, Michael McHale & Tom Poster
9:19 album only
3. Symphony for Orchestra and Two Pianos: Two Piano Cadenza Prelude - Movement III
Cliff Eidelman, London Symphony Orchestra, Michael McHale & Tom Poster
11:23 album only
4. Night in the Gallery: Seduction and Mischief
Cliff Eidelman, London Symphony Orchestra & Michael McHale
3:59 album only
5. Night in the Gallery: The Tempest and the Mysterious Clown
Cliff Eidelman, London Symphony Orchestra & Michael McHale
3:59 album only
6. Night in the Gallery: Islands of Love
Cliff Eidelman, London Symphony Orchestra & Michael McHale
4:53 album only
7. Night in the Gallery: Liberation and Innocence
Cliff Eidelman, London Symphony Orchestra & Michael McHale
5:18 album only


Album Notes
Composers compose. It’s that simple. Years ago I received a phone call from Cliff Eidelman and we became fast friends. In our many lengthy discussions about music that followed we got on the topic of film music in the concert hall, and the stigma which still exists today against so-called film composers. Never mind that without question the great composers of the past would, and have, composed film music including Shostakovich, Copland, Prokofiev, Saint-Saens, and others. Historically speaking, the most relevant connection here are the tools that composers needed in order to write music quickly, historically came from training in the classical music tradition.

Meanwhile, for decades now composers from all backgrounds have avoided the form of the symphony quite simply because of the few prospects for performance. When we look at history, we see that composers have always been drawn (first and foremost) to areas of creativity where they might earn a living. For Verdi, in order to make a living in his time and place, he needed and wanted to write operas. For Haydn, the grandfather of the symphony, he obliged his employers’ wishes with more than 100 symphonies. It’s what was asked for, it’s what paid, and it’s what people wanted. It’s important to understand, the real world is not made up of music that the composers themselves would have necessarily chosen to produce; history is comprised of a series of opportunities that have been seized.

Nowadays, it’s not without hesitation that a composer embarks on the very ambitious task of writing a grand symphony knowing very well that never has classical music been so far away from broader public interest, and never have highly subsidized orchestras been so disinterested in living composers. This is true both in Europe and the Americas.

It has been a common refrain among the composers that I know who work in film, that to compose a Symphony, would be an exercise in futility. For even if you manage a commission, and a premiere performance, the piece will inevitably die at that moment (or at best go into a very long hibernation.) The so-called “serious” composers who spend most of their time in the world of classical music, playing the necessary political game and spending most of their time cultivating relationships with orchestras and conductors, find that even for them performances are few and far between. With so much of the real world pushing against the fundamental impulse to create something like this, the question remains “why do it?” For Cliff Eidelman, the answer is a simple one: composers compose.

The vocation of a composer, or any artist, is to share something about being alive. Over a period of years Eidelman undertook possibly the most ambitious project of his creative life. Following his inner-voice, Eidelman brought forward all of his compositional experience employing glacial patience and sustained concentration that are required to compose a Symphony. The result is a three movement work for symphony orchestra and two pianos composed, conducted, arranged, orchestrated, edited, and produced by Cliff Eidelman – with the composer directing the London Symphony Orchestra and two piano soloists Michael McHale and Tom Poster.

After the initial composition, Eidelman focused on the recording process. The first practical concern would be preparing the music. Over months, Eidelman poured over his score and parts weeding out any wrong notes and reevaluating musical choices at every turn. Unlike working on a film score with a hyper-condensed timeline, Eidelman’s efforts became about preparing for the recording with interpretive ideas about the performance already in his mind. In film, so much emphasis is put on how the music works with the image. Good music can be good music but if it’s interfering with the drama it doesn’t work. When approaching his Symphony, Eidelman created a work with solid musical structure behind it (replete with his hallmarks of lengthy exposition and focused intuitive dramatic musical events). However the big difference between Eidelman’s musical language and the prevailing languages of the concert hall from atonalism of all kinds to recent movements including Minimalism, is that Eidelman’s musical language is first and foremost an emotional language.

