Sage Brushes

Michael K. Slayton composer

Release Date: September 20, 2024
Catalog #: NV6658
Format: Digital

Contemporary American composer and educator Michael K. Slayton’s affectionate focus on chamber music shows just how expansive intimate musical setups can be on SAGE BRUSHES.

This Navona Records release draws its inspiration from 20th-century art: paintings by Mark Rothko, Paul Klee, Joan Miró, and Marcel Duchamp. In highly synesthetic fashion, Slayton recreates with music what the artists crafted with oil on canvas. The music mirrors everything in mesmerizing precision: the colors, the degree of abstraction, even the weight of the brushstrokes. And just like the originals — it unsettles as much as it enchants.


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Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Mirórs: I. The Birth of the World Michael K. Slayton Molly Barth, flute; Sammy Lesnick, clarinet; Hanna Hurwitz, violin 3:29
02 Mirórs: II. The Dragonfly in front of the Sun Michael K. Slayton Molly Barth, flute; Sammy Lesnick, clarinet; Hanna Hurwitz, violin 2:21
03 Mirórs: III. The Beautiful Bird Reveals the Unknown to a Pair of Lovers Michael K. Slayton Molly Barth, flute; Sammy Lesnick, clarinet; Hanna Hurwitz, violin 4:02
04 Kleemation: I. Senecio Michael K. Slayton Jared Hauser, oboe; Carolyn Huebl, violin; Seanad Chang, viola; Felix Wang, cello
05 Kleemation: II. Ancient Harmony Michael K. Slayton Jared Hauser, oboe; Carolyn Huebl, violin; Seanad Chang, viola; Felix Wang, cello
06 Kleemation: III. Kettledrummer Michael K. Slayton Jared Hauser, oboe; Carolyn Huebl, violin; Seanad Chang, viola; Felix Wang, cello
07 UNTITLED (Rothko Set): I. Berceuse (1960, Black on Dark Sienna on Purple) Michael K. Slayton Diane Andersen, piano
08 UNTITLED (Rothko Set): II. Litanie (1963, Whites, Blacks, Greys on Maroon) Michael K. Slayton Diane Andersen, piano
09 UNTITLED (Rothko Set): III. Ballade (1969-70, Black on Grey) Michael K. Slayton Diane Andersen, piano
10 UNTITLED (Rothko Set): IV. Nocturne and Chorale (1961, Navy and Black) Michael K. Slayton Diane Andersen, piano
11 softeR.Mutt.errings: I. Sad Young Man on a Train Michael K. Slayton THE BATEIRA TRIO | Anna Urrey, flute; Conway Kuo, viola; Andrew Trombley, double bass
12 softeR.Mutt.errings: II. Portrait of Chess Players Michael K. Slayton THE BATEIRA TRIO | Anna Urrey, flute; Conway Kuo, viola; Andrew Trombley, double bass
13 softeR.Mutt.errings: III. L.H.O.O.Q. Michael K. Slayton THE BATEIRA TRIO | Anna Urrey, flute; Conway Kuo, viola; Andrew Trombley, double bass

Recorded April 2020 at Ingram Center for the Performing Arts in Nashville TN
Recording Session Producer & Engineer Kevin Edlin
Editing & Mixing Kevin Edlin

Recorded June 2016 at Ingram Center for the Performing Arts in Nashville TN
Recording Session Producer & Engineer Kevin Edlin
Editing & Mixing Kevin Edlin

UNTITLED [Rothko Set]
Recorded July 2020 at Recital Studios in Brussels, Belgium – Tihange
Recording Session Producer & Engineer Luc Baiwir
Editing & Mixing Luc Baiwir

Recorded November 2020 at Oktaven Audio LLC in West Cornwall CT
Recording Session Producer & Engineer Charles Mueller
Editing & Mixing Charles Mueller

Mastering Melanie Montgomery

Executive Producer Bob Lord

VP of A&R 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 Kacie Brown
Digital Marketing Manager Brett Iannucci

