A Grand Journey

Works For Piano Trio & Solo Piano

Ovidiu Marinescu composer
Richard E Brown composer
Mark G Simon composer

Trio Casals
Alexandr Kislitsyn violin
Ovidiu Marinescu cello
Anna Kislitsyna piano

Release Date: September 10, 2021
Catalog #: NV6367
Format: Digital
21st Century
Chamber
Solo Instrumental
Piano
Piano Trio

Inspired by traditional melodies and cultural flavors, A GRAND JOURNEY gives us contemporary chamber works by Richard E Brown, Ovidiu Marinescu, and Mark G. Simon. Performed by internationally acclaimed Trio Casals, these distinct works immerse listeners in varying motifs drawn from diverse cultures, simulating a journey of melodic Korean folk patterns, Greek mythological icons, Irish fiddling, tango, and sensations garnered from the Black Sea and English countryside.

The composers draw upon a wealth of technical knowledge and established forms to bring their musical visions to life. Brown’s Trio No. 1 applies ideas from pentatonic Korean folk songs to strictly crafted chaconne, scherzo, and fugue forms, while Trio No. 2 follows a looser bookended construction with a pastoral sound. Marinescu’s piece, The Journey, refers both to cultural sources and the composer’s own inner journey as he blends classical form, clocklike repetition, tango rhythms, and fiddle tunes to express his ideas. Simon’s Caucasus Sonata is a hair-raising journey of the soul through rock and hard places, demanding virtuosity and stamina from the performer.

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Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 The Journey, For Piano Trio: I. There are a Thousand Ways Ovidiu Marinescu Trio Casals | Alexandr Kislitsyn, violin; Ovidiu Marinescu, cello; Anna Kislitsyna, piano 7:49
02 The Journey, For Piano Trio: II. Chronos Ovidiu Marinescu Trio Casals | Alexandr Kislitsyn, violin; Ovidiu Marinescu, cello; Anna Kislitsyna, piano 4:39
03 The Journey, For Piano Trio: III. Mercury Ovidiu Marinescu Trio Casals | Alexandr Kislitsyn, violin; Ovidiu Marinescu, cello; Anna Kislitsyna, piano 4:05
04 Trio No. 1 – Koreana: I. Chaconne (Andante con moto; Meno mosso) Richard E Brown Trio Casals | Alexandr Kislitsyn, violin; Ovidiu Marinescu, cello; Anna Kislitsyna, piano 4:58
05 Trio No. 1 – Koreana: II. Scherzo (Allegro agitato) Richard E Brown Trio Casals | Alexandr Kislitsyn, violin; Ovidiu Marinescu, cello; Anna Kislitsyna, piano 2:58
06 Trio No. 1 – Koreana: III. Fugue (Vivace con spirito) Richard E Brown Trio Casals | Alexandr Kislitsyn, violin; Ovidiu Marinescu, cello; Anna Kislitsyna, piano 2:16
07 Trio No. 2 – Pastoral: I. Lento - Moderato Richard E Brown Trio Casals | Alexandr Kislitsyn, violin; Ovidiu Marinescu, cello; Anna Kislitsyna, piano 4:59
08 Trio No. 2 – Pastoral: II. Animato - Tranquillo - Tempo I Richard E Brown Trio Casals | Alexandr Kislitsyn, violin; Ovidiu Marinescu, cello; Anna Kislitsyna, piano 3:27
09 Trio No. 2 – Pastoral: III. Adagio - Lento Richard E Brown Trio Casals | Alexandr Kislitsyn, violin; Ovidiu Marinescu, cello; Anna Kislitsyna, piano 2:56
10 Caucasus Sonata: I. The Black Sea Mark G. Simon Anna Kislitsyna, piano 7:56
11 Caucasus Sonata: II. Scherzo Mark G. Simon Anna Kislitsyna, piano 3:50
12 Caucasus Sonata: III. Romance Mark G. Simon Anna Kislitsyna, piano 5:09
13 Caucasus Sonata: IV. Caucasian Journey Mark G. Simon Anna Kislitsyna, piano 9:04

Recorded February 5-7, and 27- 28, 2021 at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport MA
Session Producer, Editing, Mixing, & Mastering Brad Michel
Session Engineer Tom Stephenson

General Manager of Audio & Sessions Jan Košulič
Recording Sessions Director Levi Brown
Audio Director Lucas Paquette
Production Assistant Martina Watzková

Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R Sam Renshaw
A&R Director Brandon MacNeil
A&R Danielle Lewis, Mike Juozokas

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

Artist Information

Ovidiu Marinescu

Cellist, Composer

Ovidiu Marinescu, a native of Romania, is active as a cellist, conductor, composer, and educator. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, Rachmaninov Hall, Holywell Room in Oxford, Oriental Art Center in Shanghai, and many other venues around the world. He has appeared as a soloist with the New York Chamber Symphony, the National Radio Orchestra of Romania, Moscow Chamber Orchestra, Helena and Newark Symphonies, Southeastern Pennsylvania Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Philharmonic, Limeira Symphony in Brazil, Orquesta de Extremadura in Spain, and most orchestras in Romania.

