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Harold Boatrite
SONATAS & SUITES


Cover Design: Elliot Hoffman

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Catalog Number: CPS-8654
Audio Format: Stereo, DDD
Playing Time: 63:18
Release Date: 1998

Track Listing & Audio Samples
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    Sonata for Flute and Piano
1.
Adagio: andante (3:00)
    Listen: RealAudio or MP3
  2. Allegro (7:30)
    Pamela Guidetti, flute
    Marcantonio Barone, piano
     
    Lyric Suite for Piano
  3. Allegretto (1:26)
  4. Andante (1:29)
  5. Allegro moderato (1:23)
  6. Adagio (2:20)
  7. Presto (1:15)
    Jennifer Lim, piano
     
  8. Sonata for Cello and Piano (8:43)
    Glenn Fischbach, cello
    Hugh Sung, piano
     
    Seven Miniatures for Piano
  9. Musette (0:36)
  10. Nocturne (1:13)
  11. Etude (0:48)
  12. Rondino (0:56)
  13. Country Song (0:40)
  14. Air (0:52)
  15. March (0:42)
    Temple Painter, piano
     
  16. Sonata-Fantasia for Harpsichord (7:40)
    Temple Painter, harpsichord
     
    Sonata for Piano
  17. Allegro (4:32)
  18. Andante cantabile (4:10)
  19. Presto (3:56)
    David Bryant, piano
     
    Suite for Harpsichord
  20. Fugue (2:44)
  21. Sarabande (1:58)
  22. Toccata (1:29)
  23. Pastorale (1:27)
  24. Chaconne (2:22)

 

Reviews

Philadelphia Daily News - November 20, 1998 - by Tom Di Nardo

"Two new classical releases with a local flavor are now gracing record store shelves and both are worth a very long listen….

For 40 years, while musical grants were awarded to composers rushing into the bloop-bleep, aleatory and serial-school dead end, Philadelphian Harold Boatrite composed concise music built of melody, harmonic beauty and structural inevitability. The degree to which he succeeded is clear on this disc, which includes a glorious, soaring Flute Sonata (played by Pamela Guidetti, flute, and Marcantonio Barone, piano) and a thorny, one-movement, more cerebral Cello Sonata (Glenn Fischbach, cello, and Hugh Sung, piano).

Seme of Boatrite's finest music was written for local harpsichord master Temple Painter, who performs both the white-hot and searingly difficult Sonata-Fantasia plus the five wildly varied movements of the Suite for Harpsichord. The range of sonorities that Painter elicits is astonishing, and his enormous virtuosity at the service of Boatrite's rich, musical ideas clearly demonstrates the power of writing for a sympathetic artist.

Two sets of short works for piano, a five movement Lyric Suite (Jennifer Lim) and Seven Miniatures (Painter), express compelling musical ideas with simplicity and terseness. The earliest work, the 1956 Piano Sonata (David Bryant) is a masterful gem with rock-solid structure, completely original piano writing, am elegant middle movement and a finale which surprisingly uses a familiar carol as a countermelody. It will surely be found on piano recital programs throughout the country as a result of this disc.

There is not a bar of filler in this program of committed performances, too rare a comment from any reviewer. Here's hoping some enterprising label will investigate the concertos and orchestral works by this major composer."

 

Fanfare - March/April 1999 - by Peter Burwasser

"Harold Boatrite is one of countless fine American composers who have braved the shifting seas of style with steadfast commitment to a personal vision. Between the arch serialists and the ultra-Romantics lay a chorus of talented voices, basically tonal at the core, but richly textured with the diverse languages of the 20th century. Many of these artists are now being heard with renewed, unbiased interest, including Earl George, Robert Starer, and especially Roy Harris.

John Davison, who was a colleague of Boatrite at the Haverford College music department (and a fine composer whose music also falls into this group), puts it this way in his notes to the CD: Boatrite represents a logical, evolutionary step in Western music; using traditional forms in fresh and inventive ways and juxtaposing and combining diatonic and chromatic passages in a way that always keeps the music moving purposefully. No mannerisms or self-consciousness here!

