Polarities Vol. 2

Works For Orchestra And Large Ensemble

Margaret Brandman composer
Brian Latchem composer
Beth Mehocic composer
Mel Mobley composer
Kamala Sankaram composer
Larry Wallach composer

Release Date: June 25, 2021
Catalog #: NV6353
Format: Digital
21st Century
Orchestral
Accordion
Orchestra
String Orchestra

From yin and yang to public debate, much in the world revolves around opposing forces. POLARITIES VOL. 2, an album of new presentations in classical music, documents the intricacies of these forces, expressing the emotions, sensations, and scenes associated with the extreme ends of conversation and change.

Like a series of magnets, the album’s six works are united in lockstep by the Moravian Philharmonic, Janáček Philharmonic, and Zagreb Festival Orchestras’ deft ability to unite pieces in different styles: Margaret Brandman’s dynamic Spirit Visions, a journey through mystic moods that ends in elation; Beth Mehocic’s Tango Concerto, an elaborate dance between piano and accordion/bandoneon; Larry Wallach’s Species of Motion, a transforming and pulsing work of shifting imagery; Kamala Sankaram’s 91919, a palindromic work that reverses at its sonic center; Mel Mobley’s Labored Breathing, an illustration of the contrast between breaths of life and death; and Brian Latchem’s Suffolk Variations for Viola and Strings, a conversational back-and-forth between forms.

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An Inside Look

Margaret Brandman – Spirit Visions

Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Spirit Visions (Version for Orchestra) Margaret Brandman Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra | Pavel Šnajdr, conductor 7:48
02 Tango Concerto: I Beth Mehocic Zagreb Festival Orchestra | Ivan Josip Skender, conductor; Charlene Farrugia, piano; Franko Božac, accordion & bandoneon 4:37
03 Tango Concerto: II Beth Mehocic Zagreb Festival Orchestra | Ivan Josip Skender, conductor; Charlene Farrugia, piano; Franko Božac, accordion & bandoneon 4:37
04 Tango Concerto: III Beth Mehocic Zagreb Festival Orchestra | Ivan Josip Skender, conductor; Charlene Farrugia, piano; Franko Božac, accordion & bandoneon 4:34
05 Species of Motion Larry Wallach Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra | Stanislav Vavřínek, conductor 11:08
06 91919 Kamala Sankaram Zagreb Festival Orchestra | Natalia Anikeeva, viola; Ivan Josip Skender, conductor 10:57
07 Labored Breathing Mel Mobley Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra | Stanislav Vavřínek, conductor 8:52
08 Suffolk Variations Brian Latchem Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra | Stanislav Vavřínek, conductor; Vladimír Bukač, viola 9:32

SPIRIT VISIONS
Recorded September 15 2020 at Reduta Concert Hall, Olomouc, Czech Republic
Session Producer Vít Mužík
Session Engineer Jan Košulič
Editing & Mixing Lucas Paquette

TANGO CONCERTO
Recorded October 18, 2020 at Blagoje Bersa Concert Hall in Zagreb, Croatia
Session Producer Krešimir Seletković
Session Engineer, Editing & Mixing Jan Košulič
Orchestra Director Ivana Hauser
Orchestra Manager Tin Matijević

SPECIES OF MOTION
Recorded December 7, 2020 at Dům Kultury města Ostravy (The Ostrava House of Culture) in Ostrava, Czech Republic
Session Producer, Editing & Mixing Jan Košulič
Session Engineer Jana Jelínková
Assistant Engineer Mikhail Pavlov

91919
Recorded October 18, 2020 at Blagoje Bersa Concert Hall in Zagreb, Croatia
Session Producer Krešimir Seletković
Session Engineer, Editing & Mixing Jan Košulič
Orchestra Director Ivana Hauser
Orchestra Manager Tin Matijević

LABORED BREATHING
Recorded December 8, 2020 at Dům Kultury města Ostravy (The Ostrava House of Culture) in Ostrava, Czech Republic
Session Producer, Editing & Mixing Jan Košulič
Session Engineer Jana Jelínková
Assistant Engineer Mikhail Pavlov

SUFFOLK VARIATIONS
Recorded June 3, 2020 at Dům Kultury města Ostravy (The Ostrava House of Culture) in Ostrava, Czech Republic
Session Producer Jan Košulič
Session Engineer Jana Jelínková
Editing & Mixing Lucas Paquette

General Manager of Audio & Sessions Jan Košulič
Recording Sessions Director Levi Brown
Audio Director Lucas Paquette
Mastering Shaun Michaud

Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R Sam Renshaw
A&R Director Brandon MacNeil
A&R Quinton Blue, Mike Juozokas, Danielle Lewis, Chris Robinson, Morgan Santos

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Patrick Niland, Sara Warner

Artist Information

Margaret Brandman

Composer

In a career of over 45 years, composer/pianist Margaret Brandman has composed a variety of music ranging from orchestral, chamber and choral works, to instrumental solos, and works for solo voice with piano accompaniment.

