Looking Back, Moving On

Anthony Iannaccone composer

Royal Scottish National Orchestra | Alexander Jiménez conductor
Warsaw Philharmonic | George Manahan conductor
Richard Stoltzman clarinet

Release Date: January 13, 2023
Catalog #: NV6487
Format: Digital & Physical
21st Century
Orchestral
Orchestra

Contemporary symphonic music tends to fall into either one of two categories: hopelessly cerebral concert hall material that is difficult (if not impossible) to understand – or background music for motion pictures. Neither classification would be much to the liking of New York native Anthony Iannaccone, who sets out to prove that one can have the best of both worlds on LOOKING BACK, MOVING ON. Both his third and fourth symphonies make a strong case: spirited, organically structured, and imaginative, they are formidable displays of American verve. The Concertante for Clarinet and Orchestra, more subtle but no less energetic, drives home the point.

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Hear the full album on YouTube

Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
DISC 1
01 Night Rivers, Symphony No.3 (1992) Anthony Iannaccone Royal Scottish National Orchestra | Alexander Jiménez, conductor 20:24
02 Bridges, Symphony No.4 (2019): I. Bold Advance, Heavy Toll: A Rhine Bridge Too Far at Arnhem Anthony Iannaccone Royal Scottish National Orchestra | Alexander Jiménez, conductor 12:22
03 Bridges, Symphony No.4 (2019): II. Imagination and Endurance: Roebling’s Dream-Bridge Grows in Brooklyn Anthony Iannaccone Royal Scottish National Orchestra | Alexander Jiménez, conductor 8:19
04 Bridges, Symphony No.4 (2019): III. Strong Steel Emblems Vault the Channel: the “Verrazano” Anthony Iannaccone Royal Scottish National Orchestra | Alexander Jiménez, conductor 5:44
05 Waiting for Sunrise on the Sound (1998) Anthony Iannaccone Royal Scottish National Orchestra | Alexander Jiménez, conductor 12:13
DISC 2
01 Concertante for Clarinet and Orchestra (1994) Anthony Iannaccone Richard Stoltzman, clarinet; Warsaw Philharmonic | George Manahan, conductor 15:39
02 From Time to Time, Fantasias on Two Appalachian Folksongs (2000): I. Once upon a Time: Crosscurrents Remembered Anthony Iannaccone Royal Scottish National Orchestra | Alexander Jiménez, conductor 11:42
03 From Time to Time, Fantasias on Two Appalachian Folksongs (2000): II. Moving Time: a Millennium Ride Anthony Iannaccone Royal Scottish National Orchestra | Alexander Jiménez, conductor 4:07

All works on this album are available from Theodore Presser Company

Night Rivers (Symphony no. 3), Bridges (Symphony no 4), Waiting for Sunrise on the Sound, From Time to Time
Recorded June 21-23, 2022 at New Auditorium at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow, United Kingdom
Producer Brad Michel
Engineer Hedd Morfett-Jones
Assistant Engineer Sam McErlean​
Editing & Mixing Brad Michel

Concertante for Clarinet and Orchestra
Producer Peter Kelly, Elliott Miles McKinley
Recording Andrzej Sasin, Andrzej Lupa, Zbigniew Fijalkowski
Editing Aneta Michalczyk-Falana
Mastering Jonathan Wyner, M Works Mastering

Executive Producer Bob Lord

A&R Director Brandon MacNeil
A&R Chris Robinson

VP of Production Jan Košulič
Production Director Levi Brown
Audio Director Lucas Paquette
Production Assistant Martina Watzková

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell 
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming, Morgan Hauber
Publicity Patrick Niland, Aidan Curran

Artist Information

Anthony Iannaccone

Composer

Anthony Iannaccone (b. New York City, 1943) studied at the Manhattan School of Music and the Eastman School of Music. His principal teachers were Vittorio Giannini, Aaron Copland, and David Diamond. During the 1960's, he supported himself as a part-time teacher (Manhattan School of Music) and orchestral violinist. His catalog of approximately 50 published works includes four symphonies, smaller works for orchestra, several large works for chorus and orchestra, numerous chamber pieces, large works for wind ensemble, and several extended a cappella choral compositions.

Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Orchestra

Formed in 1891 as the Scottish Orchestra, the company became the Scottish National Orchestra in 1950, and was awarded Royal Patronage in 1977. Throughout its history, the Orchestra has played an integral part in Scotland’s musical life, including performing at the opening ceremony of the Scottish Parliament building in 2004. Many renowned conductors have contributed to its success, including George Szell, Sir John Barbirolli, Walter Susskind, Sir Alexander Gibson, Neeme Järvi, Walter Weller, Alexander Lazarev and Stéphane Denève.

Richard Stoltzman

Clarinetist

Richard Stoltzman's virtuosity, technique, imagination, and communicative power have revolutionized the world of clarinet playing, opening up possibilities for the instrument that no one could have predicted. He was responsible for bringing the clarinet to the forefront as a solo instrument, and is still the world's foremost clarinetist. Stoltzman gave the first clarinet recitals in the histories of both the Hollywood Bowl and Carnegie Hall, and, in 1986, became the first wind player to be awarded the Avery Fisher Prize.

Alexander Jiménez

Conductor

Alexander Jiménez is widely regarded as a gifted, dynamic, and versatile conductor, and a highly-respected educator. He served as president of the College Orchestra Directors Association from 2010 to 2012, and is a recipient of numerous teaching awards. As Professor of Conducting and Director of Orchestral Studies at Florida State University, he has developed one of the most important orchestral training programs in the United States. 

Jiménez has appeared with orchestras throughout the United States, Europe, and the Middle East, including engagements in Belgium, Austria, the Czech Republic, Israel, Italy, and the United Kingdom. He has championed new music and collaborated with such composers as Krzysztof Penderecki, John Harbison, Martin Bresnick, Jeff Beal, Anthony Iannaccone, Christopher Theofanidis, Ellen Taafe Zwilich, Chen Yi, Zhou Long, Tomas Svoboda, and Ladislav Kubik. 

In 2007, Florida State University was featured in the PBS special Peanuts Gallery®, which was awarded Best Performance of 2007 by the National Educational Telecommunications Association. Jiménez has premiered many new works with the Florida State University Orchestras, including the world premieres of The General by EMMY Award-winning composer Jeff Beal, Piano Concerto No. 3 by Ladislav Kubik, Trumpeting the Stone by Brent Michael Davids, and Alma by Harold Schiffman. Jiménez has recorded with the Mark, CBC/Ovation, Col Legno, Neos, and Naxos labels. Of his Naxos recording of Zwilich’s works for piano and orchestra, Fanfare Magazine stated that “Alexander Jiménez and the Florida State Symphony, who premiered the Peanuts Gallery, perform all three works here with tremendous sympathy, love, and excitement.”  ClassicsToday.com exclaimed “…the Florida State University Symphony Orchestra under Alexander Jiménez leaves absolutely nothing to be desired.” 

Jiménez has also accompanied many of the world’s leading artists, including Joshua Bell, Lynn Harrell, Denyce Graves, Christopher O’Reily, jazz great Marcus Roberts, the Canadian Brass, Scotty Barnhart, and many others. As an educator, Jiménez is in demand as a guest conductor, teacher, and adjudicator with youth orchestras and adjudication panels throughout the United States and Europe. Since 2009 he has served on the international jury panel of the European Festival of Music for Young People, and in 2013 was named International Festival Ambassador.

George Manahan

Conductor

George Manahan has served for more than a decade as Director of Orchestral Activities at the Manhattan School of Music. He is also Music Director of the American Composers Orchestra and the Portland Opera. He served as Music Director of the New York City Opera for 14 seasons and was hailed for his leadership of the orchestra.

He was also Music Director of the Richmond Symphony (VA) for 12 seasons. Recipient of Columbia University’s Ditson Conductor’s Award, Manahan was also honored by ASCAP) for his “career-long advocacy for American composers and the music of our time.” 

His guest appearances include the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, as well as the symphonies of Atlanta, San Francisco, Hollywood Bowl, and New Jersey, where he served as acting Music Director for four seasons. He has been a regular guest with the Music Academy of the West and the Aspen Music Festival, and has also appeared with the opera companies of Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, Santa Fe, Paris, Sydney, Bologna, St. Louis, the Bergen Festival (Norway), and the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico. 