The sonatas and suites on this disc were all written between the years 1955 and 1965, which the composer describes as his chamber-music period. The music features alternating swaths of broad, songlike music, especially in the works for flute and cello, and concise, somewhat brittle expression, mainly in the keyboard works. In his piano music, and, almost predictably, in the solo harpsichord music, Boatrite draws inspiration from Baroque sources in his formal structure, and also in smaller details of voicing and ornamentation. The single-movement Sonata-Fantasia for solo harpsichord is an especially striking melding of traditional sound and style with powerful and distinctly contemporary emotional currents.

The performances, mainly from the immensely talented pool of the Philadelphia chamber-music community, are uniformly excellent."

 

American Record Guide - May/June 1999 - by McLellan

"A cool, tough-minded lyricism suffuses the mid-century sonatas and suites of American composer and Copland student Harold Boatrite. The 1956 Piano Sonata, with a medieval estampie in the opening, a memorable rondo in the beautiful slow movement, and variations on 'Good King Wenceslas' in the exuberant finale, is an unassuming masterpiece in the manner of late Hindemith, as is the idea-packed Piano Suite from three years later. The more brittle Suite and Sonata-Fantasia for harpsichord are more challenging for the listener and make strenuous demands on the soloist as well. The cello and flute sonatas, from the early 60s, are subtle and engaging. The real charmer on the program is the most recent work, a set of Miniatures for piano written from 1963 to 1994.

All these pieces reconcile chromaticism with tonality-an enterprise that has turned out, in the long run, to be far more fruitful than abandoning tonality altogether, as so many of Boatrite's colleagues did in the late 5Os. Like many non-serialists, he is getting a welcome second look. This is elegant, attractive music, full of ideas, well played by all the performers, a treat for curious listeners who normally shy away from modern music."

 

20th Century Music - September 1998 - by Sid Grolnic

"Boatrite's music is notable for the integrity of its craftsmanship and the power of its drive to communicate. He does not waste the listeners time. Boatrite has an extremely strong sense of dramatic structure and an intuitive mastery of form and feeling. Themes are clear, singable, memorable; harmonies trenchant, challenging, filled with meaning. The logic of the music is always convincing and invests his overwhelming lyricism with discipline and purpose.

This dynamic lyricism is immediately evident in the Sonata for Flute and Piano (1963). Performed by Pamela Guidetti and Marcantonio Barone, this work opens with a contemplative rondo that provides an ingratiating prelude to the Allegro that sparkles with melodic abundance and rhythmic vitality. Two works for solo piano, the five-movement Lyric Suite (prformed by Jennifer Lim) and the Seven Miniatures (performed by Temple Painter), demonstrate a remarkable range of finely-observed moods and feelings. The adagio of the Lyric Suite, to take but one example, is a two-part invention that transcends its own self-imposed austerity, leaving the listener richly satisfied.

This disc features two one-movement sonatas of such extraordinary dramatic intensity that they can only be described as over-powering: the Sonata for Cello and Piano, performed by Glenn Fischbach and Hugh Sung, and the Sonata-Fantasia for Harpsichord, performed by Temple Painter. The Cello Sonata opens with a strong, searching theme that cannot be appeased by contrasting lyrical interludes. The whole incredible range of the cello, goaded to fury by the insistent provocations of the piano writing, cannot contain or resolve the violent struggle portrayed in this very demanding virtuoso work.

Similarly, the Sonata-Fantasia is not designed for the faint-of-heart performer or, for that matter, the faint-of-heart listener. It begins quietly enough, but soon disturbing forces build and build into a mood that becomes more and more sinister and threatening. Its excruciating dissonances and ferocious energy make this the world's most unusual harpsichord piece - and a singular masterpiece.

The contrast could not be greater between this dark, apocalyptic vision and the sweet, sunny Piano Sonata that follows it (performed by David Bryant). The fast movements are graceful and charming, smiling with wit and good humor. The middle movement, an andante cantabile, is a work of exquisite tenderness and poignant intimacy - an experience to be treasured over and over. The concluding Suite for Harpsichord is in five movements and nicely recapitulates Boatrite's strengths as a composer. The opening Fugue demonstrates his mastery over modern contrapuntal technique. The Sarabande highlights his striking harmonic sense. The Toccata showcases his brilliant display writing, and the Pastorale is a fine example of a melodic gift notable for its serene simplicity and stately sincerity. Finally the Chaconne is a rhythmic tour de force filled with unsettling syncopation and disturbing dissonance that reaches a wild climax in the inspired and inexhaustible hands of Temple Painter."

