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New Music Music Festival Virtuosi

Catalog Number: CPS-8603
Audio Format: CD
Playing Time: 66:36
Release Date: 1988

    Eugene O'Brien
Taking Measures (17:20)
   Listen: RealAudio or MP3
    Paul Makara, violin
    Robert Spano, conductor
    Allan Schindler
  2. Eternal Winter for computer-generated type and trombone (14:08)
    Paul Hunt, trombone
    Ramon Zupko
  3. Fluxu II (14:49)
    Robert Spano, piano
    William Albright
  4. Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano (19:57)
    John Sampen, saxophone
    Marilyn Shrude, piano



Saxophone Journal - September/October, 1990 - Volume 15, Number 2

"New Music The Virtuosi at Bowling Green State University is used as a vehicle to promote quite literally, new virtuoso music. This compact disc recording offers the best performances from this Festival and among the selections are Eugene O'Brien's Taking Measures (a single movement piece that resembles a violin concerto); Allan Schindler's Eternal Winter (for trombone and pre-recorded tape accompaniement); Ramon Zupko's Fluxus !! (a combined Baroque/Classical piece with Romantic keyboard bravura); and for our interests here, the Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano by William Albright (a 4-movement piece in "chaconne-variation form").

Composer William Albright has concertized widely in Europe,
Canada, and the United States, specializing in new music for organ and piano. He has received numerous commissions and awards, among them a Guggenhtim Fellowship. and a Fuibright Fellowship. Albright is currently professor of Music Composition at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

The saxophone soloist on the Albright Sonata is John Sampen, who was a student of Larry Teal, Don Sinta, and Fred Hemke. Dr. Sampen is the winner of numerous competitions and awards, including a certificate from the International Geneva Concours, and he has concertized widely throughout the United States and Western Europe. Sampen currently is on the faculty at the college of Musical Arts, Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.

The Albright Sonata begins, and is indeed subtitled as a "Two-Part Invention." emphasizing a rapid exchange of melodic material between the piano (played by Marilyn Shrude) and saxophone. These exchanges are either very simple, or very complex. Sampen's alto saxophone sound is rich and bright. Pianist Shrude exhibits a strong affinity for both the style of this music, and that, combined with Sampen's saxophone, presents a strong ensemble presentation.

The second movement "La Follia nuova: A Lament for George Cacioppo" (dedicated to the memory of the composer George Cacioppo, who died unexpectedly on April 8, 1984), begins with a beautiful theme played by the piano and then the saxophone joins in. Sampen's delicate interpretation of this opening theme is quite impressive. Occasionally the piano overpowers the alto saxophone lines. As the music progresses, a lovely crescendo ensues and enters into a quasi-breakup of the tonal center that is indeed very well done and is an interesting surprise for the unsuspecting listener. The saxophone maintains a pedal while the piano delivers some tense vertical structures. All this is followed by some impressive altissimo playing that suits the flow of the music perfectly. Eventually things calm down and return to a more quiet state, with gentle musical interplay that is quite beautiful to listen to.

The third movement is a scherzo titled, "Will 0' the Wisp." It begins with the saxophone presenting rapid sporadic themes, repeated by the piano in the extreme high register. The saxophone begins a long recitative that is delivered flawlessly with superb expression and nuance in the closing fourth movement, titled Recitative and Dance."

Albright's Sonata is a fascinatin composition, with moments of extreme tenderness to extreme lunacy Sampen's alto saxophone, and Shrude's piano have recorded a real tour de force! This is an excellent performance of an excellent piece of music. Sampen's technical mastery of the saxophone. and this style of music, provides the listener with some superb music.

Albright's Sonata should become standard literature for the alto saxophone. It sounds like it should be played on a saxophone, which is probably the highest compliment anyone can give to any composition. This CD is music to be heard as soon as possible."




Every musical age produces its virtuosi, and a number of the Ohioan sort can be heard in the Bowling Green State University New Music Festival Virtuosi, on a new Capstone release. One can take measure of a few of them, particularly violinist Paul Makara, in Eugene O'Briens Taking Measures, a wonderfully varied piece that takes the soloist through a variety of moods, beginning with a terse, urgent motive of four like-pitched quick repeated notes followed by a more expansive response. The sounds could be medieval, gypsy, Bartók, something new Viennese, Varèse, or even occasionally pseudo electronic in the fast-breaking percussion music.

Varied is also the word for an Eternal River from Allan Schindler, as performed by the versatile trombonist John Marcellus, who slides and grunts and multiphonics against a colorful electronic score. A stentorian Fluxus II, by Ramon Zupko, follows, its Crumbian machinations well-realized by the multi-talented pianist (and conductor) Robert Spano. The album concludes strongly with William Albright's bright and crafty Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano, where soloists John Sampen and Marilyn Shrude rise to the numerous challenges posed.