AMERICAN LYRICISMPiano Music by American Composers
Richard Danielpour, Monica Houghton, Pierre Jalbert, Justin Merritt, Christopher Theofanidis
CHRISTOPHER ATZINGER, piano
World Premiere Recordings
“[ * * * * ] American pianist Christopher Atzinger...has chosen a program that attempts to define modern lyricism in contemporary music. He has chosen well; all of these pieces demonstrate a lively and strongly melodic penchant for contemporary communication while not shirking what has gone before, and making good use of the American idiom which has its roots in popular song and jazz... Atzinger plays Theofanidis and Danielpour very well... The sound is clear and exceptionally clean on this release...and Atzinger has a formidable grasp of the music and its idiom.”
Steve Ritter, Audiophile Audition [March 2015]
“an interesting anthology of American post-past piano music by Christopher Atzinger, appropriately titled American Lyricism. On it are five compositions by living American composers writing in a lyrical, tonal vein... we have works of the present century, lyrical, poetic, somewhere between post- and neo- in that they at times hearken back to a sort of impressionism but also sound fresh and contemporary... poetically played by Christopher Atzinger, and they have both lively and contemplative qualities... It's good music, well played!”
Grego Edwards, Gapplegate Classical Review [December 2014]
“Lyricism pervades a new MSR Classics disc of recent piano music by American composers, as the CD’s title, American Lyricism, makes clear... the very names of the composers constitute a celebration of the inclusiveness that is so characteristic of the United States: Theofanidis, Danielpour, Houghton, Merritt, Jalbert. In another sense, the music itself is evidence of inclusion: styles, approaches and moods vary all over the place, and although the appellation “lyricism” is appropriate enough for some parts of some of the works, it is not descriptive of them as a whole. Christopher Atzinger approaches all these pieces with considerable understanding and finely balanced technique... an interesting sampling of modern American piano compositions.”
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [December 2014]
PROGRAM NOTESAlthough this recital has no thematic concept binding its works together, they have much in common: all five composers are American, all are living, and all work within tonality. Within these parameters, there is ample variety from the generations of composers whose music is heard here.
Lauded in Gramophone for his “abundant energy, powerful fingers, big sound, and natural musicality,” and praised by the San Francisco Chronicle for his “fervency and panache,” American pianist Christopher Atzinger is celebrated for insightful performances and a reputation for excellence. He has performed extensively throughout the United States and Europe, highlighted by recital performances at Carnegie Hall (New York), Salle Cortot (Paris), St. Martin-in-the-Fields (London), National Concert Hall (Dublin), American Academy (Rome), Liszt Museum (Budapest), Barocco Cultural Arts (Valletta), the Smithsonian Gallery of American Art and the Phillips Collection (Washington), and the Dame Myra Hess Series (Chicago). Festival appearances include the Banff International Keyboard Festival, Brevard Music Festival, Bridge Chamber Music Festival, and the Chautauqua Institution.
Atzinger is a medalist of the New Orleans, San Antonio, Cincinnati, Shreveport and Seattle international piano competitions. He is also winner of the National Federation of Music Clubs Artist Competition and the Simone Belsky Piano Competition, as well as the Premio Città di Ispica prize at the IBLA Grand Prize Competition in Italy. Additionally, he is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Theodore Presser Foundation, Foundation La Gesse, American Composers Forum and Joyce Dutka Arts Foundation. Most recently, he was awarded a large McKnight Fellowship for Performing Artists.
Christopher Atzinger’s live performances have aired on radio stations WFMT-Chicago, WJR-Detroit, WXEL-South Florida, KPAC-San Antonio, WUOL-Louisville, and WGTE-Toledo and on Kansas, South Dakota, and New England Public Radio, along with television stations in Chicago and Cincinnati. His recordings have also been featured on WQXR-New York, WGBH-Boston, Minnesota Public Radio, and nationally on American Public Media’s Performance Today. As guest soloist, he has appeared with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, North Carolina’s Brevard Repertory Orchestra and the symphony orchestras of Shreveport, Springfield (MA), Jackson (MI) and St. Olaf, under the batons of Klauspeter Seibel, Steven Smith, Dennis Simons, Kevin Rhodes, Stephen Osmond, Mischa Santora, and Steven Amundson.
Atzinger’s discography includes three highly praised albums released on the MSR Classics label – a debut solo recording of Bach, Beethoven, Barber and Fritze; and all-Brahms album; and “American Lyricism” featuring works by Christopher Theofanidis, Richard Danielpour, Monica Houghton, Pierre Jalbert, and Justin Merrit. He has also recorded works of Judith Lang Zaimont for Naxos and music of Amy Beach for Centaur Records.
Also having interests in collaborative music, Atzinger has performed with violinist Igor Yuzefovich (concertmaster, Singapore Symphony), cellists Douglas Harvey (principal, Austin Symphony), and Michael Kannen (Peabody Conservatory); clarinetist Jun Qian (Baylor Univ); sopranos Kelly Kaduce, Mary Wilson, and Brenda Nicole Atzinger; pianists Gloria Reimer (Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia-Rome) and Kathryn Ananda-Owens (St. Olaf College); and several members of the Minnesota Orchestra and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. In addition to being a winner of the Sydney Wright Memorial Collaborative Piano Competition, he has also collaborated with the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota and the Minneapolis Music Company.
A Michigan native, Christopher began piano lessons at age six. He went on to earn degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and University of Michigan, and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance from the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University. Among his principal teachers he counts Julian Martin, Robert McDonald, Anton Nel, David Renner and Carolyn Lipp. Additional keyboard studies were undertaken with Timothy Lovelace, Edward Parmentier and Penelope Crawford. A dedicated teacher and coach himself, Dr. Atzinger taught at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, prior to joining the St. Olaf College music faculty in 2005 where he is currently an Associate Professor of Music. He has also lectured at The Juilliard School and Berklee College of Music, and conducted master classes throughout the United States.
[ christopheratzinger.com ]
PROGRAMCHRISTOPHER THEOFANIDIS (b.1967)
ALL DREAMS BEGIN WITH THE HORIZON (2007)
RICHARD DANIELPOUR (b.1956)
THE ENCHANTED GARDEN: PRELUDES, BOOK II (2009)
Surrounded by Idiots
Lean Kat Stride
A Community of Silence
There’s a Ghost in My Room!
MONICA HOUGHTON (b.1954)
SONATA FOR PIANO (1998)
WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING
JUSTIN MERRITT (b.1975)
CHACONNE: MERCY ENDURES (2009)
WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING
PIERRE JALBERT (b.1967)