Edward Smaldone: Three Scenes from "The Heartland"
Liner Notes   Cat. No. NWCR863     Release Date: 2007-01-01

Michael Boriskin, piano; Munich Radio Orchestra; Arthur Fagen, Conductor; Speculum Musicae: (André Emelianoff, cello; Curtis Macomber, violin; Allen Blustine, clarinet); Donald Pirone, piano

Although the five compositions on this recording cover the fifteen-year period between 1980 and 1994, they are linked by a consistent compositional approach and a common set of core musical values. Although he composes in a modernist, free atonal idiom, Edward Smaldone is a classicist. Every work here is deeply and rigorously motivic. Within each piece, the composer develops music of very different sensibilities–it is by turns energetic, doleful, lyrical, exuberant, playful–from common motivic threads, imaginatively reconceived. There are no textures for their own sakes, that is, no sections that sacrifice thematic content to mere color or gesture, no passages of simple repetition, no minimalist "sameness" of idea. Rather, the Germanic values inherent in the challenge of "continuing variation"–challenging because of its demands on the imagination and connection-making processes of both composer and listener–is a guiding force in this music. Smaldone is also a classicist in the sense that his large-scale musical forms take their inspiration from eighteenth-century models. Exposition, development, and recapitulation–the components of the sonata form, that preeminent structure of all classical music–figure prominently in his work, as does the flavor of such prior musical forms as the scherzo. Even contrapuntal techniques associated with Baroque music surface from time to time, when they may convincingly further Smaldone’s musical intentions. Steeped as he is in the learned traditions of the past, the composer is equally concerned with transmitting the energies of the present. "My first experiences were with rock and popular music, and my aim as a composer has been to create the immediacy and excitement of those kinds of music while eluding the pitfalls of either simple-minded populism or a too precious academicism."

The decade-and-a-half development in the composer’s life documented in this recording reveals expanded musical means rather than a sea change in stylistic direction or any radical shift of approach. The earliest works recorded here, the Solo Sonata for Violin (1980) and Trio: Dance and Nocturne (1984), embrace, albeit in different ways, a Schoenbergian aesthetic, the first piece serious, rigorous, and demanding, the second more playful and gemütlich. The three later pieces–Two Sides of the Same Coin (1990), Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra (1993), and Three Scenes from "The Heartland" (1994)–admit other musical influences and embrace a wider range of musical means, especially the syncopated rhythms, harmonies, and textures of jazz, and a broader gestural range that includes the harmonic and melodic sweep and climactic underpinnings of Romanticism. One hears over the period covered in this recording a continuing enrichment of musical language within a modus operandi that remains firmly located in the values of rigorous traditional craftsmanship and a visceral delight in sound.


This title, originally issued on the CRI label, is now available for order from New World Records as an on-demand CD (CD-R). It can also be downloaded in MP3/320, FLAC and/or WAV format(s).

Various Artists

Edward Smaldone: Three Scenes from "The Heartland"

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Track Listing

Rhapsody for Piano & Orchestra
Edward Smaldone
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Trio: Dance & Nocturne
Edward Smaldone
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Three Scenes from "The Heartland": I. Introduction (maestoso, con rubato)
Edward Smaldone
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Three Scenes from "The Heartland": II. Scherzo (rambunctious)
Edward Smaldone
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Three Scenes from "The Heartland": III. Nocturne (with quiet intensity)
Edward Smaldone
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Solo Sonata for Violin: I. Dramatic
Edward Smaldone
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Solo Sonata for Violin: II. Scherzo
Edward Smaldone
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Solo Sonata for Violin: III. Dramatic
Edward Smaldone
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Two Sides of The Same Coin
Edward Smaldone
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