Artist Information

Michael K. Slayton


Michael K. Slayton is an American composer who has written works in a cross-section of musical genres, with specific emphasis on chamber music. His continuing dedication to the value of artistic exchange has afforded him opportunity to partner with distinguished performers all over the world. His music, published by ACA, Inc. (BMI), is regularly programmed in the U.S. and abroad, including Chemnitz, Seitz, Leipzig, Droyssig, and Weimar, Germany; Graz, Austria; Paris,Tours, and Marquette-lez-Lille, France; Kristiansund, Norway; Aviero, Portugal; Brussles, Belgium; Johannesburg and Potchefstroom, South Africa; London, UK; and New York, NY.

Molly Barth


Molly Barth is constantly in motion. This GRAMMY® Award-winning flutist, professor, and clinician moves effortlessly from concert hall to teaching studio to rehearsal room to orchestral section. Barth needs fuel for this fire. Barth is fueled by visceral communication with listeners. The halls may be large or small, the music may be old or new, but the performances are always concentrated, intense. Barth is a co-founder of the Zohn Collective, a group of curious musicians who share a love of risk and exploration.

Sammy Lesnick


Sammy Lesnick is a clarinetist devoted to performing classical music in all of its exciting varieties, from Bach to Boulez and beyond. No matter the style, he strives to bring his performances to life with a sense of humor, spontaneity, and adventure. He has performed with the North Carolina Symphony, the Sarasota Orchestra, the Princeton Symphony, and the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, and with contemporary music groups including Ensemble Signal, the International Contemporary Ensemble, Alarm Will Sound, and Eighth Blackbird.

Hanna Hurwitz


Playing with “live-wire splendor” (The New York Times) violinist Hanna Hurwitz is a musician who equally enjoys performing classics of the repertoire as well as new music of our time. She has performed around the world and is currently a member of Chicago-based, leading new music ensembles including the acclaimed Grossman Ensemble and Ensemble Dal Niente. She also serves as co-founder and violinist of Zohn Collective, an ensemble interested in interdisciplinary collaboration and the creation of new work.

Jared Hauser


Oboist Jared Hauser maintains an international stature as performing, teaching, and recording artist. Passionate about music of all time periods and styles, his repertoire ranges from contemporary works on the modern oboe to baroque music on period-authentic instruments, and even realms outside of the classical genre. Hauser’s recent projects include combining the unique timbre of the acoustic oboe with electronic processing, amplification, and interactive media; actively engaging with composers in the creation of new works; and multiple ongoing audio and video recording projects.

Carolyn Huebl


Violinist Carolyn Huebl enjoys a varied career as a soloist, chamber musician, and teacher. She is currently Professor of Violin at the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University. Prior to her appointment at the Blair School, she was Assistant Principal Second Violin with the Pittsburgh Symphony and Assistant Professor of Violin at Carnegie Mellon University. Critics have called her performances “unfailingly sensitive,” “utterly fearless” and “pristine,” and STRAD magazine declared that she “possesses a beguilingly warm sound and highly responsive expressive personality.”

Seanad Chang


Violist Seanad Dunigan Chang is a founding member of the acclaimed Atlantic Ensemble, with whom she has premiered countless new works in the United States and abroad. A relentless pursuer of contemporary artistic endeavors and exciting projects, Chang has long been a champion of living composers.

Felix Wang


In addition to being the cellist of the Blair String Quartet, Felix Wang is a founding member of the Blakemore Trio and co-principal cellist of the IRIS Orchestra under the direction of Michael Stern. He has been the winner of several esteemed competitions, including the National Society of Arts and Letters Cello Competition, where he appeared with the Phoenix Symphony. Judges included Mstislav Rostropovich and Raya Garbousova. He has been heard on NPR stations across the country and has recorded for the Albany, Blue Griffin, Centaur, Innova, and Naxos labels.

