Arkiv Music Holiday Shop
WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Joseph Fennimore: Cathay; Tourmaline; 5 Romances


Release Date: 06/09/2009 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 1123   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Joseph Fennimore
Performer:  Jeffrey MiddletonJeffrey Middleton
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 7 Mins. 

In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  
On sale! $18.98
CD:  $16.99
In Stock



Notes and Editorial Reviews



FENNIMORE Cathay. Tourmaline (On the Loss of a Jewel). 5 Romances Jeffrey Middleton (pn) ALBANY TROY 1123 (67:04)


Joseph Fennimore (b. 1940) is a self-confessed loner. “There is no authority I don’t question, and I’m against whoever is in power,” he says in what I suspect is a typically forthright style.


The first piece on this disc, Cathay , was commissioned Read more in 2005. Cathay is, of course, the ancient name for China, and so it is that whole-tone and pentatonic scales proliferate. The third movement, “The Lost Flute,” is highly effective, with its xylophone effects and also its sense of space. Although in no way atonal, Fennimore’s music can be very fragmentary. Philip L. Kennicott in his booklet notes suggests that “this is some of the finest music that Fennimore has ever written, immensely sophisticated, expressive, and elegant.” He is right about the elegance, certainly. Only the penultimate movement, “The Garden of the Golden Valley,” seems a trifle nondescript in comparison to its peers. The delicate, Oriental-based traceries of “The Fisherman” make for an atmospheric end to the cycle.


Dating from the same year, Tourmaline (On the Loss of a Jewel) is subtitled, “Theme, Variations, and Coda on an Ostinato.” It is cast in three movements, “Verdelite,” “Indicolite,” and “Schorl,” and was written in memory of the harpsichordist Julia Carragan. The three movement titles refer to three color phases of tourmaline. Verdelite is a rich, green tourmaline; indicolite, transparent blue; and schorl is black and opaque. This is a lovely idea. The music is gentle, easy on the ear, with some lovely playful, dancing moments, expertly caught by Middleton. If the central movement meanders past its due date, the brittle finale makes a more profound, lasting effect.


Finally, five Romances , Fennimore’s response to the “Three Blind Mice” debacle pertaining to a theme from Rachmaninoff’s Fourth Piano Concerto (Fennimore quotes the “theme” explicitly at one point). These pieces are allegedly an expression of sympathy from one composer to another, then. Certainly there is a palpable feeling of nostalgia here, along with a penchant for restrained but effective polyphony. The Fifth Romance is easy going, almost blues-like in feel. The first Four Romances we hear here were composed between 1983 and 1985; the final one, No. 13, hails from 2001 and therefore sits at a distance of nearly two decades from its companions. It is marked, “somewhat grim, wary, cranky,” and I can’t describe it better than that.


Pianist Jeffrey Middleton met Fennimore in the 1980s and has been close to this music ever since, even directing a performance of Fennimore’s opera Eventide at Harlem School of the Arts. It is difficult to imagine a stauncher advocate.


FANFARE: Colin Clarke
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Cathay by Joseph Fennimore
Performer:  Jeffrey Middleton (Piano), Jeffrey Middleton (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
2.
Tourmaline "On the Loss of a Jewel" by Joseph Fennimore
Performer:  Jeffrey Middleton (Piano), Jeffrey Middleton (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
3.
Romances (5) for Piano by Joseph Fennimore
Performer:  Jeffrey Middleton (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
4.
Cathay: The Soft Influence of Spring by Joseph Fennimore
Performer:  Jeffrey Middleton (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 5 Minutes 53 Secs. 
5.
Cathay: Two Swallows by Joseph Fennimore
Performer:  Jeffrey Middleton (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 2 Minutes 0 Secs. 
6.
Cathay: The Lost Flute by Joseph Fennimore
Performer:  Jeffrey Middleton (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 6 Minutes 16 Secs. 
7.
Cathay: Yin-Yang by Joseph Fennimore
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 4 Minutes 57 Secs. 
8.
Cathay: The Garden of Golden Valley by Joseph Fennimore
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 4 Minutes 16 Secs. 
9.
Cathay: The Fisherman by Joseph Fennimore
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 5 Minutes 50 Secs. 
10.
Tourmaline (On the Loss of a Jewel): Verdelite by Joseph Fennimore
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 4 Minutes 39 Secs. 
11.
Tourmaline (On the Loss of a Jewel): Indicolite by Joseph Fennimore
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 7 Minutes 49 Secs. 
12.
Tourmaline (On the Loss of a Jewel): Schorl by Joseph Fennimore
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 5 Minutes 25 Secs. 
13.
5 Romances: First Romance: with grace, elegance and tenderness by Joseph Fennimore
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 3 Minutes 4 Secs. 
14.
5 Romances: Third Romance: tender, always singing by Joseph Fennimore
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 2 Minutes 34 Secs. 
15.
5 Romances: Fifth Romance: slow and easy-going by Joseph Fennimore
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 4 Minutes 35 Secs. 
16.
5 Romances: Ninth Romance: simple, but expressive by Joseph Fennimore
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 5 Minutes 22 Secs. 
17.
5 Romances: Thirteenth Romance: somewhat grim, wary, cranky by Joseph Fennimore
Performer:  Jeffrey Middleton (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 4 Minutes 15 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title