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Scott Slapin, Tanya Solomon, Greg Diehl, Kaila Graef & Harold Slapin | Short Stories: Original Music by Scott Slapin

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Short Stories: Original Music by Scott Slapin

by Scott Slapin, Tanya Solomon, Greg Diehl, Kaila Graef & Harold Slapin

This is Scott Slapin's ninth album of chamber music concentrating on programmatic themes including Cremonus, ancestry, the Jersey Devil, downtown Knoxville, Kreutzer....and more!
Genre: Classical: Chamber Music
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  Song Share Time Download
1. The Wrath of Cremonus
Scott Slapin, Tanya Solomon, Greg Diehl & Kaila Graef
4:34 $0.99
2. Fanfare Under the Sunsphere
Scott Slapin, Tanya Solomon, Greg Diehl & Kaila Graef
4:05 $0.99
3. The Jersey Devil
Scott Slapin
4:13 $0.99
4. Musical Adventures in Ancestry: From Eastern Belarus to Western Scotland
Scott Slapin & Tanya Solomon
5:36 $0.99
5. Musical Adventures in Ancestry: Dunilovich Time & Libau's Lied
Scott Slapin & Tanya Solomon
5:04 $0.99
6. Anniversary Fanfare
Scott Slapin & Tanya Solomon
2:57 $0.99
7. For the Love of Kreutzer
Scott Slapin & Tanya Solomon
4:46 $0.99
8. Harold in Retirement: I. Graduation from the Daily Grind
Scott Slapin & Harold Slapin
1:37 $0.99
9. Harold in Retirement: II. Boating on a Lake
Scott Slapin & Harold Slapin
3:25 $0.99
10. Harold in Retirement: III. Cuban Cigars and Beer Gardens (feat. Tanya Solomon)
Scott Slapin & Harold Slapin
2:33 $0.99
11. The Ila Rondo
Scott Slapin & Tanya Solomon
3:45 $0.99
12. The Voice of Your Mother
Scott Slapin
4:18 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
'Short pieces' are what generally dominate the second half of the traditional recital. They are meant to be diverse and cover a lot of musical territory in a short amount of time. As the particular pieces on this album are also programmatic, 'Short Stories' became the title of my ninth album of chamber music. Though my parents have since passed on, the remaining family members who were playing on the first album are represented here: my wife Tanya on viola and violin and my uncle Harold on doublebass. We are also joined by Greg Diehl and Kaila Graef, the two other members of the American Viola Quartet.

I've written many pieces about the viola god Cremonus, including "Violacentrism, the Opera" and an album performed by the Penn State Viola Ensemble entitled "Hail, Cremonus!". The Wrath of Cremonus is about Cremonus' anger and disappointment when you don't practice scales or play in tune. His anger and disappointment are of course biblical in scale, so I used a full four violas to convey the Sturm und Drang of the whole thing. (Feel free to use even more violas per part if you have them.) Now go practice your scales.

I wrote Fanfare Under the Sunsphere for the 2020 Festival of the American Viola Society to be held in Knoxville, Tenn. My first full-time orchestra gig was as principal violist with the Knoxville Symphony and Chamber Orchestras (while Tanya was playing down the road as principal violist in Chattanooga.) Knoxville is a modern city with a lot to do downtown (and on Kingston Pike) and with many parks and greenways, and I chose its most recognizable landmark, the Sunsphere, to base the fanfare on. The Sunsphere was built for the World's Fair held in Knoxville in 1982. I think of it in many ways as I do the geodesic sphere in front of Epcot Center, also built vaguely around the same time. There's something very 20th Century American about it, and I chose an idiom to write in that reflected that. Additionally, in the park by the Sunsphere, there is a statue of the great composer and pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff, who played his very last recital in Knoxville. In the middle of the fanfare, I briefly referenced the slow movement of Rachmaninoff's 2nd piano concerto.

According to Wikipedia (which agrees with what I heard growing up in New Jersey), "...the Jersey Devil is a legendary creature said to inhabit the Pine Barrens of Southern New Jersey. The creature is often described as a flying biped with hooves, but there are many variations. The common description is that of a kangaroo-like or wyvern-like creature with a goat- or horse-like head, leathery bat-like wings, horns, small arms with clawed hands, legs with cloven hooves, and a forked tail. It has been reported to move quickly and is often described as emitting a high-pitched "blood-curdling scream". I thought it would be fun to try to recreate this as a solo viola piece--- and especially to shock the audience with the Jersey Devil's "high-pitched blood-curdling scream(s)". Usually one tries to coax only the most beautiful sounds possible out of the viola, so part of the fun of this piece is to do the opposite. It had to be done.