Eidelman has never succumbed ideas about music for their own sake or belonging to any “school of composition.” His is not academic music but rather music which aims to move people. The most gifted composers in the field of film music are master magicians who know how to succinctly manipulate an audience. Away from film, now in the realm of concert music, Eidelman proves to be equally adept. The result is that “Symphony for Orchestra and Two Pianos” is music that people actually want to hear when considered seriously and removed from the condescending culture of the concert hall. It’s music anyone can feel on a first hearing. In other words, anyone who likes Eidelman’s film music will not be shocked when hearing this new piece.

Following an emotional bent is one thing, but the best pieces of music evolve organically. That quality is clear in Eidelman’s work. The inclusion of Two Pianos in the score is an example of that. This was a textural quality which began to appear in his writing. From the mysterious beginning of the work, through to the two substantial cadenzas in the second and third movements the pianos play an important role. It’s a pronounced role but not gratuitously flashy. The decision to make this “Symphony for Orchestra and Two Pianos” (and not a Double Piano Concerto), had to do with Eidelman’s instinct that this Symphony was about movement of water, from the grand turbulent oceans to serene streams and our environment. The pianos capture all of these qualities both away from the orchestra (in the cadenzas) and as a complement to the orchestra in the tutti sections. For the listener, this quality creates the immediate and intimate connection to nature through the playing of McHale and Poster. Their performance perfectly captures the sound Eidelman was seeking.

Spurred by the creative burst that came after composing the Symphony, Eidelman immediately fell into thinking of a new work for chamber orchestra. The composer states:

“In 2012, my family took a trip to Europe, and one of our stops was the Louvre Museum. I had to make a pretty quick dash through only seeing some of the galleries because my wife and I had our young children with us so time was limited.
After returning to Los Angeles, sometime later, I was thinking about new music to write while staring at a blank page of manuscript. I looked up at my bookshelf and noticed a book of paintings called “Treasures of the Louvre.” I don’t remember when or where I got this book but there it was. I love visuals and stories, I opened this book and started to stare at paintings such as Rembrandt’s “Bathsheba Bathing,” Watteau’s “Pierrot” formally known as “Gilles,” “The Embarkation for the Island of Cythera,” Géricault “Mounted Officer of the Imperial Guard,” and Boucher’s “Diana Bathing.” I soon checked out other paintings not from this book including de La Tour,” “The Cheat with the Ace of Diamonds” and other great works from galleries around the world. I was simply taking in the images. I imagined some of the characters from these paintings jumping right off the canvas and into life through music. Soon I stopped looking at these paintings and just allowed the music to take me on its own journey. After finishing the music, I created a montage of images using these paintings and other works including Chagall’s “Branche” (The Branch) and “l’Acrobate” (Acrobat) and Vernet’s “A Shipwreck in Stormy Seas” and set them against the music.

Though paintings played a role in my initial inspirations, ultimately the work took its own shape and on its own terms ultimately becoming a programmatic concert work. My hope is that the listener can have their own experiences with this music and let their own imagination take flight. It is a 4-movement work and runs approximately 18 minutes. It was composed for a chamber orchestra of 18 musicians. Being character driven, distinctive personalities are given to individual players such as the clarinet, flute, bass trombone, trumpet and percussionists. The pianist (once again Michael McHale) and strings also play big roles.
I almost see the musicians more like musical actors playing a role. Members of the London Symphony Orchestra performed this premiere recording under my direction and I was exhilarated by what they brought to the piece. I hope you enjoy the journey which I call “Night in the Gallery”

This recording is the culmination of a number of streams of creativity in the life of Cliff Eidelman. After Mahler composed his First Symphony, a wholly programmatic work, he faced crippling writer’s block when composing his Second Symphony. What broke him out of it was the Urlicht text from Des Knaben Wunderhorn. It was Mahler’s great act of defiance against the futility of life. For an artist life is art. For a composer life is music. Inasmuch Eidelman’s recording is an act of defiance; that defiance is a testament to the incredible internal resolve that it takes to create in the face of overwhelming opposition.

It is in this way that what Eidelman has created is a true work of art; whether either of these new pieces enter into the modern repertoire simply does not matter. This recording exists, and now by existing, so do these two extraordinary pieces.

-Richard Guérin
Salem, Mass.
6 September 2018



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