Diane Andersen


Steinway artist Diane Andersen regularly concertizes all around the world. Her wide-tanging repertoire and countless recordings and premieres have been praised worldwide. An honorary Professor at the Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles, Andersen is the winner of numerous awards, including the Trophée Fuga Union des Compositeurs Belges, Harriet Cohen International Bach Medal (London), Grand Prix du Disque of l’Académie Charles Cros (Paris), and the Cannes International Classical Music Award. She has presented concerts and masterclasses in Asia, North and South America, Australia, and Europe.

Anna Urrey


A versatile solo, chamber, and orchestral musician, flutist Anna Urrey enjoys engaging in a variety of creative projects. As an orchestral musician, Urrey has performed with The Knights, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, American Symphony Orchestra, New Haven Symphony, the Mark Morris Dance Company, and NOVUS NY International Contemporary Ensemble. A passionate chamber musician, Urrey is the flutist for the “explosive” New York City-based group Frisson, and a core member of the Exponential Ensemble. Urrey is a Wm. S. Haynes Artist, New York Philharmonic Teaching Artist, and teaches flute at the Marymount School.

Conway Kuo


Violist and violinist Conway Kuo is a founding member of the Bateira Trio. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Juilliard School. Kuo is currently the Associate Principal Second Violin of the New York City Ballet Orchestra and performs regularly with the New York Philharmonic and Philadelphia Orchestra. His major teachers include Jascha Brodsky, Masao Kawasaki, Glenn Dicterow, and Arnold Steinhardt. Kuo resides in New York City with his wife, Emily, and sons Aidan, Carter, and Zac.

Andrew Trombley

double bass

Double bassist Andrew Trombley performs with the world’s leading artists and ensembles, including the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, and Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, for which he serves as principal bass. He is also principal bass of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and he holds the Weisman Family Chair in the Stamford Symphony Orchestra. Trombley has collaborated with members of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Orpheus Chamber Players, and Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players.


Commissioned by Australian flutist Agatha Yim, Mirórs was the first in my series of “Art Miniatures,” featuring music composed after extant visual art works. Mirórs seeks to honor the visionary work of Spanish painter and sculptor Joan Miró (1893–1983). Each movement highlights one of the three instruments, attempting to aurally render the thematic heartbeat of the painting.

— Michael K. Slayton

Kleemation was the second in the series of Art Miniature pieces. Commissioned by oboist Jared Hauser, this piece features responses to the highly imaginative and evocative work of the Swiss-German Expressionist/Cubist/Surrealist artist Paul Klee (1879–1940). The twinkle-in-the-eye of “Senecio,” the stark, cubed contrasts of “Ancient Harmony,” and the optical expressive energy of “Kettledrummer” served as catalysts.

— Michael K. Slayton

As the third offering in the Art Miniature series, UNITITLED features a reimagining of some of my older piano works, a “transmigration” of their varied essences into an alternative medium. The dark and muted tones of these four “untitled” paintings of Mark Rothko (1903–1970) afforded just the right construct for such an endeavor, allowing each movement to echo with old and new, remembered and forgotten.

— Michael K. Slayton

Originally commissioned by the Bateira Trio in NYC, softeR.Mutt.errings was the fourth in the Art Miniature series, this time offering reflections on three works by French cubist/Dadaist artist and provocateur Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968). “Sad Young Man on a Train,” which Duchamp described as a self-portrait, features a whirlwind of activity captured in perceived stasis. The second movement serves to meld Duchamp’s two worlds (a lesser-known fact is that he was also a highly skilled chess master), staging a musically-ciphered rendering of a famous 1923 match in Brussels. “L.H.O.O.Q” exhibits the artist’s wit and love of wordplay. (Duchamp famously drew a mustache and goatee on a postcard of da Vinci’s Mona Lisa in 1919, adding the letters “L.H.O.O.Q.” below. When elided, the letters phonate a rather vulgar commentary on her virtue.) The musical material in this movement, which features borrowed bits from Josquin (who composed in the time of Da Vinci), suffers a similar fate as Da Vinci’s muse, as its virtue melts and drowns, gradually succumbing to its own artistic weight.

— Michael K. Slayton