Rebecca Harris, Richard Stone & Matthew Glandorf | A String Mysterious

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A String Mysterious

by Rebecca Harris, Richard Stone & Matthew Glandorf

A visit from an angel, death and resurrection, the nature of dreams and hope, and reality upturned - this album presents musical meditations on the strange and supernal from the 17th and 21st centuries, performed on period instruments.
Genre: Classical: Baroque
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Mystery Sonata I, The Annunciation: I. Praeludium
Rebecca Harris, Richard Stone & Matthew Glandorf
2:28 $0.99
2. Mystery Sonata I, The Annunciation: II. Aria, Variatio - Finale
Rebecca Harris, Richard Stone & Matthew Glandorf
3:49 $0.99
3. Mystic Fragments: I. Glacial
Rebecca Harris & Richard Stone
2:57 $0.99
4. Mystic Fragments: II. Freely (Grave)
Rebecca Harris & Richard Stone
2:29 $0.99
5. Mystic Fragments: III. Trance-Like
Rebecca Harris & Richard Stone
1:43 $0.99
6. Mystic Fragments: IV. Grave
Rebecca Harris & Richard Stone
4:02 $0.99
7. Mystic Fragments: V. Pastoral
Rebecca Harris
1:54 $0.99
8. Mystic Fragments: VI. Waltz-Like
Rebecca Harris & Richard Stone
1:59 $0.99
9. Mystic Fragments: VII. Grave-Maestoso-Impatiently-Reverently
Rebecca Harris & Richard Stone
2:49 $0.99
10. Mystery Sonata X, The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus: I. Praeludium
Rebecca Harris, Richard Stone & Matthew Glandorf
1:30 $0.99
11. Mystery Sonata X, The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus: II. Aria, Variatio
Rebecca Harris, Richard Stone & Matthew Glandorf
8:03 $0.99
12. Two Pieces for Violin and Lute: I. Psalm 131
Rebecca Harris & Richard Stone
2:19 $0.99
13. Two Pieces for Violin and Lute: II. Siciliana
Rebecca Harris & Richard Stone
2:18 $0.99
14. Mystery Sonata XI, The Resurrection: I. Sonata - Surrexit Christus Hodie
Rebecca Harris, Richard Stone & Matthew Glandorf
6:35 $0.99
15. Mystery Sonata XI, The Resurrection: II. Adagio
Rebecca Harris, Richard Stone & Matthew Glandorf
1:10 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Curated by violinist Rebecca Harris, 'A String Mysterious' contrasts Baroque and contemporary music for period instruments. World premiere recordings of works by Riho Esko Maimets and Mark Rimple sit beside three of Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber’s 'Mystery Sonatas' – each piece sheds light on the others, and the dialogue between them reveals a portrait of the way that humans, through music, respond to mystery.

Rebecca Harris, baroque violin
Richard Stone, 10-course lute/archlute/theorbo
Matthew Glandorf, organ

Notes on the Works:

Mark Rimple (ASCAP): Mystic Fragments (2014)

Early in my relationship with Biber's 'Mystery Sonatas', the idea for what eventually become this recording was born – I was compelled to seek new music, for the same combination of instruments, on similar subjects. I wrote to Mark and asked if he had composed anything in that vein, and his extraordinary response to my inquiry was to compose this piece for Richard and I.

Mark recalls that the genesis of the work came from reading a lot of mysticism and comparative mythology. Sleep was also a powerful inspiration for this set of seven ‘fragments’- Mark describes the idea of a dream life ‘fraught with conundrums and great details… a truly bizarre and meaningless world of symbols that we spend our waking lives trying to apprehend and concretize’. In contrast to the Mystery Sonatas on this program, Mark’s piece explores the mystery of this aspect of our inner world – the music ranges from ethereal to Technicolor, meditative to violent, lost to found.

