New Enchantments

Fairy Tale Music for Bassoon

Robert Schumann composer
Iván Enrique Rodríguez composer
Jean-Philippe Rameau composer
Max Grafe composer
Sato Matsui composer

Cornelia Sommer arranger & bassoon

Release Date: September 20, 2024
Catalog #: NV6665
Format: Digital

Throughout the centuries, few things have fascinated humanity as deeply and consistently as fairy tales. Enter NEW ENCHANTMENTS, bassoonist Cornelia Sommer’s exploration of archetypal magic and mysticism that features six world premiere recordings by living composers.

Sommer, who not only arranged several of the featured pieces herself, but who has also written a prize-winning dissertation on the subject of fairy tales in music, fuses it all in her performance: musical virtuosity with a great feeling for nuance, but also for lyrical storytelling, and not least the profound expertise to illuminate every last detail. Enriching and engrossing, this album could not be more aptly titled.

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Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Märchenbilder, Op. 113: I. Nicht schnell Robert Schumann, arr. Cornelia Sommer Cornelia Sommer, bassoon; Hilda Huang, piano 3:22
02 Märchenbilder, Op. 113: II. Lebhaft Robert Schumann, arr. Cornelia Sommer Cornelia Sommer, bassoon; Hilda Huang, piano 3:43
03 Märchenbilder, Op. 113: III. Rasch Robert Schumann, arr. Cornelia Sommer Cornelia Sommer, bassoon; Hilda Huang, piano 2:55
04 Märchenbilder, Op. 113: IV. Langsam, mit melancholischem Ausdruck Robert Schumann, arr. Cornelia Sommer Cornelia Sommer, bassoon; Hilda Huang, piano 4:18
05 Mamá María: Cuento de Hadas para Fagót y Piano Iván Enrique Rodríguez Cornelia Sommer, bassoon; Hilda Huang, piano 6:36
06 Un conte de fées: I. L’entrée noble Jean-Philippe Rameau, arr. Cornelia Sommer Bethanne Walker, baroque flute; Cornelia Sommer, baroque bassoon; Rachell Ellen Wong, baroque violin; Jonathan Salamon, harpsichord 1:45
07 Un conte de fées: II. Sarabande naïve Jean-Philippe Rameau, arr. Cornelia Sommer Bethanne Walker, baroque flute; Cornelia Sommer, baroque bassoon; Rachell Ellen Wong, baroque violin; Jonathan Salamon, harpsichord 2:12
08 Un conte de fées: III. Un voyage fantastique Jean-Philippe Rameau, arr. Cornelia Sommer Bethanne Walker, baroque flute; Cornelia Sommer, baroque bassoon; Rachell Ellen Wong, baroque violin; Jonathan Salamon, harpsichord 1:51
09 Un conte de fées: IV. Sérénité Jean-Philippe Rameau, arr. Cornelia Sommer Bethanne Walker, baroque flute; Cornelia Sommer, baroque bassoon; Rachell Ellen Wong, baroque violin; Jonathan Salamon, harpsichord 1:27
10 Un conte de fées: V. Réjouissance Jean-Philippe Rameau, arr. Cornelia Sommer Bethanne Walker, baroque flute; Cornelia Sommer, baroque bassoon; Rachell Ellen Wong, baroque violin; Jonathan Salamon, harpsichord 2:07
11 Rumpelstilzchentanz Max Grafe Cornelia Sommer, bassoon; Kathleen McLean, bassoon 3:30
12 Hanasaka Jiisan: I. Koko horé wan wan! Sato Matsui Lucian Avalon, oboe; Cornelia Sommer, bassoon; Hilda Huang, piano 2:55
13 Hanasaka Jiisan: II. Inu no shi Sato Matsui Lucian Avalon, oboe; Cornelia Sommer, bassoon; Hilda Huang, piano 3:03
14 Hanasaka Jiisan: III. Aenai tomoé Sato Matsui Lucian Avalon, oboe; Cornelia Sommer, bassoon; Hilda Huang, piano 6:12
15 Hanasaka Jiisan: IV. Mafuyu no hana Zakari Sato Matsui Lucian Avalon, oboe; Cornelia Sommer, bassoon; Hilda Huang, piano 4:58
16 Fantasy on Rossini’s “La Cenerentola” arr. Cornelia Sommer Cornelia Sommer, bassoon; Hilda Huang, piano 9:24