His many appearances on television include productions of La BohemeLizzie Borden, and Tosca on PBS. Live from Lincoln Center’s telecast of New York City Opera’s production of Madame Butterfly, under his direction, won a 2007 EMMY Award. Manahan’s wide-ranging recording activities include the premiere recording of Steve Reich’s Tehillim for ECM, recordings of Edward Thomas’ GRAMMY-nominated Desire Under the Elms, Joe Jackson’s Will Power, and Tobias Picker’s Emmeline. He has conducted numerous world premieres, including Charles Wuorinen’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Hans Werner Henze’s The English Cat, Tobias Picker’s Dolores Claiborne, and Terence Blanchard’s Champion

He received his formal musical training at the Manhattan School of Music, studying conducting with Anton Coppola and George Schick, and was appointed to the MSM faculty upon his graduation, at which time The Juilliard School awarded him a fellowship as Assistant Conductor with the American Opera Center. Manahan was chosen as the Exxon Arts Endowment Conductor of the New Jersey Symphony the same year he made his opera debut with the Santa Fe Opera, conducting the American premier of Arnold Schoenberg’s Von Heute Auf Morgen.

Lucy Miller Murray

Writer

Lucy Miller Murray, Founder of Market Square Concerts, is author of Chamber Music: An Extensive Guide for Listeners published by Rowman & Littlefield. She is a regular program annotator for many chamber music series across the country, and has written notes for programs by such luminaries as Joshua Bell, Frederica von Stade, and the London Philharmonic.

Her liner notes for many recordings include the Ying Quartet’s GRAMMY-nominated Tchaikovsky Telarc CD, the Lark Quartet’s Klap Ur Handz, Maria Bachmann’s The Red Violin, Trio Solisti’s Café Music (Bridge Records), the Fine Arts Quartet’s Schumann CD (Naxos), Xiayin Wang’s piano works of Earl Wild CD (Chandos), the Mendelssohn Piano Trio’s recordings of the complete Haydn piano trios, and Ronald Leonard’s and Ya-Ting Chang’s recording of cello and piano works by Grieg, Dohnányi, and Chopin (Centaur). About her liner notes, Gramophone has commented, “elegantly written and perfectly attuned to the performances…” 

Her articles on music have been published by Chamber Music America and online by the American Music Center. Her novel, Faces, was published in 2020 by Dorrance Publishing. Composers Michael Brown, Eugene Drucker, Jeremy Gill, Jake Heggie, Paul Moravec, and Richard Wilson have set Lucy Miller Murray’s poetry to music.

Notes

Night Rivers is a symphony in one movement. Unlike my other symphonies, which are multi-movement works, Night Rivers telescopes the traditional separate and contrasting movements into one extended trajectory. This trajectory encompasses both the contrasts and the continuity that we associate with the traditional multi-movement symphony. 

Here is a summary of the opening scenario. The work begins with a dark, sustained low note in cellos and basses. Over this dark tone enters a rising, delicately shimmering motivic figure in violins, flutes, and ringing percussion, halting in a high register. The sustained low note swells in volume, suddenly dissolves to a whisper, and merges with a slow four-note motive back to the starting note. The gentle, high-register figure re-enters, and gradually transforms into an increasingly agitated flow of motives, all derived from the first seven bars of music. 

The animated flow of treble figures gradually converts to overlapping scalar streams, in woodwinds, strings, and percussion, creating an energized, almost swirling texture. At a high point, the agitated movement suddenly dissipates into a tranquil and lyrical violin solo that is derived from the same motives, and played over the same dark, sustained note that began the piece.  

This opening scene previews the central focus of the entire symphony. It is a work of movement and repose, whose principal musical figures, both dark and light, shadowy and bold, violent and gentle, are inspired by mystical metaphors (both expressed and implied) in the poetry of Walt Whitman. Whitman’s poetry paints images of life-flow as “rivers,” and images of death as “night.” However, Whitman’s view of death is not a morbid end, but rather a portal to rebirth and reunion of the soul with an indestructible spirit that created and is the universe. 

In his poem “The Sleepers” (originally titled “Night Poem”), Whitman makes a speaker’s first encounters with “night” (sleep, darkness) a spiritual realm of confusion and death, but which eventually leads to release and rebirth. Journeying through a seemingly chaotic series of surreal images, recollections, and episodes, the speaker finally arrives at an enlightened state of renewal and reunion with fellow “sleepers,” in the “beautiful” and “mother” domain of “night.”