Riho Esko Maimets: Two Pieces for Violin and Lute (2017)

'Two Pieces for Violin and Lute' was commissioned for this project, and is dedicated to Riho’s mother. I commissioned Riho for this project having come to know the incandescent beauty of his work while he was a student in Philadelphia. The first movement is an arrangement of Riho’s own choral setting of Psalm 131, composed in 2009, followed by a ‘whimsical and perhaps nostalgic’ siciliana.

'Psalm 131' echoes Biber’s style of instrumental writing, with a figured bass part and choice of instrument left to the discretion of the performer, and violin writing reminiscent of the preludes of the Mystery Sonatas. The performance indication for the 'Siciliana' reads ‘poco allegretto con poco rubato, light-hearted with a sense of poignancy’. As I learned the piece, I came to think of it as the chance for one last dance with someone lost long ago – bittersweetness, acknowledgment of something that once was. Its almost impossibly simple tenderness is brushed by occasional suggestions of shadow, lasting no more than an instant, and the piece ends with a gentle ‘dot, dot, dot’…

The place of this piece in the program is surrounded in serendipity – it echoes the siciliana of the Crucifixion sonata by which it is preceded, and foreshadows the key of the Resurrection sonata.

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber: from Mystery Sonatas: 'The Annunciation', 'The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus', and 'The Resurrection'

Composed circa 1676, Biber’s Mystery Sonatas are a set of fifteen sonatas for violin and basso continuo, plus a passacaglia for solo violin, each representing one of the Holy Mysteries, most probably for use as musical ‘ikons’ by a prayer society devoted to the Holy Rosary. The sonatas are written for violin in scordatura, a technique whereby the strings of the violin are deliberately mis-tuned, making possible different harmonic tonal effects. A resonant instrument, the violin responds vividly to being mis-tuned – in some cases, the tuning makes the violin feel strong and open, more responsive, due to the existence of new harmonics. In others – notably those used for the sonatas accompanying the sorrowful mysteries – it feels dulled, tense, under pressure, even dangerously fragile. While there is a noticeable difference to the listener in tonal quality, there is also a change perceptible only to the violinist, in the way the instrument responds to the bow, and therefore in the entire psychology of playing. For our whole lives, we have placed this finger on that string, resulting in this pitch, and all of a sudden, that is no longer true. And yet, new things are possible – some disorienting, some difficult, others miraculous. I can’t help but imagine that this is intended to mirror, in some small, mortal way, the experience of Mary in encountering the mysteries of her life as the mother of God.

There is no textural indication of musical symbolism in the Mystery Sonatas, beyond the engravings that exist at the beginning of each piece in the manuscript; the listener ought to be guided by their personal combination of theological, philosophical, and artistic thought above all else when forming their own interpretation. As an instrumentalist, I offer these comments simply as a glimpse into my experience of encountering these powerful works.

'The Annunciation' is the only sonata in the set written for the normal violin tuning of G, D, A, E. Comprised of a prelude and set of variations, the sonata meditates on the visitation of Mary by the angel Gabriel, who bears the news of the coming Christ child. The theme of being tethered, grounded, is most apparent to me in this sonata – the violin fleets over an unshakeable pedal in the praeludium, and the variations are by their nature never far from home. In a situation so unprecedented, so earthshaking as the Annunciation, the emphasis on clear-eyed groundedness is striking.

'The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus' requires the top string to be tuned down a major second, while the others remain in normal tuning. The violinist is acutely aware of the variety of physical motion involved in playing this sonata – wrenching the arm around violent chords in the opening, making space for unusual open strings to resonate, breathlessly running through passagework, thundering through the finale. The relationship between the physical (personal) and visual (shared, community) experience of an event became pertinent to my thinking about the sonata. What sounds effortless from the outside often feels, if not tortured, then labored, to play; likewise, what is happening may be ordained, but it does not mean that it is not also being suffered. New and complex sensations are experienced: the shimmering resonance of the high open D string in unison with its stopped companion on the A string creates at times a luminous halo, at others an unsettling closeness. What is the relationship, in the instance of the Crucifixion, between the observers and the subject of their gaze, or of their heart and mind to the complexity of the situation, to their own response to it, to that of the crowd of which they are part?

