Miwako Abe, violin
Michael Kieran Harvey, piano
Henry Cowell (1897â€“1965), in the introduction to the first edition of his prophetic "symposium" titled American Composers on American Music (1933), described features of contemporary American music and outlined categories of composers. The first group he introduced - "Americans who have developed indigenous materials or are specially interested in expressing some phase of the American spirit in their works" - might be taken as a historical framework for the composers represented on this recording. The tradition that Cowell saw emerging from the music of Charles Ives, Carl Ruggles, Charles Seeger, and others supported the work of a handful of iconic names - Cowell himself, also George Antheil (1900â€“1959), Stefan Wolpe (1902â€“1972), and Ruth Crawford (1901â€“1953). Their place in that tradition lies at the heart of this recording by Miwako Abe (violin) and Michael Kieran Harvey (piano). What links these composers to their friends, peers, and colleagues who join them here-Johanna Magdalena Beyer (1888â€“1944), Charles Dodge (b. 1942), David Mahler (b. 1944), and Larry Polansky (b. 1954)-is their collective commitment to developing an artistic environment in which individual voices in American music could support one another, could find means of distribution, and, most importantly, could be heard. This program traces music written for violin by progenitors of this independent strain in American music from the earlier-century composers Seeger, Beyer, Antheil, Cowell, and Wolpe to a "younger" generation of composers (born in the 1940s and 1950s) Dodge, Mahler, and Polansky.
With a selection of works spanning over seventy years, this disc features Henry Cowell's Sonata for Violin and Piano (1945-46), Wolpe's Second Piece for Violin Alone (1966), George Antheil's Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano (1923), Johanna Magdalena Beyer's Suite for Violin and Piano (1937), Charles Dodge's II and IV from Four Etudes for Violin and Tape (1994), David Mahler's Maxfield's Reel for unaccompanied violin (1983), Larry Polansky's Movement in E-Major for John Cage (1975; rev. 1996), and Ruth Crawford's Nocturne (1923).