ART FIRE SOULPiano Works of Judith Lang Zaimont
Judith Lang Zaimont
Includes World Premiere Recordings
“Informative annotations add to a release that seems bound to attract listeners and musicians alike... Zaimont has a rare capacity for crafting wide-ranging, stylistically accessible and heartfelt piano music that's both challenging and audience-friendly. MSR's notable clarity is especially ear-catching and the standout Moak tonal aptitude gives her encyclopedic recital (with a number of its items world premiere recordings) a stature of compelling merit.”
Howard Smith, Music & Vision [February 2016]CRITICS CHOICE: AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE
[David Moore, January/February 2013]
"Zaimont has a knack for creating well-crafter, wide-ranging, stylistically accessible and passionate keyboard music that can be challenging and audience-friendly at the same time... MSR's clearer, more detailed sound... Moak's sensitive ear for voicing chords and precise gradations of touch l;end themselves brilliantly to the short pieces comprising the suite Jupiter's Moons... However, the 30-minute Sonata reveals the full scope of both Moak's attention to small detail and feeling for large-scale momentum... Informative annotations adds to a release that ought to attract listeners and musicians alike."
Jed Distler, Gramophone - November 2012ONLINE FEATURE ARTICLE
Arts & Entertainment, Hotty Toddy - November 2012
"Though a pianist herself by background, it wasn’t really until the last 10 years that the excellent American composer Judith Lang Zaimont (b.1945) began to write a substantial quantity of music for the instrument. This double CD set beautifully performed by Elizabeth Moak contains nearly all Zaimont’s piano solos, ranging from a few earlier pieces, to various educational works, to a blockbuster large-scale sonata (2000). What distinguishes Zaimont’s catalog from that of many composers is the sustained excellence of her pieces."
Carson Cooman Want List, Fanfare - November/December 2012
“[Zaimont] is a well-known American composer who has won many awards... Her musical style is light but imaginative, not precisely tonal but related to that idiom, as well as to jazz and other human rather than abstract expressive languages. She is not to be characterized easily, as she is fluent in all forms and idioms and tends to sound improvisatory but never boring. This is an impressively well-filled pair of discs and is performed with taste and clarity in warm sound… So this new collection is well worth having… Moak is a fine player with a personality that clarifies while it warms the heart… So if you want to hear some tasteful and imaginative piano music played in a particularly effective manner, I would go for Moak’s set. Zaimont’s music is full of character and personality and I am very glad to have more of it.”
D. Moore, American Record Guide – September/October 2012
“[Zaimont’s music] has always impressed me with both excellent craftsmanship and a basic sincerity of expression, devoid of glitz or mere cleverness… [the] recordings are distinguished by performances that are both sympathetic and brilliantly virtuosic… these…pieces are played with considerable subtlety, artistry, and attention to detail by Elizabeth Moak, on what is her debut recording.”
Walter Simmons, Fanfare – September/October 2012
"Elizabeth Moak’s two-CD debut solo recording surveys fifty years of Zaimont compositions. It is a distinct pleasure to experience the composer’s early voice (as in American City: Portrait of New York, which Zaimont wrote when she was twelve) alongside mature concert works. Also included are pieces commissioned for students, such as the imaginative In My Lunchbox. Moak is a sensitive performer: from the sonata’s vertiginous Impronta Digitale to the snappy Jazz Waltz and the smile-inducing quodlibets of marches and carols in A Calendar Set, Moak navigates a wide variety of styles and technical demands with ease. Booklet notes are interesting and helpful. Although it may be anachronistic to describe Moak’s performances as definitive, in this case the adjective is probably apt. Recommended."
Denise Parr-Scanlan, Clavier Companion - July/August 2012
“Judith Lang Zaimont [has] done very well for herself without any special advocacy except her talent, which has ensured that her music is widely played and listened to today… all of Zaimont’s piano music…is beautifully, idiomatically written for the instrument… Elizabeth Moak [has] the virtuoso chops to meet this music head on, and [has] cultivated understanding of the different sides of Zaimont’s music—postmodernist, neo-Romanticist, pop-influenced as it is by turns.”
Lee Passarella, Audiophile Audition – June 2012
"Zaimont’s idiom is always firmly grounded in tonality, and boldly colorful; the piano is her own instrument, hence the idiomatic flair with which she writes for it. The Sonata is a substantial work, adhering loosely to the conventions of the medium. Original and muscular, it consists of a discursive first movement, a cantabile slow movement, incorporating two scherzando sections by way of variety, and a rapid-running, rhythmically jerky perpetuum mobile finale. The attractive suite of atmospheric character-pieces based on both the astronomical characteristics and mythological associations of the names of five of Jupiter’s moons invokes impressionism and mid-20th century American traditions - Copland, Piston - in a rhythmically quirky, modally-inflected tonality, as accessible as it is enjoyable. The Nocturne is unabashedly neo-romantic, while the varied set of preludes illustrates the characteristics of the months of the year, forming a strongly contrasted set, very tonal and pianistically idiomatic, atmospheric and appealing. The world première recordings here include the American City pieces of a precocious 12-year old (with one recent additional movement), the Lunchbox pieces, written for young pianists, and an example of the lively, humorous character pieces to which the composer has repeatedly turned during her career. A selection of inventive ragtime and jazz-influenced pieces round out this appealing collection."