'The Resurrection' requires the middle two strings of the violin to be crossed in the peg box and behind the bridge, creating pairs of perfect octaves, and visual crosses, clearly symbolic of the Cross. If one goes through the physical mechinations of playing a scale across the two middle strings, the result bears little resemblance to anything step-like – reality feels upturned, everything feels new, and we must find a new way to do what we have done in the past. Conversely, passages of octaves that would be unplayable on a regularly tuned violin are now playable, and used to wordlessly chant the Easter hymn Surreixit Christus hodie (Jesus Christ is Risen Today) in the glorious centerpiece of the sonata. The work ends in the peace of hope – if all of this has occurred, what is possible now?

The same question felt pertinent to me as my inspiration from these pieces began to stretch its limbs… what is possible now will be what happens as you listen, and I invite you warmly to continue to be curious, to make art and to continue to seek it, to use it as a lens for your world.

Composer and Performer Biographies:

Rebecca Harris:

Violinist Rebecca Harris performs on both period and modern instruments. Her artistic life is a love letter to the colorful history of the violin, with a special passion for the very old and the very new.

Rebecca’s obsessions with style and history began in childhood, and have grown into a way of life. She is a specialist in historically informed performance, and is in demand as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral leader in the field. Rebecca is a founding member of both the Franklin Quartet and Night Music, performing music of the Classical period on original instruments. She serves as Concertmaster of the Philadelphia Bach Collegium, and as Principal Second Violin of Tempesta di Mare. Additionally, Rebecca has appeared with baroque ensembles across the United States, including Piffaro, Washington Bach Consort, Atlanta Baroque Orchestra, Rebel Baroque Orchestra (New York), Musica Redemptor (Austin), Spire Chamber Ensemble (Kansas City), The Raritan Players, Handel Choir of Baltimore, The Dryden Ensemble, and Nassau Sinfonia (Princeton). She appears regularly in recital, and 'A String Mysterious' is her debut solo recording.

Combining her passions for new music and collaboration with vocalists, Rebecca has performed and recorded with The Crossing (appearing on the ensemble’s GRAMMY nominated recording of Thomas Lloyd’s Bonhoeffer), Choral Arts Philadelphia (David Ludwig: Hannukah Cantata), Maren Montalbano (Sea Tangle: Songs from the North), and Andrew Lipke (Siddhartha). Rebecca joined the violin faculty of the Curtis Summerfest Young Artist Summer Program in 2014, and is a member of the Teaching Artist faculty of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s School Partnership Program. Rebecca is a graduate of the Royal Northern College of Music in her native United Kingdom, where she studied with Richard Ireland, after initial studies as a scholar in the specialist music program at Wells Cathedral School.

Riho Esko Maimets:

Praised for its “nearly unbearable brilliance” (Peter Dobrin, Philadelphia Inquirer), the music of Riho Esko Maimets has been receiving an increasing number of performances around the world. Riho recently completed a Diploma in Composition at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and now resides in Tallinn, Estonia, quietly delving into his craft.

Recent collaborations have overseen the composition of new works for the Estonian National Opera Boys’ Choir, the Grammy Award-winning Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, and a work for solo harp commissioned by The Curtis Institute. Upcoming projects include commissions from the Estonian National Male Choir, the Kitchener-Waterloo

Mark Rimple:

