SONG OF THE REDWOOD-TREE
Bassoon Works of Sunny Knable
SCOTT POOL, bassoon
GINA CUFFARI, soprano and bassoon
NATSUKI FUKASAWA, piano
STEFANIE IZZO, soprano
SUNNY KNABLE, accordion
XELANA DUO [Ana García, alto saxophone, and Alex Davis, bassoon]
World Premiere Recordings
"excellent and enthusiastic performances."
Pan Pipes, Sigma Alpha Iota [Winter 2021]
"Knable clearly understands the bassoon’s vast possibilities beyond its traditional instrumental setting. His compositional expertise grounds his explorative instrumental creations and answers his own question “Why does this work have to exist?” Because it is great!"
Tiina Kiik, The Whole Note [May 2020]
"this is an exuberant listening experience showcasing a wonderfully imaginative composer. The curious should sample this release online, and for bassoonists and fanciers of bassoon music, this is a must-listen.
Four stars: A fanciful composer unleashes his rich imagination on the unsuspecting bassoon."
Huntley Dent, Fanfare [Spring 2020]
"The recording is exemplary, as one has come to expect from this company. Documentation is excellent. All works are heard in their World Premiere Recordings. Fabulously inventive music (I hope to hear much more from Knable). Five stars."
Colin Clarke, Fanfare [July/August 2020]
"Although there's a lot of versatility and eclecticism going on in composition nowadays, individuality like this is rare... the playing is thoroughly professional from all involved and makes an excellent case for the composer... Contemporary writing for bassoon is often silly; this writing uses some of the same sounds and timbres in an entirely believable context, rescuing the bassoon from its overdone conventions. What impresses me the most is Knable's keen discretion in striking a balance between two often elusive goals, creating communication that is direct without writing down to the audience."
Gorman, American Record Guide [July/August 2020]
"All the performers approach the works with enthusiasm (including the composer on accordion), and the CD as a whole does a fine job of exploring contemporary musical thinking not only about the sound of the bassoon but also about the way this instrument fits surprisingly effectively into several non-traditional, unusual and frequently very interesting-sounding chamber groupings."
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [June 2020]
If you had asked me 10 years ago what my second composition album would consist of, I would probably give you a lofty answer, like an opera or a symphony. Though I have written those as well, I didn't know that this decade would define me as the composer of multiple successful pieces for bassoon. I had written for the often-underused bass instrument in woodwind quintets and large ensembles but had never fully explored its soloistic capabilities until I had the good fortune of meeting the rollicking performer that is Scott Pool. What emerged from our friendship was the commissioning of two of my most proud and personal achievements: Song of the Redwood-Tree
and The Busking Bassoonist
which have been performed multiple times by Scott with his long-term collaborator Natsuki Fukasawa. Both pieces were published by TrevCo-Varner Publications. Since then, I have gone on to write for bassoon in odd combinations including for the singing-bassoonist Gina Cuffari and for the saxophone/bassoon group, Xelana Duo. It's safe to say that this is only the beginning of a long relationship I will have with this instrument.
California-born, New York-based SUNNY KNABLE
is a multi-faceted composer with numerous awards to his credit, including three Best Composition Awards from the Festival of New American Music and the Iron Composers Award, for which he wrote a four-minute piece in five hours. Knable’s music is widely performed. In 2019, The Perspective Collective commissioned him to write the one-act opera The Pride of Pripyat with his brother, Jim Knable, as librettist. In 2017, his chamber opera Beethoven in Love was performed at the National Opera Center and in 2016, his Symphony No.2 “The Great Expanse” was premiered by Leo Eylar the California Youth Symphony, which had commissioned the work. Since its premiere in 2012, The Magic Fish, an opera for young audiences by The Brothers Knable, has been performed across the United States. Dr. Knable serves as Music Director of the Church-in-the-Gardens; composer for The Garden Players, a theatrical group for children; and as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Queens College and LaGuardia Community College, while fulfilling commissions from around the country. He holds a PhD in Music Composition degrees from Stony Brook University, a Master of Arts degree in Composition from CUNY Queens College and a Bachelor of Music degree in Composition, Piano Performance and Jazz Studies from CSU Sacramento. A selection of his chamber music can be heard on the American Variations album (Centaur, CRC3200) [ www.sunnyknablecomposer.com
Bassoonist Gina Cuffari
performs with many orchestras and chamber ensembles in the New York City area. Cuffari, who became a member of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in 2018 as Co-Principal Bassoonist, is also a member of the Lincoln Centerbased Riverside Symphony, and performs with the Westchester Philharmonic, American Composers Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, American Ballet Theater, Stamford Symphony, New Haven Symphony and American Symphony Orchestra. Cuffari has also performed in pit orchestras for numerous Broadway productions, including Fiddler on the Roof, Sunset Boulevard and My Fair Lady. A member of the Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players and Sylvan Winds, she has appeared with the renowned Camerata Pacifica ensemble and is a recent addition to the artist roster of the Boston-based Walden Chamber Players. Her dedication to new music has led to frequent collaborations with Alarm Will Sound and other artists and ensembles. Also a versatile singer, Cuffari performs in styles from classical to musical theater to jazz, pop and R&B. A passionate educator, she is an Adjunct Professor of Bassoon at New York University and Western Connecticut State University, and is currently commissioning composers to write pieces that integrate voice and bassoon.
