PROGRAM NOTESThere have been composers who absorbed everything they could find of their predecessors and contemporaries, often making diverse and unique rearrangements of the originals. Some composers when young visited aged mentors at some sacrifice and risk. Some were born of musical families and passed that knowledge and inspiration to their offspring. More than a few took older forms and retranslated them into something new. Some looked at instrumentation and the tonal nature of audio representation and made an evolutionary step in how we express music. Some were prolific in a vast variety of genres. A handful has produced tunes many can whistle, as well as universally acclaimed titanic masterpieces. A couple has had their music shot into space as a calling card for other civilizations that there may be in the vastness of the universe. But only one person is all of those things, and so much more, and that is Johann Sebastian Bach.
Composer and pianist Haskell Small has been praised for the exquisite blend of sound and silence in his compositions and for his prodigious technique and subtle touch at the keyboard. His discography of over a dozen recordings and his frequent national and international tours have firmly established Small’s stellar artistic reputation around the world. Highlights of Small’s international performance career include engagements at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center and Spoleto USA. His acclaimed artistry has spread further through his active YouTube channel and other videos, which have received millions of views. In addition to his online videos, Small was featured on the nationally-broadcast PBS special “A Celebration of the Piano.” Over the course of his career, Small’s contemplative nature has drawn him to music that seeks a spiritual quietude that approaches silence. His ongoing series of compositions, performances and recordings, “Journeys in Silence”, reflects this interest. Small regularly tours the United States, Europe and Japan, programming his own compositions as well as works by other composers that share this aesthetic, performing in monasteries, churches and galleries as well as more conventional concert venues. Small has received commissions from the Washington Ballet, Three Rivers Piano Competition, Georgetown Symphony and Paul Hill Chorale, among others. Small’s discography includes recordings of his own compositions as well as the Goldberg Variations by J.S. Bach, Musica Callada by Federico Mompou and Gershwin in Black and White (a collection of piano transcriptions) on the MSR, Naxos, Centaur and 4-Tay labels. Haskell Small received his musical training at the San Francisco Conservatory and Carnegie-Mellon University. He studied piano with Leon Fleisher and William Masselos, and composition with Vincent Persichetti and Ronald Leich. Currently he is faculty member and former Piano Department Chair of the Washington Conservatory of Music in Washington D.C., where he has taught since 1984. About the Bach recording, the American Record Guide noted that “The great assets of Small’s pianism – among them, unerring taste and clarity - serve the music very well.” Aside from being a top placing semifinalist in the J.S. Bach International Piano Competition, his return to performing and recording Bach with the Partitas for Keyboard marks another stage in the evolving life of a remarkable composer-performer. [ www.haskellsmall.com ]
PROGRAMJOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685-1750)
KEYBOARD PARTITA NO.1 IN B-FLAT MAJOR, BWV 825
V. Menuets I & II
KEYBOARD PARTITA NO.4 IN D MAJOR, BWV 828
KEYBOARD PARTITA NO.5 IN G MAJOR, BWV 829
V. Tempo di Minuetto
Recorded May 2010 [7-13], July 2011 [1-6] and June 2012 [14-20] at the Westmoreland Congregational United Church of Christ, Bethesda, Maryland. Score reader: Tina Chancey. Recording engineer: Mark Huffmann. Editing engineer: Haskell Small. Mastering engineer: Charlie Pilzer, Tonal Park.
Piano: Bluthner concert grand | Courtesy of the Washington Conservatory of Music