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Partitas and More

Cover Design: Carol Lager & Leo Kraft

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Catalog Number: CPS-8649
Audio Format: Stereo, DDD
Playing Time: 60:00
Release Date: 1998

Track Listing & Audio Samples
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  Partita No. 1
Prelude (1:46)
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Capriccio (1:35)
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  3. Arietta (2:26)
  4. Toccata (1:54)
  Donald Pirone, piano
  5. String Quartet No. 2 (18:56)
  Audubon Quartet
  Five Pieces for Clarinet and Piano
  6. Prelude (1:09)
  7. Intermezzo (1:43)
  8. Capriccio (1:00)
  9. Fantasia (4:19)
  10. Tarantella (1:31)
  Esther Lamneck, clarinet
  Rosemary Caviglia, piano
  Partita No. 3 for Wind Quintet
  11. Prelude (2:39)
  12. Intermezzo (2:11)
  13. Frammenti (3:15)
  14. Adagio (1:56)
  15. Finale (2:37)
  The New Wind Quintet
  Antiphonies: Four Pieces for Piano Four-Hands and Tape
  16. (2:37)
  17. (0:50)
  18. (3:58)
  19. (1:02)
  Genevieve Chinn and Allen Brings, piano


Related Links
Allen Brings
Esther Lamneck




20th Century Music - August 1998 - by Mark Alburger

"Perception is indeed not always reality. Leo Krafts Capstone release, Partitas and More, is not a dry and cerebral affair in the least. It chronicles the composers stylistic development between 1958 and 1969, and begins with an altogether charming, animated neoclassic Partita No. 1, which sparkles and syncopates through four brilliant movements (Prelude, Capriccio, Arietta, and Toccata).

The String Quartet No. 2 (195) finds its own soulful way to a Carteresque bargain of chromaticism. By the Five Pieces for Clarinet and Piano (1962), Kraft has moved decidedly into a non-tonal world, still energetic and engaging. But, while attempting to stay an American course, this work, like the following Partita No. 3 for Wind Quintet, still bears traces of Berg and Schoenberg. By the time we reach Antiphonies: four Pieces for Piano Four-Hands and Tape (while the last two pieces are undated, one assumes these to be the most recent works, as the previous music had been presented chronologically). Kraft has entered the Davidovskian world of live-and-memorex. Funny sounds and virtuosity. Lots o fun. Nice ending. With stimulating live contributions from duo pianist Genevieve Chinn and Allen Brings.

In Kraft, as in many mid-century composers, one can clearly hear the stylistic trends of the day. As the characters in Michael Nymans the Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat put it in relation to the title characters visual art:

Natural curves became
Angular, almost cubist….

Then less and less
Concrete images
More abstract expressionist….

Do you not see development?…



Fanfare - September/October 1998 - by Robert Kirzinger

"This CD fleshes out a bit the discography of Leo Kraft (b. 1922). Most of the work already represented on disc comes from the 80s and 90s; this disc covers the years 1958-69.

Kraft studied with Randall Thompson and Boulanger, and the Neoclassic imprint shows clearly in the Partita No.1 for piano solo (1958). This four-movement partita reminded me immediately of Harold Shapero's little sonatas from the 40s - short. bright, motif-driven, and delightful.

Though Kraft remarks "the first partita . . . marks the end of my diatonic and freely tonal style," all of the works on this disc remain true to Classical values of thematic development. The String Quartet No.2 (1959), in a single movement (18:56). far exceeds the Partita in scope and seriousness. From the opening Adagio's contrapuntal lines. Kraft develops the material organically to an intense, quick scherzo. After the fairly lengthy development of this new matter, each instrument engages in a solo recitative, interrupted by chords in the full ensemble. A new slow section ensues, with chorales and solo passages. Without segue the fast material returns, soon acting as accompaniment for the return of the Adagio material. As well as being a lovely piece, this is as solidly idiomatic quartet writing as one is apt to hear. The Audubon Quartet gives a passionate and understanding reading in this 1970 recording.

