Chamber Music for Violin & Viola, Soprano and Piano

Susan Kander

JACOB ASHWORTH, violin & viola

World Premiere Recordings



“Upon listening to this disc one will certainly be immediately captivated by the unique compositions of composer Susan Kander, as well as the elegant interpretations of violinist Jacob Ashworth... Throughout [Hermestanze] the listener remains engaged by the character of each movement, conveyed through the use of a myriad of tone colors from violinist and piano. Both violinist Jacob Ashworth and pianist Lee Dionne deliver a thoroughly engaging performance of this demanding work... Soprano Jessica Petrus and violinist Jacob Ashworth complement oneanother and are successful in conveying the emotional complexity of each poem [of A Garden's Time Piece].”
Kim McCormick, Pan Pipes [Spring 2018]
“Kander in this recital proves herself to be a composer of vivid imagination and skill, and her music is well worth exploring by anyone interested in the music of our time. I shall be on the lookout for further works by her, and hope especially to encounter a recording of one of her operas. These works on this CD all receive the benefit of first-rate performances, and I should single out the impeccable playing of pianist Lee Dionne for mention, as I have done for the other two performers. Twenty first-century music enthusiasts won’t want to miss this one.”
David DeBoor Canfield, Fanfare [September/October 2017]
“I have admired Kander’s music for some years, and it is a pleasure to encounter these new pieces on the album... [Hermestänze] makes for a very appealing half hour... [In Solo Sonata] The use of the contrast of violin vs. viola is perhaps a simple idea, but it is surprisingly powerful and again speaks to Kander’s dramatic sensibilities... All three performances are engaging... it is very good to see more of Kander’s music being recorded.”
Carson Cooman, Fanfare [September/October 2017]
"[Hermestanze's Apollo movement] is raptly serene... the [Sonata] is eloquent and wrenchingly powerful... [In A Garden's Time Piece] Ashworth and Jessica Petrus play and sing expressively and knowingly throughout"
Laurence Vittes, Gramophone [July 2017]
"Writing music on a grand scale is hard, but it’s also a tricky artistic undertaking to compose in aphorisms. Susan Kander’s “Hermestänze” rises beautifully to the challenge of compressing a lot of musical information into a small space — most of the songs take no longer than a minute and leave you at once satisfied and waiting for more."
Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle [June 2017]
"Kander is a composer of taste and refinement, and her subtle ways of communicating the emotional elements underlying these three works are, on the whole, more nuanced and ultimately more meaningful than the more-emphatic attempts of other contemporary composers to produce specific feelings and paint specific scenes."
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [May 2017]
The music of Susan Kander has been heard throughout the United States and in cities around the world, including London, Paris, Mexico City, Lima, Birmingham, Vancouver, Cape Town, St. Petersburg and Guangzhou. Kander has received numerous commissions from notable ensembles and organizations, including the National Symphony Orchestra, Southampton Chamber Music Festival, Kansas City Chorale, Copland Fund, Columbia Foundation and a variety of instrumentalists and ensembles. In the operatic world, she has received commissions from Opera Minnesota, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera Theater of St. Louis and Columbus Opera. Her 2013  work, Hermestänze, for violin and piano is a rare example of a large-scale dramatic cycle written for the violin. Kander is especially proud to have had her Solo Sonata for violin-viola-violin performed by commissioner Yuval Waldman in the Composers’ Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia, during their White Nights festival. A Fellow of the MacDowell Colony, Kander’s chamber music has been recorded on the MSR, Navona and Loose Cans labels.
[ www.susankander.net ]

Across the spectrum of classical music, Jacob Ashworth has gained a reputation as a consummate stylist, from his expert attention to the unique characteristics of Baroque period performance to his precise yet expressive interpretations of modern works. In 2012 at the Yale School of Music he founded the ensemble Cantata Profana, for which he serves as Artistic Director, winning the CMA/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming in 2016. He is Co-Music Director of Heartbeat Opera, whose 2016 production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas received widespread critical acclaim with Ashworth leading from the violin. In 2015, his fully staged, memorized performance of György Kurtag’s Kafka-Fragments with Heartbeat was hailed as a triumph. Based in New York, Jacob has performed extensively with period ensembles, including as concertmaster for Nicholas McGegan with Mark Morris Dance Group, and with Trinity Baroque, the Yale Baroque Ensemble, Juilliard 415, Yale’s Schola Cantorum, and New York Baroque Incorporated. Jacob has also been an artist at the Staunton Music Festival, New Haven Festival of Arts and Ideas, Wellesley Composer’s Conference, Lake George Music Festival, and Music Mountain.
[ www.jacobashworth.com ]

Pianist Lee Dionne is an active soloist and chamber musician. As a soloist, he has appeared in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Philharmonic in Bratislava, and he has performed concertos with the Philharmonia Virtuosi, Yale Symphony Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Bilkent Symphony Orchestra. As a chamber musician, he is a member of Cantata Profana and Ensemble Connect, and has appeared at the Staunton Music Festival, Yellow Barn Music Festival and Norfolk Summer Music. Dionne studied piano at the Yale School of Music and the Hochschule für Musik in Hanover, Germany. His major teachers and influences have been Boris Berman, Wei-Yi Yang, Matti Raekallio, Patricia Zander, Arthur Haas, Michael Friedmann, Paul Berry, and Wilma Machover. Dionne performances have been broadcast live on NPR, Britain’s Classic FM, the Netherlands’ Classic FM and Portugal’s Antena 2.
[ www.leedionne.com ]

Soprano Jessica Petrus enjoys a varied career in chamber music, and has received acclaim for her brilliant and agile performances, including her appearance in Unsuk Chin’s Akrostischon-Wortspiel with Kettle Corn New Music and Cantata Profana in New York, and her Spoleto USA solo debut in 2015 in Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. Recent performance highlights include solo engagements with Cantata Profana, the Henry Purcell Society of Boston, Three Notch’d Road and appearances with Skylark Ensemble, Emmanuel Music and Staunton Music Festival. She has recorded on the Delos, MSR Classics and Sono Luminus labels.
[ www.jessicapetrussoprano.com ]
HERMESTÄNZE for violin and piano (2013)
Hermes, Messenger of the Gods
The Lyre
Baby Hermes
Styx I
Hermes, Inventor of Music
Baucis and Philomon
Styx II
Styx III
Hermes, Messenger of the Gods (reprise)

SOLO SONATA for violin-viola-violin (2002)
I. Capricciosa
II. Lament
III. (Malevolent) Dances

A GARDEN’S TIME PIECE for soprano and violin (2011)
I. Today’s the day
II. April rain
III. There are glories
IV. The end of summer
V. There is a madness
VI. A feather pierces the snow
VII. Oak leaves sit in snow
VIII. Today’s the day (reprise)
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MSR Classics