Ruth Crawford Seeger: Violin Sonata; Piano Pieces; Two Ricercari; Sandburg Songs

Ruth Crawford Seeger: Violin Sonata; Piano Pieces; Two Ricercari; Sandburg Songs

by Continuum
     
 

The boldly original music composed by Ruth Crawford Seeger in the 1920s and early '30s never ceases to amaze, even as the course of her subsequent career provokes regrets. After marrying Charles Seeger, she mostly transcribed and arranged folksongs to the exclusion of producing her own new work. In any case, her small body of music is one of the treasures of American… See more details below

Overview

The boldly original music composed by Ruth Crawford Seeger in the 1920s and early '30s never ceases to amaze, even as the course of her subsequent career provokes regrets. After marrying Charles Seeger, she mostly transcribed and arranged folksongs to the exclusion of producing her own new work. In any case, her small body of music is one of the treasures of American modernism. This varied album -- including chamber music, piano works, and songs -- was previously released by the Musical Heritage Society, and it partly overlaps in content with two other essential Crawford Seeger releases: the Portrait led by Oliver Knussen on Deutsche Grammophon (which includes her undisputed masterpiece, the 1931 String Quartet), and Jenny Lin's piano recital for Bis. The present disc is no less important; it includes a major early work, the Violin Sonata (1925-26), which is otherwise hard to find. At the tail end of late Romanticism, the Sonata shows a kinship to European Expressionism, and feels like a preface to the more original music Crawford Seeger would create just a few years later. Much of that music is included here, too: the Study in Mixed Accents for piano; two of the harmonically tense Diaphonic Suites; and for voice, the political Two Ricercari and the Three Songs on Carl Sandburg poems. Mezzo-soprano Nan Hughes is preferable here in the latter works to the rather shrill Lucy Shelton on DG's release, and in general, the performers of new music ensemble Continuum excel throughout this program. At a budget price, this is a must-have addition to any collection of modern music.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Blair Sanderson
The nine compositions on this 2005 Naxos reissue form a varied and vivid portrait of Ruth Crawford Seeger, whose ruggedly assertive works have gradually entered the standard repertoire, and whose reputation as an important American modernist has grown steadily over the years because of worthy recordings like this one. Through the excellent musicianship of the contemporary music ensemble Continuum and its dedicated directors, Cheryl Seltzer and Joel Sachs, Crawford Seeger's intensely expressive works are presented in a coherent program, starting with the rather expressionistic "Suite for five wind instruments and piano" (1927, revised 1929), and the "Sonata for violin and piano" (1925-1926); traversing several minor but developmental chamber pieces, such as the two "Diaphonic Suites" (both 1930); and concluding with the brilliantly original "Three Songs for soprano and chamber orchestra" (1930, 1932) on poems by Carl Sandburg. Her style reflects influences of the early twentieth century avant-garde, from the mystical atonality of Scriabin to the disciplined organization of Schoenberg and perhaps even the crystallizations of Varèse; yet there is no mistaking her own voice and sensibility, fully apparent in her dramatic gestures, energetic counterpoint, and brusque dissonances. Recorded in 1991 and 1992 and first released by the Musical Heritage Society, this is a valuable collection of Crawford Seeger's work and essential listening for students of American music.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/19/2005
Label:
Naxos American
UPC:
0636943919729
catalogNumber:
8559197
Rank:
164902

Tracks

  1. Suite No. 1, for five wind instruments & piano  - Ruth Crawford Seeger  -  Continuum  - Joel Sachs
  2. Sonata, for violin & piano  - Ruth Crawford Seeger  - Cheryl Seltzer  - Mia Wu
  3. Two Ricercare, for voice and piano  - Ruth Crawford Seeger  - Nan Hughes  - Joel Sachs  - H.T. Tsiang
  4. Preludes (9), for piano: Prelude No. 1 - Andante  - Ruth Crawford Seeger  - Cheryl Seltzer
  5. Preludes (9), for piano: Prelude No. 9 - Tranquillo  - Ruth Crawford Seeger  - Cheryl Seltzer
  6. Piano Study in Mixed Accents, for piano  - Ruth Crawford Seeger  - Cheryl Seltzer
  7. Diaphonic Suite No. 1, for oboe solo (or flute)  - Ruth Crawford Seeger  - Jayn Rosenfeld
  8. Diaphonic Suite No. 2, for bassoon & cello  - Ruth Crawford Seeger  - Susan Heineman  - Maria Kitsopoulos
  9. Three Songs on Poems by Carl Sandburg, for voice, oboe, piano & percussion with optional orchestral ostinati  - Ruth Crawford Seeger  -  Continuum  - Nan Hughes  - Joel Sachs  - Carl Sandburg

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Continuum   Primary Artist

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