In “Whispers of Heavenly Death,” Whitman refers to “Ripples of unseen rivers, tides of a current flowing, forever flowing.” In “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” he treats the “river” (and its tides) as a multiple metaphor: first, as the flow of time and change and the flow and ebb of human experiences, and second, as a means of connecting people in a common, unifying journey to an opposite shore. Standing on a boat, while crossing a flowing river produces the virtual paradox of being motionless (static) while experiencing the movement (dynamic) of the boat and the river. The idea of juxtaposing static and dynamic qualities in an organic single movement was inspired by Whitman’s metaphorical journey through “night,” and his mystical “rivers.”

This symphony’s rivers of musical energy separate and collide in layered textures at several climactic high points, only to reunite again in cycles of repose, where the flow of musical energy is transfigured and refined into static melodic planes of complementary instrumental colors.

Night Rivers, Symphony No. 3 was commissioned by the Michigan Council for the Arts and premiered by the Plymouth Symphony Orchestra on November 13, 1992, with the composer conducting.

— Anthony Iannaccone

In one continuous movement, Anthony Iannaccone’s third symphony was inspired by what he describes as Walt Whitman’s “mystical image of life-low,” as personified by the flowing of a river. Iannaccone says this about the influence of Whitman on his music: “I owe a debt to Whitman, whose poetry grabbed me when I was a student and hasn’t let go. His vivid, intriguing images in “The Sleepers” (originally “Night Poem”), “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” and “Whispers of Heavenly Death” were the bedrock inspiration for my third symphony.” Many other notable composers such as Delius, Holst, Bernstein, Rorem, and John Adams were also inspired by Whitman’s poetry. 

The mysterious opening of the work leads to a thrilling, roiling passage where the gently shimmering treble motives of the opening bars become bright, fast-moving streams, colliding above the sustained bass and the slow, dark, descending scalar motive from the enigmatic opening. The composer offers the following description: 

“The first seven bars of Night Rivers are seminal for the entire symphony: a bright, delicate treble line, spun out over a sustained bass tone, contrasts with a dark, slowly-descending, scalar bass-motive. This evolves into churning treble woodwinds, strings, and percussion that momentarily dissolve into an expressive violin solo that overlaps the return of the dark scalar motive. A transition leads to a vigorous developmental passage where heavily accented, pulsating low strings and brass are overlaid with high strings, woodwinds, and percussion, playing cross-rhythmic, hammered chords. All of this activity moves in distinct layers above a recasting of the scalar bass-motive from the opening measures. The intense energy of this driven music dissipates into a tranquil flow of transparent woodwind, string, harp, celesta, and delicate percussion colors, all coalescing in an incomplete, but poised cadence.” 

“This cycle of musical flow — serene to vehement tension to partial release — is a form-generating pattern of static-dynamic-static music that unfolds differently several times, with varied dimensions and evolved motives, each time developing greater intensity. The metaphorical “rivers” take varied courses. Dynamic contrapuntal textures may yield to simple, melodic string or woodwind solos, against static harmonic backgrounds of shifting timbres. Layered textures may transform from kaleidoscopic mosaics to clearly etched parts moving at different rates.”

Iannaccone’s third symphony is powerful and exciting but also bears moments of calm reflection. While the quiet conclusion is a surprise, nothing is usual about this work. Even a simple descending motive is dramatic and meaningful. Another notable thing about Night Rivers is its seamless fusion of both modern and traditional qualities that lend the work great variety. The composer himself describes the piece as “ultimately a work of movement and repose… whose principal musical figures, both dark and light, shadowy and bold, were inspired by Whitman’s metaphors for journey and rebirth in a spiritual realm.” As quoted in Fanfare, the critic Stephen Ellis states, it is “one of the supreme American symphonies.” The New York Times describes other works of Iannaccone as “verdant, light-footed, and always beautifully orchestrated with an engaging deftness.” Indeed, Night Rivers embodies both grit and beauty.

Night Rivers was commissioned by the Michigan Council for the Arts and premiered by the Plymouth Symphony Orchestra on November 13, 1992 with the composer conducting.  

©2023 Lucy Murray

Metaphorical bridges have provided writers with symbols to express thoughts on a variety of subjects, including, but not limited to, thematic polarities such as loss and redemption, despair and hope, mortality, and immortality. While many of these pairings imply change or movement, nearly all imply a connection from one place or condition, spiritual or physical, to another.

