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William Bolcom (b.1938)

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Bolcom: A View from the Bridge

Bolcom: A View from the Bridge


Kim Josephson (Eddie), Catherine Malfitano (Beatrice), Juliana Rambaldi (Catherine), Gregory Turay (Rodolfo), Mark McCrory (Marco), Timothy Nolen (Alfieri)

Chorus and Orchestra of Lyric Opera of Chicago, Dennis Russell Davies

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New World - NW80588

(CD - 2 discs)

Normally: $32.75

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Bolcom: Canciones de Lorca & Prometheus (Live)

Bolcom: Canciones de Lorca & Prometheus (Live)


Bolcom:

Canciones de Lorca

Prometheus


René Barbera (tenor), Jeffrey Biegel (piano)

Pacific Symphony Orchestra, Pacific Chorale, Carl St. Clair

Winner of a Pulitzer Prize and multiple Grammy awards, William Bolcom is one of America’s leading composers, with a prolific and widely performed catalogue.

Written for tenor Plácido Domingo, Canciones de Lorca explores the full variety of that Spanish poet’s surrealistic humour, passion and mystery, as well as invoking the Andalusian flamenco and popular song-lyric atmosphere the composer feels is latent in each poem.

Bolcom interprets the legend of Prometheus as a metaphor for our turbulent times, starkly examining how we are chained to a rock of technological dependency but dedicating his work to hope and a peace derived from greater universal understanding.

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Naxos American Classics - 8559788

(CD)

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Bolcom: Complete Gospel Preludes, Books 1- 4

Bolcom: Complete Gospel Preludes, Books 1- 4


Gregory Hand (organ)

William Bolcom, named ‘2007 Composer of the Year’ by Musical America, has written in many genres. His Gospel Preludes, based on hymns, are amongst his most fascinating and compulsive works. Bold, brilliant, sometimes bizarre, but always hugely enjoyable, the Preludes vary widely, sometimes adorned by jazzy chords and rich swing, sometimes exuding tour-deforce brilliance or – when the music is quiet and reflective – possessed of a mesmeric reassurance. The GRAMMY® Award-winning Naxos recording of Bolcom’s Songs of Innocence and Experience is available on 8559216-18.

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Naxos American Classics - 8559695

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Bolcom: Songs of Innocence and of Experience (William Blake)

Bolcom: Songs of Innocence and of Experience (William Blake)


University of Michigan School of Music Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin

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Naxos - 5110083-84

(DVD Audio - 2 discs)

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Bolcom: Symphony No. 4 & Session 1

Bolcom: Symphony No. 4 & Session 1


Bolcom:

Session I

Symphony No. 4


William Bolcom was born on May 26, 1938, in Seattle, and trained at the University of Washington and Stanford University, as well as with Darius Milhaud. He has taught at Queens College, Yale, New York University, and, since 1973, the University of Michigan. He has written four symphonies, concertos for piano and for violin, chamber and solo instrumental music, and the mammoth setting of the forty-six Songs of Innocence and of Experience by William Blake, nearly thirty years in the composing.

In the early 1960s Bolcom worked with improvisational theater groups. Between 1965 and 1967 he wrote four "session pieces," all concerning matters of ensemble and group dynamics and influenced by his theater experience. Session I was composed in Paris and New York during the spring of 1965 at the request of Luciano Berio, for his Domaine Musical Ensemble in Berlin that summer. Like a jam session, the work is divided into short sections: Warmup, Session I, Discussion, Session II, Interlude, Solos, Chorale, and Final Session.

The world of the Fourth Symphony is a place where words and music meet. Roethke's stunning poem had long appealed to Bolcom, but he "felt the setting would need a counterbalancing movement, structured musically in its own way as much as Roethke's long, quadripartite poem is." A commission from the Saint Louis Symphony allowed him to set "The Rose," as the second movement of this symphony, in 1986. The orchestra gave the premiere performance under the direction of Leonard Slatkin on March 13, 1987.

Bolcom balanced the two movements by conceiving them as complementary halves of a diptych: the first movement is instrumental, the second vocal; the first is energetic, the second increasingly meditative; the first recalls the craggy mountains of Roethke's (and Bolcom's) Northwest, the second recalls the sea.

For the structure of the first movement, "Soundscape," Bolcom deliberately chose to create another parallel with the poem. "The binary shape of "Soundscape" is akin to the feeling of two-plus-two in the four sections of "The Rose." He also notes that the opening of the first movement is less thematic than textural, "often with extractable melody but with the texture integrated closely to it."

Knowing that Joan Morris would be his soloist, Bolcom let the poem take center stage in the second movement. "Joan understands poetry and projects what it means," he explains.

Bolcom considers the overall shape of the symphony to be "like a reverse wedge, in that it starts with high energy and progresses in stages toward a deep calm." The calm at the end, reflecting the narrator's inner peace, is cradled by the exquisite arrival of the key of C major, long prepared and long awaited, a spotlighting of pitches that concerns Bolcom still, twenty years after Session I.