Mark Rimple is a composer whose works often incorporate early instruments and techniques. His music has been performed by Parnassus, ChoralArts Philadelphia, Piffaro, The League of Composers/ISCM (at Weill Hall), Mélomanie, Network for New Music, and The 21st Century Consort (at The Simthsonian); his debut solo composition CD, January: Songs and Chamber Music of Mark Rimple (Furious Artisans) includes works for archlute, countertenor, viola da gamba and harpsichord. His Partita 622 appears on Mélomanie’s CD Florescence, and his Four Canons for clarinet and English horn was recorded by Duo del Sol (Centaur). His current projects include a series of songs for cello and baritone for Jean Bernard Cerin and Eve Miller for their new online new music portal Resonance, and a recording of his duo Portrait of a Dying Empire by saxophonist Marshall Taylor and harpsichordist Joyce Lindorff. As a performer, Mark has garnered critical notice for his interpretation of early music from national newspapers and journals including the Philadelphia Inquirer, The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, Early Music America, Fanfare, and Early Music (UK). He is adept on stringed instruments and performs regularly on the gittern, citole, lute, archlute psaltery, tenor viol, bandora and cittern. With Drew Minter and Marcia Young, he is a founding member of Trefoil and a regular guest artist with the Newberry Consort and The Folger Consort. In 2017 he will appear with Severall Friends with Mary Springfels, Ryland Angel, and Drew Minter in concerts in Santa Fe, Albequerque, and Vassar College. He has also appeared with Piffaro, the Renaissance Band, The King’s Noyse, Ex Umbris (at the Clinton White House), New York’s Ensemble for Early Music (at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on Broadway sereneding Judi Dench, and in Limoges, France), Mélomanie, Pomerium, Network for New Music, Cygnus Ensemble and the GEMS production of The Play of Daniel at the Cloisters and Trinity Church, NYC. He is currently working on a CD of Italian music for gittern, lute and archlute, and has just completed a new CD of Renaissance vocal chamber music with his ensemble Musica Humana Vocal Consort. Dr. Rimple holds the rank of Professor in the Department of Music Theory, Composition and History at West Chester University of Pennsylvania.

Matthew Glandorf:

Matthew Glandorf has an active career as a conductor, composer, church musician, and educator. He was raised in Germany, where he received early instruction at the organ at the Bremen Cathedral with Wolfgang Baumgratz. At age sixteen he entered the Curtis Institute of Music as a student of John Weaver and Ford Lallerstedt. He pursued graduate studies with McNeil Robinson at the Manhattan School of Music. In 2004 he was appointed as artistic director of the Choral Arts (Society of) Philadelphia, and in 2008 he became the artistic director of the Bach Festival of Philadelphia. He has served as director of music for many Philadelphia churches, including St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Old St. Joseph’s, Old Pine Street Presbyterian, and Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion.

As an organist he is noted for his improvisation and has played recitals throughout the United States and in England and Germany, including Rochester Cathedral, Ulm Munster, the Cathedral of Bremen, the Wanamaker Grand Court organ, and the new organ in Verizon Hall. He has made several recordings as an organist and an accompanist. Matthew has served on the faculties of Swarthmore College and Westminster Choir College and is a current faculty member at the Curtis Institute of Music.

Richard Stone:

Lutenist Richard Stone has performed as soloist and accompanist worldwide. The New York Times called his playing “beautiful” and “lustrously melancholy,” while the Washington Post described it as having “the energy of a rock solo and the craft of a classical cadenza.” Solo recordings include the complete Weiss lute concerti in their modern premiere and the Fasch lute concerto. He co-directs Tempesta di Mare, the Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra, which records exclusively for the British label Chandos. Other recording and broadcast credits include Deutsche Grammophon, Lyrichord, PGM, Musical Heritage, Polygram, Vienna Modern Masters, ATMA, Eklecta, Centaur, Bis, Chesky, NPR, Czech Radio 3-Vltava and the BBC. Stone is professor of baroque lutes at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University, and an adjunct lute instructor for the Curtis Institute. He studied lute with Patrick O’Brien and guitar with David Starobin at SUNY Purchase, and with Nigel North at London’s Guildhall School as a Fulbright Scholar.

Recorded at the Church of the Holy Apostles and the Mediator, Philadelphia, PA, September 1st and 2nd 2017
Producers: Mark Rimple and Matthew Glandorf
Engineer: John Baker
Assistant Engineer: Steve Campagna
Cover artwork: Rebecca Harris



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