ABOUT THE ENSEMBLE
The QUIET CITY CHAMBER ENSEMBLE was founded by Christopher Brellochs in 2010 to record the world premiere of Aaron Copland’s Quiet City in its original instrumentation. Brellochs had crafted a concert version of Quiet City using the unpublished manuscript of the incidental music, which included material that had languished in obscurity for over 70 years. The Aaron Copland Estate and Copland’s publisher, Boosey and Hawkes, embraced this newly reconstructed chamber version and granted Brellochs the exclusive right to make the world premiere recording. This led to a search for other unrecorded works by American composers and the formation of this ensemble.
The recording Quiet City (Sono Luminus, June 2011) has been well received garnering significant national radio play along with interviews by Fred Child on APR (American Public Media): PERFORMANCE TODAY, the most-listened-to classical music radio show in America with 1.3 million listeners weekly, and NPR (National Public Radio): WEEKEND EDITION. The recording also received rave reviews both here and abroad including an article in DER SPIEGEL Online, a German news magazine and one of Europe's largest publications of its kind, with a weekly circulation of more than one million!
Donald Rosenberg writes in Gramophone (Awards 2011) magazine:
“In Brellochs’s reconstruction, the score sounds fresh and haunting, and the refined performance has a sense of discovery.”
In American Record Guide (November 2011) Patrick Hanudel writes:
“Saxophonists looking to expand the chamber literature will find some pleasant surprises. The Copland arrangement is superb and should immediately find a place alongside its more famous sibling. The Ornstein, Hartley, and Barab offer a fusion of heartfelt lyricism and eccentric modernism that will make for enjoyable rehearsals and highly accessible concerts.”
The ensemble has gone on to perform publicly using repertoire from the CD along with other selections to create an exciting program.
QUIET CITY CHAMBER ENSEMBLE
Christopher Brellochs, alto saxophone
Donald Batchelder, trumpet
Mitchell Kriegler, clarinet
Allison Brewster Franzetti, piano
Saxophonist Christopher Brellochs has performed at Carnegie Hall and in solo recitals throughout the United States. He was a recent guest artist and lecturer performing his new adaptation of Copland’s “Quiet City” with Music from Copland House (2011) and the Poné Ensemble (2010). Brellochs’ recordings include two solo CDs, Quiet City (2011) and Apotheosis of the Saxophone (2008). Brellochs has lectured at the Manhattan School of Music and a College Music Society Conference on the topic “Benjamin Britten and the Saxophone”; his article, “Aaron Copland’s Use of the Saxophone in Wind Band Repertoire,” was published in the Journal of the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE, Volume 14, 2007). Brellochs is Chair of the Music Certificate Program at Dutchess Community College in Poughkeepsie, New York.
Donald Batchelder is Principal Trumpet of the New York City Opera Orchestra, and also holds the principal trumpet chairs in the Westfield (NJ) Symphony and the Stamford (CT) Symphony. He performs frequently with the Metropolitan Opera, the New Jersey Symphony, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, American Symphony Orchestra, and on Broadway. He is a Professor of Music at Montclair State University.
Clarinetist Mitchell Kriegler is a member of the New York City Opera Orchestra and the Bronx Arts Ensemble. He also performs with the New York City Ballet Orchestra, is a member of the New York Pops and has toured nationally with the Linden Woodwind Quintet. He holds a B.M. and M.M. from the Manhattan School of Music and studied with Conrad Kuchay, Robert Renino, and Charles Russo.
ALLISON BREWSTER FRANZETTI
Pianist Allison Brewster Franzetti received GRAMMY® nominations for two of her CDs, 20th Century Piano Sonatas and Poeta de Arrabal. Her performance career includes collaborations with Sir James Galway, Ransom Wilson, Eugenia Zukerman, Julius Baker, Robert White, and Mark Morris. She received a B.M. degree from the Manhattan School of Music, an M.M. degree from the Juilliard School, and joined the Concert Artist faculty of Kean University in 2001.
