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Homans: A Prague Spring, Etc / Saunders, Valek, Czech Radio So, Et Al

Release Date: 05/06/2008 
Label:  Mmc Recordings   Catalog #: 2168   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Peter Homans
Performer:  Donald BermanSue-Ellen Hershman-TcheperinAnne BlackHugh Hinton,   ... 
Conductor:  Jerzy SwobodaVladimír Válek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Silesian Radio OrchestraSilesian Radio ChorusCzech Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 50 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

HOMANS Plié de trois. 1 4 Choruses. 2 Quintino. 3 A Prague Spring 4 Sue-Ellen Hershman-Tcherepnin (fl); 1 Donald Berman (pn); 1 Anne Black (va); 1 Jerzy Swoboda, cond; 2 Read more class="ARIAL12"> Silesian RO & Ch; 2 Sue-Ellen Hershman-Tcherepnin (fl); 3 Katherine Matasy (cl); 3 Hugh Hinton (pn); 3 Anne Black (va); 3 Michael Curry (vc); 3 Catherine Saunders (fl); 4 Vlad Valek, cond; 4 Czech RSO 4 MMC 2168 (49:50 Text and Translation)

Peter Homans became a composer via a circuitous route. At age 10 he started playing blues and rock by ear. A decade later, composer Robert Stewart introduced him to so-called “serious music,” and he became hooked. Along the way he earned a B.A. in English from Washington and Lee University, and then enrolled in the New England Conservatory, where he earned two master’s of music degrees. In the course of his studies there he was awarded two fellowships at Tanglewood. He ultimately found himself in the roles of Leonard Bernstein’s assistant business manager and principal musical assistant. After those bits of employment ran their course, he, like most aspiring musicians, confronted the necessity of a day job. Toward that end, he suspended composition during the following decade in order to establish his credentials in the financial industry. After founding his own successful brokerage/investment management business, he finally resumed composing. He makes regular and significant contributions to various musical and dance organizations in an attempt to counterbalance the continuing diminishment of established musical funding organizations. Needless to say, his heart is in the right place.

If pressed for a single adjective to describe the music of Peter Homans, it would be “deft.” His lines stand in clear relief from one another, reflecting the influence of his teacher of composition at the New England Conservatory, Donald Martino. He is a natural contrapuntalist who obeys the law of parsimony: there are no unnecessary notes marring his musical discourse; everything carries its own weight.

Plié de trois for flute, viola, and piano, like so much of Homans’s music, is inspired by Igor Stravinsky, that ballet composer extraordinaire. It is the most charmingly accessible piece on this release, and underscores Homans’s desire to make his music visceral rather than cerebral.

Four Choruses sets poems by Richard Wilbur— The Milkweed, Thyme Flowering among Rocks, The Lilacs , and Rondeau . Here, the pointillistic sounds of Plié de trois give way to far more sustained lines and luminous and shimmering dissonances that, in their uncanny ways, probe the hearts of the texts.

Quintino , composed in memory of Donald Martino, is one of the more challenging pieces on this release. Its opening is knotty and complex, but quickly dissolves into a more peaceful sound world that betrays Homans’s erstwhile pop roots. Martino left Homans with the idea that the musical line should sound always inevitable, though not predictable—one of music’s most magic of paradoxes. Here, as throughout this release, it is made manifest.

A Prague Spring , composed in 1968 for the Czech Radio Orchestra in commemoration of the ill-fated 1956 Czech uprising, is the most neo-Romantic piece on this release. It is graced by exquisite flute solos from Catherine Saunders underpinned by the winds of the orchestra, and proves to be, in its own way, in league with Martin?’s Memorial to Lidici.

The ensemble Dinosaur Annex, of which the players of these works are members, commissioned Plié de trois and Quintino . As an advocate for contemporary music, it is on par with such august ensembles as the Chicago based Eighth Blackbird. And here it has produced fine advocacy well recorded.

FANFARE: William Zagorski
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Works on This Recording

Plié de trois by Peter Homans
Performer:  Donald Berman (Piano), Sue-Ellen Hershman-Tcheperin (Flute), Anne Black (Viola)
Period: 20th Century 
Choruses (4) by Peter Homans
Conductor:  Jerzy Swoboda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Silesian Radio Orchestra,  Silesian Radio Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Quintino by Peter Homans
Performer:  Hugh Hinton (Piano), Anne Black (Viola), Sue-Ellen Hershman-Tcheperin (Flute),
Michael Curry (Cello), Katherine Matasy (Clarinet)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2006 
A Prague Spring by Peter Homans
Performer:  Catherine Saunders (Flute)
Conductor:  Vladimír Válek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1968 

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