Sam Post | Piano Works of Sam Post, 2011-2013

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Gabriela Montero JS Bach LV Beethoven

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Classical: Contemporary Classical: Piano solo Moods: Solo Instrumental
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Piano Works of Sam Post, 2011-2013

by Sam Post

Contemporary piano music in a contrapuntal style that synthesizes elements from the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras. Play/lecture demonstrations included!
Genre: Classical: Contemporary
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Album Introduction
2:55 $0.99
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2. Explanation: Fantasy After "The Star-Spangled Banner"
3:42 $0.99
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3. Explanation: Fantasy After "Over the Rainbow"
6:26 $0.99
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4. Explanation: Fantasy After "Old MacDonald"
6:51 $0.99
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5. Explanation: Fantasy After "O Come All Ye Faithful"
2:42 $0.99
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6. Explanation: Fantasy After "Hark the Herald"
5:40 $1.99
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7. Fantasy After "The Star-Spangled Banner"
4:44 $1.99
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8. Fantasy After "Over the Rainbow"
6:03 $1.99
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9. Fantasy After "Old MacDonald Had a Farm"
7:03 $1.99
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10. Fantasy After "O Come All Ye Faithful"
3:45 $1.99
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11. Fantasy After "Silent Night"
2:09 $1.99
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12. Fantasy After "Hark the Herald Angels Sing"
6:00 $1.99
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13. Variations and Fugue On an Original Theme
21:12 $4.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
This album contains six fantasies based on familiar, every-day tunes (the Star-Spangled Banner, Over the Rainbow, Old MacDonald Had a Farm, O Come All Ye Faithful, Silent Night, and Hark the Herald Angels Sing), as well as a more extended set of original variations. The six fantasies are not arrangements or transcriptions, but rather, original pieces that take familiar fragments or phrases and make them into something entirely new, transforming the tunes in the process. These melodies—like most, it turns out—are almost limitless in their versatility; they can be made into dances, fugues, marches, or anything else one has the imagination to create.

Listening is a complex experience, and I believe that everyone benefits from the right kind of context, knowledge and familiarity with what he or she is listening to. This music survives and thrives on the type of intricacy and organization that is easy to miss the first, second, or third time through. It is—I hope—music worth listening to again and again, not just because it's beautiful or enjoyable (though I hope for that as well), but because it is full of surprises and subtlety, and above all, because it is meaningful. Included on this album are five play/lecture demonstrations to make for a more rewarding listening experience.

Below are the abridged notes from the recital premiere of Variations and Fugue on an Original Theme and Fantasy after Hark the Herald Angels Sing, from December 21, 2011:

I've been trying to compose music, on and off, since I was very young. I played one of my very first compositions—a short fugue—at a school assembly in fifth grade. But it wasn't until the last year that I managed to start composing with any consistency—or any general success (though I suppose the jury is still out in that regard).

When you hear my music, you might miss the influence and inspiration of one “composer” if I didn't give her due diligence. Gabriela Montero is not only my favorite living pianist, but a truly brilliant composer, though her “pieces” are largely improvised. Since I discovered her improvisations two years ago, they've been a revelation for me. She improvises with the skill of a jazz player, but in a huge range of styles. She can take any tune, from any time, and turn it into something completely different, all seemingly instinctively, without so much as a conscious thought. Her playing was essential in making me realize how rhythmic and textural variety can add so much, can indeed completely change the character, of a simple melodic or harmonic idea. She made me realize that composing is just as much a physical act as a cerebral one. So much of the music I've written came about not from thinking, but just from putting my hands on the keys, seeing what came out, and then refining it.

The “style” of these compositions, if I may claim have the authority or perspective to comment on them, is eclectic, but they share a conservative outlook, a debt to past styles that is uncommon in modern “classical” music. A good friend of mine heard another one of my pieces (not being performed today), which I wrote and performed in June, and criticized it on the grounds that it “sounded like a hybrid of Mozart and Schubert.” My immediate thought was, that's a criticism?! But at the same time, I feel such a need to justify the existence of this music, that I suspect deep down, at least a part of me shares his criticism.

The question he raises is a serious one, and gets at the heart of what we consider the value of art. Is it, at its core, an aesthetic experience, or do we care about authenticity, about the meaning behind the experience? On the one hand, I believe that music is just music, and that all that matters is how it sounds. If it sounds good, it is good, and if it sounds vaguely like Mozart or Schubert, then it's probably really good. People like to say there's no point in writing music in Classical style (capital c-Classical denoting a system of form and harmony in common practice in Europe from roughly 1750-1830) because we already have the music of Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert. But if, tomorrow, we discovered a trove of previously unknown, mature works by any of the above, is there any doubt that they would dominate concert programs all over the world? That if Mozart had lived another 30 years, he wouldn't have written hundreds more works that we would still be playing today? Perhaps this is an irrelevant thought experiment, mostly because I don't claim to be capable of writing music that could be mistaken for that of any of these composers. But that doesn't mean that music that sticks to old styles has to be strictly imitative. Each of them found a way to express himself within a set of rules that gave his music structure and definition, and I think that's what all composers, indeed all artists, strive for.

I haven't set out, generally, to write music in any specific style, but rather to write only that which I find good enough to provide a deep musical connection and be worthy of repetition or study. Still, the things I write have a habit of sounding as if they were written for another century, which, at least superficially, defies the idea that music is a reflection of the culture and the times in which it was conceived. I think people who would make this claim confuse the normative with the positive, the idea that music is inevitably looking back, a reflection of its time, vs. the idea that it must be, in a predictable way, reflective of its time. Nobody in 18th century Europe knew how Classical style was especially suited to its time and place. All I can reflect on in my own music is my own philosophy regarding music; if I am so lucky, perhaps one day people will see some connection to the world in which I lived. But to me, it doesn't much matter.

December 20, 2011

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