by Philip D. Cooper
Essential American pianist, scholar and educator
Donald Berman will cap the 2015- 2016 concert season with three entirely different concert programs in east coast appearances, along with the release on
27 May of
Scott Wheeler: Portraits & Tributes, a
new recording of the complete works for solo piano by
Scott Wheeler, on
Bridge Records [BRIDGE 9463].
As planning for each concert has finalized, four changes of note have been made to Mr. Berman's CD release party and performance at
on 15 June: the time has moved to
7pm ***(see below)
; the program has added
and a guest mezzo-soprano, Krista River
have been set at
$25 in advance / $30 at door
First Mr. Berman returns to
, where he played enthusiastically received recitals in both 2014 and 2015 ("adventurous and excellent pianist"; "perfect balance of fire and rhapsody"-
New York Times
), with an intriguing thematic program bringing together works of W.A.
. The date is
8pm Friday, 27 May 2016
: 1 Water Street / Brooklyn / 11201 / 718-624-4924 /
Donald Berman @ Bargemusic
. Tickets range from $15 to $35.
LOREN RUSH (b. 1935):
Oh, Susanna (1972)
W. A. MOZART (1756-1791):
Sonata in F Major K.332 (1783)
PETER PHILIPS (1560-1628):
Pavan (c.1590) and
JUDITH WEIR (b. 1954):
The Art of Touching The Piano (1983)
CHARLES E. IVES (1874-1954):
The St. Gaudens (Black March) (1914)
The Celestial Railroad, Phantasy for Piano (1925)
Study No. 20: March (1919)
March No. 6 with "Here's to Good Old Yale"(1896)
About the program, Mr. Berman notes: "Loren Rush's
Oh, Susanna (1972) opens the program with a seemingly free atonal modernistic setting that pulls the pianist into the memory of a reknowned Mozart wedding march. Mozart's
Sonata in F Major K.332 is a collision of pastoral dances with remembered marches, dramatic opera tropes with syncopated musettes and ecclesiastic chorales. The British works on the program speak to the humor present in the works of Ives and Mozart. Peter Philips'
Galliard are quirky courtly dances, some of the earliest printed keyboard music. Judith Weir's
The Art of Touching the Piano (1983) is a catalogue of piano tropes. Launched by the kind of exercise one might find in a pedagogic primer for pianists, the simplest of repetitions sorts itself wittily via baroque flourishes, soft-shoe roulades, and romantic expressivity. Though from distinct collections of pieces, all of the Ives works from the early 1900s invoke marches in one way or another. The piano version of
St. Gaudens, which Ives referred to as his 'Black March,' solemnly evokes Colonel Shaw's regiment, lost in Civil War battle.
Celestial Railroad is a fantasy, a 'pilgrims progress' of sorts, that moves swiftly through lurching hymns and remembered tunes before reaching its apex in David Wallace Reeves's
Second Regiment Connecticut National Guard March.
Study No. 20 is a rigorous mash-up of march tunes, an etude of polyrhythms and chordal processions moving forward and in reverse, sometimes simultaneously. Finally,
March no. 6, Here's to Good Old Yale, is representative of Ives's youthful yet innovative college Marches."
On Thursday, 9 June 2016, the Rockport Chamber Music Festival will present Donald Berman and the Borromeo String Quartet in the world premiere of a piano quintet written for him by eminent American composer Elena Ruehr. Mr. Berman: "Elena Ruehr's premiere uses T.S. Eliot's fourth Prelude as its impetus. The first movement, The Worlds Revolve, has a melody that mimics the rhythm of the first stanza and evokes an ancient tune. Like Ancient Women uses block chords to create a quiet grandeur. Gathering Fuel is a virtuosic flurry, and In Vacant Lots evokes an ancient city, now empty." The concert will take place at 8 pm at theShalin Liu Performance Center: 37 Main St., Rockport, MA 01966 / 978-546-7391 / Donald Berman at Rockport. Tickets for this event range from $47-$65.