Five Pieces for Clarinet and Piano goes further on the road away from tonality, to the point of including a 12-tone movement. The longest movement is the four-minute Fantasia, which trades freely lyrical solo passages with the piano. The other pieces miniaturize specific musical moods - Prelude, lntermezzo, Capriccio, Tarantella - giving the group a suitelike arch. The use of these moods gives the tougher pitch material a greater accessibility than a more extreme shift from the earlier Neoclassic style would allow. The clarinet's tone is a little on the treble side for my tastes, but the piece is played well.

The Partita No.3 for Wind Quintet is also a suite in five movements. Kraft writes as idiomatically for the less history-laden wind quintet as be does for the string quartet, but the material is less ambitious and more along the lines of the Partita No. 1 and the Five Pieces for Clarinet and Piano. As in the Five Pieces, each movement takes on a specific mood (more or less the same ones as in Five Pieces).

In Antiphonies: Four Pieces for Piano Four-Hands and Tape, the pianists romp through four fairly short movements with tape competition. The taped material and that of the piano aren't seamlessly integrated most of the time. Some of the sounds are downright goofy. and the tape's atonal pitch material (and attendant glissandos and timbral shifts) takes on a kind of happy-go-lucky air. The piano parts (and I don't know that four hands are really needed) seem to play a more stabilizing, serious role.

Partita No. 1 and Five Pieces for Clarinet and Piano were recorded in 1996; the balance of the disc was taped in the early 70s. There's no appreciable difference in quality. The String Quartet No. 2 feels like the only really significant work here, but the other pieces are well written, well played, enjoyable, and well worth hearing."


ComposerUSA - Winter 1997-98 - by Marshall Bialosky

"Now that it has become relatively feasible economically to produce your own CD, the mails these days are full of such offerings from composer-friends anxious to share their good fortune with others and in the process receive some long overdue praise and publicity. If one is a frequent attendee of such events as an SCI regional or national meeting, or a NACUSA concert, or scores of other such composer-generated events, one rarely gets to hear a lot of music by the same composer. Thus it is truly hard to form a firm estimate of many of one's colleagues (and even friends) when a large body of their work remains unperformed. While the CD devoted to a single composer runs the risk of revealing hitherto unknown weaknesses, it also affords the interested listener a much better chance to savor the individuality a given composer, which being buried in a single concert alongside six or seven others, does not provide.

An interested case in point is the recent CD devoted entirely to the music of Leo Kraft called "Partitas and More" released by Capstone Records as CPS-8649. Although I have personally known the composer for many years, this is the most music of his that I have ever heard. Present on the CD is Partita No. 1 for Piano, String Quartet No. 2, Five Pieces for Clarinet and Piano, Partita No.3 for Wind Quintet, and Antiphonies: Four Pieces for Piano Four-Hands and Tape. The CD is accompanied by an unusually frank tracing of the composer's musical career by Kraft himself. I found all of this, save the last, to be completely convincing, fresh, musical, inventive, and a sheer delight to hear. Everything was so perfectly tailored to its medium of expression rather than repeating the same ideas with new instruments. The piano music was pianistic, the string music "stringy," the wind music "windy" in wonderful examples of idiomatic music without sounding overly-familiar. At every juncture there was always something new just around the corner. All of the pieces had an "American" sound to them without resorting to low common denominators. There was no "padding" in any of this music. All of it sounded truly conceived and brought to compositional reality with great conviction and taste. As a believer in the leavening effect of vocal music, I found myself wishing there had been at least that contrast with all the instrumental things, but I suppose that is a small point.

The one work I did not like was Antiphonies solely because of its tape part. I suppose many otherwise non-electronic composers come to feel at a certain point that the history of music may be passing them by and they need to investigate the electronic option. Personally, I wish the electronic part of this work, which I found completely non-expressive and unclearly related to the rest of the piece, could be re-written and assigned to some real instruments. The piano parts sounded fine to me, but what the tape "added" was not at all clear. However, on the strength of the four other excellent pieces on this CD, I would recommend this disc very highly. Having recently celebrated his 75th birthday, this gift to us truly demonstrates a mature composer."