Recorded September 27-28 & 30, 2021 at Oktaven AudiO in Mount Vernon NY
Session Producer & Engineer Ryan Streber
Editing & Mixing Ryan Streber
Mastering Melanie Montgomery

Executive Producer Bob Lord

VP of A&R 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 Morgan Hauber
Publicity Aidan Curran
Digital Marketing Manager Brett Iannucci

Artist Information

Cornelia Sommer

Arranger, Bassoonist

Dr. Cornelia Sommer is a bassoonist, arranger, and educator dedicated to sharing music with diverse audiences and expanding the bassoon’s repertoire. Originally from Seattle, she joined the Detroit Symphony Orchestra as Second Bassoon in Fall 2023. Sommer’s recent performance and research projects have focused on music inspired by fairy tales. NEW ENCHANTMENTS: FAIRY TALE MUSIC FOR BASSOON is her debut album and is supported by grants from the Presser Foundation and the International Double Reed Society.

Iván Enrique Rodríguez

composer

Described by San Francisco Classical Voice, Boston Classical Review, and New York Concert Review as fiery, gripping, lyrical, eloquent, with a strong feeling for musical drama, and a gifted colorist with an abundance of emotional energy and the means to communicate it, Puerto Rican composer Iván Enrique Rodríguez’s (b. 1990) music has been performed in Puerto Rico, the United States, throughout North/South America and Europe in important venues and landmarks such as the Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and Alice Tully Hall in New York City, Harpa in Reykjavík, Iceland, Jordan Hall in Boston MA, among others around the world.

In Italy, his piece Madre Luna received 2014’s Rimini International Choral Competition prize; and where his Crípticos Nos. 1, 2 & 3 acquired him one of 2015’s International Composition Competition Maurice Ravel awards. Rodríguez received the 2019’s prestigious ASCAP Leonard Bernstein Award and 2023 ASCAP Rudolf Nissim Prize, and has also been invited to participate as composer-in-residence for Sweden’s Lövstabruks Kammarmusikfestival, the historic Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music 2022 season, among others. His musical-social involvement was recognized Musical America Worldwide naming him one of the 2021 Top Professionals of the Year, and by Junior Chamber International with 2014’s Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World award in Puerto Rico.

Named in 2018 a Puerto Rican Heritage Ernesto Malave Scholar of the Arts by Comité Noviembre in N.Y.C., Rodríguez’s music is inspired by the factual human experience. His latest compositions have been focused on social justice and activism, having in their inner spirit his Puerto Rican musical heritage. One of his most recent orchestral pieces, A Metaphor for Power, has the current Latinx experience as well as the ongoing equality issues in the USA as a central thesis. A Metaphor for Power was selected for 2019’s prestigious Edward T. Cone Composition Institute to be premiered by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the renowned conductor, maestro Cristian Măcelaru. Rodríguez’s commitment to human rights, equality, and justice has led him to collaborate with the Vision Collective on their first German tour through Nigerian, Iraqi, Georgian, Syrian, and Turkish refugee camps. Additionally, his musical focus on his Puerto Rican heritage led Musica de Camara, Inc. to commission his Concerto for Puerto Rican Cuatro and Strings Orchestra premiered at El Museo del Barrio in New York City in 2016. Rodríguez’ works have been commercially recorded by acclaimed pianist and Billboard Chart-topping recording artist Laura Downes, the award winning new music ensemble Choral Arts Initiative, soprano Stephanie Lamprea, and trumpet player Luis “Perico” Ortiz.

