Music Based On Visual Art

Matthew Harris, Libby Larsen, Andrew List, Stephen Paulus

Sarita Uranovsky Violin
Marc Moskovitz Cello
Stephen Dyball Viola
Bruce Creditor Clarinet
Debra Ayers Piano



"Sight and hearing meet in one's mind. Parallel input from the eyes and the ears, when carefully prepared, may result in much more than the sum of its parts. Ballet and opera explore one possible way to combine the visual and the audio. But why not set music to a picture? That's what the Starry Night Project is about. It presents music of contemporary American composers, written about paintings. Most of the color reproductions (regrettably, not all) are printed in the booklet in good quality, so you can enjoy the compete experience; for the rest, you have your memory - and Google! ... The four sets by four composers are diverse and attractive... I cannot imagine a better performance of these works than by the MONTAGE ensemble members. They seem to blow life into every note. Technically and emotionally, the performance is perfect. The recording quality is very good. The booklet is excellently done: the composers themselves supplied revealing notes about the works, and the reproductions are high quality. In my opinion, the works by Harris and List stand head above the rest - but the entire disc is like a modern "Pictures at an Exhibition": a wonderful, unforgettable journey."
Oleg Ledeniov, MusicWeb International - May 2010
"At last! A program devoted intentionally and exclusively to the relationship between music and art... [An] intriguing program put together by the Boston-based Montage Music Society... they have succeeded in offering us a program of consistently excellent music that can easily stand on its own without reference to the artwork that presumably inspired it. Both Harris’s Starry Night suite and Andrew List’s Gauguin-inspired Noa Noa, in fact, constitute some of the finest chamber music of recent vintage I know. Each of Harris’s seven, three-to-four minute movements is well crafted, exudes character, and stimulates the imagination. Noa Noa by Boston-based composer List was commissioned especially for Montage Music Society. Scored for piano, clarinet, and violin, it combines the lush textures redolent of a tropical landscape with the neoclassical scoring of a Ravel with the vibrant colors of Gauguin to create a work to which I will surely return often. In some intangible way, List has captured the essence of Gauguin’s grand tableau Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? to a greater extent than any other composer on this program, save perhaps a couple of Harris’s interpretations. And I can’t imagine any cellist turning his or her back on the intense, flowing lyricism and the delightful rhythms of Paulus’s Art Suite for cello and piano. All four composers have created felicitous blends of the instruments at hand in music that reflects more the world of Walter Piston and Roy Harris than that of any avant-gardist (all works on this program date from 1984 onward). Performances are top-notch, especially the focused expressiveness of cellist Marc Moskovitz. The recording deserves special mention for its exceptional clarity, perfect balance, and natural sound environment (no clanky piano, no squealy clarinet, no wiry violin)... just listen to these pieces as pure music. You won’t be disappointed."
Robert Markow, Fanfare - May/June 2010
"This is a stylish concept album... [Montage Music Society's] playing is elegant and scrupulous throughout. The whole project, in its multidisciplinary approach, is very well conceived and presented: many of the paintings are included in full color reproductions in the booklet... This is recommended for lovers of new chamber music who don’t necessarily prefer the avant-garde, and who like some programmatic spice."
Robert Carl, Fanfare - January / February 2010
"Boston’s Montage Music Society is an excellent performance group... It came up with a fascinating programming idea, chamber works by four American composers, descriptively based on paintings."
Turok's Choice, Issue No.219 - March 2010
"lovely music... illuminating and perceptive... beautiful... sumptuously lyrical... purely joyous... The sound is full of life and detail. The booklet notes is a historic document in itself."
Gramophone - December 2009
"...this whole program has a feeling of quiet grandeur about it that is quite moving... The connection between the arts is stronger than we think. This is beautifully played and recorded as well."
American Record Guide - November / December 2009
"I want to tell you how much I like your recording of "Black Birds, Red Hills". It’s terrific. I’m delighted and honored to be associated with you."
Libby Larson, June 2009
MONTAGE Music Society’s STARRY NIGHT PROJECT is a multi-disciplinary initiative that features music of prominent, living American composers written exclusively about works of visual art. The featured paintings belong to notable art collections, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and The Art Institute of Chicago. A key component of the project is the connection of ear to eye, eye to ear; thereby encouraging the audience to observe, notice and gainmore appreciation and understanding for the respective art forms. Forging connections between art forms encourages active listening and observation and stimulates fresh, new insights into the musical and visual creative processes.

*   *   *

Violinist Sarita Uranovsky, cellist Marc Moskovitz, violist Stephen Dyball, clarinetist Bruce Creditor and pianist Debra Ayers form the MONTAGE MUSIC SOCIETY’s five-member roster. This Boston-based ensemble displays a passion for combining a healthy mix of acknowledged masterpieces with exciting music of today. MONTAGE seeks to reestablish the ideals of the Society for Private Musical Performances, an organization founded in Vienna in 1918 to promote new works of music within the most nurturing environment possible.Dedicated to reaching a diverse public,

MONTAGE is equally committed to performances in homes, concert halls and for underserved audiences.


Matthew Harris (b.1956)
STARRY NIGHT - Seven Paintings for Violin, Cello and Piano (1984)

Van Gogh: Starry Night (Canto); Rousseau: Sleeping Gypsy (Berceuse); Picasso: Harlequin (Caprice); Ensor: Masks Confronting Death (Dirge); Matisse: The Piano Lesson (Etude); Dali: Persistence of Memory (Fantasy); Mondrian: Broadway Boogie Woogie (Dance)

Stephen Paulus (b.1949)
ART SUITE for Cello and Piano (1999)

Breughel (The Kermess); Degas (Dancer); Seurat (A Sunday at the Grand Jatte); Rivers (Washington Crossing the Delaware)

Libby Larsen (b.1950)
BLACK BIRDS, RED HILLS - A Portrait of Six Paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe for B-flat Clarinet,Viola and Piano (1996)

Pedernal Hills; Black Rock; Red Hills and Sky; A Black Bird with Snow-Covered Red Hills; Looking

Andrew List (b.1956)
NOA NOA: A Gauguin Tableau for Violin, Clarinet and Piano (2008)

Where Do We Come From?; What Are We?; Where Are We Going?

MSR Classics