Roger Sessions: Piano Works
Liner Notes   Cat. No. NWCR800     Release Date: 1998-01-01
Robert Helps, piano

In 1943 and 1944, the heavens smiled on me beneficently and I met and began working with the two most determining musical influences in my life — Abby Whiteside, my piano teacher, and Roger Sessions, my theory and composition teacher. It's hard to imagine how my life might have gone without them.

Both people, in their own ways, believed in rhythm, movement, and the sensing out of form as being the most important, primary elements in music. The exact melody, harmony, or notes took a follow-through position to contacting the energized feeling of movement, shape, progression, and timing.

I studied with Sessions privately (not through any university or conservatory) on and off from 1944 to 1957 in New York, Berkeley, Princeton and Florence. In his composition classes, we students closely followed Roger's critiques of our new pieces to see how he would spot, with his highly sensitive ear and rhythm-sensing equipment, just where something didn't work or went off the tracK in both gesture and detail. This process was indeed as terrific a learning experience for all of us students as was the actual critique of our own music. "Style" played virtually no role in this. Sessions seemed capable of entering the students' stylistic sensibilities and often primitive artistic palette to criticize from within.

It was in 1946 when Sessions presented me with a manuscript copy of Pages from a Diary which was the original title and the one he preferred to From My Diary. The four short pieces, written between 1937 and 1940, were each dedicated to one of his students. (The dedicatees are Milton Babbitt, Edward T. Cone, Carter Harman and Vivian Fine. Three of these, of course, became well known composers while Carter Harman later became, for quite some time, Executive Director of CRI.) Thus began my first real contact with performing and really hearing advanced, vital 20th century music. And thus began my involvement with Sessions' piano music as a whole. Within two years I was performing the Sonata No. 2, several years later I circled back to pick up the Sonata No. 1, and I started performing the Sonata No. 3 shortly after it was finished in 1965.
— Robert Helps


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).

Robert Helps

Roger Sessions: Piano Works

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Track Listing

Piano Sonata No. 2: I. Allegro con fuoco
Roger Sessions
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Piano Sonata No. 2: II. Lento
Roger Sessions
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Piano Sonata No. 2: III. Misurato e pesante
Roger Sessions
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Piano Sonata No. 1: I. Andante
Roger Sessions
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Piano Sonata No. 1: II. Allegro
Roger Sessions
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Piano Sonata No. 1: III. Andante - Poco meno mosso - Tempo I
Roger Sessions
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Piano Sonata No. 1: IV. Molto vivace
Roger Sessions
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From My Diary: I. Poco adagio
Roger Sessions
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From My Diary: II. Allegro con brio
Roger Sessions
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From My Diary: III. Larghissimo e misterioso
Roger Sessions
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From My Diary: IV. Allegro pesante
Roger Sessions
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Piano Sonata No. 3: I. Adagio e misterioso, sostenuto
Roger Sessions
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Piano Sonata No. 3: II. Molto allegro e con fuoco
Roger Sessions
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Piano Sonata No. 3: III. Lento e molto tranquillo
Roger Sessions
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