Things In Pairs

Heinrich Ignaz Franz Von Biber composer
Rain Worthington composer
Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges composer
Arvo Pärt composer
Ludwig Van Beethoven composer

Audrey Wright violin
Yundu Wang piano

Release Date: February 11, 2022
Catalog #: NV6392
Format: Digital
21st Century
Classical
Chamber
Piano
Violin

Concept albums are few and far between, and rarer yet in classical music. THINGS IN PAIRS, a conceptual as well as a musical beacon by violin/piano duo Audrey Wright and Yundu Wang, fills this gap.

The tracks on THINGS IN PAIRS were not just carefully curated – rather, they were selected and sorted with the precision of a steady-handed artist stacking a formidable house of cards. Spanning five centuries, these pieces contrast the classical Joseph Bologne with modern minimalist Arvo Pärt, Baroque virtuoso Biber with the contemporary Rain Worthington, all under the watchful eye of Viennese Classical Beethoven. The true sensation, however, comes in the form of the second, alternate track pairing suggested by the performers, which allows the listener to enjoy the music from a renewed vantage point. Cleverly profound, profoundly clever.

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Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Passacaglia for Solo Violin Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber Audrey Wright, violin 10:05
02 Balancing on the Edge of Shadows Rain Worthington Audrey Wright, violin; Yundu Wang, piano 5:31
03 Sonata for Two Violins in B-Flat Major: I. Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges Audrey Wright, violins 1 & 2 6:45
04 Sonata for Two Violins in B-Flat Major: II. Aria con Variatione Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges Audrey Wright, violins 1 & 2 4:24
05 Fratres for Violin and Piano Arvo Pärt Audrey Wright, violin; Yundu Wang, piano 11:02
06 Sonata for Piano and Violin No. 10 in G major, Op. 96: I. Allegro moderato Ludwig van Beethoven Audrey Wright, violin; Yundu Wang, piano 10:50
07 Sonata for Piano and Violin No. 10 in G major, Op. 96: II. Adagio espressivo Ludwig van Beethoven Audrey Wright, violin; Yundu Wang, piano 6:01
08 Sonata for Piano and Violin No. 10 in G major, Op. 96: III. Scherzo (Allegro) Ludwig van Beethoven Audrey Wright, violin; Yundu Wang, piano 2:06
09 Sonata for Piano and Violin No. 10 in G major, Op. 96: IV. Poco allegretto Ludwig van Beethoven Audrey Wright, violin; Yundu Wang, piano 8:59

Passacaglia for Solo Violin
Recorded May 18, 2021 at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore MD
Recording Session Producers Antonino d’Urzo and Kenneth Slowik
Recording Session Engineer Antonino d’Urzo

Balancing on the Edge of Shadows
Recorded May 25, 2021 at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore MD
Recording Session Producers Antonino d’Urzo and Kenneth Slowik
Recording Session Engineer Antonino d’Urzo

Sonata for Two Violins in B-Flat Major
Recorded May 18 and 26, 2021 at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore MD
Recording Session Producers Antonino d’Urzo and Kenneth Slowik
Recording Session Engineer Antonino d’Urzo

Fratres for Violin and Piano
Recorded May 26, 2021 at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore MD
Recording Session Producers Antonino d’Urzo and Kenneth Slowik
Recording Session Engineer Antonino d’Urzo

Sonata for Piano and Violin No. 10 in G major, Op. 96
Recorded May 24 and 25, 2021 at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore MD
Recording Session Producers Antonino d’Urzo and Kenneth Slowik
Recording Session Engineer Antonino d’Urzo

Photography by Geoff Robertson

Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R Sam Renshaw
A&R Director Brandon MacNeil

VP of Production Jan Košulič
Audio Director Lucas Paquette

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

Artist Information

Audrey Wright

Audrey Wright

Violinist

Violinist Audrey Wright is a multifaceted artist across solo and chamber music, as well as orchestral realms. She is Associate Concertmaster of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Concertmaster of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, has performed across the globe in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Boston Symphony Hall, London’s Royal Albert Hall, Saint Petersburg Philharmonia, and the Vatican, and has soloed with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, New World Symphony, and Cape Symphony Orchestra. With a passion for innovative programming and juxtaposing a wide range of musical styles, her repertoire spans the early 17th century to modern day and her performing experience includes the full spectrum of these musical styles, from period performance practice to the premiering of new and personally-commissioned works.

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Rain Worthington

Rain Worthington

Composer

Uniquely among classical composers Rain Worthington discovered her voice as a composer and learned her art autodidactically. She began intuitively composing works for solo piano and performing them from memory. Later she taught herself musical notation and compositional forms. Her writing has been described in the IAWM Journal as “a fusion of styles—ancient, medieval modality and sonorities, modernist minimalist ostinato, and classical approaches to basic ideas—to capture components of the human experience.”