Rodríguez received his Bachelor of Music degree at the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico, studying with Alfonso Fuentes. His Master of Music degree at The Juilliard School under the tutelage of Melinda Wagner and is currently pursuing his Doctor in Musical Arts degree in Juilliard’s prestigious C.V. Starr doctoral program where he has been recipient of the Gretchaninoff Memorial Prize, the Bernard Jaffe Scholarship and Commission, the James D. Rosenthal and Marvin Y. Schofer Scholarship, the King Doctoral Scholarship and, the C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellowship.

ivanrodriguezmusic.com

Max Grafe

composer

Max Grafe writes music characterized by “jagged declamations and muffled filigree” (Gramophone) that engages with the dramatic, collaborative nature of performance in the context of a highly personal, distinctive approach to musical modernism. Grafe’s music has been commissioned and programmed by a wide range of ensembles — including the New York Philharmonic, the New York New Music Ensemble, Quince Ensemble, ensembleNEWSRQ, and Duo Entre-Nous — and has been featured at numerous music festivals across the country, including the Tanglewood Music Center, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and RED NOTE New Music Festival.

Current and upcoming projects include collaborations with Hypercube, Kahl & Nyce Duo, and pianist Benjamin Hochman. Grafe is a founding member of New York-based composer collective ICEBERG New Music, which recently concluded its sixth annual season in collaboration with Decoda and poet Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz. Grafe’s music appears on commercial recordings by the New York Philharmonic, Quince Ensemble, Duo Entre-Nous, pianists Jenny Lin and Mika Sasaki, and harpist Emily Levin.

Grafe has received several of the most prestigious awards available to emerging American composers, including a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a William Schuman Prize from BMI, two consecutive Palmer Dixon Prizes from the Juilliard School, and a Morton Gould Young Composer Award from ASCAP. He is the winner of the 2023 RED NOTE New Music Festival Composition Competition and the 2023 Roy Minoff Composition Competition from Kent State University.

Grafe is a member of the music faculties at Montclair State University and the Kaufman Music Center. He received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Juilliard School in 2018, a Master of Music degree from Juilliard in 2013 and a Bachelor of Music degree from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University in 2011. Further studies have taken place at Mannes College of Music, the Freie Universität Berlin, the Aspen Music Festival and School, and the Tanglewood Music Center. Grafe’s music is available through the American Composers Alliance.

maxgrafe.com

Sato Matsui

composer

Born in Chitose, Japan, Sato Matsui is a Paris-based composer whose style draws influence from traditional Japanese sonorities as well as her training as a classical violinist. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of IMAGO, a chamber music ensemble in Paris that specializes in both traditional repertoire and original creations with a strongly cross-disciplinary approach. Matsui holds her Master’s and Doctorate degrees from the Juilliard School and her Bachelor’s degree from Williams College.

Her recent projects include a commission for a flute concerto for Carol Wincenc, which premiered at the 2023 National Flute Association Gala Concert at Symphony Hall in Phoenix AZ. In April of this year, Matsui’s Oiseau Lunaire received its U.S. premiere at Carnegie Hall by pianist Will Healy. In 2022, her trio Hanasaka Jiisan for oboe, bassoon, and piano was commissioned by Cornelia Sommer for the International Double Reed Conference in Denver CO. Matsui’s large ensemble piece Kinokonoko, commissioned for the New Juilliard Ensemble, received its Lincoln Center premiere at Alice Tully Hall in 2019.

A lover of interdisciplinary collaborations, she worked with the Lebanese makeup artist Michel El Ghoul and dancers-choreographers Gildas Lemonier and Quentin Lelong to produce a glow-in-the-dark dance piece called Trois apparitions de la nuit for her Ensemble IMAGO in Paris. In 2020, she was invited by the New York City Ballet to take part in the New York Choreographic Institute, where she collaborated with choreographer Jonathan Fahoury. Matsui’s original scoring of Shakespeare’s play As You Like It was produced and directed by Ian Belknap in 2019 at the McClelland Drama Theater in Lincoln Center.

In 2019, Matsui received a Fulbright Scholarship and moved to Paris in order to research the manuscripts of Erik Satie for her doctoral dissertation. She is the winner of the 2019 Charles Ives Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

satomatsui.com

Hilda Huang

piano

Hilda Huang began her international performing career upon receiving first prize at the Leipzig International Bach Competition. She is a modern performer of historical music who brings together traditions of performance on piano, harpsichord, fortepiano, and organ. Hilda Huang has singular distinction of earning the top prizes at the Leipzig, Würzburg, and Tureck International Bach Competitions. After making her recital debut on the Steinway & Sons Prizewinners’ Concert Network at the Leipzig Gewandhaus in partnership with the Leipzig Bach Archive and MDR Leipzig, she has performed at the Leipzig Bach Festival, BASF Gesellschaftshaus, and the Montréal Bach Festival.