More information about the QUIET CITY CHAMBER ENSEMBLE can be found at www.christopherbrellochs.com.
AARON COPLAND (1900-1990): QUIET CITY (1939/2007) - published by Boosey & Hawkes, adapted by Christopher Brellochs
It’s April 1939, and Aaron Copland brings his baton down as the curtain rises for the Group Theatre in New York City. It’s the dress rehearsal of Quiet City, an Irwin Shaw (1913-1984) play that never made it to opening night. “My career in the theatre has been a flop,” lamented Copland.
The play was about a man who renounces his beliefs and artistic aspirations; as he gets older his conscience haunts him in the form of aural hallucinations of his brother’s trumpet playing. The play was cancelled after two tryout performances and, although the original manuscript has never been published, Copland recast some of the musical material into his well-known orchestral version of “Quiet City” (1940) for trumpet, English horn, and string orchestra, and his Academy Award nominated film score to “Our Town” (1940). The remainder of the score – along with a number of wonderful themes and motifs – has not been heard until now, over 70 years later.
During his doctoral studies Brellochs obtained a copy of the unpublished manuscript to Quiet City from saxophonist and historian Paul Cohen. The score was handwritten by Copland and called for a chamber ensemble of trumpet, saxophone (doubling on clarinet), clarinet (doubling on bass clarinet), and piano. Here was never before heard music of the highest quality, by an iconic American composer.
Brellochs immediately began to work on ideas to give this music a new life, crafting a concert version that preserved the original instrumentation and included all the original music. No new material was written. The music was reorganized for concert purposes and a few orchestration changes were made to achieve a balanced chamber quality (this included moving some melodies from the trumpet, and eliminating the doubling in the saxophone). The opening three minutes are exactly what one would have heard at the rehearsals on Broadway in 1939.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Aaron Copland was a pioneering figure in creating concert music that is characteristically American.
“Quiet City” opens with repeated notes in the trumpet, marked “nervous” in the score, which symbolize the protagonist’s hallucinations. An achingly beautiful melody accompanied by the entire ensemble follows. A lyrical waltz in the next section (which is also heard in Our Town) leads to a jaunty exchange between the saxophone and trumpet. The saxophone and bass clarinet play a lullaby before returning to the waltz and the opening trumpet motif, followed by a poignant saxophone melody. A final return to the opening material develops into a dramatic finale.
LEO ORNSTEIN (1893-2002): BALLADE (1955) - published by Poon Hill Press
While still a teenager Aaron Copland attended a recital by Leo Ornstein, and later discussed Ornstein in his lecture series. Heralded as a leading “futuristic” composer in the first part of the 20th century, Ornstein achieved fame (and notoriety) as a composer of daring, experimental music in addition to his reputation as a brilliant solo pianist. Critics were astounded and compared him to Schoenberg and Stravinsky. Then mysteriously, at the height of his popularity, he withdrew from the concert stage and subsequently taught piano at the Philadelphia Academy of Music for a number of years. When he died in Wisconsin at age 108, he was among the longest lived composers.
In a letter to Paul Cohen, Ornstein wrote of “Ballade”:
“I must confess that I carried the usual prejudice against the saxophone without ever giving it serious thought. But as the Ballade was shaping itself in my mind the music seemed to demand that instrument as the inevitable medium. It began to dawn on me that perhaps the association of the instrument with excessive raucousness and intolerably saccharine sounds may have been due more to the way the instrument was usually played rather than to the instrument itself. I decided on the experiment and have been told that the music eminently fits the saxophone.”