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Yundu Wang

Yundu Wang

Piano

Yundu Wang is a Chinese-American classical pianist currently based in Boston MA. A passionate chamber musician and collaborator, Yundu has performed widely throughout the U.K., United States, and Europe. Notable venues include Barbican Hall, Carnegie’s Weill Hall, Jordan Hall, Sendesaal Bremen, St Martin-in-the-Fields, TivoliVredenburg, and Wigmore Hall. Yundu has collaborated with artists Henk Guittart, Paul Katz, Alan Kay, Roger Tapping, and Sam Walton. She has toured throughout Germany and the U.K. with the Neos Ensemble and violinist Savitri Grier.

In addition to her collaboration with violinist Audrey Wright on her debut album, THINGS IN PAIRS, Yundu is performing with cellist Christine Lamprea (Longy School of Music of Bard College) to promote their augmented reality concert, presented by Immersphere.

Wang has participated in numerous festivals, including the Yellow Barn Chamber Music Festival, Perlman Music Program Chamber Music Workshop, Aspen Music Festival, Holland Music Sessions, and Jeunesses Musicales Deutschland. As a soloist, Yundu has won top prizes at the Honors Competition at the New England Conservatory of Music, the Seiler International Piano Competition, the Julia Crane International Piano Competition and the Cincinnati World Piano Competition, among others.

Wang graduated with Honors from New England Conservatory of Music in Boston and received a master’s with distinction at Guildhall School of Music & Drama. She was recently awarded a Doctorate of Music from the Guildhall School, supervised by Ronan O’Hora, Cormac Newark, and Elinor Payne (University of Oxford). Her doctoral research explores, through interdisciplinary and multi-methodological study, the relationship between speech and musical performance. Her work also involves autoethnographic examinations of musical expression, East Asian identity, and the performer’s voice in Western classical music.

Notes

THINGS IN PAIRS was conceived as a collection of works that transcend time and place, defying our preconceived notions of what belongs next to what, and connected by elements of duality, dialogue, and communication. The most quintessential pairings in life bring either complimentary or opposing items together to form something new and meaningful. What this album explores is the vastness in which music creates its own pairings and the unexpected ways in which we can experience that across a particular program; a musical world where the old and new, solo and collaborative, silence and conversation all form a balance of ideas and a freshness of perspective.

Much thought was put into the order of tracks on this album, for how we curate a musical program can have a deep impact on one’s perception of any single work and the relationship between multiple works. In stringing together a narrative across the entire album that also brings attention to individual pairs of works, the listening experience is engaging and immersive. Alternatively, one may choose to listen to any of the following Suggested Alternate Track Pairings for an abridged listening experience, or create new pairings of their own, in order to hear this music in a new light.

2. Balancing on the Edge of Shadows / 5. Fratres
This pairing of the two works on the album written by living composers highlights music that expresses duality. Here, nothing exists without a counterpart. The listener is suspended in the fragile balance of opposites.

1. Passacaglia / 6. Beethoven: I. “Allegro moderato”
This pairing is all about conversation. From an internal, searching narrative to an intimate exchange between friends, the concept of musical dialogue is explored in its many forms.

4. Saint-Georges: II. “Aria con Variatione” / 9. Beethoven: IV. “Poco allegretto”
Celebration of musical form comes to light in this pairing of theme and variation movements. In these two examples of one of the most fundamental musical structures, simplicity is the connective tissue that creates a sense of balance and delight.

Many thanks to Neil and JoAnn Ruther, Edward Manno Shumsky, and Susan D. Kronick, and the many other friends and family who donated so generously to the fundraising campaign for THINGS IN PAIRS.

– Audrey Wright

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber’s Passacaglia is the 16th and final work in the Rosary Sonatas completed around 1676. It is the only unaccompanied work in the collection, as well as one of the earliest known works for unaccompanied violin overall. The music begins with four somber, descending notes that repeat, uninterrupted, a total of 65 times until the end. The variations unfold in a rhapsodic nature, the music taking the listener on a journey of variations that range in emotion from reflective, to urgent, to playful, to ecstatic, all while remaining grounded in the repeated bass line. It is music of duality because of its form, but also because it challenges the lone violinist to act simultaneously as soloist and accompanist. It may be of interest to note that the Passacaglia was recorded on a modern-made Baroque bow by H. F. Grabenstein, to reflect the style of the Baroque era and the kinds of instruments being performed on at the time, while the remaining works on the album were performed on a modern-style bow made by Nicolas Simon c. 1860.

— Audrey Wright

Balancing on the Edge of Shadows is a piece for violin and piano by American composer Rain Worthington commissioned specifically for this album. The Passacaglia and Balancing on the Edge of Shadows respectively represent the oldest and newest compositions on the album and create a natural pairing. While having been composed roughly 350 years apart, they flow into one another seamlessly in both mood and harmony. Completed at the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Balancing on the Edge of Shadows foreshadows the collective fragility the world would soon experience as a result of this devastating and prolonged event, as well as widespread social and political upheaval. This music speaks in whispers. Ideas are presented as fragments, or are developed only to then leave the listener hanging in suspense. Towards the very end of the piece, the music seems to become more assured as both violin and piano reach their highest dynamic. There is a sense of courage and determination, but at the last moment the music fades back into the shadows.