 

Penn Sounds - Fall, 1998 - by Sid Grolnic

"Finally, some of Harold Boaltrte's music on compact disc! At long last, this exceptionally expressive music will have a chance to be widely disseminated and gain the national recognition it so richly deserves. Those already familiar with this composer's work will want to celebrate this milestone event in his long and fruitful career.

That career began with study with Stanley Hollingsworth and the award of a fellowship to the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, where he worked with Lukas Foss and Aaron Copland. In 1961, he was invited by Rudolf Serkin to be composer-in-residence at the Marlboro Festival. Awarded an honorary doctorate from Combs College in 1967, he was subsequently appointed to the faculty of Haverford College, where he taught theory and composition until 1980.

He has long been associated with the Concerto Soloists Chamber Orchestra as its consultant on contemporary music and has had many performances of his choral, chamber and orchestral works. Boatrite's music is notable for the integrity of its craftsmanship and the power of its drive to communicate. He does not waste the listener's time. He has an extremely strong sense of dramatic structure and an intuitive mastery of form and feeling. His themes are clear, singable, memorable; his harmonies trenchant, challenging, filled with meaning. The logic of the music is always convincing and invests his overwhelming lyricism with discipline and purpose.

This dynamic lyricism is immediately evident in the Sonata for Flute and Piano (1963). Performed by Pamela Guidetti and Marcantonio Barone, this work opens with a contemplative rondo that provides an ingratiating prelude to the Allegro that sparkles with melodic abundance and rhythmic vitality.

Two works for solo piano, the five-movement Lyric Suite (prformed by Jennifer Lim) and the Seven Miniatures (performed by Temple Painter), demonstrate a remarkable range of finely-observed moods and feelings. The adagio of the Lyric Suite, to take but one example, is a two-part invention that transcends its own self-imposed austerity, leaving the listener richly satisfied.

This disc features two one-movement sonatas of such extraordinary dramatic intensity that they can only be described as over-powering: the Sonata for Cello and Piano, performed by Glenn Fischbach and Hugh Sung, and the Sonata-Fantasia for Harpsichord, performed by Temple Painter. The Cello Sonata opens with a strong, searching theme that cannot be appeased by contrasting lyrical interludes. The whole incredible range of the cello, goaded to fury by the insistent provocations of the piano writing, cannot contain or resolve the violent struggle portrayed in this very demanding virtuoso work.

Similarly, the Sonata-Fantasia is not designed for the faint-of-heart performer or, for that matter, the faint-of-heart listener. It begins quietly enough, but soon disturbing forces build and build into a mood that becomes more and more sinister and threatening. Its excruciating dissonances and ferocious energy make this the world's most unusual harpsichord piece - and a singular masterpiece.

The contrast could not be greater between this dark, apocalyptic vision and the sweet, sunny Piano Sonata that follows it (performed by David Bryant). The fast movements are graceful and charming, smiling with wit and good humor. The middle movement, an andante cantabile, is a work of exquisite tenderness and poignant intimacy - an experience to be treasured over and over.

The concluding Suite for Harpsichord is in five movements and nicely recapitulates Boatrite's strengths as a composer. The opening Fugue demonstrates his mastery over modern contrapuntal technique. The Sarabande highlights his striking harmonic sense. The Toccata showcases his brilliant display writing, and the Pastorale is a fine example of a melodic gift notable for its serene simplicity and stately sincerity. Finally the Chaconne is a rhythmic tour de force filled with unsettling syncopation and disturbing dissonance that reaches a wild climax in the inspired and inexhaustible hands of Temple Painter.

This impressive disc will be available by October and is certain to generate a demand for Harold Boatrite's other compositions. Let us look forward to an album of his orchestral music. Until then, let us celebrate these wonderftil Sonatas and Suites!"

 

Chestnut Hill Local - by Michael Caruso

"When I spoke with Bryn Mawr pianist, Marcantonio Barone, earlier in the summer about his involvement in the series of chamber music concerts by the Lenape Ensemble at Delaware Valley College, he mentioned that he and flutist Pamela Guidetti would be playing a Sonata for Flute and Piano by Philadelphia composer Harold Boatrite.

As it turns out, a performance given by Guidetti and Barone is the opening one on a recently recorded and released compact disc featuring not merely that particular Boatrite score, but performances by other musicians of such Boatrite works as his Lyric Suite for Piano, Sonata for Cello and Piano, Seven Miniatures for Piano, Sonata-Fantasia for Harpsichord, Sonata for Piano and Suite for Harpsichord.

