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Southern Quilt / Greg Mccallum


Release Date: 08/31/2004 
Label:  Msr   Catalog #: 1092   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Louis Moreau GottschalkKerry MillsGreg McCallumWilliam Grant Still,   ... 
Performer:  Greg McCallumBrad KintnerOdessa Jr. Shaw
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 8 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Here’s an imaginative recital. All eight works have a common premise: they’re all inspired by Southern musical vernacular. But within the conceptual framework, there’s tremendous variety, both in the familiarity of the repertoire (which ranges from Gottschalk’s ubiquitous The Banjo through Still’s moderately well known Summerland on to several works that are probably getting their premiere recordings) and in its idiom (which ranges from the comfortable ragtime gestures of the Mills to the high-energy avant-gardisms of the Rzewski). Then, too, all of the newer music is well worth hearing. You might at first expect Kenneth Frazelle’s Blue Ridge Airs I (based on “melodies that have been passed down for generations”) and Julie Harris’s American Read more Triptych (based on Old Joe Clark, Hush-A-Bye, and Shortnin’ Bread) to represent a kind of post-Copland easy listening. But the Frazelle is, in fact, a misty, improvisatory work in which the eerie harmonies, the shifting textures, and the rhythmic dislocations create a disorienting landscape in which the original tunes are only faintly heard. And while the last movement of the Harris—which would make a fine encore piece on its own—serves the original tune in an immediately recognizable way, the first two movements (strongly influenced, as the notes suggest, by Bartók), engage in radical transformations of their source material.

In this context, McCallum’s own Hymn Quilt makes an excellent centerpiece. It begins as a kind of potpourri of hymn tunes presented in various styles representing different church traditions (with some contributions here from bass, percussion, and voices from a number of congregations, mostly located in North Carolina). But toward the end, the congenial tour turns into something more dramatic, even violent, as A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (played with a kind of romantic flamboyance that may bring to mind Liszt’s settings in Reminiscences des Huguenots) dukes it out with bursts of competing material that barely identifies itself before disappearing.

The more finger-wrenching episodes of The Banjo strain McCallum’s technique, as they strain the technique of so many other pianists; and one can argue that the Mills is just a bit too gentle in approach. But elsewhere, McCallum makes strong claims for the music, showing himself to be equally adept in the sweet lushness of the Still and in the mechanistic drive of the Rzewski. The sound is good, and the booklet offers extremely thorough notes and an excellent collection of vintage photographs, too. All in all, warmly recommended.

Peter J. Rabinowitz, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

1.
Le banjo, Op. 15/RO 22 by Louis Moreau Gottschalk
Performer:  Greg McCallum (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1854-1855; USA 
Venue:  American Academy of Arts and Letters,NYC 
Length: 3 Minutes 49 Secs. 
Notes: American Academy of Arts and Letters,NYC (06/28/2003 - 06/30/2003) 
2.
Last Hope, RO 133/Op. 16 by Louis Moreau Gottschalk
Performer:  Greg McCallum (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1854; USA 
Venue:  American Academy of Arts and Letters,NYC 
Length: 6 Minutes 25 Secs. 
Notes: American Academy of Arts and Letters,NYC (06/28/2003 - 06/30/2003) 
3.
At a Georgia Campmeeting by Kerry Mills
Performer:  Greg McCallum (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1897; USA 
Venue:  American Academy of Arts and Letters,NYC 
Length: 4 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Notes: American Academy of Arts and Letters,NYC (06/28/2003 - 06/30/2003) 
4.
Hymn Quilt by Greg McCallum
Performer:  Brad Kintner (Electric Double Bass), Odessa Jr. Shaw (Percussion), Greg McCallum (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Date of Recording: 08/19/2003 
Venue:  Live  United Church of Chapel Hill, North Caro 
Length: 10 Minutes 51 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: This selection features singing by members of the congregations of 26 North Carolina churches. 
5.
Three Visions: no 2, Summerland by William Grant Still
Performer:  Greg McCallum (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; USA 
Venue:  American Academy of Arts and Letters,NYC 
Length: 4 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Notes: American Academy of Arts and Letters,NYC (06/28/2003 - 06/30/2003) 
6.
Blue Ridge Airs I by Kenneth Frazelle
Performer:  Greg McCallum (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1988; USA 
Venue:  American Academy of Arts and Letters,NYC 
Length: 16 Minutes 53 Secs. 
Notes: American Academy of Arts and Letters,NYC (06/28/2003 - 06/30/2003) 
7.
North American Ballads (4) for Piano: no 4, Winnsboro cotton mill blues by Frederic Rzewski
Performer:  Greg McCallum (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1979; USA 
Date of Recording: 08/18/2003 
Venue:  Chatham Label Mill, Pittsboro, North Car 
Length: 10 Minutes 26 Secs. 
8.
American Triptych by Julie Harris
Performer:  Greg McCallum (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2000; USA 
Venue:  American Academy of Arts and Letters,NYC 
Length: 10 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Notes: American Academy of Arts and Letters,NYC (06/28/2003 - 06/30/2003) 

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