POULENC: MUSIC FOR WINDS
THE IOWA ENSEMBLE
Nicole Esposito, flute and piccolo
Mark Weiger, oboe
Maurita Murphy Marx, clarinet
Benjamin Coelho, bassoon
Kristin Thelander, French horn
Alan Huckleberry, piano
BEST OF THE YEAR DISC
Audiophile Audition [December 2015]
“the cohesion of [the] ensemble is quite impressive. Especially notable is Nicole Esposito, Associate Professor of Flute at the University, in her two pieces. She has a beauty of tone and fluidity of playing that is exceptional. The well-known bassoonist Benjamin Coehlo is impressive as usual in the two works in which he participates. The other instrumentalists are also excellent and Alan Huckleberry is to be commended also for bringing these performances before a wider public. As an aside, those listeners who are interested in Hindemith may wish to go to his web-site for details of his latest project. The recording quality on this disc is both life-like and intimate. In short, while there are numerous recordings of the individual Poulenc works for winds this disc is attractive both for its completeness and for its sense of ensemble not to mention the joy in playing conveyed by the performers.”
William Kreindler, MusicWeb International [September 2015]
“[The University of Iowa] renditions are energetic and sensitive… Huckleberry is a steady force at the keyboard, delivering excellent touch, technique, phrasing, and color… Esposito sports lovely resonance and great poise in the Flute Sonata and the Sextet”
Hanudel, American Record Guide [September/October 2015]
“The Complete Music for Winds and Piano features the Iowa Ensemble that brings together a distinguished collection of musicians... The Iowa Ensemble is a group of very fine musicians who give tremendously satisfying performances of these wonderful works. They are very well recorded at Clapp Recital Hall [and] there are excellent booklet notes from Carla Colletti.”
Bruce Reader, The Classical Reviewer [August 2015]
“I was charmed by the relaxation [The Iowa Ensemble] were able to bring to the Flute Sonata, the Trio for Oboe, Bassoon, and Piano, and the famed Sextet.”
Lynn René Bayley, Fanfare [September/October 2015]
[ * * * * ] “Delicacy and power... [This has] expressiveness of a different sort, more straightforward and in some ways more immediately appealing... The Iowa Ensemble makes all this music highly attractive, and the contrasts among the pieces themselves make the disc as a whole a fascinating one to which to listen.”
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [June 2015]
“[The Iowa Ensemble] really show their stuff in a well-packed program comprising the complete music for winds and piano of Francis Poulenc… A wealth of melodic and highly idiomatic music on this CD brilliantly displays what each of the wind instruments can do, individually with piano and as an ensemble. The timbres are so flavorful you can virtually taste them, and the recorded sound has such an immediate, full-bodied presence...”
Phil Muse, Audio Society of Atlanta [March 2015]
PROGRAM NOTESWhen describing the music of Francis Poulenc (1899-1963), it is hard to ignore the lyricism and expressivity that is portrayed through his works. While it is true that critics sometimes overlooked Poulenc’s work due to the apparent simplicity of his music, Poulenc’s ability to write a beautiful mélodie is one reason why he remains a notable French composer of the twentieth century. Poulenc used every aspect of the French language to enliven his songs, and although instrumental works are not associated with text, the same meticulous attention to detail is heard in Poulenc’s chamber works.
Regarding the composition of chamber music, Poulenc states that it “is an intermittent phenomenon. Sometimes an inner necessity compels me to write, and sometimes a virtuoso simply gives me the opportunity.” Poulenc’s chamber works can be divided into three periods. The first, 1917-1939, includes the Trio for Piano, Oboe and Bassoon; Villanelle; and the Sextet for Piano and Wind Instruments, among other works. During 1940-1948, the composer’s efforts in the genre were limited to his violin and cello sonatas, and Poulenc admitted to preferring winds to strings. The final period, 1957-1963, includes the Elegy for Horn and the three sonatas for woodwinds. Poulenc wanted to write sonatas for “the whole range of wind instruments”. Although there is evidence he began a bassoon sonata, the piece apparently was not completed and has never been found.
Poulenc’s writing for winds is skillful and idiomatic, exploring all the expressive possibilities of each instrument. The composer felt that his best piano writing is found in his chamber works, and he attempted to treat the piano as an equal to the wind instruments. All of his works in this genre share certain stylistic traits. Poulenc’s compositional technique involves the “piling on” of thematic material as opposed to thematic development. This type of melodic treatment is better suited to additive
formal structures such as ternary and rondo forms, and Poulenc appears to have a favorite formula with respect to the formal structure of the chamber works. Typically, the first movement is a modified ternary form, which is contrasted with a slower second movement in ternary form. The final movement is often a modified rondo, which features a reprise of thematic content from the first movement. The Oboe Sonata is the exception, featuring a slower first movement, followed by a quick
second movement, and a slow final movement. Poulenc also favored a homophonic texture, highlighting the tunefulness of his melodies.