Real bridges have also inspired authors, visual artists, and composers to respond in words, paintings, pictures, and music to specific bridges and to events associated with them. Bridges, Symphony No. 4 deals with three real bridges and with “bridge” as metaphor.

The poet Hart Crane wrote: “The very idea of a bridge is an act of faith.” The idea of “bridge” as a daring leap of faith is an underlying current that flows through all three movements, and it supplies a driving force to the symphony’s first movement, which takes inspiration from the 1974 book A Bridge Too Far by Cornelius Ryan.

The first movement, Bold Advance, Heavy Toll: a Rhine Bridge Too Far at Arnhem,” evokes the devastating failure of an audacious, but ill-advised 1944 attempt to shorten World War II by dropping 35,000 troops behind enemy lines. An inordinate leap of faith was invested in a plan that required the capture of five bridges over the Rhine under extremely adverse conditions. A group of lightly-armed, valiant British soldiers, who tried desperately to secure the bridge at Arnhem, were overwhelmed by substantial German forces and tanks. The entire operation cost more than 17,000 Allied casualties, a far greater toll than the losses at Normandy. 

Woven into the generative motives of the first movement, the British war song Bless ‘em All contributed several melodic fragments that are embedded in a variety of settings. The high-energy, driven character of the movement intermittently yields to more static and stable passages, where layered musical textures become defined by lyrical lines and contrasting instrumental colors and combinations. 

The second movement, “Imagination and Endurance: Roebling’s Dream-Bridge Grows in Brooklyn,” was initially titled “Suspended Marvels.” However, after re-reading some lines in Whitman’s poem A Noiseless Patient Spider, my thoughts shifted specifically to my favorite bridge, crossed numerous times, on foot, in my youth. Whitman wrote: “Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold, Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.”  

The 1860’s brainchild of John Augustus Roebling, the Brooklyn Bridge was a highly risky and courageous undertaking in 1869. Roebling lost his life due to an injury incurred while working to fix the position of the Brooklyn side tower. Construction was then taken over by his son Washington Roebling, who was also seriously injured and physically incapacitated for life while working on the bridge. Washington’s wife, Emily, mastered enough technical and engineering knowledge to collaborate with her husband and transmit his daily instructions to the workers. 

It took 14 long and difficult years and the lives of more than 20 men to bring Roebling’s dream to fruition. The completed bridge was indeed a “suspended marvel,” the longest in the world until the 1903 Williamsburg Bridge was constructed. Far ahead of its time, it was and is a tribute to the imagination, skill, tenacity, and courage of its builders. 

The final movement, “Strong Steel Emblems Vault the Channel: the ‘Verrazano,’” was inspired by the extraordinary Verrazano-Narrows Bridge that connects Bay Ridge (where I grew up), Brooklyn with Staten Island. Completed in 1964, it was at that time the world’s longest suspension bridge. From the corner of Fourth Avenue and 99th Street, where I lived in 1968, I loved to gaze up at the nearly 700-foot towers and the massive pairs of cables that swung up to and swooped down from the sky-scraping towers, reflecting the afternoon sun or glistening with lights at night. This stunning bridge, a sleek emblem of modern technological prowess, also had a history that included numerous challenges and adversities.

Building the “Verrazano” (the local colloquial spelling) cost the lives of three workers and the displacement of approximately 7,000 people, most of whom lost their homes to make way for the bridge’s path. Additionally, the rural oasis of farms, hills, streams, and wooded areas of 1950 Staten Island, where I camped as a boy, have been replaced by an urban borough of houses, businesses, and storefronts, bustling with people and traffic.

Unlike Whitman’s “gossamer threads” that I link to Roebling’s dream, the Verrazano projects a strong, streamlined, Art Deco arm reaching out over the Narrows tidal strait, the gateway that channels the waters of the 315-mile Hudson River toward the Atlantic Ocean.

Fused in varying degrees with elements of strength and tenacity, Crane’s visionary “act of faith” forms a kind of subtext for all three movements. Although conceived as part of a larger coherent whole, each movement of this symphony manifests a different aspect of this subtext, and can stand on its own as an independent work.

Bridges, Symphony No. 4 was commissioned for and is dedicated to the Florida State University Orchestra and its conductor, Alexander Jiménez, who premiered the work in Tallahassee FL’s Ruby Diamond Concert Hall on February 1, 2020.