Records International - May 2012
“Elizabeth Moak is an excellent pianist who seems to have this music at her finger tips. Zaimont's piano writing is tricky however Moak not only puts it over well but also gives us the idea that in the lighter pieces she's having fun… Judith Zaimont's music is always well written and, even in the lighter moments, serious about its purpose - even if that purpose is describing the contents of a child's lunch box. Beautifully textured piano writing mixes with whimsical and unusual ideas. The really serious pieces respond to repeated listening. With the large number of shorter pieces on the disc, this is a recital to dip into. “
Robert Hugill, MusicWeb International [July 2012]
Listed in "Disques" in La lettre du musician - May 2012, 2e Quinzaine, N° 418
Featured CD of the Month on Pytheas Center for Contemporary Music - May 2012
PROGRAM NOTESElizabeth Moak performing Nocturne: La Fin de Siecle
Elizabeth Moak performing Jazz Waltz (from Suite Impressions)
J L Zaimont performing Serenade (from CD "PRESTIGIDITATIONS", MSR MS1238)
Pianist Elizabeth Moak is noted for her attention to color, along with power and grace in her playing.
As an active proponent of the music of her own time, along with masterworks of past eras, she
searches out music that brings forward the piano’s essential acoustic nature but also appeals to,
and challenges, a concert artist’s technique and interpretive abilities. She finds the music of Judith
Lang Zaimont to be fresh and idiomatic in this regard and programs it regularly across the United
States and Europe. Elizabeth Moak’s continuing acquaintance with Zaimont’s music led naturally to
the design of her début solo recording as a 2-disc survey of this composer’s piano works. This, Moak’s debut recording includes the lion’s-share of Zaimont’s works for solo piano to date: five principal compositions, a sampling of the smaller suites, and several stand-alone pieces.
The piano is also Zaimont’s instrument. She began study at age five with her mother and from the
age of twelve worked with Rosina Lhevinne and Leland Thompson at the Juilliard School’s preparatory division. As one-half of a duo-piano team with her sister, she toured the United States, recorded a Golden Crest LP which includes two premieres of music by Casadesus and L. Thompson, and appeared on The Mitch Miller Show. However, she had also begun composing at age eleven, and was always most drawn to imagining new sounds.
Though Zaimont’s very earliest music is for piano, for a time she preferred a supporting role for
the instrument - in ensembles or with chorus or voice. When she returned to composing for piano
alone, she created pieces primarily for herself to play. With one exception, all her piano music prior
to the late 1990s was composed solely for her own performance, and not on commission. As a body
of work, her music calls for a controlled technique that commands a wide palette of articulations
and a careful choice of color and voicing. The music’s essentially modernist yet romantic nature is
dramatic, favoring sudden shifts of texture and density, rich chord complexes, and - in the larger
works - plastic forms. Perhaps because she typically writes for a fully-developed technique, her piano compositions are recognized as having immediate appeal for serious pianists.
Noted for her sensitivity and generous imagination, pianist Elizabeth Moak has performed throughout the United States in concert and on television and radio, and internationally in Canada, France, Switzerland, Italy and Austria. Solo appearances with orchestra have included concertos by Mozart, Beethoven, Grieg, Ravel and Gershwin. Winner of the Mu Phi Epsilon International Competition and several national competitions, including the NFMC Biennial Collegiate Competition, she holds the Diplôme de Virtuosité with highest honors from the Conservatoire de Musique de Neuchâtel in Switzerland and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance from Peabody Conservatory, where she studied with Leon Fleisher, Julian Martin and Ann Schein.
An interest in contemporary music has been a constant throughout Elizabeth Moak’s professional career, dating back to pre-college studies with pianist-composer Raymond Liebau, himself a student of Erno Dohnányi. She was awarded a 1993 Presser Foundation Fellowship for contemporary music studies, working with Claude Helffer, a noted proponent of the music of Boulez, Berg, Debussy, Barraqué and Schoenberg. She also studied at the Académie Musicale de Villecroze in France and in Salzburg. In 2002, she worked with Helffer and composer Betsy Jolas, performing at the Festival d’Avignon in an event broadcast on France Culture radio. She currently participates regularly in Mississippi’s Intégrales New Music Festival at the University of Southern Mississippi, which in 2010 honored the music of Judith Zaimont, and at other regional and national concerts and new music festivals. In the 1980s, Moak developed an interest in Zaimont’s music that led not only to her basing her doctoral studies on it, but also to her performing the works throughout the United States, in Canada and in Europe.
Elizabeth Moak’s recent solo performances include the world premiere of James Sclater’s Concerto and the Southern premiere of Zaimont’s Concerto for Piano and Wind Orchestra Solar Traveller, of which she was also a co-commissioner. She has also been recognized as a collaborative pianist by Peabody Conservatory and the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California. Her recent collaborative performances include Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet, Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps, and a disc of recent Brazilian music with flutist Danilo Mezzadri (Blue Griffin). Following an eight-year appointment to the music faculty at Millsaps College where she received the Outstanding Young Faculty Award, she joined the piano division at the University of Southern Mississippi where she is currently Associate Professor of Piano.
