Amoroso

Alex Klein oboe
Rita Costanzi harp

Release Date: January 27, 2023
Catalog #: NV6477
Format: Digital
20th Century
Romantic
Chamber
Harp
Oboe

Few instruments are as viscerally associated with the idea of grace and beauty as the harp, and few are as apt to express a sense of yearning as the oboe. So what could possibly capture the feeling of love better than a duo composed of these two instruments? Possibly nothing, as harpist Rita Costanzi and oboist Alex Klein rivetingly demonstrate on AMOROSO, an archetypally romantic album of intimate chamber music. Well-known classics by Debussy, Fauré, Massenet, Rachmaninoff, Piazzolla, and Rodrigo shine in a new light, and two new, fittingly romantic pieces by contemporary composers Michael Cohen and Michael Amorosi perfectly complete this wonderful picture.

Listen

Hear the full album on YouTube

Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Canção Pequena Michael Cohen Alex Klein, oboe; Rita Costanzi, harp 4:15
02 Reverie Claude Debussy, arr. Lucarelli-Jolles Alex Klein, oboe; Rita Costanzi, harp 5:10
03 Après un Rêve Gabriel Fauré Alex Klein, oboe; Rita Costanzi, harp 3:29
04 Beau Soir Claude Debussy Alex Klein, oboe; Rita Costanzi, harp 2:58
05 Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14 Sergei Rachmaninoff Alex Klein, oboe; Rita Costanzi, harp 5:55
06 Adagio Michael Amorosi Alex Klein, oboe; Rita Costanzi, harp 6:17
07 Clair de Lune Gabriel Fauré Alex Klein, oboe; Rita Costanzi, harp 3:44
08 Première Arabesque Claude Debussy, arr. Alex Klein Alex Klein, oboe; Rita Costanzi, harp 5:56
09 Sicilienne Gabriel Fauré Alex Klein, oboe; Rita Costanzi, harp 4:11
10 Meditation from Thaïs Jules Massenet Alex Klein, oboe; Rita Costanzi, harp 5:18
11 Asturiana Manuel De Falla Alex Klein, oboe; Rita Costanzi, harp 2:08
12 Oblivion Astor Piazzolla, arr. Alex Klein Alex Klein, oboe; Rita Costanzi, harp 4:11
13 En Aranjuez con tu Amor Joaquin Rodrigo, arr. Alex Klein Alex Klein, oboe; Rita Costanzi, harp 10:00
14 Tanti anni prima Astor Piazzolla Alex Klein, oboe; Rita Costanzi, harp 5:50
15 Nana Manuel De Falla Alex Klein, oboe; Rita Costanzi, harp 1:42

Recorded June 11-14, 2022 in White Concert Hall, Washburn University, Topeka KS
Session Producer PJ Kelley for Post Haus Acoustic
Recording Engineer PJ Kelley and Brock Babcock
Editing and Mixing PJ Kelley

Executive Producer Bob Lord

A&R Director Brandon MacNeil
A&R Chris Robinson

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

Artist Information

Alex Klein

Oboist

One of today's leading oboists, GRAMMY Award winner Alex Klein was Principal Oboe with the Chicago Symphony for nine years under Barenboim. Klein won top prizes at the international competitions in Geneva, Tokyo, New York, and Prague.

Rita Costanzi

Harpist

Through her depth of expression as an internationally recognized harp soloist, actor, writer, and teacher, Rita Costanzi, in the words of Celtic Author, Treasa O’Driscoll, “bears the mark of the true artist whose task it is to rise above the tumult of the times. A force of truth and love in herself and a musician of exceptional accomplishment, her playing never fails to touch the souls of listeners in deep and unexpected ways.”

Michael Cohen

Composer

New York City native Michael Cohen has a diverse and expansive career as a composer. His many compositions include works for chamber ensemble, musical theater, opera, and television. He attended the High School of Music and Art and the Dalcroze School of Music, graduated cum laude from Brandeis University, and studied composition with Harold Shapero and Irving Fine.

Notes

With this recording project, Rita Costanzi and Alex Klein wish to recognize the far-reaching power of music and its force of Love in their lives — transforming the lives of students and communities world-wide.

Music mirrors human life, in all its exuberance, imperfections, quirks, love, longing, and an insatiable search for beauty. In life, we often define a totality utilizing terms such as “coming full circle.” That circle is key for the idea of completion, roundness, of finding out that the farthest point from our departure just so happens to be near or at the very point from which we set out on our journey in the first place. This feeling of full circle is found in the way we breathe in and out, the shape of our lives, even how we shape a spoken phrase, how we breathe life into a poem, and how a musical phrase takes form. The musical line thus is, and must always be, a representation of our human experience, a close partner to all that our human experience entails. As such, it will only achieve its proper closure when it is felt — by listeners and performers alike — that it too has come “full circle,” has fulfilled its aural and emotional destiny, leaving behind a trail of beauty, of relevance, and belonging. When thinking about this project, AMOROSO (…to play tenderly and lovingly….), Rita Costanzi and I reflected on the way music and life walk together, how musical choices are just as fragile and meaningful as life itself, how fulfillment in music, in performance, and in delivery of artistic ideals, from idealization to production, to reflection, are exactly mirrored in how life runs its course through years and decades of what seems like an eternal, never ending pursuit of beauty, belonging, and love.