— Anthony Iannaccone

With its three movements, Iannaccone’s fourth symphony is the longest work in this album. It was commissioned for and dedicated to the Florida State University Orchestra and its conductor Alexander Jiménez, and premiered in Tallahassee in February of 2020 under the baton of Jiménez, whose extensive experience and success with performances of Iannaccone’s orchestral works resulted in his conducting for this recording. 

Each of the movements has a title suggesting a bridge as its inspiration. In a program note for a Washington DC performance, the composer reveals the dual meaning of the word “bridge” in his fourth symphony. He states:

“Real bridges and metaphorical bridges have inspired authors and composers to respond in words and music to specific bridges and to events associated with them. Bridges, Symphony No.4 deals with three real bridges and also with “bridge” as metaphor. Hart Crane wrote: “The very idea of a bridge is an act of faith.” The idea of “bridge” as a daring leap of faith is an underlying current that flows through all three movements, and it supplies a driving force to the symphony’s first movement, which takes inspiration from Cornelius Ryan’s 1974 book A Bridge Too Far.”

The first movement, “Bold Advance, Heavy Toll: a Rhine Bridge Too Far at Arnhem” bears a reference to a bridge under siege in World War II. Certainly, that war has been lavishly treated in novels and films, but here Iannaccone artfully treats it in music. An aggressive opening, employing full orchestral forces, sets a propulsive tone with relentless accented syncopations. The composer tells us that the British song “Bless ‘em all” contributes melodic fragments to this movement, fragments that generate both small and extended thematic ideas. When the combative tone diminishes, Iannaccone’s gift for lyricism enters, but without depriving the music of underlying strength and forward thrust, as the title Bold Advance suggests. The movement is a true musical adventure with full and powerful orchestration enhanced by vibrant timpani and percussion. Quieter passages blend lyricism with colorful instrumentation, without ever abandoning inexorable forward movement. The movement eventually builds to its highest peak of energy, about which the composer says: “The final build-up to a brutal, even demonic climax (marked ‘Tutta la forza’ in the score) collapses in a brief triple-forte postscript for timpani, brass, strings, and percussion. With the driving force now spent, the music transitions to a fiercely mournful threnody (marked ‘Fervent, intense’ in the score) for strings, woodwinds, and horns.” The soft bell-like rings and elegiac flute that end the movement are especially moving.

The second movement, “Imagination and Endurance: Roebling’s Dream-Bridge Grows in Brooklyn,” begins softly with a quick but gentle seven-note motive in low woodwinds, violas, and cellos. The composer comments: 

“The rapid figure serves as a pickup to a series of sustained, overlapping harmonic clusters that grow from nothing to a dominating volume, and then diminish back to nothing. A flute solo that follows transforms the rapid figure into a songful melodic line. Half of the pickup figure is then appropriated by harp, celesta, and flutes and expanded into a long, rising-and-falling cascade of notes, an accompaniment to the entering lyrical triplet motif. The rising-falling cascade alters to a muted solo-violin accompaniment, which provides a quiet backdrop to a highly expressive violin-section theme, as an expansion of previous motives. The opening pickup figure now becomes the basis for a brief-but-intense development that transitions back to the gentle rising-falling harp-celesta cascade, this time as a backdrop to segments of the expressive violin theme, which is now recast against a layer of softly-sliding string glissandos. After an extended high-energy development, the movement returns to its earlier lyrical focus.”  

The third movement, “Strong Steel Emblems Vault the Channel: the Verrazano,” is a distinctive reference. The “Verrazano” is named after the first European explorer to enter New York Harbor and the Hudson River. Iannaccone deliberately uses the colloquial Bay Ridge-Brooklyn misspelling, “Verrazano,” as a nod to his old Brooklyn neighborhood. Here a merger of assertive and buoyant music illuminates, reflects, and celebrates the daring marvel and expanse of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, which many of us have experienced. The composer relates his personal fondness for this bridge: “As a young man, I loved to gaze up at the nearly 700-foot towers and the massive pairs of cables that swung up to and swooped down from those sky-scraping towers, reflecting afternoon sun or glistening with lights at night.” How interesting it would be to listen to this movement while making that crossing!