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Beth Mehocic

Composer

Dr. Beth Mehocic is currently the Composer-in-Residence, Music Director, and Full-Professor for the Dance Department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She has written over 100 works for orchestra, concert band, chamber music, dance ensembles, theatre, and film. Her works have been performed throughout the United States, Japan, China, Korea, and Europe, and she has produced works in several Las Vegas Hotels including The Mirage, Caesar's Palace, and the Las Vegas Hilton. Several of her works have been recorded for PARMA Recordings.

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Larry Wallach

Composer

LARRY WALLACH is a composer, pianist, and musicologist whose compositions, mostly of chamber music, have been performed throughout the United States. He was educated at Columbia University, from which he holds a PhD in Musicology. He currently holds the Livingston Hall Chair in Music at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, where he has taught since 1972. From 2001 to 2014 taught composition in the Bard MFA Program for Conductors. He received an NEH Fellowship to study historical piano performance practices for the year 1977-78 and is a recipient of two “Meet the Composer” grants from New York State. His composition “Echoes from Barham Down” for flute, string trio, and piano, based on an English country dance tune, won the New School of Music, Cambridge, composition prize in 1985.

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Kamala Sankaram

Composer

Praised as “strikingly original” (NY Times) and “new voice from whom we will surely be hearing more” (LA Times), Kamala Sankaram writes highly theatrical music that defies categorization. Recent commissions include the Glimmerglass Festival, Washington National Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Shakespeare Theatre Company, and Opera on Tap, among others. Awards, grants and residencies include: Jonathan Larson Award, NEA ArtWorks, MAP Fund, Opera America, NY IT Award for Outstanding Production of a Musical, the Civilians, HERE, the MacDowell Colony, and the Watermill Center. Known for her work with emerging technologies, her recent genre-defying hit Looking at You (with collaborators Rob Handel and Kristin Marting) featured live data mining of the audience and a chorus of 25 singing tablet computers.

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Mel Mobley

Composer

A native of Texas, Mel Mobley (b. 1966) currently resides and teaches in Monroe, Louisiana. He holds degrees from the University of Texas, University of South Florida, and University of Illinois. Active as a performer, composer, and advocate of new music, Mel has been involved in new music festivals and performances all around the country. Performed here and abroad, his works include orchestral, band, chamber, choral, and electronic music. His largest work to date, a chamber opera titled Sylvan Beach, premiered in the spring of 2010. His percussion trio with piano titled [pleez], (plez), /pliz/ was released on the 2013 Revello Records compact disc, Piano Concerti with Percussion Orchestra.

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Brian Latchem

Composer

Brian Latchem (b 1948) is an English composer who was born in Bath and started to learn the piano at the age of 5. He comes from a musical family with both parents, grandparents and great grandparents playing a variety of musical instruments. He trained to be a music teacher and started his career in Felixstowe, where he taught Music and Drama to pupils aged 11 to 14. In 1972 he moved to a new school to become responsible for music, teaching children from 5 to 11.

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Notes

Some key features of this work:

1) The expansive sound of the majestic opening section as the inspired theme is introduced
2) The often surprising changes of mood and orchestral texture including lush harmonies
3) The exciting syncopated dance-like rhythms played by the Marimba which create an irresistible urge to dance — at times you may think you are visiting Mexico or Cuba!

Spirit Visions was composed following a professional meeting in 2002 between composer/performer Margaret Brandman and Sydney Town Hall organist Robert Goode, for whom Margaret had done a musical arrangement.

Through this fortuitous meeting, Margaret Brandman, also a professional pianist, was given an opportunity to improvise on the magnificent Sydney Town Hall pipe organ, during which time she channelled the inspirational theme for this piece. A recording of the original version of this work for two pianos is included on her highly-acclaimed SENSATIONS album (nv6041) released in 2016.

Margaret Brandman’s 2019 orchestration of her expansive melody harmonised with resonant chords, was inspired by the tone colors of this grand pipe organ, which, with each change of organ stop, produced rich string, woodwind and brass sounds.

Spirit Visions is an all-encompassing eight-minute musical and spiritual journey which begins with the woodwind section presenting the composer’s majestic- maestoso- theme with sparkling highlights provided by the glockenspiel. Underpinning and punctuating the opening statement of the theme are the organ pedal notes, which have been assigned to the lower strings and brass instruments. As the theme is expanded and explored, conversations between the instruments and a variety of orchestral colors create interest and excitement. My senses tingled many times throughout the work; for example when listening to the shimmering sounds around two minutes into the work and hearing the grand brass presentation of the theme towards the latter section of the work.

