Jerome Lowenthal & Michael Brown | Americans in Paris

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Americans in Paris

by Jerome Lowenthal & Michael Brown

CAG Records announces the release of its new Victor Elmaleh Collection recording Americans in Paris, by pianists Jerome Lowenthal and Michael Brown, featuring works by Ravel, Barber, Fauré, Gershwin and the world premiere recording of Brown’s Chant.
Genre: Classical: Chamber Music
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. M. Ravel: Ma mère l'Oye (Mother Goose), M. 60: I. Pavane de la Belle au bois dormant
Jerome Lowenthal & Michael Brown
1:20 $0.99
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2. M. Ravel: Ma mère l'Oye (Mother Goose), M. 60: II. Petit Poucet
Jerome Lowenthal & Michael Brown
2:45 $0.99
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3. M. Ravel: Ma mère l'Oye (Mother Goose), M. 60: III. Laideronnette, Impératrice des pagodes
Jerome Lowenthal & Michael Brown
3:36 $0.99
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4. M. Ravel: Ma mère l'Oye (Mother Goose), M. 60: IV. Les entretiens de la Belle et de la Bête
Jerome Lowenthal & Michael Brown
4:45 $0.99
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5. M. Ravel: Ma mère l'Oye (Mother Goose), M. 60: V. Le jardin féerique
Jerome Lowenthal & Michael Brown
2:55 $0.99
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6. S. Barber: Souvenirs, Op. 28: I. Waltz
Jerome Lowenthal & Michael Brown
3:33 $0.99
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7. S. Barber: Souvenirs, Op. 28: II. Schottische
Jerome Lowenthal & Michael Brown
2:01 $0.99
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8. S. Barber: Souvenirs, Op. 28: III. Pas de deux
Jerome Lowenthal & Michael Brown
3:16 $0.99
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9. S. Barber: Souvenirs, Op. 28: IV. Two-Step
Jerome Lowenthal & Michael Brown
1:43 $0.99
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10. S. Barber: Souvenirs, Op. 28: V. Hesitation Tango
Jerome Lowenthal & Michael Brown
3:31 $0.99
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11. S. Barber: Souvenirs, Op. 28: VI. Galop
Jerome Lowenthal & Michael Brown
2:33 $0.99
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12. G. Fauré: Dolly Suite, Op. 56: I. Berceuse
Jerome Lowenthal & Michael Brown
2:26 $0.99
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13. G. Fauré: Dolly Suite, Op. 56: II. Messieu Aoul
Jerome Lowenthal & Michael Brown
2:04 $0.99
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14. G. Fauré: Dolly Suite, Op. 56: III. Le Jardin de Dolly
Jerome Lowenthal & Michael Brown
2:24 $0.99
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15. G. Fauré: Dolly Suite, Op. 56: IV. Ketty-Valse
Jerome Lowenthal & Michael Brown
2:38 $0.99
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16. G. Fauré: Dolly Suite, Op. 56: V. Tendresse
Jerome Lowenthal & Michael Brown
2:39 $0.99
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17. G. Fauré: Dolly Suite, Op. 56: VI. Le Pas Espagnol
Jerome Lowenthal & Michael Brown
2:13 $0.99
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18. Michael Brown: Chant (2013)
Jerome Lowenthal & Michael Brown
3:23 $0.99
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19. G. Gershwin: An American in Paris (Arr. By Gelfini)
Jerome Lowenthal & Michael Brown
11:24 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Maurice Ravel: Ma mère l’Oye (Mother Goose)

