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The Music Of Harold Farberman / Farberman, Miller, Et Al

Release Date: 06/27/2000 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 402   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Harold Farberman
Performer:  Gerald TarackRodney MillerHarold FarbermanJane Taylor,   ... 
Conductor:  Harold Farberman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dorian Wind QuintetNew York Brass Quintet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 2 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Harold Farberman's career as a conductor has overshadowed his achievements as a composer. In fact, while a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Farberman turned first to composition as a further creative outlet, which in turn led to his more visible conducting career. From the mid-fifties onward, when he composed his first work, Evolution, for soprano, French horn and seven percussionists, Farberman has never stopped creating music. Farberman was born in New York City's Lower East Side. Coming from a family of musicians (his father was the drummer in a famous 1920's Klezmer band; his eldest brother was also a drummer) it seemed inevitable that he pursue music as a career. After graduating from Juilliard on a percussion scholarship in Read more 1951, he immediately joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra percussion section. With a performer's knowledge of percussion instruments and a dissatisfaction with their conventional treatment, he became an early advocate for the use of percussion sonorities as a major voice in compositional structures. His very first work, Evolution, written in 1954 before he began formal studies in composition, is scored for over 100 percussion instruments and has been recorded four times, once by Leopold Stokowski. Note the special way we are featuring Mr. Farberman this month; not only as the conductor of the fine Bazelon orchestral disc (TROY370), but here he also is represented as a composer. - Albany Records


Percussionist Harold Farberman, now in his early seventies, is best known as a conductor of music from Haydn to Bazelon. His works on this CD date from 1957 to 1964, the recordings ditto. ADD, therefore: analog original tape for LPs. But remastering has been wonderfully achieved by Dan Goodwin. Except in minor ways, the sound is fine.

Percussion understandably forms the basis of these pieces, except the two traditional quintets, for woodwind and brass. In the Trio, this sound influence extends to some of the ways the violin and piano are played, the latter more than the former, of course. In five short movements, this is an active, colorful, well-timed work. It's hard to be surprising in music like this, but the last movement, a really full 44 seconds, manages it.

Farberman avoids the commonplace too often found in woodwind quintets by emphasizing the spiky, nervous aspects of these instruments. If there's a long line anywhere here, I haven't heard it. Still, there's unity of thought with plenty of motion. Rhythmic "texture" is almost as strong in the Greek Scene. The piano and percussion often underline the words with springlike tension. The soprano line, dramatized very effectively by Corinne Curry, articulates brief bits of tragic scenes involving Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, and their accursed family, as written by all three major Greek tragedians. (The texts are not printed.) The emotions are pretty severe and severely unpretty, even if the style isn't fully formed.

If you've guessed that these works are nontonal with free forms and heavy reliance on color and texture, you've got it. Same for the remaining music. The New York Times piece (texts printed this time) musicizes some news stories of the day. Not much to recommend this sparsely populated and quickly written music, although there's a demented coloration that's effective at times. Milhaud did this kind of thing better. Too bad, though, that Farberman didn't write this two weeks earlier: He might have caught China detonating an atomic bomb and Russia deposing Nikita Khrushchev.

The ballet seems under the influence of Webern or late Stravinsky, and no story about a puppet can escape comparison with a certain early Stravinsky work. But this has Farberman's wit, drive, and compression. Sometimes quizzical and strident, it seems the devil to play. Continuity is at a premium: There isn't much in any traditional sense. The brass quintet features extended solos for each instrument. Even though rhythm, color, and timbre outdo melody, the harmonic sense is sure. The fun middle movement, jazz-inflected, develops into a neurotic conversation. The fourth movement, fortunately for the tuba solos, is slow.

Undeniably this is 50s-60s music in sound and technique, representing a kind of mainstream avant-garde, pardon the oxymoron. Some pieces are more effective than others; but it's good to hear this side of Farberman's work from those intensive years of composition.

- Paul Rapoport, Fanfare, (Nov/Dec 2000) Read less

Works on This Recording

Trio for Violin, Piano and Percussion by Harold Farberman
Performer:  Gerald Tarack (Violin), Rodney Miller (Piano), Harold Farberman (Percussion)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1963; USA 
Quintessence by Harold Farberman
Performer:  Jane Taylor (Bassoon), John Pierce (French Horn), William Lewis (Clarinet),
Charles Kuskin (Oboe), John Perras (Flute)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dorian Wind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1962; USA 
Greek Scene by Harold Farberman
Performer:  Robert Miller (Piano), Harold Farberman (Percussion), Corinne Curry (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1957; USA 
New York Times, August 30, 1964 by Harold Farberman
Performer:  Corinne Curry (Mezzo Soprano), Robert Miller (Piano), Harold Farberman (Percussion)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1964; USA 
Language: English 
Crumble's Ballet by Harold Farberman
Performer:  Robert Miller (Piano), Charles McCracken (Cello), Hubert Laws (Flute),
Gerald Tarack (Violin), Ronald Anderson (Trumpet), Harold Farberman (Percussion)
Conductor:  Harold Farberman
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Images by Harold Farberman
Performer:  Harvey G. Phillips (Tuba), John Swallow (Trombone), Paul Ingraham (French Horn)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Brass Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1964; USA 

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