STRAVINSKY: L'HISTOIRE DU SOLDATAnd Works by Bartók, Benshoof and Coray
Béla Bartók, Ken Benshoof, Craig Coray, Igor Stravinsky
ALASKA PRO MUSICA
Mark Wolbers, Clarinet
Walter Olivares, Violin
Timothy Smith, Piano
World Premiere Recordings
"This is a recording that is extremely well-done. All the performances are of the highest calibre...you will not be disappointed"
"[the Alaska Pro Music] let loose...reveling in Benshoof's spiky rhythms and jazzy idiom; at the same time, though, they bring an appropriate sense of serenity to the poetic slow movements...The group sells [Sanctuary] well, and the dark ending leaves quite an impression on the listener."
American Record Guide [July / August 2008]
"The first thing which impresses about the opening moments of the CD is the immediacy and brilliance of the recording...Alaska Pro Musica give the five movements [of the Stravinsky] plenty of gusty grit and rhythmic drive. Walter Olivares’ violin is the star, and it provides the necessary quasi-vocal effects which bring much of the music to life, muttering and singing often almost to itself as the other instruments accompany and commentate.
A Whimsical Solution by Ken Benshoof was commissioned by this trio, and as you might expect receives a sensitive performance. There are four fairly short movements, each with a ‘whimsical’ title: Simple, which has lyrical charm as well as atmosphere and some drama; Snappy, which has some Messiaen-like octaves within a swinging rhythmic idiom, followed up by walking bass lines in the piano and improvisatory melodies in the other soloists. Quirky is more sparing in its distribution of notes, creating a bleaker landscape, but still one with a certain amount of emotional warmth and approachability. This moves straight on into another jazzy number called Ramblin’, full of little Charleston ostinati, and finishing this attractive work on a positive up-beat into which elements of the other movements are worked.
Craig Coray’s Sanctuary was also premiered by Alaska Pro Musica. The title interweaves ‘a musical homage to wild places’ with the concept of sanctuary as a place of refuge, and in the family unit in a similar sense – the personalities of the composer’s wife and two daughters playing their part in the character of the music. This is more introspective in nature to Benshoof’s work, and even the more animated sections have that sense of enclosed space appropriate to the title and themes. The music can be lyrical, having a strong harmonic sense...
... this is an interesting programme, and certainly worth investigating. The Stravinsky performance and recording is a real gem, the two newcomers are worthy additions..."
MusicWeb International [June 2008]
"The Pro Musica trio...are thoroughly professional and the four selections make a fine chamber music program."
Audiophile Audition [April 2008]
PROGRAM NOTESAlaska Pro Musica is a faculty ensemble from the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA). The musicians, violinist Walter Olivares, pianist Timothy Smith, and clarinetist Mark Wolbers, were each selected through national searches by the University for their unique combination of exceptional performance and educational skills. Alaska Pro Musica has captivated audiences with performances since the trio’s founding in 1994, and has performed on three tours to Chile, South America. A review of their performance at the Semanas Musicales international music festival in Frutillar, Chile, declared that it the "best concert" of the chamber music series.
Clarinetist Mark Wolbers received his early instruction with the late Evelyn Angerman, and later with Fred Ormand and John Mohler. His Doctor of Musical Arts degree in clarinet performance was earned from the University of Michigan where he also served as Associate Conductor of the U of M Youth Band and Wind Ensemble under the mentorship of Larry Rachleff. As a chamber musician, Wolbers has performed with the Fontana Ensemble, Sitka Music Festival, Cross Sound, DeVere and Southwest String Quartets and performs annually at the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra Summer Music Festival. He is conductor of the University of Alaska Anchorage Wind Ensemble, and is a frequent guest artist, adjudicator and clinician for honor bands and festivals.
Violinist Walter Olivares has been hailed by the press in the United States and abroad as a musician who "can do anything with the violin, erotic, caressing tone". A native of Chile, Mr. Olivares gave his solo debut at the age of 15. A protégé of maestro Zoltan Fischer, he finished the seven-year harmony, solfège and counterpoint program at an early age and was awarded a full scholarship by a member of the Peace Corp to study with Dr. James Barber, Ivan Galamian and Raphael Bronstein in the United States. His debut at Carnegie Recital Hall was described by Tim Page of The New York Times as "the last word in refinement, lean dark tone". Olivares’ students perform and teach in the United States, Italy and the Czech Republic.
Pianist Timothy Smith has studied with Bela Siki and Martin Canin. In his youth, he was accepted for entry into and attended the pre-college division of the Juilliard School in New York City. He holds degrees from the University of Washington (BA, BM), the Juilliard School (MM), and S.U.N.Y. at Stony Brook (DMA). A winner of major prizes in international competitions, including the Robert Casadesus, Gina Bachauer and others, Smith has performed across the United States and toured Asia on many occasions, including nearly 50 concerts in Japan and Korea, a concert tour across northern China, a recital in the large concert hall in Beijing's Forbidden City, and a performance with the China National Symphony Orchestra in Beijing that was broadcast nationally over China Central Television. Timothy Smith is a Steinway concert artist.
SUITE from L’HISTOIRE DU SOLDAT
I. Marche du Soldat
II. Le violon du Soldat
III. Petit concert
V. Danse du Diable
A WHIMSICAL SOLUTION
I. Verbunkos (Recruiting Dance)
II. Piheno (Relaxation)
III. Sebes (Fast Dance)