Mr.Berman will celebrate the release of his new album of solo piano works, SCOTT WHEELER: PORTRAITS & TRIBUTES with a CD release party and performance open to the public at National Sawdust in Williamsburg, Brooklyn on Wednesday , 15 June, at
MARTIN BOYKAN (b. 1931):
Usurpations: Five Bagatelles for Piano (1997), excerpts
JOHN HARBISON (b. 1938):
Montale Sketches for Piano (2001), excerpt
SCOTT WHEELER (b. 1952): Morningside (2007) / By the Sea (2013) / To His Music (1999)
FERN R LOPEZ: Portraits: The Piano Music of Scott Wheeler A film (excerpt)
SCOTT WHEELER: Cowley Meditation (2009) / Midnight Bells (1998)
NOEL COWARD (1899-1973): If Love Were All (w/mezzo-soprano Krista River)
SCOTT WHEELER: Lullaby from Singing to Sleep (1984) (w/Krista River)
ALEXEI HAIEFF (1914-1994): Four Jukebox Pieces (1952), excerpts
SCOTT WHEELER: Shimmer (1998) / Bleecker Study (2012) / Portrait of Steve (2013)
Mr. Berman: "Selections from
Portraits and Tributes
are nestled among character pieces by American composers
. In a nod to Wheeler's background in musical theater, mezzo-soprano
presents a song by
alongside Wheeler's lovely
Lullaby from Singing to Sleep. The evening will also feature an excerpt from Fern R Lopez's film Portraits: The Piano Music of Scott Wheeler." This will be Mr. Berman's first appearance at National Sawdust, a hip new venue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn devoted to showcasing the work of living composers. NationalSawdust: 80 N. 6th St., Brooklyn NY 11249 / 646-779-8455 / Scott Wheeler & Donald Berman @ National Sawdust ***
for this event are
$25 in advance / $30 at door
Notable items on Mr. Berman's agenda in the coming months include preparing a new program of Italian Modernists with Susan Narucki, his frequent recital partner; inaugurating two new courses at Longy School, Improvisation for Classical Performers and Politics and Music; commissioning new solo works for 2016-2017 by Scott Lindroth and Dániel Péter Biró; editing the recording of Christopher Theofanidis' new piano quintet he recently made with the Henschel Quartet; and promoting the second and third volumes of the complete short works for piano of Charles Ives, which he edited for Peermusic: Volume 2: Piano Studies, Summer 2016, and AMP/G.Schirmer: Volume 3: Miscellaneous works, 2017.
has been on the frontlines of new music scholarship, performance and recording for over 30 years. A pianist and scholar of exceptional gifts, he has been a Fellow at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, guest lecturer on minimalism at Northeastern University, Director of New England Conservatory's Summer Piano Institute, Advisor to the Boston Jewish Music Festival, and Vice-president/Treasurer of the Charles Ives Society. Performance highlights in recent years have focused primarily on solo and chamber music repertoire, combining familiar works by such composers as Scarlatti, Fauré, Chopin, Copland, Bloch, Schubert, Poulenc, Rieger, Kagel and Schoenberg with premieres and seldom performed works by Stucky, Wyner, Chang, Theofanidis, Saariaho, McDonald, Boulez, Cage, Schoenfield, Harbison, Zare, Lieberson, Lerdahl and many others. As General Editor of the 3-volume
Charles E. Ives: Shorter Works for Piano
, Mr. Berman has collaborated with two different publishers to issue a new edition of these important works. The first volume -
- was issued in 2015 by Peermusic. As referenced above, Volume 2 is also published by Peermusic (2016), and Volume 3 by AMP/Schirmer (2017). From 1998-2008 Mr. Berman curated an immense project which ultimately resulted in a highly praised series of four concerts of unknown and under-appreciated American music at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, and a subsequent 4-CD set,
Americans in Rome
(BRIDGE 9271). Aside from the Wheeler and Theofanidis recordings, Mr. Berman's most recent CD, of piano works by Martin Boykan (BRIDGE 9434), was called a "wonderful recording" by the
New York Times
, and was included on the
's "Best of Boston" list. Another recent project is a recording of George Perle's
Serenade for Piano & Orchestra
with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, for release on BMOP Sound. Mr. Berman's other recordings can be found on Accurate, ARSIS Audio, Bridge, CRI, Capstone, Centaur, Koch, Naxos, New World, and Newport Classics.
Mr. Berman is based in Cambridge, MA, where he lives with his wife and two children.
* * * * *
For more information about Donald Berman, visit kathrynkingmedia.com, donaldbermanpiano.com and call 831-620-1332.