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Morris Rosenzweig: Cycles / Lani Paulson, Susan Wenckus


Release Date: 03/13/2007 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 907   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Morris RosenzweigStephen Gosling
Performer:  Stephen GoslingLani PoulsonSusan Wenckus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



ROSENZWEIG Points and Tails. 1 A Certain Round of Events 2 Stephen Gosling (pn); 1 Lani Poulson (mez); 2 Susan Wenckus (pn) 2 ALBANY TROY 907 (74:45)


I recently had a conversation with the composer Richard Wernick, who was for years a celebrated teacher at the University of Read more Pennsylvania, in which he recounted an informal study he conducted with his Penn colleague George Crumb. They were interested in calculating the percentage of their graduate students who actually continued to write music in some sort of professional capacity. The number they arrived at was seven percent. This, from one of the most prestigious musical composition departments in the world. Nobody ever said this was an easy way to make a living.


Morris Rosenzweig, though not a student of Wernick when he labored at Penn as a grad student, is remembered by the elder composer as a stand-out, a brash talent. And so does he continue to be, as a solid member of the seven-percent club. The music on this CD, like the material on the previous Albany release of chamber music I reviewed positively in these pages, has a depth of expression and plasticity of form that is both fascinating and deeply satisfying. Rosenzweig employs a kind of personalized polychromaticism that is highly controlled, coupled with a sense for narrative and poetic nuance that can almost be called neo-Romantic. In my review of his chamber work Melpomene , I commented on being struck by the sense of expansiveness that is achieved with economical gestures; “You slip into this shimmering soundscape and encounter an aural alternate universe.” This applies to the solo piano music here, Points and Tales , classically conceived as a group of 12 pieces based on the 12 notes of the chromatic scale. There is density at every turn, regardless of the dynamic level or the actual quantity of notes. Rosenzweig’s ability to shape his unconventional language into a coherent and colorful package is extraordinary.


The songs are, to my ears, somewhat less accessible, or in any case, demanding of more intensive listening. The structure is elegantly balanced, nine songs bracketed by solo piano, with an interlude at midpoint. The texts of the songs derive from a number of classical sources, in the original languages, so that the soloist must switch between English, Italian, Chinese, and German. Rosenzweig has a distinctive sense for piano accompaniment, which does not so much follow the vocal line as provide a counterpoint, lending this music an unusually rich texture.


In both the piano music and the song cycle, Rosenzweig’s music is vitally dependent on the ability of the performers to render precise gradations of dynamics and tonality, and in this regard he is extremely well served by the artists on this recording. Stephen Gosling, a British native now working in the US (where he attended Juilliard), is emerging as one of the finest proponents of contemporary music of his generation. And Lani Poulson and Susan Wenckus seem to have the full measure of the beautiful wisdom radiating from this exceptional music.


FANFARE: Peter Burwasser
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Works on This Recording

1.
Points and Tales by Morris Rosenzweig
Performer:  Stephen Gosling (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2004; USA 
2.
A Certain Round of Events by Stephen Gosling
Performer:  Lani Poulson (Mezzo Soprano), Stephen Gosling (Piano), Susan Wenckus (Piano)
Written: 2002 

Sound Samples

Points and Tales: I. Snapshot
Points and Tales: II. Hello
Points and Tales: III. Ceaseless Mantras
Points and Tales: IV. Nocturne
Points and Tales: V. One Self Eemage
Points and Tales: VI. Canto
Points and Tales: VII. Desert Tango
Points and Tales: VIII. Night River
Points and Tales: IX. Go
Points and Tales: X. From One Illusion to Another
Points and Tales: XI. Scherzolino
Points and Tales: XII. Vanished
A Certain Round of Events: Prelude - Come Cani
A Certain Round of Events: I. Giammai
A Certain Round of Events: II. Residing on the Mountain in Early Autumn
A Certain Round of Events: III. Canzona di Bacco
A Certain Round of Events: Interlude - Al Terzo Cerchio
A Certain Round of Events: IV. A la Signora
A Certain Round of Events: V. Winter
A Certain Round of Events: VI. Engel
A Certain Round of Events: VII. Manifold Little Hills
A Certain Round of Events: VIII. Vetro
A Certain Round of Events: IX. My Detached Villa
A Certain Round of Events: Postlude - Si Tosto

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