As a young artist, Huang’s association with Bach’s music was shared in the documentary film Bach and Friends. Her interest in Bach’s music on the modern piano led her to the harpsichord, on which her small hands, flair for articulation, and energetic playing style encouraged her to explore a wide range of early music. Huang’s orchestral debuts saw her on both modern and historical instruments, making her debut recording with Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra for TELARC (2008) and appearing as soloist with Nicholas McGegan and the Philharmonia Baroque. She has since appeared with the Mitteldeutsches Kammerorchester, the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. Her work has been featured on the WQXR (NY) Young Artists Showcase and recitals broadcast in full in Germany and the United States. She has appeared on the stages of Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and Lincoln Center.

Huang contributes music as service to Project: Music Heals Us, a non-profit that presents virtual concerts to hospital patients across the United States, and to worship at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity and Trinity Wall Street in New York City. She is a versatile collaborative artist, playing continuo keyboard and chamber music on modern piano and fortepiano at Chamber Music Northwest, the Steans Institute at the Ravinia Festival, the Smithsonian Institute, the Kennedy Center Conservatory Project, and the Académie Baroque of Les Folies Françoises.

Huang receives musical guidance from Menno Van Delft, David Kuyken, and Matthias Havinga at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar to The Netherlands. She has previously studied with Melvin Chen, Hung Kuan Chen, Béatrice Martin, John McCarthy, and Peter Sykes. Huang is a recipient of the Gold Award from the U.S. National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts’ YoungArts Week and a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. She was recently named a finalist for the Berlin Prize for Young Artists and shortlisted for the Glenn Gould Bach Fellowship. Huang is an Astral Artist and a Steinway Artist.

hildahuang.net

Kathleen McLean

bassoon

Kathleen McLean is one of the most acclaimed orchestral bassoonists in North America. Internationally recognized, McLean was the associate principal bassoon of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra from 1992 to 2009 and is a sought-after chamber and orchestral musician, recitalist, and teacher.

She was appointed to the faculty of the University of Toronto in 1989, became a faculty member at the Royal Conservatory of Music and the Glenn Gould Professional School in 2002, and began as a bassoon instructor with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada in 2009.

McLean’s former orchestral appointments include principal bassoon of the Canadian Opera Company and guest principal bassoon with the London Symphony Orchestra and the National Arts Centre Orchestra. Since 2001, she has toured extensively with the prestigious World Orchestra for Peace.

McLean has participated in many chamber music festivals, including the Evian International Festival, Vancouver Chamber Music Festival, Scotia Festival, and the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival.

She performs frequently with New Music Concerts, Amici Ensemble, and is a founding member of the Caliban Quartet, Toronto Wind Quintet, and the Canadian Winds.

kmbassoon.com

Rachell Ellen Wong

violin

Recipient of a prestigious 2020 Avery Fisher Career Grant — the only early music specialist in the respected program’s history — and Grand Prize winner of the inaugural Lillian and Maurice Barbash J.S. Bach Competition, violinist Rachell Ellen Wong is a star on both the modern and historical performance violin stages. She has performed in numerous countries spanning five continents, and her reputation as one of the top historical performers of her generation has resulted in appearances with renowned ensembles such as the Academy of Ancient Music, Jupiter Ensemble (led by lutenist Thomas Dunford), Bach Collegium Japan, Ruckus Early Music, Les Arts Florissants, and others.

Equally accomplished on the modern violin, Wong made her first public appearance with Philharmonia Northwest at age 11 and has since performed as a soloist with orchestras such as Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Panamá, The Auburn Symphony, and the Seattle Symphony. Wong made her conducting debut with the Seattle Symphony in 2020 when she directed Vivaldi’s Four Seasons from the violin. She also currently serves as concertmaster of the Seattle Baroque Orchestra.