Brazilian-born bassoonist Benjamin Coelho has appeared as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral musician around the world. Also highly active as a recording artist, Coelho can be heard on six critically acclaimed CDs. His bassoon teachers include Clóvis Franco, Donald MacCourt, Kim Walker and Arthur Weisberg. Coelho currently serves as the Professor of Bassoon at the University of Iowa, and Principal Bassoonist with the Quad City Symphony Orchestra.
Flutist Nicole Esposito is a frequent soloist, recitalist, teacher and adjudicator at important venues around the world. Esposito has been featured on the cover of Flute Talk magazine, and is a frequent
contributor to flute journals and publications. She is the host of the annual summer workshop, the Iowa Piccolo Intensive, and is a Miyazawa performing artist. A finalist and prizewinner of several competitions, Esposito holds degrees from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Michigan. She is currently Flute Professor at the University of Iowa School of Music.
Pianist Alan Huckleberry is recognized as a multi-faceted artist on the classical music scene. He has performed in recital as a soloist and chamber musician in the United States, Europe, Australia, and Central and South America. In addition to his performing career, Huckleberry is equally as passionate about his role as an educator. He is currently on the piano faculty at the University of Iowa where he heads the piano pedagogy program, which is recognized as one of the leading programs in the nation. He is a sought-after speaker on pedagogical topics, including talks at all major conferences in the field. As a performer, Huckleberry’s repertoire includes not only the standard works of the piano literature, but new music as well, evidenced aby a long list of compositions written for him. Most recently, he and pianist Jason Sifford have undertaken the substantial project involving recording on video the complete standard repertoire for beginner through intermediate piano students, making them available on their YouTube channel UIPianoPed.
Clarinetist Maurita Murphy Marx has an active performance schedule, including invitations from the Cleveland Quartet and the National Symposium of Brazil. As a recording artist, she has received critical acclaim for her Brazilian choro CDs, which include Over the Fence, Red Hot & Brazilian with pianist Rafael dos Santos and Te Amo Brazil with guitarist Michele Ramo. Also a noted teacher, Marx has seen her students win first prizes in international clarinet competitions. She is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music and earned a Performer’s Certificate from Michigan State University.
Horn player Kristin Thelander has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician across the United States, Europe, Mexico, Brazil, China and South Korea. In recent years she has been active in the National Association of Schools of Music, serving as a member of the Commission on Accreditation and as a visiting evaluator for institutional reviews. She was also active in the International Horn Society, performing at many regional and international horn workshops, and serving on the IHS Advisory Council and as Vice President. After winning the American Horn Competition in 1981, Thelander joined the music faculty at the University of New Mexico. She moved to the University of Iowa in 1989, where she has served as horn professor and Director of the School of Music. Since 2008, she has served in an administrative position for facilities planning.
Mark Weiger maintained an active performance and recording schedule as a soloist, in regional orchestras and summer music festivals and with the double reed quartet Wizards! Weiger performed as a soloist throughout North America and Europe, edited and published numerous works for double reed quartet and made more than a dozen solo and chamber music recordings. In 1996-97, he served as a United States Artistic Ambassador, playing recitals in the Middle East, India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Weiger was oboe professor at the University of Iowa for 20 years, and also served as Associate Director of the School of Music.
SONATA FOR OBOE AND PIANO (1962)
Sonate pour hautbois et piano, FP185
I. Elégie (Paisiblement)
II. Scherzo (Très animé)
III. Déploration (Très calme)
SONATA FOR FLUTE AND PIANO (1957)
Sonate pour flûte et piano, FP164
I. Allegretto malincolico
III. Presto giocoso
SONATA FOR CLARINET AND PIANO (1962)
Sonate pour clarinette et piano, FP184
I. Allegro tristamente
III. Allegro con fuoco
TRIO FOR OBOE, BASSOON, AND PIANO (1926)
Trio pour piano, hautbois et basson, FP43
SEXTET FOR FLUTE, OBOE, CLARINET, BASSOON, FRENCH HORN AND PIANO (1939)
Sextuor pour piano, flute, hautbois, clarinette, basson et cor, FP100
I. Allegro vivace
VILLANELLE FOR PICCOLO AND PIANO (1934)
Villanelle pour flûte à bec et piano (from Pipeau, 1934), FP74
ELEGY FOR FRENCH HORN AND PIANO (1957)
Elégie pour cor et piano, FP168