– Audrey Wright

Such a reflective, dark beginning of an album yearns for something lighter to follow. Sonata in B flat Major for Two Violins by Afro-French composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges provides the perfect respite, with its classical charm and elegance. In a playful nod to making music in isolation during the time of COVID-19, I recorded both violin parts individually, which were then edited to become one by my brilliant engineer Antonino d’Urzo. Saint-Georges was a man of many talents who rose to fame in France in the years leading up to the French Revolution. He was a virtuoso violinist, composer, champion fencer, and swordsman. After falling into relative obscurity for hundreds of years, his compositions are finally now seeing an overdue revival, especially regarding his works for string instruments. The set of six sonatas for two violins of which this is the first is a true gem in the violin duo repertoire. The first movement opens like a warm ray of sunlight (made even more apparent by the key being a major third above the dark and shadowy ending of the previous Worthington in G minor). The spirited opening theme is youthful and catchy, and the use of double stops in the first violin part along with the bass notes in the second violin make the texture seem as full as a large chamber ensemble. The second theme is more lyrical, and the play between these two contrasting characters throughout the rest of the movement gives the music an air of playful elegance. The second “Aria con Variatione” movement is built upon the simplest of melodies that develops in a series of three variations. The first variation is energetic and impresses with its running 16th notes, while the second variation returns to the jolly character of the beginning of the first movement. The final variation returns to the original theme, but this time rises up an octave for an effect that is both sentimental and ethereal. Saint-George takes a risk in composing an ending that is more fragile than the rest of the entire sonata, but the beauty of this moment is overwhelming as the music floats gently away into nothing.

— Audrey Wright

Estonian composer Arvo Pärt originally composed Fratres (meaning “Brothers” in Latin) in 1977 as three-part music for unspecified instrumentation, and arranged this version for solo violin and piano in 1980. The piece expresses duality in many forms: old and new, stable and changing, simple and complex, structured and free, powerful and vulnerable, austere and deeply evocative. Composed in the trademark tintinnabuli style that Pärt pioneered beginning in 1976 with the composing of his work Für Alina, the original Fratres melody is played by the piano for the entire duration of the piece. Nine total variations are punctuated by a distinct drum-like motif, giving the illusion of a percussion instrument with bold chords in the piano accompanied by pizzicato exclamations in the violin. The added violin layer on top throughout each variation explores a staggering range of expressive and virtuosic elements, from dream sequences, to driving rhythmic passages, to ecstatic outcrys in the high registers of the instrument, to hushed and contemplative harmonics. Like so much of Pärt’s music, Fratres speaks simultaneously to our deep inner emotions and larger universal truths, forming connective tissues on so many levels that make it central to this album.

— Audrey Wright

Sonata No. 10 in G Major, Op. 96 is Ludwig van Beethoven’s final sonata for piano and violin. At its core, this is music about dialogue and a conversation between equals. It speaks to our human desire to connect and collaborate, as well as challenge and compromise. Composed in 1812 for the renowned French violinist Pierre Rode, Op. 96 bridges the gap between the stormy attitude of Beethoven’s middle period and the more ethereal nature of his late period. Now we experience the composer’s soft, reflective side, and a musical refinement that is as challenging for both instruments as the technical demands of Beethoven’s previous sonata for piano and violin, the fiery Kreutzer Sonata, written nine years earlier. The first movement, “Allegro moderato,” emerges from a simple trill first in the violin alone, then the piano alone, then with both instruments together. This is a musical dialogue between friends that is curious and encouraging, and it develops during the movement in the recurring pattern of “first you, then me, then us both!” Pastoral elements reminiscent of the Sixth Symphony and a gentle lyricism are found throughout. The slow “Adagio” espressivo is like a beautiful hymn in the noble key of E-flat Major. The opening piano solo introduces one of Beethoven’s most poignant slow melodies. Once the violin joins, both instruments embark on a series of cadenza-like passages that are always searching in nature, until the violin eventually takes over the original melody. The final Italian augmented sixth chord hangs in anticipation, resolving only with the start of the third movement, a “Scherzo” in G minor. This movement brings us back to a more youthful, robust, and daring Beethoven, coupled with a contrasting, ländler-style trio that is both comforting and playful. The final “Poco allegretto” is a theme and variations that nods its head to the previous three movements by incorporating trills, boisterous syncopations, a heavenly, improvisatory aria reminiscent of the second movement, and always a feeling of conversation. To accommodate for Rode’s understated playing style, this finale must have been a practice in restraint for Beethoven, who so often favored audacity in his compositions. But the effect is just right, and in the end, it demonstrates the power of collaboration on a musical and human level.

— Audrey Wright

Video

Audrey Wright, Yundu Wang – Rain Worthington: Balancing on the Edge of Shadows – Music Video