Highlights of Wong’s 2022–2023 season include Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with the Auburn Symphony (WA), Beethoven Violin Concerto with the Richmond Symphony (IN), and recitals for UC Berkeley’s Cal Performances, Edinburgh Music Festival, and the Washington Bach Consort in DC. Notable past concerts include performing the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the Orquesta Sinfonica de Costa Rica, Bottesini’s Gran Duo Concertante with the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Panama, recitals with world-renowned keyboardists Anton Nel, Byron Schenkman, and Alexander Weimann, and a 16-concert, four-city tour of New Zealand with the New Zealand String Quartet which included the New Zealand premiere of Alexander Ekman’s Cacti for on stage string quartet and ballet with the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and a recital in Wellington, New Zealand featuring works by Bartok, Schubert, and Beethoven. Wong also regularly performs as Artist-in-Residence with the Heifetz International Music Institute in Staunton VA, and is on faculty at the Valley of the Moon Music Institute in Sonoma CA. Wong is also an American Fellow of The English Concert.

Alongside acclaimed keyboardist David Belkovski, Wong is co-founder of Twelfth Night, an ensemble structured to navigate all genres and instrumentation with ease, from the early baroque to the contemporary. Founded in 2021, Twelfth Night’s notable engagements include Music Before 1800, Reno’s Apex Concert Series, Arizona Early Music, and Chatham Baroque. Twelfth Night makes its Carnegie Hall debut in the 2023–2024 season.

Originally from Seattle WA, Wong counts among her numerous awards and honors grand prizes in the 52nd Sorantin International String Competition, the International Crescendo Music Awards, the Heida Hermann’s International Competition, and Seattle’s Gallery Concert’s Next Generation Competition. She is the recipient of a 2021 Jeffrey Thomas Award, a Barbara and David Jacobs Fellowship Award, and an Artist Excellence Award, both from Indiana University; and a Starling Distinguished Violinist Scholarship from UT-Austin.

Wong holds a Masters of Music degree in Historical Performance from the Juilliard School where she was a recipient of a Kovner Fellowship and a Benzaquen Career Advancement Grant. She also has a Master of Music degree from Indiana University and a Bachelors of Music from the University of Texas at Austin. Her primary teachers include Brian Lewis, Cynthia Roberts, Elizabeth Blumenstock, Kent Coleman, Mark Kaplan, Monica Huggett, Rachel Podger, Simon James, and Stanley Ritchie. Wong performs on a baroque violin from the school of Joachim Tielke ca. 1700, and a violin made in 1953 by Carlo de March. For more information, please visit rachellwong.com

Wong is represented by Artist Manager Marianne LaCrosse of CTM Classics (marianne@ctmclassics.com).

Bethanne Walker

flute

Bethanne Walker (flute) began her historical performance studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she was introduced to the Baroque flute by her teacher, Timothy Day. One afternoon, Day brought a Baroque flute out from a dusty shelf, and he requested she return the next week with a Telemann Fantasie. She immediately fell in love with the fragile expressivity and vulnerability of the instrument and knew it needed to be a part of her life.

She studied historical performance at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with Corey Jamason and continued with Sandra Miller at The Juilliard School. Dedicated to modern, orchestral, and historical performance practice, she finds joy and personal satisfaction with the variety in her musical career. You can find her playing anywhere from the San Francisco Symphony, American Bach Soloists, San Francisco Bach Festival, Oregon Bach Festival, Boston Baroque, Les Arts Florissants, Mercury Chamber Orchestra, New York Baroque Incorporated, TENET, Sonnambula, and Ars Antiqua, as well as in orchestras and ensembles in the San Francisco Bay Area, Tri-State area, and New England. She currently calls New York City home, where she enjoys drinking fine wine, discovering new restaurants, and going to various museums around the city.

Jonathan Salamon

harpsichord

Jonathan (Jon) Salamon is a harpsichordist, pianist, and composer based in New York NY. He has performed at festivals in the United States and abroad including the International Baroque Institute at Longy, Cambridge MA, and at the Virtuoso & Bel Canto Festival in Lucca, Italy, among others. Salamon has performed in masterclasses for artists such as Jordi Savall, Pierre Hantaï, Luca Guglielmi, Peter Sykes, and Ketil Haugsand. While in-residence at Yale, he played continuo for the Yale Baroque Opera Project, assisted in tuning at Yale’s Collection of Musical Instruments, and was a frequent collaborator on chamber music concerts.

