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New American Masters Vol 2 - Eskow, Levy, Newman

Release Date: 06/17/2008 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 1022   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Caroline NewmanFrank Ezra LevyGary EskowAllen Shawn,   ... 
Performer:  Ron LevyDonald MokrynskiMargaret Swinchoski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palisades Virtuosi
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

NEW AMERICAN MASTERS, VOLUME 2 Palisades Virtuosi ALBANY TROY1022 (76:04)

C. NEWMAN Fantasie. F. E. Levy Trio No. 2. ESKOW Not a Sonata! SHAWN 3 Nightscapes. FRANZETTI 4 Movements for Virtuosi

The Read more first of this series of new American music performed by the Palisades Virtuosi received high praise, so it was with keen anticipation that I heard their second installment of commissioned works.

The fine opening work, Caroline Newman’s Fantasie , is the perfect beginning to the disc, and seems to contain many hallmarks of a program opener. A pastoral mood dominates at the outset, vaguely reminiscent of Copland (perhaps it’s primarily the perfect fourths that give me that impression), but soon more ominous strains interject. Overall the mood is upbeat, and the composer puts the players through a workout, with plenty of fast passages, trills, and instrument changes (flute to alto flute; clarinet to bass clarinet).

Frank Ezra Levy’s Trio No. 2, commissioned by Palisades Virtuosi in 2006, deftly uses many tried and true compositional devices, including the recurrence and development of a set of themes, variations, and stretto (canons seem to be one of his favorite devices). The finale of the four concise movements is a virtuosic tour de force , and the trio plays with superb accuracy and verve.

Not a Sonata! by Gary Eskow is in fact a sonata, and an homage to Francis Poulenc. It is a light work, not surprising considering that the other inspirations are Ray Charles and Henry Mancini. Shades of cocktail parties abound, and film music of the 1960s is a clear reference point. It is a piece that depends on a heavy dose of personality from the performers, and they deliver in spades.

Allen Shawn’s Three Nightscapes is a far more serious work, with tricky metric and rhythmic patterns (not to mention gobs of fast notes), and the trio seems to revel in the challenges. The form is rather ambiguous, but this seems to be a strength rather than weakness, and fits his imaginative material and considerable technical skills well. Most importantly, it keeps the listener fully engaged with plenty of surprises and textural shifts.

Carlos Franzetti has impressive credentials in the world of crossover music. As expected, he makes use of many popular idioms, including tango and milonga, yet in his skillful hands these are not merely pleasant tunes strung together as a medley. All of the elements are tightly integrated, harmonies and rhythms are sophisticated, and he uses the instruments to their maximum effect without simply constructing an empty showpiece. A very impressive work indeed!

Needless to say, performances and recording are of the highest standard, and one is left to wonder why this trio combination has been so neglected.

FANFARE: Michael Cameron
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Works on This Recording

Not A Sonata! by Gary Eskow
Performer:  Ron Levy (Piano), Donald Mokrynski (Clarinet), Margaret Swinchoski (Flute)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palisades Virtuosi
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2005; United States 
Length: 19 Minutes 47 Secs. 
Nightscapes (3) by Allen Shawn
Performer:  Donald Mokrynski (Clarinet), Margaret Swinchoski (Flute), Ron Levy (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palisades Virtuosi
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2006; United States 
Length: 18 Minutes 15 Secs. 
Movements (4) for Virtuosi by Carlos Franzetti
Performer:  Ron Levy (Piano), Donald Mokrynski (Clarinet), Margaret Swinchoski (Flute)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palisades Virtuosi
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2005 
Length: 18 Minutes 28 Secs. 
Fantasie by Caroline Newman
Performer:  Donald Mokrynski (Bass Clarinet), Donald Mokrynski (Clarinet), Margaret Swinchoski (Flute),
Margaret Swinchoski (Alto Flute), Ron Levy (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palisades Virtuosi
Written: 2006; United States 
Length: 5 Minutes 51 Secs. 
Trio no 2 for Flute, Clarinet and Piano by Frank Ezra Levy
Performer:  Ron Levy (Piano), Donald Mokrynski (Clarinet), Margaret Swinchoski (Flute)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palisades Virtuosi
Written: 2006; United States 
Length: 12 Minutes 14 Secs. 

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