Throughout the work the shifts in tonality, tempo and rhythmic feel, often referencing the musical sounds of Latin-American cultures, combine to create a dynamic and thoroughly engaging listening experience. The joyous, uplifting ending in which every instrument in the orchestra takes part, is guaranteed to leave the listener elated!

— Sussane Towers, BMus(SIU-C), M Mus(UNI), DipOpArtMusThtre(Sydney Conservatorium)

After working with celebrated pianist, Charlene Farrugia on my Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, in 2018 we decided to do another collaboration and Charlene suggested that I might write a double concerto for her and her husband, the renown accordionist, Franko Bozac.  I was honored and excited about this possibility even though I have never written for accordion or bandoneon.  Since I have been the composer-in-residence for the Dance Department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for over 30 years, I got the inspiration to write a tango concerto to be able to showcase both the accordion and bandoneon.

When the concerto starts with the trills in the orchestra, you hear this wall of color and then around two minutes into it, you start to hear the tango rhythm quietly in the timpani as it eventually takes over.  There are three movements but they are attacca which means that there is no pause between them.

I want to thank Charlene and Franko for their support on this project and especially to Franko for his invaluable help with his suggestions for the accordion/bandoneon technique.

— Beth Mehocic

“Species of Motion,” a single-movement work for classical orchestra, is a study in the power and multifaceted nature of rhythm.  It offers diversity in continuity based on shifting relations between pulse, meter, and momentum. This generates a series of stages or images which coalesce, dissolve, and transform.  Influenced variously by the music of Sibelius and Elliott Carter (while sounding like neither of them), each phase of this composition develops out of a reorganization of pulses from the previous phase.

The form of this piece parallels my experience of the dream process:  vague or drifting thoughts begin to assume a more tangible (visual) form, and from there a narrative seems to develop, apparently guided or animated by the forms themselves.  Before long, however, the dream world becomes multi-dimensional and recognizable figures, places, and interactions appear, in ways that seem familiar in the moment but in retrospect are obviously strange and unlikely.

While rhythm and pulse are the generating forces, the harmonic language follows their fluid movements.  Pan-diatonic rustling and cluster harmonies evolve into neo-tonal and chorale-like formations, harsh dissonances, a flowing pastoral passage climaxing in a solo melody for mariachi trumpet echoed by massed strings.  This image reduces rapidly to a simple pulsation under the cantabile strings’ version of that melody, dissolving into a tremolo, out of which emerges a new meter to support another melody in the brass. The opening succession of images reappears in reverse order and the harmonies diverge and melt away.

These images were not pre-planned, and are not part of a specific program.  They grew out of the energy of the rhythmic materials and “species of motion” that were decided upon at the outset, and assumed tangible form during the composition process.  They appeared as gifts from the world of sound and color which exists outside of ourselves, and which is a source of endless inspiration.

This recording was supported by grants from the Professional Development Fund of Bard College at Simon’s Rock. 

— Larry Wallach

This piece is dedicated to the memory of my sister, Sheela Sankaram. Writing 91919 was a way for me to process my grief in the weeks following her passing. The piece itself is a palindrome, leading inexorably to the sonic events at its center, and then receding away, changed but familiar, the world upside down and reversed.

— Kamala Sankaram

Written for the Monroe Symphony Orchestra, Labored Breathing explores the concept of breath and its relationship to the life cycle. Though an unconscious reflex of the human body, breathing is impacted by every interaction and thought that makes us who we are. Perceived as a consistent, steady, and unchanging element of life, it is rarely that. Labored Breathing looks at the imbalance of the intake and output of breath through rhythm, timbre, and melodic structure. It follows an evolutionary cycle from the slow emergence of creation with low strings “breathing in and out,” through the jarring rhythms of struggle and the lyrical relaxation of contentment, to the fading tension of death as conflicting harmonies fade away.

— Mel Mobley

“Suffolk Variations for Viola and Strings” started life while I was at college during 1967 in the form of a string quartet. Only two pages from the original manuscript survived. This was the section which became the bars leading to the climax of the work. In 2011, BBC Radio Three held a musical competition for a work, written for Viola and Strings. Expanding and rearranging the fragment he entered the piece as “Suffolk Variations”. Although nothing came from the competition it was eventually performed in an Octet arrangement in 2017. The following year it was again performed by the same musicians at my 70th Birthday concert.

The work is in 6 sections with the opening involving the main theme on the solo viola underscored with the cellos. This is followed by fugue like entries from the other strings involving the viola and cello themes. A waltz section is the first variation. The third section is more solemn allowing the soloist to ornament the original theme above a counter melody from the 1st violinist. A lilting dance-like variation leads to a dialogue between the soloist and the upper strings. A more formal short fugue follows leading to the climax of the work. Finally, returning to the opening sequence the music ends as it began with a resounding pizzicato chord.

— Brian Latchem