Diffident with most people, Maurice Ravel relaxed in the company of children. He loved to play with them, particularly with Jean and Mimi Godebski. Jean and Mimi’s father was Cipa (Cyprien) Godebski, half-brother of the famous and fascinating Misia Godebska Natanson Edwards Sert. To her, Ravel dedicated La Valse, but he preferred the company of the cultivated music-loving Cipa, whom polio had kept from an active life. Thus it was that after lunch with Cipa and his wife Ida at their country-home “La Granchette,” the composer would get down on the floor and play with Jean and Mimi and their toys. (Toys of course fascinated him and he loved to take them apart.) After playtime, he would tell them fairy tales, sometimes famous ones and others which he made up. Both children played the piano rather well, and quite naturally he thought of writing musical settings of fairy tales for them to play as a duet. The plan was only half-successful: the music, which he eventually orchestrated and expanded for a ballet, is marvelous, but it was too difficult for the children to play (Mimi in particular was terrified by the whole project), and it was performed instead by professional wonder-children.

First (from the pen of Charles Perrault) we hear a slow, solemn pavane of animals walking in dance-step around the casket of Sleeping Beauty. The second, also from Perrault, is the story of Tom Thumb, lost in the forest. To mark his path, he had dropped breadcrumbs everywhere that he walked, but birds had come and eaten every last crumb. We hear the birds in the music: the Messiaens, in their thorough analysis, assure us that there is a sparrow and a coucou. The third fairy tale is by the seventeenth century Comtesse d’Aulnoy. The title, Laideronette, Imperatrice des Pagodes, might be translated as “Ugliana, Empress of the Pagodas and Pagodinas.” The music given to Laideronette’s subjects as they provide background for her bath was probably too difficult for the Godebski children. The last fairytale is the familiar Beauty and the Beast, from Mme. Leprince de Beaumont. There are three conversations, in which the music wonderfully characterizes the two protagonists. At the end, of course, love conquers evil magic, and Beauty and the prince soar to happiness on a ravishing glissando. The last movement, perhaps suggested by Schumann’s Der Dichter Spricht at the end of Kinderszenen, is an ecstatic evocation of the magic garden of childhood. From Ravel’s love of children to the music of the magic garden, Ma mère l’Oye has come full-circle. -Jerome Lowenthal

Samuel Barber: Souvenirs, Op. 28 (1951)

Souvenirs is a suite containing a waltz, schottische, pas de deux, two-step, hesitation tango, and galop. Barber provided his own notes for the work: “One might imagine a divertissement in a setting of the Palm Court of the Hotel Plaza in New York, the year about 1914, epoch of the first tangos; ‘Souvenirs’ – remembered with affection, not with irony or tongue in cheek, but in amused tenderness.” Barber had a nostalgic affection for the Plaza, where his mother took him to tea as a child. Souvenirs reflects the forgotten spirit and magnificence of pre-WWI opulent hotels and of another era.

Each of its six dances was fashionable during the early 1900s, and Barber sets each dance in a different room or area of the Hotel Plaza. The Waltz takes place in the Plaza’s lavish lobby, where its music reflects the elegant surroundings. The rambunctious Schottische is set in the third floor hallway. The Plaza’s ballroom provides the intimate setting for the Pas-de-deux. All the Palm Court’s hustle and bustle is perfectly captured in the humorous Two-Step. Barber labeled the Hesitation Tango “a bedroom affair,” and its sensual rhythm and beguiling melody is the perfect background for an erotic rendezvous. The final Galop takes place the next afternoon and the suite concludes with virtuosic flair and exuberance. -Michael Brown

