Premiere recordings of unpublished sketches, transcriptions, and realizations by John Kirkpatrick
Donald Berman, piano (with Christopher Oldfather, piano 2; Daniel Stepner, violin; Susan Narucki, soprano)
"Creation is soul-searching. Nothing is ever finished." --Carl Ruggles
Carl Ruggles (1876-1971) was a maverick American composer of short works that project a sense of infiniteness. His musical vision was majestic. However, like rare precious stones, his inimitable works were cast in print only a handful of times. To get to the essence of Ruggles, one can dig through piles of unpublished drafts and near-complete works that he left behind after his death in 1971. The circumstances around these works tell much about the creative process of his music and the philosophies that guided his craft. The incomplete works reveal triumphant music that swells the Ruggles canon, and deepens appreciation of his accomplishments. This recording offers a glimpse at Ruggles's grander transcendent art. The story of the unpublished sketches, transcriptions, and eventual realizations spans the twentieth century.
The scores for the unknown works on this recording began as posthumous realizations by John Kirkpatrick from the disparate Ruggles sketches. With Kirkpatrick as trusted editor, Ruggles had showed preliminary sketch ideas to him over the years, some via letters. He left remaining drafts and miscellaneous fragments toward these acknowledged works at his death. Counting the material marked for Affirmations (or Evocation #5, or in one place, Visions--the title Kirkpatrick favored) there are more than a thousand potential contributions to this piece alone. Considering the mountain of viable sketches, his past collaborations with the composer, and a thirst to hear more music of the reticent Ruggles, Kirkpatrick assembled various sketches into performable editions. They are remarkably tight in construction. Kirkpatrick described his approach to pulling Ruggles's works together "like stringing pearls." This CD offers the first recordings of four substantial piano works, two songs, and a work for violin and piano realized by John Kirkpatrick.
Evocations: Four Chants for Piano; Visions; March; Parvum Organum; Valse Lente; Exaltation; Angels; Mood (for violin and piano); Organum (arr. for 2 pianos); Songs: Toys; Ich fühle deinem Odem; Windy Nights; Prayer
Reviews"The piano works offered here, especially the astounding "Evocations: Four Chants for Piano," mostly evolve in long spans of organic, heaving, intertwining contrapuntal lines. The pervasively somber mood is sometimes relieved by a touch of wistfulness or delicacy. Avoiding overt drama, the music grabs you with its inexorable sweep and mystical fervor." - The New York Times