Salamon is currently the Principal Harpsichordist/Keyboardist with the Chamber Orchestra of New York, with whom he made his sold-out Carnegie Weill Hall debut in 2021 as soloist in Bach’s D-minor harpsichord concerto. A Fulbright Scholar, he studied and performed 18th-century music of Amsterdam’s Sephardic synagogue. In 2019, he was the Third Prizewinner at the 44th annual Mathieu Duguay Early Music Competition in Laméque, Canada.

A passionate educator, Salamon is an adjunct assistant professor at Purchase College. He taught secondary harpsichord lessons at Yale and was a Teaching Assistant for a graduate course on the history of early music. He has presented lecture-recitals at the Morris Steinert Collection of Musical Instruments at Yale; for the joint conference of the American Bach Society and the Mozart Society of America; Harvard’s Graduate Music Forum conference (2020); and the Historical Keyboard Society of North America’s conference (2018), among others. In fall 2023, with his colleague Alexander Nicholls, he spearheaded the first-ever conference devoted to galant schemata called “Galant Schemata in Theory & Practice,” featuring major scholars and performers over a virtual format.

With his colleague Felice Doynov, flutist and arts advocate, he co-founded HEAR Classical. HEAR stands for History, Equality, and Artistic Representation, and it is a resource and concert platform for music by women and minority composers throughout western music history. After an inaugural concert at Yale in April 2018, HEAR Classical partnered with the United Nations Chamber Music Society and in May of 2018 presented a concert at All Saints Episcopal Church in New York, NY, with musicians from Yale and Juilliard, and featuring speakers from the United Nations.

Salamon was born in New York City and grew up in Connecticut. He earned his Bachelor of Music degree cum laude from NYU, majoring in Piano Performance and with a minor in Law and Society; his principal teachers included Seymour Bernstein (piano) and Dr. Morwaread Farbood (harpsichord). Salamon holds Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in Harpsichord Performance from the Yale School of Music, where he studied with Arthur Haas. He counts among his mentors Menno van Delft, with whom he studied during his Fulbright at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam.

jonathansalamon.com

Lucian Avalon

oboe

Lucian Avalon, 25, has enjoyed an eclectic musical career spanning from Zimbabwean marimba to classical oboe. He is currently working on his doctoral studies at the Manhattan School of Music with James Austin Smith, and he recently completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees at The Juilliard School under the tutelage of Elaine Douvas. Previously, he attended the Interlochen Arts Academy, studying with Daniel Stolper, and received the IAA Young Artist Award. Avalon is currently an Apex Ensemble Fellow and was principal oboe of NYSOS 2020. He was the winner of the NSAL 2018 Texas Woodwind Competition and a Juilliard Concerto Competition 2018 Finalist. He performed in 2019 with The Juilliard Orchestra at the BBC Proms, has performed with the NYC Ballet, Santa Fe Opera, and New World Symphony, and has been an Aspen Music Festival Fellow for three summers. Avalon also trained as a figure skater, becoming a USFS Moves Gold Medalist in 2013.

Notes

NEW ENCHANTMENTS features six world-premiere recordings for bassoon inspired by the magical world of fairy tales. Three pieces are Sommer’s own arrangements of classic fairy tale music, and the other three pieces are commissioned works by emerging composers based on tales from their own cultural heritage. The album is a companion to Sommer’s scholarly work on fairy tale music; in her dissertation, she defined three major archetypes present in fairy tale music: magic, a distant setting, and simplicity. On NEW ENCHANTMENTS, these archetypes come alive in the delightful musical language of each composer.

Originally for viola and piano, Märchenbilder (Fairy Tale Pictures) is most likely based on a letter Schumann received shortly before composing the piece in 1851 from a poet named Louis de Rieux. The letter contained a four-part poem, and de Rieux suggested that Schumann write a sonata based on it. The poetry frequently mentions fairy tales to create a sense of nostalgia and a bridge between dreams and reality.

A compelling interpretation of the piece is that each “picture” forms an episode of a typical fairy tale. Schumann opens the first movement with a soaring melody that invites us to listen to the story, and in the second movement, a galloping rhythm and contrasting encounters suggest a magical journey. The stormy third movement presents the essential conflict and resolution of the story, while the final movement evokes a sweet lullaby for the tale’s happy ending.

