Stevens, Gross & Lessard: Music for Cello
Gabor Rejto, cello; Bernard Greenhouse, cello; Menahem Pressler, piano;

Halsey Stevens (b. Scott, N. Y., 1908) comments as follows regarding the Sonata for Solo 'cello:

“The Introduzione presents three thematic ideas, elements of which recur in later movements — though the work is not cyclical. The spirit of the movement is somewhat improvisatory, even though the form is closed. The Ciaccona is a set of ten variations on an eight-measure theme, arranged in a ternary plan, the central section of which is the more active.

“The Scherzo is in modified arch-form, its 'keystone' being a scurrying ponticello passage derived from the first movement. The Notturno is subdued and reflective. The Finale, marked Allegro sbalzando, is the only movement of the work based on the sonata principle. Its two distinctive thematic complexes — the first vigorously rhythmic, the second flowing, are clearly exposed, developed, and recapitulated, Developmental procedures — fragmentation, variation, and recombination of melodic elements — are however characteristic of the entire sonata, this in common with most of the composer's body of work.”

Speaking of the Epode for solo 'cello recorded here, Robert Gross notes,

“The music's character is suggested by its title, signifying a very free lyric poem in the nature of an incantation. An opening two-note motive generates a succession of short sections, with tonal organization dependent on a series of repeating cell-patterns. Though there are episodes demanding great virtuosity, the prevailing purpose is to exploit the basic lyricism of the 'cello and the close relationship of its timbre to that of the human voice. Both as composer and performer, I have been intrigued by the unique qualities of solo string music — having written works for solo viola and solo violin, and at the same time being the fortunate recipient of solo violin music written for me by such composers as Roger Sessions, Ernst Krenek, Ellis Kohs, and Bruno Bartolozzi.”

John Lessard (b. San Francisco, 1920) tells us of his Sonata for 'cello and Piano,

'The first movement follows the sonata-allegro pattern, with second theme preceding the first at the recapitulation. The second movement is more polyphonic in texture, with the basic elements being heard singly, then in varied combinations: piano and 'cello imitate one another and trade parts. A rhythmic element is first heard, the others are essentially melodic. The last movement follows without pause, opening as a 5/8 presto with changing meter. There is a counter-theme in 3/4, and when the first theme returns it is in considerably extended form.”


This title from the CRI LP back catalog has been carefully transferred from the original master tape, and is now available 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).

We have preserved the original CRI LP catalog number for this title, preceded by the prefix NWCRL, to distinguish previously unavailable back catalog titles from those later reissued by CRI on compact disc.

***Please note that the newly-digitized CRI LP titles are priced at $12.99 (multiples excepted) and are not included in any of the special offers.***

Gabor Rejto

Stevens, Gross & Lessard: Music for Cello

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Track Listing

Sonata for Solo Cello: I. Introduzione
Halsey Stevens
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Sonata for Solo Cello: II. Ciaccona
Halsey Stevens
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Sonata for Solo Cello: III. Scherzo
Halsey Stevens
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Sonata for Solo Cello: IV. Notturno
Halsey Stevens
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Sonata for Solo Cello: V. Finale
Halsey Stevens
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Epode for Solo Cello
Robert Gross
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Sonata for Cello and Piano: I. Allegro moderato
John Lessard
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Sonata for Cello and Piano: II. Adagio
John Lessard
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Sonata for Cello and Piano: III. Presto
John Lessard
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