Pianist Natsuki Fukasawa
has performed in venues across the United States, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center, as well as in Europe, Scandinavia, Israel, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Japan and China. As a soloist, Fukasawa toured Italy performing Gershwin’s Concerto in F, and in the past year performed Beethoven’s Piano Concertos Nos.4 and 5, Brahms’ Concerto No.1, Rachmaninoff ’s Concerto No.2 and Ravel’s Concerto in G. Fukasawa serves on the artist faculty of American River College, Talis Festival & Academy in Bosnia and Orfeo Music Festival in the Italian Alps. She also enjoys nurturing young talent in her private studio, from which students emerge to become winners of state, national and international competitions, including the NPR’s From the Top. As a recording artist, Fukasawa can be heard on acclaimed albums on the Da Capo, Classico and North Pacific Music labels, including one that received the Best Chamber Music Recording of the Year from the Danish Music Awards. Her career was awarded the 2017 Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. A Steinway Artist, Fukasawa earned degrees from The Juilliard School and University of Maryland, and studied at the Prague Academy of Music as a Fulbright Scholarship recipient. [ www.natsukifukasawa.com
Soprano Stefanie Izzo
has received acclaim for the flawless technique and a rich, full sound she brings to her performances in opera and musical theatre. A New York native, Izzo made her off-Broadway debut in 2012 as Monica in Menotti’s The Medium
and her international operatic debut in 2011 as Adina in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore
with Musica Viva in Hong Kong. Other roles include Monica with the St. Petersburg Opera, Mozart heroines Pamina, Susanna, Despina and Mlle. Silberklang, Lady with a Hand Mirror in Argento’s Postcard from Morocco
, Cunegonde in Bernstein’ Candide
, Johanna in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd
and Josephine in Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore
. Izzo has performed with numerous opera companies, including Light Opera of New York, Bel Cantanti Opera, Dell’Arte Opera Ensemble and Gilbert & Sullivan Light Opera Company of Long Island. Her performance as Maria in Bernstein’s West Side Story with the St. Petersburg Opera led to a Theatre Tampa Bay Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical. She was also the inaugural recipient of the National Italian American Foundation’s Andrea Bocelli Music Scholarship. Izzo devotes a significant amount of time to art song, particularly that of female composers, and maintains an active concert schedule in the New York City area. She is a co-founder of The Astoria Music Project chamber ensemble and works as a program manager and voice teacher for the Metropolitan Opera Guild. She earned a Bachelor’s degree at New York University and Master’s degree at CUNY Queens College. [ www.stefanieizzo.com
Bassoonist Scott Pool
maintains an active performance schedule, with appearances throughout North and South America, Europe and Asia. He has served as principal bassoon with the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra, the Albany Symphony Orchestra in Georgia and the Savannah Symphony Orchestra. He has performed with the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra, Victoria Symphony Orchestra, Las Vegas Philharmonic, Plano Symphony Orchestra, Tucson Pops, Tucson Symphony Orchestra and Oklahoma City Philharmonic. Festival performances include the Orfeo Music Festival in Italy, RioWinds in Brazil, Festival of New American Music in California and numerous appearances at International Double Reed Society conferences. As a recording artist, Pool can be heard on Eastern Discoveries [MSR Classics, MS1517
], The Woodwind Music of Robert Fruehwald Vol.II, Revelations, Vocalise and Landscapes: The Double Reed Music of Daniel Baldwin. A Moosmann Artist, Pool is currently Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi and the Academy Director of the Talis Festival & Academy in Bosnia. [ www.scottpoolbassoon.com
The Xelana Duo
, consisting of bassoonist Alexander Davis and saxophonist Ana Garcia, brilliantly balances the refinement of classical music with the modern energies of hip-hop, blues, flamenco, bollywood and rock n’ roll. The Duo’s uncommon instrumentation provides the vibrant timbres of bassoon and saxophone, each dazzling on their own, and breathtaking when joined together in daring musical conversations. The Xelana Duo is highly active in commissioning compelling works for this unusual combination in order to enlarge the body of repertoire.
SONG OF THE REDWOOD-TREE on poetry by Walt Whitman
I. A California Song
III. Golden Pageant
DOUBLE REED on the poem “To the World’s Bassoonists”
I. Noble Bassoon
II. Tragic Bassoon
III. Impossible Bassoon
THE BUSKING BASSOONIST
I. Underground Blues
II. Park Bench Ballad
III. Street Changes