AARON COPLAND (1900-1990): FOUR PIANO BLUES (1949) - published by Boosey & Hawkes
Composed at various times between 1926 and 1948, these short and rather simple pieces can be performed individually or together as Copland finally grouped them. The order does not follow the order of composition, nor are these "blues" in any strict sense. The first performance of Four Blues was by Leo Smit in a League of Composers concert in New York in 1950. Each Blues is dedicated to a pianist with a close connection to Copland's piano music: Leo Smit; Andor Foldes; William Kapell; and John Kirkpatrick. (Vivian Perlis, 1998)
ROBERT ALDRIDGE (b. 1954): SOUND MOVES BLUES (1999) - published by Robert Aldridge
A prolific composer for all genres Robert Aldridge has received numerous commissions, fellowships and awards for his music. His opera Elmer Gantry won a GRAMMY for Best Contemporary Classical Composition (2011) and received unanimous praise from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Opera News.
Aldridge is Professor of Composition at the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University, and Composer-in-Residence at the Brevard Music Festival.
Of “Sound Moves Blues”, Aldridge writes:
“It was commissioned by the trio SoundMoves and premiered in Oregon in 1999. The piece is a loosely structured theme and variations based on the opening gesture. I often employ blues-type forms, melodic and harmonic material in the variations. It was written to be an exciting and fun concert-closer for that trio.”
JOHN WORLEY (1919-1999): SONATA (1974) – published by Carl Fischer
Worley was an active composer and performer, as well as professor at The State University of New York at Oneonta, the University of Bridgeport, and the University of Maine. This composition was written for saxophone virtuoso Sigurd Rascher (1907-2001). Rascher wrote that John Worley was, “…a composer who is intimately familiar with the saxophone”, which is evidenced in over 45 compositions and arrangements he wrote for the instrument, including two other pieces dedicated to Rascher – the Clarmont Concerto (1962) and Oneonta Quartet (1970).
The Sonata is in three movements. The first is marked “with intensity” and begins with a broad upward sweep in the saxophone; the rhapsodic quality of the beginning alternates with a spinning melody throughout the movement. The second movement is labeled “with contemplation” and contains long melodic lines with a floating quality. The third movement is played “with exhilaration” and has a similar rhapsodic quality as the first movement, but then moves to a lightly playful theme and finally a glorious ending.
LEONARD BERNSTEIN (1918-1990): SONATA FOR CLARINET AND PIANO (1942) – published by Boosey & Hawkes
Highly successful American conductor, composer, pianist and teacher Leonard Bernstein had a strong influence on American musical taste. In Bernstein’s popular Broadway musical West Side Story, a modern American version of Romeo and Juliet, he synthesized American musical styles by blurring the lines between the concert hall and musical theatre.
Bernstein met Aaron Copland in 1937 while studying at Harvard and later asked if he could study composition with him. Although no formal lessons were undertaken, Bernstein often asked Copland for advice and the two became life-long friends.
Bernstein started composing his Clarinet Sonata as a student at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and completed it the year after graduating. At the age of 24, the sonata became Bernstein’s first published composition.
The piece is about ten minutes in length and has two movements. The first movement is lyrical and marked grazioso, while the second movement starts with a tranquil opening before becoming vigorous and energetic. Bernstein’s use of unusual rhythm and meter in the second movement foreshadows musical ideas he developed in West Side Story.
SEYMOUR BARAB (b. 1921): SUITE FOR TRUMPET, ALTO SAXOPHONE, and PIANO (1996) - published by Seesaw Music Corp
Chicago-born Seymour Barab began his professional career as a church organist, and later studied cello, appearing with the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras and the San Francisco Symphony.
Barab founded the contemporary music ensemble Composer’s Quartet in New York. He was also active on the other end of the spectrum, playing viola da gamba and founding New York Pro Musica, which specialized in Baroque and Renaissance music. Barab taught at Rutgers University, Black Mountain College and the New England Conservatory of Music. As a composer, Barab is most well-known for his operas, including Little Red Riding Hood and Philip Marshall which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
The opening movement of Barab’s “Suite for Trumpet, Alto Saxophone and Piano” has playful exchanges between the trumpet and saxophone, while the second movement is a yearning waltz. The shifting accents in the third movement evoke the hustle-bustle of a busy city street, and contrast with the fourth movement’s languid melodies. The final movement combines several of the previous techniques, creating a charming suite filled with character.