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Richard E Brown

Richard E Brown

Composer

Richard E Brown, a native of New York State, has been active as a composer-arranger and music educator for many years. His training includes M.M. and D.M. degrees in composition from Florida State University, as well as a B.A. in music education from Central College, which named him a Distinguished Alumnus in 1983. His principal composition studies were with Carlisle Floyd, John Boda, and Charles Carter. He is a member of ASCAP, and is represented in the catalogs of several trade publishers, as well as his personal imprint Dacker Music.

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Mark G. Simon

Composer

Mark G. Simon received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in composition from Cornell University, where he studied with Karel Husa, Steven Stuckey and Robert Palmer. His compositions include orchestral, chamber and vocal works, many featuring the clarinet. His musical history Jennie’s Will was commissioned for the bicentennial of the Village of Dryden, New York in and revived in 2015 for the sesquicentennial of Cornell University.

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Trio Casals

Ensemble

Since making a highly acclaimed debut at the 1996 edition of the Pablo Casals Festival in Puerto Rico, Trio Casals has delighted audiences with spectacular virtuosity, engaging enthusiasm, and exquisite musical elegance. During the 2020-21 season, Trio Casals recorded their sixth and seventh albums for Parma Recordings with new violinist Alexandr Kislitsyn, who continues the great tradition established by Sylvia Ahramjian. MOTO ETERNO was released to critical acclaim in the spring of 2021 and will be premiered in concert in Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall. The Trio’s A GRAND JOURNEY was released September 2021 on Navona Records.

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Anna Kislitsyna

Pianist

As a recording artist, she has completed eight CDs of contemporary chamber music as the pianist of Trio Casals and currently working on her solo CD of modern music on the Parma Label. She has won prizes in multiple international competitions including Global Music Awards 2020, the Lautard-Chetchenko Competition in France, International Chamber Music Competition in Finland, the Los Angeles International Liszt Competition, and Chopin International Piano Competition in Connecticut. From 2002-2012 she served as a soloist in residence with the Omsk Symphony Orchestra.

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Notes

Does a composition need to be programmatic to communicate feelings and ideas?  Is there any message in an abstract piece? Where do we get our inspiration, and what are our motivations? The answers are always bound to be somewhat subjective and incomplete, especially when we reflect upon a piece that is finished. In some way, when attempting to discuss our music, we re-experience the creative process, although not to the same degree of intensity as during the very act of composing.

With the piano trio entitled The Journey, the music came first. The titles of each movement attempt to bring a hint of the ideas, emotions, and thoughts that I experienced and expressed through the music, hoping that the sounds would communicate a lot more. As I underwent an emotional journey simultaneous with the compositional process, the three movements subsequently expressed that; darkness, stillness, and tumult followed by exhilarating dancing.

As a founding member of Trio Casals, I wanted to write a multi-movement piece for the group following my previous short trio entitled: “The Awkward Dance of the Romanian Mechanical Doll.” A few sketches for a movement were done in 2018, but a burst of creativity during a week-long visit in California in March 2020 allowed me to complete what was to become the first movement.  It was the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, pre-self-quarantine, pre-mask mandates and recommendations, with a lot of unknowns and misleading information from the government. Concurrently, I was struggling with a number of challenges in my personal life.

I. There are a Thousand Ways
I wanted each movement to be represented by a god from the Roman or Greek mythology. However, I couldn’t find any match between the complexity of emotions and the wide-ranging esthetic references in this movement on one hand, — or any character represented by such a God on the other hand — but then I returned to Rumi‘s poetry.  The title is drawn out of the verse, “There are a thousand ways to go home again,” and hints to my journey and the many ideas expressed in this movement.

I had not used the sonata form before, and for this movement I needed a well-proven structure to adequately develop the musical drama. Certain darkness permeates large sections of the piece. The first theme is like a garden of ivy, weaving textures and voices like a web of emotions. The second thematic group starts with the cello digging into dissonant intervals — perhaps just an expression of a repeated primal scream — followed by a mysterious melody that could have come out of the Siberian tundra in the winter. As I was completing the exposition, I had a phone conversation with noted composer Hilary Tann, in which we discussed the use of the sonata form, Haydn, and his impact on the crystallization of the sonata form. Tann had just explored the use of the sonata form for the first time as well. At the end of the conversation Hilary said, “don’t forget humor. Haydn used a lot of humor.”  So, I decided to use a tango for the development, and boy was it fun. The recapitulation is condensed, and the thematic conflict is resolved. There is no more primal scream present, but clearly the tension has abated.

II. Chronos
The title should tell you everything. Chronos is the personification of time in Greek mythology.  The tempo of the piece is 60 bpm, like a clock ticking the seconds, and the repeated notes in the piano and pizzicato strings are like a clock that keeps track of eternity. But there is much more in this movement, and for a brief second, expect to be taken to a place of nostalgia and emotion.

