Music of Hugh Aitken
Liner Notes   Cat. No. NWCR774     Release Date: 1998-01-01
Jean Hakes, soprano; Charles Bressler, tenor; Jan Opalach, bass-baritone; Helen Kwalwasser, violin; Ynez Lynch, viola; Fortunato Arico, cello; Julius Levine, bass; Karl Kraber, flute; Melvin Kaplan, oboe; Gary Kirkpatrick, piano; Ted Taylor, piano

My first solo cantata originated when Melvin Kaplan asked me to write a work for his New York Chamber Soloists - for tenor and a few instruments. In preparation, I found myself reading "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may" type poetry and singing tonal tunes. When sections of the piece seemed to want to be purely tonal, without even the obligatory wrong notes, I decided to let it go its own way. It felt wiser to trust my intuition than to fret about what sort of music one "should" be writing.

This music is not parody; I believe we can once again compose more or less in former styles (I say more or less because to write entirely in a former style one would have to turn off one's taste and imagination; that would be doing homework for a theory class, not composing.) The past is available to us in ways it has not been before, and we need not fear using it in our own ways. It is not at all that I advocate the use of earlier styles by those who would not find it sympathetic. The world is wide, and many styles are likely to coexist for some time to come. Surely, however, one of the truly vital things that is happening is this inclusion of earlier musical styles - whether merely as quotation and collage or, more significantly, as an integral part of the language.

Nine other cantatas have followed, three of which are included here. From This White Island was scored for the core touring instrumentation of the Chamber Soloists: tenor, oboe and viola. It was the flavor and feel of Barnstone's splendid poetry to which I responded with music. In Cantata No. 4, I pay my respects to the strong stark Spanish of Machado.

As for Piano Fantasy, although I was not consciously thinking in those terms at the time, I realize now that this work is concerned with greatly contrasting expressive qualities, such as tense nervousness and utter calm, or almost bombastic assurance and hesitancy. These are subsumed under and comprehended by a formal scheme which, though intuitively arrived at, makes obvious use of traditional gestures and procedures.

The most recent work on this disc is Cantata No. 6 (1981) Remembering, which was commissioned by Jan Opalach for the Alice Tully Hall concert which was a part of his award for winning the Naumburg Vocal Competition. I wrote it with his marvelous voice very much in mind, and found it quite gratifying when dim echoes and memories of German lieder found their way into the music, summoned up, no doubt, by the unavoidably evocative German of Rilke’s intense and moving poetry.
 -Hugh Aitken

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

Music of Hugh Aitken

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Track Listing

Cantata No. 1: I. Recitative - Behold! O Man
Hugh Aitken
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Cantata No. 1: II. Song - Pluck the fruit and taste the pleasure
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Cantata No. 1: III. Recitative - What if a day
Hugh Aitken
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Cantata No. 1: IV. Song - Drink today and drown all sorrow
Hugh Aitken
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Cantata No. 1: V. Aria - Fair is The Rose
Hugh Aitken
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Cantata No. 1: VI. Song - Hey nonny no
Hugh Aitken
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Cantata No. 3, From This White Island: I. For Death Will Come Still Too Soon
Hugh Aitken
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Cantata No. 3, From This White Island: II. An Island
Hugh Aitken
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Cantata No. 3, From This White Island: III. There
Hugh Aitken
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Cantata No. 3, From This White Island: IV. Now
Hugh Aitken
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Cantata No. 3, From This White Island: V. On This Greek Island
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Cantata No. 3, From This White Island: VI. Atlantic Coast - Afterward
Hugh Aitken
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Cantata No. 4: I. Desnuda está la tierra…
Hugh Aitken
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Cantata No. 4: II. MI BUFÓN
Hugh Aitken
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Cantata No. 4: III. ¡O tarde luminosa!
Hugh Aitken
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Cantata No. 4: IV. Pegasos, lindos pegasos
Hugh Aitken
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Cantata No. 4: V. El sol un globo de fuego…El sol un globo de fuego…
Hugh Aitken
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Cantata No. 4: VI. CAMPO
Hugh Aitken
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Piano Fantasy
Hugh Aitken
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Cantata No. 6, Remembering
Hugh Aitken
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