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American Classics - McKay: Suite For Viola, Etc / Bolcom


Release Date: 09/17/2002 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8559143   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  George McKay
Performer:  William BolcomSanford MargolisMahoko EguchiLogan Skelton,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 4 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Seattle-based composer George Frederick McKay ("The Dean of Northwest Composers") is being celebrated as part of Naxos' American Classics series. Among other musicians enlisted for this task are the husband-and-wife duo of William Bolcom and Joan Morris, and you couldn't ask for a more sympathetic pairing of artists and repertoire. Bolcom, of course, is well known both as a composer and pianist; he and mezzo-soprano Morris have careers that straddle the worlds of both classical music and musical theater. Likewise, McKay's compositions embrace "high" and "low" art, without any sense of tension between the two styles.


The piano--and by extension Bolcom--dominates this disc. 1924's Caricature
Read more Dance Suite celebrates the burgeoning jazz style with cakewalk and ragtime rhythms, as does the same year's Americanistic Etude. A mid-1940s' Technicolor film fantasy finds its voice in the short, lush Dancing in a Dream, played by Bolcom and Logan Skelton. But don't get the impression that McKay's music is merely a novelty. Another 1924 work, An April Suite, is marked by an impressionistic feeling; McKay's lovely, gentle chromaticisms look to France for their inspiration. Similarly, From My Tahoe Window-Summer Moods and Patterns (from 1965) is a particularly rich collection of programmatic miniatures that nod to nature ("Sunrise", "Storm Clouds", etc.).


The Dance Suite No. 2 (from 1938), with descriptive movement titles such as "Calisthenics à la Hollywood", was born of a collaboration with choreographer Bonnie Bird, and it points to an especially rich era in Seattle's cultural life. Joan Morris' appearance in the Excerpts from Five Songs for Soprano (1964) and 1969's Every Flower that Ever Grew is glorious. Her sure, strong tone and exemplary enunciation create a model for young singers to follow, though the rather compressed sound doesn't show her off to best advantage.


Turning away from Bolcom/Morris--and from a more familiar McKay--we hear violist Mahoko Eguchi and pianist Sanford Margolis in 1948's Viola Suite. It's a work whose more straitlaced character, apart from the energetic Scherzo and the strident, martial Moderato that closes the piece, doesn't bear much resemblance to the disc's other compositions. It's a Romantic throwback that feels rather artificial, though Eguchi and Margolis perform it with a great deal of warmth. I would have preferred not to be subjected to Margolis' groaning sing-along in the lyrical third movement, however.
--Anastasia Tsioulcas, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Caricature Dance Suite by George McKay
Performer:  William Bolcom (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924; USA 
Date of Recording: 1999-2001 
Venue:  Brookwood Studio, Ann Arbor, Michigan 
Length: 6 Minutes 30 Secs. 
2.
Suite for Viola and Piano by George McKay
Performer:  Sanford Margolis (Piano), Mahoko Eguchi (Viola)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948; USA 
Date of Recording: 1999-2001 
Venue:  Brookwood Studio, Ann Arbor, Michigan 
Length: 18 Minutes 23 Secs. 
3.
Americanistic Etude, Op. 27 by George McKay
Performer:  William Bolcom (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924; USA 
Date of Recording: 1999-2001 
Venue:  Brookwood Studio, Ann Arbor, Michigan 
Length: 2 Minutes 16 Secs. 
4.
An April Suite, Op. 3 by George McKay
Performer:  William Bolcom (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924; USA 
Date of Recording: 1999-2001 
Venue:  Brookwood Studio, Ann Arbor, Michigan 
Length: 7 Minutes 22 Secs. 
5.
Dance Suite no 2 by George McKay
Performer:  William Bolcom (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938; USA 
Date of Recording: 1999-2001 
Venue:  Brookwood Studio, Ann Arbor, Michigan 
Length: 6 Minutes 31 Secs. 
6.
Dancing in a Dream by George McKay
Performer:  Logan Skelton (Piano), William Bolcom (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945; USA 
Date of Recording: 1999-2001 
Venue:  Brookwood Studio, Ann Arbor, Michigan 
Length: 1 Minutes 44 Secs. 
7.
Songs (5) for Soprano: Bunches of Grapes by George McKay
Performer:  William Bolcom (Piano), Joan Morris (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1964; USA 
Date of Recording: 1999-2001 
Venue:  Brookwood Studio, Ann Arbor, Michigan 
Length: 1 Minutes 23 Secs. 
Language: English 
8.
Every Flower That Ever Grew by George McKay
Performer:  Joan Morris (Mezzo Soprano), William Bolcom (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1969; USA 
Date of Recording: 1999-2001 
Venue:  Brookwood Studio, Ann Arbor, Michigan 
Length: 2 Minutes 54 Secs. 
Language: English 
9.
Songs (5) for Soprano: Days of the Week by George McKay
Performer:  Joan Morris (Mezzo Soprano), William Bolcom (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1964; USA 
Date of Recording: 1999-2001 
Venue:  Brookwood Studio, Ann Arbor, Michigan 
Length: 1 Minutes 55 Secs. 
Language: English 
10.
Songs (5) for Soprano: The Flower will Bloom Another Year by George McKay
Performer:  Joan Morris (Mezzo Soprano), William Bolcom (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1964; USA 
Date of Recording: 1999-2001 
Venue:  Brookwood Studio, Ann Arbor, Michigan 
Length: 2 Minutes 6 Secs. 
Language: English 
11.
From My Tahoe Window "Summer Moods and Patterns" by George McKay
Performer:  William Bolcom (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1965; USA 
Date of Recording: 1999-2001 
Venue:  Brookwood Studio, Ann Arbor, Michigan 
Length: 12 Minutes 12 Secs. 

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