Music of Joan Tower
Liner Notes   Cat. No. NWCR582     Release Date: 2007-01-01
Da Capo Chamber Players: [Joel Lester, violin; André Emelianoff, cello; Helen Harbison, cello; Patricia Spencer, flute; Laura Flax, clarinet; Allen Blustine, clarinet; Sarah Rothenberg, piano; Joan Tower, piano]; Gordon Gottlieb, percussion]; Daniel Shulman, Conductor; Collage New Music: [Joel Smirnoff, violin; Joel Moerschel, cello; Randolph Bowman, flute; Robert Annis, clarinet; Frank Epstein, percussion; Christopher Oldfather, piano]

For Joan Tower, writing good music is the natural result of knowing how to make good music. Herself a trained pianist, Tower’s compositions are characterized by an instrumental color and brilliance and by her writing which is both challenging and flattering to performers. Tower’s use of earthbound, physical images lends the music an accessible, tangible quality.

Born in New Rochelle, New York in 1938, Tower was raised in South America where her father worked as a mining engineer. Her early musical experiences included family musicals in which she participated on piano and percussion. After returning to New York and completing studies at Bennington College and Columbia University, Tower founded the Da Capo Chamber Players in 1969 as a vehicle for performing her music and the music of her contemporaries. She served as pianist for the ensemble until 1984.

The solo and chamber works on this disc date from Tower’s years with the Da Capo Chamber Players, during which time her writing matured and benefited from Tower’s regular association with skilled instrumentalists. The earliest pieces here, Hexachords (1972), and Breakfast Rhythms I & II (1974- 75), display Tower’s gradual movement away from serial writing to, in Mary Lou Humphrey’s words, “a more fluid, organic technique.” Platinum Spirals (1977) is one in a series of pieces, including Black Topaz (1976) and Red Garnet Waltz (1977), which used minerals in their titles and are written in memory of Tower’s father. Amazon (1977) similarly pays homage to the composer’s childhood in South America. Petroushskates (1980), which was composed for the Da Capo Chamber Players’ tenth anniversary, and Wings (1981), a solo written for clarinetist Laura Flax, became perhaps Tower’s most popular chamber works subsequent to their original recordings on CRI. The pieces were rerecorded in 1989 to take advantage of digital technology and to display the performers’ greater familiarity with and affection for the music.


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 Joan Tower

MP3/320 $9.99
FLAC $9.99
WAV $9.99
CD $15.99

Track Listing

Petroushkates
Joan Tower
Buy
Wings
Joan Tower
Buy
Amazon
Joan Tower
Buy
Platinum Spirals
Joan Tower
Buy
Noon Dance
Joan Tower
Buy
Hexachords
Joan Tower
Buy
Breakfast Rhythms I
Joan Tower
Buy
Breakfast Rhythms II
Joan Tower
Buy