The latest craze in researching ancestry brought me to write Two Musical Adventures In Ancestry. The first part, From Eastern Belarus To Western Scotland, is for my own ancestry; if I go far enough back, most of my relatives came to the US from Eastern Europe, from towns and cities that today are in Belarus and Poland...but then a minority also came from Ayrshire, Scotland! So this piece is mostly Eastern European-sounding music with some bagpipe music at the end. Part II, Dunilovich Time and Libau's Lied, is based on my wife Tanya's ancestry research. Rather than concentrate on the places they were from, I focused more on their occupations. On her mother's side, there was a watchmaker and violinist (her great grandfather) in Dunilovich, Belarus. So the piece starts out with the ticking of a watch (that's a little too fast) and briefly quotes the first fugue from Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin. The next section refers to her paternal great grandmother who was an opera singer named Thekla from the city of Libau (today Liepaja), Latvia. Because one of the Thekla's sons was a viola player--- he played in the Boston Pops and taught at NEC--- after Thekla sings her aria, the melody is repeated in the viola part.

Tanya and I met touring with the Philadelphia Virtuosi in 1999. We were the viola section! We soon started performing as a viola duo after that, and now--- many performances, recordings, and arrangements later--- we've been giving duo concerts together for more than twenty years. So I thought we should have an Anniversary Fanfare to celebrate. But feel free to use it for your anniversaries, too!

For the Love of Kreutzer is a piece that can be played either by violin duo, as we're playing it here, or by viola duo. I quoted bits of several Kreutzer etudes and wrote melodies above and around them. Kreutzer is the most standard book of etudes for upper string players, and though some of it is dry, mechanical exercises, much of it is quite musical. Today Kreutzer is most remembered for his etudes and as being the second dedicatee of Beethoven's "Kreutzer Sonata", but he was actually quite a prolific composer, having written 40 operas and 19 violin concertos, among other works. So, this is my ode to the great violin professor of the Paris Conservatory, Rodolphe Kreutzer.

I wrote Harold In Retirement for me and my bass-playing uncle Harold ("Hal") to play in honor of his retirement from 45 years in the insurance industry. A graduate of the Juilliard School, Hal has performed with many jazz recording artists, including Lee Konitz, the late Pepper Adams, and Al Cohn, and he freelanced in New York City during the mid 1970's playing in chamber music ensembles and Broadway shows. Hal and my father, Bill (also a bass player), were equal co-owners of an insurance agency, yet through all of it he continued to perform regularly in Jazz clubs. The first movement starts with a fugal section and quotes very short bits of Edward Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance No.1, the ultimate graduation march, setting up several activities I imagine Hal will be involved with in retirement. The second movement references Hal's trips with his boat, on which I've joined him a few times in New Jersey and Vermont. The third movement begins with another short fugal section/round, with the subject (and countersubject) spelling out rhythmically "Slapin" in Morse code. (Had to get the name in there somehow!) The semi-Cuban style refers to Hal's fondness for cigars. This soon gives way to beer garden music as both of us are quite fond of beer.

The Ila Rondo is dedicated to Ila Rondeau, a violist and good friend. A rondo is a musical form that keeps coming back to the "A section" material. Ila, Tanya, and I performed my viola trio, Capricious, at the International Viola Congress in Rochester, NY in 2012, and before that we were all tenured members of the orchestra in New Orleans, LA. I told her back then that some day I was going to write a rondo and name it after her. I kept my promise!

The idea of The Voice of Your Mother was presented to me by Marvin Bram. His hypothesis, as I understand it, is that Gasparo da Salò was building an instrument that looked like Mother Earth, as depicted in ancient paintings, in order to hear Mother Earth's voice--- to find out what she sounded like. Mother Earth ended up sounding like a viola! As I thought about it even more, I realized that by this point in time, Mother Earth must surely be quite a bit irritated with all of us--- as all of our mortal mothers have been at times. So, why confine the piece only to Mother Earth? All of this, plus having grown up in New Jersey, brought me to write The Voice of Your Mother--- A Cadenza for Solo Viola. Now listen to your mother.

Scott Slapin 2019

Scott Slapin (b. 1974) has written nine albums of violacentric chamber music and is a featured viola soloist on dozens of premiere recordings. His playing has received critical acclaim in the American Record Guide, Fanfare, Mundo Clásico, Musical Opinion, and Strad, and his chamber compositions have been performed by hundreds of musicians throughout Europe and the Americas as well as at international competitions/workshops including the ARD, Primrose, and Tertis. At eighteen he was one of the youngest graduates of the Manhattan School of Music in New York City; his teachers have included Barbara Barstow, Emanuel Vardi (1917-2011) and Richard Lane (1933-2004).



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