The music of Judith Lang Zaimont is internationally acclaimed for its immediacy, dynamism and emotion and is performed world-wide. Her style is distinguished by its spirit of rhapsody featuring sudden shifts in texture, instrumental coloring and atmosphere, and her more than 100 works include numerous prize-winning pieces covering every genre: symphonies, opera, wind ensemble, chorus and solo voice, chamber music, and solo instrumental. Her music appears on repertoire lists for major international performance competitions in voice, conducting and piano (Van Cliburn competition, 2001; San Antonio competition, 2003 and William Kapell competition in 2012), and two of her compositions are on Century Lists: Doubles for oboe and piano (Chamber Music America),
and Sonata (International Piano magazine). Her many composition awards include a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, commission grants from National Endowment for the Arts and American Composers Forum, and other prizes, most notably for her orchestral music: First Prize - Gold Medal, Gottschalk Centenary International Composition Competition (1972); First Prize, contest to honor the Statue of Liberty Centennial (1986); and First Prize, International McCollin Competition for Composers (1995; Symphony No.1). Additional honors include state arts boards grants from New York, Maryland and Arkansas, Meet The Composer and ASCAP awards over a 30-year period, an Aaron Copland Award and a Bush Foundation Fellowship.
Her works are widely published, and 24 discs containing her music are available on the Naxos, MSR
Classics, Koch Classical, Navona, Harmonia Mundi, Leonarda, Arkiv and 4-Tay labels, twelve of which are devoted solely to Zaimont. Her music is frequently performed by major ensembles such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore and Mississippi symphony orchestra, Berlin Radio Orchestra, Czech Radio Orchestra, Kremlin Chamber Orchestra in Moscow, Slovak National Philharmonic, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestras in New York and Boston, Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, Connecticut Opera, New York Virtuoso Singers, American Guild of Organists, Portland Symphonic Choir in Oregon, Gregg Smith Singers, Harlem String Quartet, Bergen Wind Quintet in Norway, Zagreb Saxophone Quartet and American Ragtime Ensemble.
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Judith Zaimont is also recognized as a distinguished educator and
writer, and remains sought after as principal composer for festivals and master classes. Her teaching career included appointments in theory and composition at CUNY, Peabody Conservatory where she was Teacher of the Year in 1985, Professor of Music and Department Chair at Adelphi University, and Professor of Music Composition at the University of Minnesota, where in 2002 she was named Scholar of the College of Liberal Arts. She is also the creator and editor-in-chief of the book series, The Musical Woman: An International Perspective, for which she was awarded a research grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and author of many articles and essays. Her essay Embracing New Music received the 2009 Article of the Year Award from the Music Teachers National Association. She now resides in Arizona with her husband, artist Gary Zaimont, and concentrates fully on composing. [www.jzaimont.com]
PROGRAMJUDITH LANG ZAIMONT (b.1945)
CALENDAR COLLECTION (1976) - SPRING
March: The Winds Depart
April: The First Bird-song
May: The May-fly
JUPITER’S MOONS (2000)
The Moons Swim in Orbit
CALENDAR COLLECTION - SUMMER
September: The Winds Arise
WIZARDS - THREE MAGIC MASTERS (2003)
Spell CASTER (Rhetorical)
Spell WEAVER (Lyrical)
Magister SORCEROR (Energetic)
CALENDAR COLLECTION - AUTUMN
October: Autumn Thoughts
November: Secret Thunder
NOCTURNE: LA FIN DE SIÈCLE (1979)
A CALENDAR SET - 12 VIRTUOSIC PRELUDES (1974-75)
January: “Whose morning drumbeat, following the sun, and keeping company
with the hours, circles the earth.” [Daniel Webster]
February: Palace of Ice
March: “The braggart March” [Robert Burns Wilson]
April: “You know how it is with an April day” [Robert Frost]
May: “As full of spirit as the month of May, and gorgeous” [William Shakespeare]
June: “Then, if ever, come perfect days” [James Russell Lowell]
July: The Glorious Fourth!
August: “Dry August and warm” [Thomas Tusser]
September: “Where blue is darkened on blueness
down the way Persephone goes just now
in first-frosted September” [D. H. Lawrence]
October: “The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves” [Humbert Wolfe]
November: “November’s sky is chill and drear” [Sir Walter Scott]
December: The Carols
CORTÈGE FOR JACK (2010) - WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING
JAZZ WALTZ (from Suite Impressions, 1996)
AMERICAN CITY: PORTRAIT OF NEW YORK (1957/2010) - WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING
HITCHIN’ - A Travellin’ Groove (2007)
IN MY LUNCHBOX (2003) - WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING
The Banana Song
Dessert – Sugar Rush
HESITATION RAG (1998)
REFLECTIVE RAG (1975)
JUDY’S RAG (1974)