— Cornelia Sommer

Mamá María creates a musical painting in variation form of María la Cruz, a modern fairy tale by the award-winning Puerto Rican author Carmen Leonor Rivera-Lassén. The tale presents María la Cruz, who lived in a cave and provided food to starving families. After a disease forced the families to disperse, the mothers of the village left their children with María for protection. Eventually, when she knew her own time was near, María took the children to the river. By dawn, the children had become coquíes, frogs native to Puerto Rico, and they never went hungry again.

The short piece for bassoon and piano depicts María’s decision to transform the children into frogs, whose distinctive vocalizations can be heard throughout the piece. The variations explore María’s conflict, mystical power, and ultimate redemption in magical transformation.

— Cornelia Sommer

In 18th-century France, the genre of opéra féerie (fairy opera) established the first true example of fairy tale music. The genre elevated French culture — specifically, their fairy tales — to the level of the traditional mythological stories that had previously been the main source for musical theater plots. Rameau’s Zaïs, often considered to be an opéra féerie, tells the story of a genie who disguises himself as a shepherd to win the affection of a mortal woman. Un conte de fées (A Fairy Tale) combines five instrumental numbers from Zaïs to create the outline of a fairy tale. The arrangement is loosely modeled on Rameau’s great chamber work Pièces de clavecin en concerts, several movements of which he later adapted as instrumental sections of his operas.

— Cornelia Sommer

The Grimm Brothers’ tale of Rumpelstiltskin features a conniving imp who convinces a poor girl to trade away her firstborn child. Rumpelstiltskin gives the girl one last chance — if she can guess his name, she can keep the child. Unbeknownst to Rumpelstiltskin, she follows him one night and watches him dancing grotesquely and bragging about how she will never guess that his name is Rumpelstiltskin. When the girl is able to correctly guess his name, he destroys himself in a rage.

This bassoon duet captures the bizarre dance of Rumpelstiltskin. After a halting beginning, the dance continues gleefully, grounded by a lopsided quintuplet ostinato. At one point, Rumpelstiltskin falls silent, worried that he has revealed too much. A tentative melody with bursts of activity eventually leads back to the grotesque dance and concludes with a frenzied exchange between the two bassoons.

— Cornelia Sommer

Hanasaka Jiisan (The Old Man Who Made Withered Trees Blossom) is an old Japanese tale about friendship and loss. The story opens with an old man who lives with his best friend, a dog (I. “Koko horé wan wan!” – Dig here, woof woof!). The dog possesses a magical power to find hidden treasure, and when he discovers it, he barks “Koko horé wan wan!” A jealous neighbor convinces the old man to let him borrow the dog (II. “Inu no shi” – Death of the dog). The loyal dog finds only trash for the neighbor, who kills the dog in a rage. The old man, filled with regret, mourns for days (III. “Aenai tomoé” – For a friend lost). One night, he hears the voice of the dog telling him to go out the next morning and throw his ashes on the withered cherry trees (IV. “Mafuyu no hana zakari” – Midwinter blossoms). To his amazement, ashes bring the withered trees to full blossom. The old man is rewarded with a lifetime of riches. In the piece, the oboe often acts as the dog, the bassoon as the old man, and the piano as the cherry trees.

— Cornelia Sommer

La Cenerentola (1817) by Gioachino Rossini is one of the earliest operas based on a single fairy tale that is still popular today. Although ostensibly inspired by Charles Perrault’s Cinderella, La Cenerentola eliminates the magical elements of the story — no fairy godmother, no rats transformed into coachmen, no ball gown that disappears at midnight. Instead, prevalent throughout the opera are dreams and transformations; while there is no literal representation of magic, these plot elements help the story retain its fairy tale effect.

This piece for bassoon and piano is modeled on opera fantasies written in the 19th century. Often for a solo instrument and piano, these fantasies were a low-budget way for the public to hear opera music, sometimes acting as advertisements for the opera itself. As was typical for such pieces, this fantasy features several virtuosically embellished arias from La Cenerentola, including Cinderella’s first aria, Una volta c’era un rè, and the comic aria of the Prince’s valet, Come un’ape ne’ giorni d’aprile.

— Cornelia Sommer