©2023 Lucy Murray

When Waiting for Sunrise on the Sound received a Virginia premiere by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra conducted by JoAnn Falletta, the large audience was described by a reviewer as “pleased by everything.” Surely, however, some audience members were more than simply “pleased.” Attentive listeners were very likely moved by the sonic diversity and emotional impact of this work. It was described accurately in a newspaper review by The Virginia Pilot as a work of “wide emotional range with powerful drama.” Indeed, it is that. 

As is common in many of Iannaccone’s orchestral works, an opening passage introduces most or all of the principal thematic characters that will evolve and encounter a variety of treatments in the musical narrative that follows. The piece was inspired by Iannaccone’s dream-like recollection of a few terrifying boating experiences he had as a child. That he would put this into music many years later speaks of the deep psychological impact of these encounters. The composer gives us a kind of backstory in this descriptive note from 1998:

Waiting for Sunrise on the Sound is based on a recurring childhood dream that might be described simply as fear of the unknown. During summer months of the early 1950s, I spent many pleasant days onboard fishing or excursion boats owned and operated by relatives. On several occasions, when my cousins had taken a boat far out from the southern or eastern shore of Long Island for deep-sea fishing, sudden summer storms and rough seas turned a pleasant trip into a nightmare for a young boy. High waves and relentless wind and rain made even a substantial fishing boat seem like an insignificant toy on a vast and omnipotent ocean.

Memories of these few bad storms recurred in my dreams for many years, especially on summer nights spent sleeping onboard the same vessel anchored in the calm waters off the north shore of Long Island, the Long Island Sound. Although the details varied from one dream to another, the nightmare usually shifted to a scenario in which the young dreamer was piloting a boat on a moonless night, in the normally tranquil sound above Long Island. The glass-like water surface began to transform its smooth, undulating surface into larger and larger black towers of water that engulfed the vessel. The dreamer knew somehow that only the rising sun could quell the violent surges of the sea. At the moment when the fate of the boat and pilot seemed doomed to drowning in the murky depths of the sound, the sun would begin to break through thick mist and the ocean would subside. As the day-star rose above the eastern horizon the mist disappeared and the water sparkled gently with reflections of the sun.”

Vividly sublimating childhood nightmares in music that embraces both tonality and atonality, this tone poem has been warmly received by orchestras, audiences, and critics alike. One critic particularly noted the latent tension between “soothing string harmonies and sharp-edged wind dissonance.” This kind of response underscores once again that Iannaccone is a composer whose aesthetic draws upon both the traditional and modern worlds of music. Powerful and disturbing in a fine artistic way, with deeply thoughtful moments, this work can linger in one’s memory.

Waiting for Sunrise on the Sound was commissioned for and premiered by the Prague Philharmonic, conducted by Vladimir Valek, on March 5, 1998, in Dvorak Hall. The American premiere on November 21, 1998 was given by the Plymouth Symphony Orchestra, with the composer conducting. It was chosen as one of five finalists in the 2001 London Symphony/Masterprize Competition from a field of 1151 orchestral works submitted.

©2023 Lucy Murray

Referred to by Fanfare Magazine as “a consummate master of harmony and counterpoint,” Iannaccone totally fulfills that compliment in his both lyrical and virtuosic Concertante for Clarinet and Orchestra. A distinctive work filled with both color and warmth, it pays full tribute to the clarinet as a solo instrument, played brilliantly by Richard Stoltzman on this recording.

If the dictionary definition of a concertante as a piece “containing one or more solo parts typically of less prominence than in a concerto” does not fully describe the clarinet part in this work, it is because Iannaccone takes the expressive range and lyric capacity of the clarinet to new levels, wonderfully fulfilled by Stoltzman. While the virtuosic demands for the clarinet are readily evident throughout the work, the orchestra is an equal and strong partner in its thematic development. 

Concertante for Clarinet and Orchestra exudes both lightness and darkness. A sumptuous opening draws you in and then treats you to the many rich embellishments offered by the clarinet. The writer Peter Bates offered this description of the work in a note from 2004:

“The orchestra furnishes a brief lyrical opening, followed by a winsome entry of the clarinet. In a startling move, the orchestra becomes propulsive, then recedes. The clarinet moves to center stage and imparts arioso-like melodic lines [The orchestra and clarinet compete with soft and increasingly expressive exchanges]. The orchestra becomes pianissimo again. This tenuous cat-and-mouse game continues several times. Finally, aided by pummeling percussion, the orchestra concludes the first section [of a three-part design] in a blaze of fury.” 