— Alex Klein

In music, as in life, every worthwhile journey begins with an inspiration of beauty, an invitation to savor that purest of thoughts, of hope and warmth. In short, the beginning of everything is a dream, an idea, a hope. Acting together in an attempt to clarify, musically, the “idea” of love, of hope, of a dream, are five works which open this collection. Michael Cohen’s Canção Pequena, meaning “Short Song” in the Portuguese of Brazil, composed for this disc and dedicated to Costanzi, provides the inspiration for the first step on this journey, in a subtlety that speaks volumes through simplicity. Further in, the music of French impressionist masters represent life experiences from an intimate, thoughtful, inner place. Claude Debussy’s early work Reverie exemplifies the “dream” part of the journey, the as-yet-unfulfilled spectacle that is the anticipation of what will still become. Reverie is a piece for the future, it represents the child, the purity of hope, still in its infancy. Similarly, Gabriel Fauré’s Aprés un Rêve (After a Dream) specifically alludes to that life that is lived and loved within the confines of the subconscious, praising the night and begging it to return. As mentioned in the anonymous text adapted by Romain Bussine: “In a sleep charmed by your image I dreamed of happiness, ardent mirage, I call you, O night, give me back your lies, Come back, come back radiant, Return, O mysterious night!” Claude Debussy’s Beau Soir (Beautiful Evening) complements Fauré’s vision of a life lived as if in parallel to our conscious reality, with the here and the beyond interacting in search for meaning in beauty through sound. Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise captivates musicians and audiences with its simplicity. Similarly to Beau Soir and Aprés un Rêve, Vocalise is an invitation to turn off our connection with this world and walk into a new realm.

— Alex Klein

Once that ideal, that dream and hope are established we embark on the next set of five works exemplifying the action of pursuit, of transforming ideas into reality without ever letting go of the inspiration that brought us this far. The journey now brings us to the second of two pieces originally written for this instrumentation: the Adagio by Michael Amorosi, a harpist himself, a connoisseur of this complex instrument’s idiosyncrasies which he uses in luscious ways both in technique and expression. Similarly, the other pieces in this central part of the life journey represent action, the walking forward of our endeavors, even if the reference to the dreams is — as it always should be — ever present. The movement even if under sublime supervision is perceptible in Claire de Lune (“Moonlight”) by Gabriel Fauré, as it is in the Première Arabesque by Claude Debussy and Gabriel Fauré’s Sicilienne. We conclude the middle section of this life journey with the Mediation from Thaïs where composer Jules Massenet emphasizes how even in our bucolic dying days the same search for beauty gives life its sense of fulfillment.

— Alex Klein

The Asturiana by Manuel De Falla reminds us that no journey, and certainly no life journey, comes without perils and losses. “To see if it would console me, I approached a green pine…. Seeing me weep, it wept; And the pine, as it was green; Seeing me weep, it wept.” They also remind us that not even the approach of the ultimate loss, death itself, is an impediment for the search for beauty and relevance in life. Astor Piazzolla was unconventional in the most conventional way, being part of a movement towards independent thinking and cultural innovation while inevitably living and breathing within the same system that all too often condemns that same independent thought. His Oblivion was composed in 1982 as part of the soundtrack for Marco Bellochio’s movie about Henry IV. In our journey, Oblivion represents the need for authenticity and roots in our lives’ endeavors.

No search for beauty may succeed without the inner discovery of our values, premises, inner goals and the influence it has in our life and musical decisions. In this journey, the longest and most substantial piece of the collection, En Aranjuez con tu amor (In Aranjuez with your love) a rendering of Joaquin Rodrigo’s revered Guitar Concerto, carries the view from the top of the mountain. It is the coming together of so many dreams, aspirations and aims throughout life, as symbolized in this collection. We then come “full circle” with Astor Piazzolla’s timeless and meaningful piece, Tanti anni prima (So many years ago) —  a retrospective of the thoughts and memories that accompanied us on this life journey. Manuel De Falla’s song Nana brings closure in the literal, proverbial and eternal sleep: “Sleep, little morning star.”

— Alex Klein

In the years following the discovery that I had acquired Musician’s Focal Dystonia, as I searched for meaningful ways to spend my life in contact with music, I founded FEMUSC – Santa Catarina Music Festival in the Southern Brazilian city of Jaraguá do Sul. For our second season, in 2007, I invited Rita Costanzi to be our harp teacher and leader in what was seemingly a mission impossible: bring harps back to life in a continental-size country where it had become almost all but forgotten. With the assistance of businessman Wander Weege, we placed the largest order from the Chicago-based harp factory Lyon & Healy, acquiring 17 instruments which now serve FEMUSC as well as local harp teaching in the state of Santa Catarina. Over the next 15 years, harp students have come from all over the American continent and Europe. Many leave FEMUSC with their destinies opened up — receiving scholarships for study abroad. Following FEMUSC’s leadership, other festivals and schools in Brazil also acquired new instruments, leading to a harp revival and a growth in the number of interested students. It is our hope that the same love that led to The Miracle of Jaragua and to this recording project will be felt and inspire listeners to also embrace seemingly unattainable objectives.

— Alex Klein

Acknowledgements

We gratefully acknowledge the unfailing support of individuals who made this recording possible:
The Sunflower Music Festival – Artistic Director, Charles Stegeman
Robert Grant, Patron
Erin Wood, Harpist
Michael Cohen, Composer
Judith Finell and Ed Matthew, Consultants