III. Mercury
Mercury is a major god in Roman religion and mythology, and one of the 12 most important deities within the ancient Roman pantheon. Among other qualities, he is the god of commerce, eloquence, messages, luck, and trickery. Listen to distant knocking, screeching, and eerie sounds that bring an ominous feel to the movement, but this limping dance is short-lived as it evolves into fiddling tunes. First, La Belle Catherine, from Quebec, which according to Danse ce Soir is based on a Scottish tune: The Braes of Mar, followed by a traditional Irish tune: The Blue Eyed Rascal.  An errand quote from Beethoven is perhaps Mercury‘s way of sticking his nose in my business.

I am grateful to PARMA Recordings for the opportunity to share this piece with everyone, and to my wonderful colleagues in Trio Casals: Anna Kislitsyna and Alexandr Kislitsyn.

— Ovidiu Marinescu

TRIO No. 1 (Koreana) is based on themes derived from Korean folk songs originating from the area around Seoul, called Gyeonggi Do (Kyonggido). Of the various styles of Korean folk songs, Kyonggido melodies, which are built on pentatonic scales, are the most accessible to Western ears. The three movements are not intended as folk song settings, but use melodies, rhythms, and motifs drawn from the songs as the basis for themes to be developed within the more-or-less strict musical forms of chaconne, scherzo, and fugue. The practice of drawing thematic material for composition from folk melodies is practically as old as the art of composition itself.

CHACONNE: (Andante con moto)
The chaconne is a variation form, dating from the Baroque Period, in which a short Theme — or “ground,” — is repeated frequently while other voices provide variations. In this movement, unlike the typical Baroque chaconne, the theme is not tied to a repeating harmonic pattern. The harmony varies and only the theme itself — or its inversion — repeats. The 8-measure ground, from the folk song Toraji Taryong (Bellflower Song), is played first by the cello alone, followed by twelve variations and a coda, giving fourteen repetitions in all of the ground.

SCHERZO: (Allegro agitato)
This movement follows a loose scherzo and trio form, with the trio theme incorporated into the reprise of the scherzo. The scherzo theme is from Milyang Arirang, a sad — but not slow — song set in the town of Milyang. The trio theme is adapted from Hoe Sim Gok — a shaman funeral song — and the rhythmic figure around which the movement is built derives from the percussion accompaniment to this song.

FUGUE: (Vivace con spirito)
The fugue subject for the last movement is adapted from Nil Li Riya, a light-hearted dancing tune whose title has no direct translation. Although fairly strict in form, this, like many other contemporary fugues, differs from the standard Baroque fugue in being less tonally grounded, with the answer coming in at the third rather than the fifth, and in the avoidance of strong cadences. Themes from the chaconne and scherzo are also worked into the fugal texture, unifying the three-movement composition.

– Richard E Brown

TRIO No. 2 (Pastoral) is subtitled “Pastoral” partly because of the prevailing mood of its music, but more because most of its thematic material — except for the prologue and epilogue — is derived from motifs mined from the Pastoral Symphony of Ralph Vaughan Williams, to whose memory the work is dedicated. The 3 movements of this trio are not given titles like those in the first trio. In the earlier work, very strict musical forms are used and each movement is named by its form: chaconne, scherzo, and fugue. But that isn’t the case with the newer work, which makes little use of traditional named forms.

Here is a brief description of the individual movements:

I: Lento – Moderato
The opening prologue (Lento) was the first music written for this piece and was completed before the procedure of developing motifs from another work called ‘Pastoral’ was decided on. The remainder of the movement (Moderato) could be called a subtle “ABA” form, with the second A section incorporating material from the B section.

II: Animato – Tranquillo – Tempo I
Unlike the outer two movements, this one actually follows a very loose scherzo and trio form, but not closely enough to give it that name. The “trio” section is more contrasting than it would be in a typical scherzo, being in a slower tempo and melancholy mood.

III: Adagio – Lento
While the themes in this trio are built on motifs from Vaughan Williams’ symphony, it does not attempt to emulate his style, and otherwise the two works have very little in common. However, it does take a page from RVW in closing with a slow movement and ending quietly. The Adagio first section builds from pianissimo to fortissimo and then transitions into the quiet epilogue, which is basically a retrograde version of the opening prologue, making for very symmetrical bookends.

— Richard E Brown

A virtuoso piece requiring technique and stamina, the Caucasus Sonata should fill the listener with the sensation of traveling great distances through mysterious territory. I imagine it as a journey through the Black Sea into Central Asia. The first movement, “The Black Sea,” is dark and hazy, like a boat enshrouded in fog. The mists lift briefly for a mysterious burst of light, a vision of grace after turbulence, before settling in again. The light-hearted Scherzo is popular in style, but it also contains all of the thematic material found in the other movements. The lyrical “Romance” is linked without pause to the finale. This final movement, “Caucasian Journey,” the longest of the four, is an eastern-flavored dance in 5/8 time with dramatic and introspective episodes.

The Caucasus Sonata presents many contrasting styles, but the thematic material interpenetrates all four movements to an extent that it forms a continuous development towards a final outcome.

— Mark G. Simon