“[Marking the second section] An ethereal D-major chord emerges from the orchestra, initiating a contemplative exploration of the opening themes. Against a background of homophonic strings, undulating like tall grass, the clarinet wails, first mournfully, then seductively. Here the orchestra enhances the motives, seasoning them with celesta, punctuating them with piccolos and bassoons.” 

“Low staccato strings and woodwinds signal the vivace beginning of the third section, a scherzo-like dance. Here the Concertante soars, shadowed by brief lyrical figures from the first section. The themes are stated in complex tempos that alternate from lively to frenzied. The finale is a dramatic orchestral tutti accompanying the clarinet in its final and dazzling altissimo flight.” 

As Bates observed, the ending is indeed climactic. Enhanced by strings, horns, trumpets, and timpani, the clarinet, in the stratosphere of Stoltzman’s brilliant altissimo register, brings the work to a strong conclusion.

In a 2005 review, William Zagorski commented on the Concertante: “His Concertante for Clarinet and Orchestra moves on multiple levels… At no time is the casual listener aware that he or she is listening to manipulations of the same thematic kernel. Like Brahms, Iannaccone can be totally intellectual — a purveyor of mind games, yet mind games that lead to a very emotionally satisfying listening experience.”

Concertante for Clarinet and Orchestra was commissioned by the NOVA fund for Richard Stoltzman, who gave its first performance in Europe in 1995, with George Manahan conducting the Warsaw Philharmonic. The American premiere was given the same year by clarinetist Ron Samuels, with the composer conducting the Plymouth Symphony Orchestra.

©2023 Lucy Murray

When addressing the influence of folk music within the archives of classical music, one cannot help but think of masters like Dvořák, Grieg, Vaughan Williams, Bartok, Copland, Stravinsky, and many more. In some cases nationalism was a prime motivator, in other cases it was only one of several reasons for the use of folk materials. The choice of “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair” and “Shenandoah” for the two movements of From Time to Time has much to do with the composer’s genuine affection for these two beloved songs. 

“Once Upon a Time: Crosscurrents Remembered,” the first and longer of the two fantasias, has been described as “restless, discordant, and ultimately explosive.” However, it is predominantly a deeply-felt and lyrical essay on difficult past times and hope for future times. This contrast between the explosive and the lyrical was inspired in part by contradictory quotes the composer found while researching Virginia’s history, during his residency with the Richmond Symphony. 

Here are four such clashing statements by Virginians that influenced the composer: 

1) “Heaven and earth never agreed to frame a better place for man’s habitation.” (John Smith, colonial leader) 

2) “Our men were destroyed by cruel diseases… by wars…mere famine. There were never Englishmen left in a foreign country in such misery as we were in this new discovered Virginia.” (George Percy, colonist)

3) “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.” (Thomas Jefferson, founding father) 

4) The [Civil] war began in my front yard and ended in my front parlor.” (Wilmer Mclean, Appomattox resident)

The composer provided some insight into the first movement in this program note for a New York performance: “The first movement, ‘Once upon a Time: Crosscurrents Remembered,’ summons images of past memories. It encompasses a trajectory from conflict and hostility to resolution and affection. It exploits allusions to Marvin Hamlisch’s expressive popular song “The Way We Were” where a melodic pattern on the words “[Mem’ries] light the corners of my mind” is identical to the same melodic fragment on the words “and the prettiest of hands” from the folksong “Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair.” This melodic fragment is a generative source throughout the first movement.” 

Written on the cusp of a new century, the second fantasia, “Moving Time: A Millennium Ride,” is described by the composer as “a fast launch into a new millennium.” Here he employs musical fragments from the lovely folksong “Shenandoah,” but recasts it in what he calls “a festive setting that celebrates the promise of the future.” In both movements, we hear at first only folk-tune fragments that are fused with original melodic material. After substantial development, the orchestra extracts and assembles these fragments into complete folksong settings. This reverses the traditional order of theme and variation.

From Time to Time, Fantasias on Two Appalachian Folksongs was commissioned through the American Composers Forum Continental Harmony Program in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts with additional funds provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Land O’Lakes Foundation, and the Richmond Symphony Orchestra. It was composed during Iannaccone’s residency with the Richmond Symphony and premiered in July, 2000 by the Richmond Symphony conducted by Gerardo Edelstein.

©2023 Lucy Murray