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New World - NW80356

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American Classics - William Bolcom

American Classics - William Bolcom


Bolcom:

Four Violin Sonatas


Solomia Soroka (violin), Arthur Greene (piano)

“These four violin and piano sonatas cover a period of almost 40 years. Bolcom gave up violin lessons with relief at the age of about 10 when his instrument was stolen from his father's car, but he has retained a strong affection for the fiddle and the sonatas represent his more serious side rather than the rumbustious ragtimer.
The First Sonata comes from 1956, Bolcom's freshman year at the University of Washington, Seattle, but was revised later. The Second Sonata arose 20 years later, after he met jazz violinist Joe Venuti, and it was completed in memoriam. In the first movement the violin sings in a gentle bluesy manner over regular patterns in the piano: 'Brutal', which follows, is as tough as anything in Ives. There are conventional triads in both the last two movements and the whole piece affectionately recalls some of Venuti's own licks.
The other two sonatas come from the mid- 1990s. The Third is subtitled Stamba ('Weird') and, admittedly, you never quite know what is going to happen next. A mini-scherzo is a scrap of tarantella, then the finale fuses tangos and Arab music,. The last one is another virtuoso piece, at times hyperactive, where everything is confidently delivered by this brilliant duo.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

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Naxos American Classics - 8559150

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American Classics - William Bolcom

American Classics - William Bolcom


Bolcom:

Songs of Innocence and of Experience (William Blake)


Measha Brueggergosman, Ilona Davidson (soprano), Joan Morris (mezzo-soprano), Nathan Lee Graham (baritone), Thomas Young (tenor), Tommy Morgan (harmonica), Peter Ruth (harmonica, vocals)

University of Michigan School of Music Symphony Orchestra & Musical Society, Leonard Slatkin

“This is a magnum opus that occupied Bolcom for 25 years, starting as early as 1956. He's drawn on a wide range of musical styles to parallel Blake's method of moving from sophisticated to almost folk idioms. In some features – diatonic writing, English text and children's voices – Britten's Spring Symphony is in the background, but Bolcom is defined by the styles he juxtaposes with carefully calculated transitions in between.
Some of the most memorable moments involve popular idioms, evoking his ragtime performances or the songs he recorded so vividly with his wife Joan Morris. The word-setting is straightforward, reflecting the strophic poems, and refreshingly free from elaboration. The Songs of Innocence are charming and pastoral but in the Songs of Experience there's real anger at the human predicament.
This recording is based on a live performance with massive forces comprising 10 soloists, three choirs totalling almost 350 singers and a full symphony orchestra plus a harmonica and various extra electronic players and percussion.
Nathan Lee Graham is an actor-singer who can project his catchy tunes and spoken poems; Joan Morris exercises all her magic in a range of styles, but Thomas Young seems too consistently declamatory. Christine Brewer is magisterial in numbers that reflect the modernistic side of Bolcom, and Carmen Pelton has a rare purity of sound.
This unique Blake spectacular makes a cumulative impact that represents Bolcom's wide stylistic embrace at its most ambitious.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - July 2005

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Naxos American Classics - 8559216-18

(CD - 3 discs)

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American Classics - William Bolcom

American Classics - William Bolcom

Complete Works for Cello


Bolcom:

Capriccio

Cello Suite No. 1 in C minor

Décalage

Dark Music

Cello Sonata


Norman Fischer (cello), Jeanne Kierman (piano) & Andrea Moore (timpani)

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Naxos American Classics - 8559348

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American Classics - William Bolcom - Music for Two Pianos

American Classics - William Bolcom - Music for Two Pianos


Bolcom:

Recuerdos

Frescoes

Sonata


Elisabeth and Marcel Bergmann (pianos)

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Naxos American Classics - 8559244

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American Classics - William Bolcom Songs

American Classics - William Bolcom Songs


Bolcom:

You cannot have me now

Night, Make My Day

Digital wonderwatch

My father the gangster

Last days

Song dances Nos. 1 - 11

I will breathe a mountain

Pity me not

He had shag hair

The crazy woman

Just once

Never more will the wind

The sage

Oh to be a dragon

The bustle in a house

I saw eternity

Night practice

The fish

Costa del nowhere

Table

Mary

River song

Messing about

Rats song

When we built the church


Carole Farley (soprano) & William Bolcom (piano)

“Naxos are to be congratulated on yet another enterprising issue. A few years ago such a CD would probably not have been issued, even at full price, but now here we have an excellent opportunity to sample Bolcom’s songs in first rate performances and at a most affordable price.” MusicWeb International

“Bolcom has always exemplified his eclectic American heritage in a distinctly personal way.
As a pianist he's known for superb LPs of ragtime, Gershwin, Milhaud and songs with his wife Joan Morris. This collection of his songs with piano with Carole Farley, another performer of remarkable versatility, covers a range of styles from various periods; there are cycles and single songs.
Most of the accompaniments are hyperactively virtuoso, drawing on the full compass of the piano – a refreshing change from so much of the literature, but you're left wondering who else could play them like this. There are moments of repose, some in the witty mini-cycle Songs toDance from 1989. I will breathe a mountain (1990) sets 10 American women poets, each song reflecting their personalities in a different style.
'The Fish' is an amusing poem by Elizabeth Bishop, a helter-skelter ride as dizzy as some of Sondheim's patter-songs. 'Messing about in boats', one of three poems based on The Wind inthe Willows, makes an easy-going habanera.
This is a fascinating collection from one of the most individual American composers, who shouldn't be forgotten in the minimalist onslaught.
Full texts of songs are an asset, it's vividly recorded and is delivered with effervescent enthusiasm by both performers.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

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Naxos American Classics - 8559249

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