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Immaginosa / Eric Banks, The Esoterics

Fine / Esoterics / Banks
Release Date: 08/28/2012 
Label:  Terpsichore (Classical)   Catalog #: 505   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Irving FineWilliam HawleyElliott CarterStephen Paulus,   ... 
Performer:  Kathea YarnellBetsy BæskinsKristen RamerKeith Horlock,   ... 
Conductor:  Eric Banks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Esoterics
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 8 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



IMMAGINOSA Eric Banks, cond; The Esoterics TERPSICHORE 505 (68:05 Text and Translation)


FINE The hour-glass. HAWLEY Four Reveries. CARTER Heart not so heavy as mine. Musicians wrestle everywhere. PAULUS Now is the Gentle Season. FINNEY Read more Spherical Madrigals. MECHEM The Winds of May. SKIRVIN Alchemy.


The subtitle of this disc is “American Inspiration and the Modern Madrigal,” and one listen to the opening selection will clue you in as to what’s ahead. The hour-glass, written in 1949, is a work by Irving Fine (1914-1962) of whom I had no prior knowledge, but it is a fascinating piece setting poems by Ben Jonson. The Esoterics negotiate this sometimes-tricky music with aplomb, although their collective diction isn’t very clear. Even more fascinating are the Four Reveries of William Hawley (b. 1950), pieces which integrate elements of Eastern musical forms and Western tonality. (Hawley, whose mentors were all avant-garde composers, came to the realization that in order for music to reassume any cultural importance one must write in a somewhat accessible style.) Interestingly, his piece was initially composed for Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble in 1995.


Elliott Carter’s Heart not so heavy as mine, composed in 1938, will come as a shock to those more familiar with his later atonalism. This piece is more closely related to Stravinsky’s neoclassical style, and is actually in a key! (E?, to be exact.) On the other hand, I’ve seldom heard a piece by Stephen Paulus that I didn’t like, and Now is the Gentle Season is no exception: a lovely work despite constantly shifting harmonies, in which Paulus uses an undulating rhythm for the mezzos to underpin the singing of the sopranos and tenors. The Spherical Madrigals of Ross Lee Finney certainly do not reflect the aesthetics of one of his teachers, Alban Berg, but are closer in aesthetic to the neoclassical composers. They, too, are fascinating and engaging pieces, particularly the last one, “See how the earth,” with its slow-moving and continually overlapping harmonies.


Carter’s second Emily Dickinson setting, Musicians wrestle everywhere, is also quite attractive to the ear, although in a less regular and more rhythmically pointed melodic pattern. The Winds of May was written by Kirke Mechem in 1965. Ironically, the busy, almost jittery melodic line of the opening song (“The tune”) sounds more like Carter than the Carter pieces themselves, although the second piece, titled “Let it be forgotten,” has a more conventional madrigal sound and form. These pieces, like Donald Skirvin’s Alchemy which follows them, are based on poems of Sara Teasdale. I found the Skirvin pieces a little weak in comparison to the other works on this excellent disc. This is not to say that they’re not good, simply less inspired to my ears, despite an interesting and unusual use of a bass drone in “Jewelled blaze.” Overall, then, a very interesting and impressive disc.


FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
The Hour Glass by Irving Fine
Performer:  Kathea Yarnell (Voice), Betsy Bæskins (Voice), Kristen Ramer (Voice),
Keith Horlock (Voice), Pam Policastri (Voice), Erin Harlan (Voice),
Chris Jeffries (Voice), Laura Certain (Voice)
Conductor:  Eric Banks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Esoterics
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1949; USA 
Venue:  Holy Rosary Catholic Church, West Seattl 
Length: 14 Minutes 8 Secs. 
2.
Reveries (4), for choir by William Hawley
Conductor:  Eric Banks
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1995 
Venue:  Holy Rosary Catholic Church, West Seattl 
Length: 10 Minutes 33 Secs. 
3.
Heart not so heavy as mine by Elliott Carter
Performer:  Jennifer Gosnell (Voice), Jamie Balducci (Voice), Meredith Burness (Voice)
Conductor:  Eric Banks
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938; USA 
Venue:  Holy Rosary Catholic Church, West Seattl 
Length: 4 Minutes 0 Secs. 
4.
Now is the Gentle Season, for choir by Stephen Paulus
Performer:  Gretchen Hubbert (Voice), Doug Rank (Voice), Liz O'Donoghue (Voice),
Brad Fanta (Voice), Lorri Froggét (Voice)
Conductor:  Eric Banks
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1978 
Venue:  Holy Rosary Catholic Church, West Seattl 
Length: 3 Minutes 39 Secs. 
5.
Spherical Madrigal by Ross Lee Finney
Conductor:  Eric Banks
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; USA 
Venue:  Holy Rosary Catholic Church, West Seattl 
Length: 11 Minutes 3 Secs. 
6.
Musicians Wrestle Everywhere by Elliott Carter
Conductor:  Eric Banks
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945; USA 
Venue:  Holy Rosary Catholic Church, West Seattl 
Length: 3 Minutes 14 Secs. 
7.
The Winds of May (5 poems of Sarah Teasdale), for mixed chorus, Op 17 by Kirke Mechem
Conductor:  Eric Banks
Period: Modern 
Venue:  Holy Rosary Catholic Church, West Seattl 
Length: 6 Minutes 14 Secs. 
8.
Alchemy by Donald M. Skirvin
Conductor:  Eric Banks
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 2002; USA 
Venue:  Holy Rosary Catholic Church, West Seattl 
Length: 11 Minutes 38 Secs. 

Sound Samples

The Hour Glass: No. 1. O know to end as to begin
The Hour Glass: No. 2. Have you seen the white lily grow?
The Hour Glass: No. 3. O do not wanton with those eyes
The Hour Glass: No. 4. Against Jealousy
The Hour Glass: No. 5. Lament
The Hour Glass: No. 6. The Hour-Glass
4 Reveries: No. 1. Echo
4 Reveries: No. 2. Remembrance
4 Reveries: No. 3. My River Runs to Thee
4 Reveries: No. 4. Meeting at Night
Heart not so heavy as mine
Now Is the Gentle Season
Spherical Madrigals: No. 1. Love Is a Circle
Spherical Madrigals: No. 2. When Again all these Rare Perfections Meet
Spherical Madrigals: No. 3. All-circling Point
Spherical Madrigals: No. 4. His Body was an Orb
Spherical Madrigals: No. 5. On a Round Ball
Spherical Madrigals: No. 6. Nor Doe I Doubt
Spherical Madrigals: No. 7. See How the Arched Earth
Musicians Wrestle Everywhere
The Winds of May, Op. 17: No. 1. The Tune
The Winds of May, Op. 17: No. 2. Let It Be Forgotten
The Winds of May, Op. 17: No. 3. Over the Roofs
The Winds of May, Op. 17: No. 4. I Shall Not Care
The Winds of May, Op. 17: No. 5. Song
Alchemy: No. 1. Living Gold
Alchemy: No. 2. Cups of Fire
Alchemy: No. 3. Jewelled Blaze
Alchemy: No. 4. O Beauty

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