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American Classics - Teirstein: Open Crossings

Release Date: 08/25/2009 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8559617   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Andy Teirstein
Performer:  Norman CareyDanielle FarinaAndy TeirsteinYuri Vodovoz,   ... 
Conductor:  Robert Ian Winstin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Alaria TrioKiev Philharmonic OrchestraCygnus Ensemble,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Andy Teirstein has one of those picaresque biographies that you couldn’t make up: it’s enough to cite his days as a musical clown in a Mexican circus to give you some idea. He’s a music-theatre man through and through, though ‘theater’ is the American way, and this barnstorming example of the breed has sought a wide range of musical influences, from Appalachian to Balkan, to seed his own music. As a violist he sits at the heart of things and indeed he plays the viola in this disc of his own music - a wide-ranging conspectus crewed by a suitably large number of ensembles, great and smaller. It’s a heady brew.

There are Balkan folkloric strains running strongly through Kopanitza, a piece that toys with time signatures and
Read more dynamic variance. There’s an engaging sense of narrative as well throughout its multi-partite length. Invention was inspired by Schoenberg’s Serenade Op.24 but retains a strong and freewheeling independence of its own, and remains rhythmically vivacious. What is Left of Us is for voice - here an alto, Naaz Hosseini - two chorus singers, a violist and cellist. The text is notable, and the ethos veers from melismatic to pop-orientated. It was composed in response to 9/11 but strikes a very different point of view to the response of, say, John Adams, whose own rather more portentous setting, On the Transmigration of Souls, seeks to occupy a different layer of emotive response.

The Suite is a performance piece rich in counterpoint, with an intense Pavanne, and a pawky (alternating folkloric) Gigue to finish. Despite the baroque-sounding affiliations the spirit is closer to Classicism. One of the most recent pieces is Teirstein’s setting of that good old good one The Shooting of Dan McGrew. To listeners of a certain age and geography the original would have been ripe for parody by Billy ‘Almost A Gentleman’ Bennett (perhaps he did). It’s a good ensemble piece, a burlesque melodrama, though maybe a dose of Antheil’s compressive spirit might have tightened it. David M Lutken is the fearless narrator.

Three Movements for String Quartet and Folk Musician utilises some sound-specific examples of Americana. There’s a movement each for Jew’s harp, harmonica and banjo, all played in the saddle, as it were, by the composer with the members of the Cassatt Quartet. Inevitably this has a folksy vigour, a camp-fire sense of nostalgia and there’s an Appalachian-Pete Seeger feel in the last. Turn Me Loose (2007) is for piano trio, and it embraces Ragtime in the first movement and some strong Jewish inflexions in The Rebbe’s Dance. The disc ends with Maramures (in memory of Jacob Glick), a three movement viola concerto, steeped in Eastern European folk-music. There’s a rich Allegro opener and expansive lines for the central movement - noble processional and portent too. The tangy trumpet and percussion galvanise the finale, a fast dance with cadenza for the intrepid soloist Danielle Farina.

As one might expect this is an eclectic mélange of music, excellently played, recorded and documented. Teirstein may have been a clown but he’s no fool.

-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

Turn Me Loose by Andy Teirstein
Performer:  Norman Carey (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Alaria Trio
Period: 20th Century 
Maramures by Andy Teirstein
Performer:  Danielle Farina (Viola)
Conductor:  Robert Ian Winstin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kiev Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1996; USA 
Kopanitza by Andy Teirstein
Performer:  Andy Teirstein (Viola), Yuri Vodovoz (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Invention by Andy Teirstein
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cygnus Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
What is Left of Us by Andy Teirstein
Performer:  Andy Teirstein (Viola), Eva Primak (Alto), Naaz Hosseini (Alto),
Willa Roberts (Mezzo Soprano), Aurelia Schenker (Soprano), Erik Freidlander (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Suite by Andy Teirstein
Performer:  Sam Kephardt (Viola), Mary Rowell (Violin), Susan Shumway (Violin),
Bruce Wang (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
The Shooting of Dan McGrew by Andy Teirstein
Performer:  David Lutken (Narrator), Margaret Lancaster (Flute), Rob Middleton (Clarinet),
Margaret Kampmeier (Piano), Thomas Hutchinson (Trombone), Yuri Vodovoz (Violin),
Diliana Momthilovna (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Movements (3) for String Quartet and Folk Musician by Andy Teirstein
Performer:  Andy Teirstein (Harmonica/Banjo)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cassatt String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 

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