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James Newton: Sacred Works / Elissa Johnston, Tracy Van Fleet, Daniel Chaney

Release Date: 03/08/2011 
Label:  New World Records   Catalog #: 80714-2  
Composer:  James Newton
Performer:  Abdiel GonzalesMark MenziesTracy Van FleetGary Woodward,   ... 
Conductor:  Grant Gershon
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is the first recording devoted to James Newton’s (b. 1953) sacred works. Among his influences, Newton cites Bach and Stravinsky’s masses and cantatas, as well as the operas of Messiaen, Puccini and Verdi as touchstones. While Newton does not appropriate materials from European composers, he does occasionally utilize their methods, his use of Bach-derived counterpoint in the “Kyrie” being a salient example in his Mass (2006–7). However, its usage here should not be considered in isolation, but in juxtaposition with those passages of the “Kyrie” that draw on the harmonic contours of Billy Strayhorn’s “Chelsea Bridge.” Newton does not attempt an overt synthesis of the two traditions; rather, he lets their colors reverberate against each Read more other like the heraldic stripes of a Kenneth Noland chevron. Between the Cherubim (2007) for solo piano and the song In a Moment, in the Twinkling of an Eye (2004, rev. 2009) complement Newton’s Mass both in terms of musical statements and messages of faith. Newton’s writing for piano in the Mass is flecked with flourishes that exude the spontaneity of improvisation, a quality present throughout Between the Cherubim. Inspired by Bach, who incorporated English, French and Italian dances into his sacred music, and Thomas A. Dorsey, who shaped gospel music out of the blues, In a Moment, in the Twinkling of an Eye is a stand-alone example of Newton’s transformations of secular materials through the use of sacred texts, in this case a passage from 1st Corinthians. Newton’s writing for voice in the initial passages of the song resembles that of his Mass, his emphasis on diction and dynamics echoing the African-American tradition of concert singing, a historically busy intersection between sacred and secular forms of music. Read less

Works on This Recording

Mass by James Newton
Performer:  Abdiel Gonzales (Bass Baritone), Mark Menzies (Piano), Tracy Van Fleet (Mezzo Soprano),
Gary Woodward (Flute), Elissa Johnston (Soprano), Daniel Chaney (Tenor)
Conductor:  Grant Gershon
Between the Cherubim by James Newton
Performer:  Gloria Cheng (Piano)
Written: 2007 
In a Moment, In the Twinkling of an Eye by James Newton
Performer:  Julie Feves (Bassoon), Tracy Van Fleet (Mezzo Soprano), Elissa Johnston (Soprano),
Vicki Ray (Piano), Gary Bovyer (Clarinet)
Conductor:  Grant Gershon
Written: 2004/2009 

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