When I asked Boatrite during a recent conversation to detail how the CD came about, he explained, I had been complaining about the difficulty of getting a recording made of some of my music. As a result, some friends, including the composer John Davison, with whom I taught for 12 years at Haverford College, sought out some grant money as well as individual patrons. They, in turn, contacted Capstone Records in Brooklyn, a company that has often worked with the Society of Composers, and we negotiated to make this recording under their label.

Continuing his discussion of the album, Boatrite said, I chose the works as well as their order just as though I were putting together a recital program, looking for contrast as well as connections. I decided on starting the album with the Sonata for Flute and Piano, which itself begins with the solo flute. I thought it would be nice to start the recording with the sound of the solo flute, just as I think it good to start a recital program the same way.

The Sonata, which Boatrite composed in 1963 partially in response to his working with a composition student in order to show how to write a work for two instruments, is a favorite of both musicians who perform it on this album.

I immediately responded to it, Guidetti said, because it fits the flute flawlessly, and thats very rare in contemporary music. I also responded to its beauty and color, which I feel is what the flute does best. Unfortunately, nowadays most writing for the flute is for one sound big and open and white. I dont respond to that because I want a melody that I can phrase and color. Thats why this piece has been a sheer delight to learn and perform and record.

Barone described the piano part as difficult in that it demands the most from you. Its very idiomatic, and you can do all that it demands, but you must have the technique. And yet, beyond that, its a very satisfying piece of music to play because it does fit the hands, and you have the chance to produce a variety of textures and sonorities. It offers an enormous span of dynamics, and yet the balance between the flute and piano is always just right.

Its also a beautifully structured piece of music. Its in two movements with some shared material. Its not predictable, but its logical.

The descriptions given by Guidetti and Barone of the Sonata for Flute and Piano seemed more than apt when I listened to their recording of it. Its a sprightly piece, filled with charming melodies, pungent harmonies and engaging rhythms. Of a more atmospheric and evocative nature is the Lyric Suite for Piano, played by Glenn Fischbach and Hugh Sung, is a dark, one-movement score that received a slightly clangorous reading on this CD. David Bryants rendition of the Sonata for Piano, on the other hand, reveals a well-thought-out appreciation of an . . .

Temple Painter, one of the founding members of the Concerto Soloists Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, is heard as both harpsichordist and pianist: as the latter in Seven Miniatures for Piano and the former in Sonata-Fantasia for Harpsichord and Suite for Harpsichord. Interestingly, its the piano piece thats the lightest of the three totally charming and delicately interpreted. The Suite is marvelously evocative of the baroque era while the Sonata-Fantasia is a contemporary virtuosic vehicle for an ancient instrument. Both are played by Painter with admirable technical command and interpretive intelligence."

 

Translated from Sonances - 1999

This recording brings together seven works of chamber music by the American composer Harold Boatrite. Born in 1932, Boatrite, who studied with Stanley Hollingsworth, Lukas Foss and Aaron Copland, taught composition and writing at Haverford College, near Philadelphia, until 1980.

All the works recorded here were composed between 1956 and 1963. The earliest, the Sonata for Piano, is the most consonant of the group, while the most recent, the Sonata for Flute and Piano, is written in a style that might be described as a happy blending of Hindemith and Copland, with subtle contrasts of passages or movements sometimes chromatic and sometimes diatonic. Indeed, nearly all the works are composed in this sort of chromatic tonality. There is also a notable fondness for traditional forms: sonata form (as in the second movement of the Flute Sonata or the first movement of the Piano Sonata); rondo (as in the second movement of the Piano Sonata); dance form (in the Lyric Suite or the Miniatures for Piano as well as in the Suite for Harpsichord); passacaglia (in the very astonishing Sonata-Fantasia for Harpsichord); chaconne (as in the superb last movement of the Suite for Harpsichord). These pieces are evidence that Boatrite is a master of melodic composition; to be convinced of this, listen to the Sonata for Cello and Piano or the second movement of the Flute Sonata.

The performances are all honest. The sound level varies widely from work to work but remains of fairly good quality except in the Sonata for Cello and Piano, which is recorded much too closely and with a dry sound. It is also to be regretted that the works for harpsichord were recorded on a huge modern instrument that is strangely suggestive of a sewing machine. Recommended.