Gabriel Fauré: Dolly Suite, Op. 56

Both the Dolly Suite and Ravel’s Mother Goose, like Debussy’s Children’s Corner, were inspired by children. In Fauré’s case, his muse was young Helene (“Dolly”) Bardac, the daughter of Fauré’s friends Sigismond and Emma Bardac. Emma Bardac was a remarkably accomplished amateur singer, and Fauré’s enthusiasm for her voice led the two of them into an intimacy which necessarily excluded Mme. Fauré and M. Bardac. For Emma, Fauré composed his song cycle: La Bonne Chanson, and for her children, Dolly and Raoul, he wrote the Dolly Suite, published in 1896, when Dolly was four. The first of its six movements, Berceuse, is a lullaby actually written three years earlier. The second movement, named by the composer Messieu Aoul, which was the way Dolly named her older brother, was probably intended as a description of the lively Raoul. Towards the end of the piece there is a quotation of the French Lullaby “Do, do, fais dodo,” which Debussy would later quote in the Jimbo’s Lullabye movement of the Children’s Corner. The publisher changed the title to Miaou(!). Movement three shows Dolly in the garden and movement four, Ketty-Valse, is the dance of Raoul’s pet puppy, named Ketty. The publisher changed it to Kitty, bringing the second uninvited pussy-cat into the musical family. The fifth movement, the highly chromatic Tendresse (Tenderness), contains in its theme a backward glance at the finale of Fauré’s much less chromatic A major violin and piano Sonata, and the finale is a Spanish dance with strong echoes of Chabrier. The work was first performed in 1898 by Eduard Risler and Alfred Cortot, who would later make a solo transcription of it.

When the affair with Fauré ended, Mme. Bardac sought the company of other composers. (Her husband was quoted as saying that although she was always attracted to the composer of the moment, she would always return to him because he had the money.) A friendship with Ravel yielded only the song “L’indifferent” (The Indifferent One), but her relationship with Debussy was much more successful. Reader, she married him, and was the mother of Chou-chou, for whom Debussy would compose Children’s Corner. Debussy was also a loving step-father to Dolly, who, we are told by pianist Dominique Merlet, referred to Debussy in later years as “Papa.” She always kept the name “Dolly” and lived until 1985, ninety years after the Dolly Suite had been written for her. -Jerome Lowenthal

Michael Brown: Chant (2013)

Chant is a single-movement work for one piano, four hands that I wrote for my former teacher, the pianist Jerome Lowenthal. Pianist Adam Golka and I gave the world premiere performance at Bargemusic in New York City and this is the world premiere recording.

The piece features a four-part texture in which each of the pianists play single-note melodies in both hands creating a texture of four separate lines where each one alternates coming to the forefront. The horizontal lines interweave and stack on one other, creating colorful and French-inspired harmonies. The atmosphere is hushed and plaintive and in the end we focus in on a single note that repeats, echoes, and fades into nothingness. -Michael Brown

George Gershwin: An American in Paris (1928)/arr. Gelfini

Gershwin was enamored by the music of Maurice Ravel. After an exchange of letters as to whether the master French composer took students and what his rate was, Ravel, looking at Gershwin’s prior year earnings, jokingly suggested that that he (Ravel) should study with Gershwin(!). Gershwin went to Paris in the mid 1920s, where he hoped to study with Ravel. The great French composer refused to accept him as a pupil, advising him to be a first-rate Gershwin rather than a second-rate Ravel. Ravel did, however, refer him to Nadia Boulanger to study, but she felt that rigorous training might interfere with Gershwin’s innate gifts.

Gershwin then returned to NY and received a commission for an orchestral piece from the conductor Walter Damrosch for the New York Philharmonic. He decided to write An American in Paris, basing it on his personal and musical experiences from his time in Paris. He had made an important purchase while still abroad—a number of authentic Parisian taxi horns tuned at different pitches, which he would use in his new work.

Gershwin provided a program note of the work: “The opening gay section is followed by a rich blues with a strong rhythmic undercurrent. Our American… perhaps after strolling into a café and having a couple of drinks, has succumbed to a spasm of homesickness. The harmony here is both more intense and simpler than in the preceding pages. This blues rises to a climax, followed by a coda in which the spirit of the music returns to the vivacity and bubbling exuberance of the opening part with its impression of Paris. Apparently the homesick American, having left the café and reached the open air, has disowned his spell of the blues and once again is an alert spectator of Parisian life. At the conclusion, the street noises and French atmosphere are
triumphant.”

This recording features the one piano, four hands arrangement by the Italian pianist Alessandra Gelfini. -Michael Brown

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