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Sejong Plays Ewazen Import


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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 29 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Albany Records
  • ASIN: B00008YJEF
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Format: Audio CD
After a couple of weeks of listening pretty exclusively to complex and knotty new music, I came upon this CD of string orchestra music by Eric Ewazen and it was like a long, slow drink of cool, clear spring water to a parched throat. Not that I disliked the tough music, not at all; but this music is so good, so right, so smoothly crafted, and so songful that one can simply sit back, close one's eyes, open one's ears and go 'Ahhhh!' It doesn't hurt that the playing of the brilliant new conductorless string ensemble, International Sejong Soloists, is sensational. This group, mostly young players of Asian origin and all former Juilliard students, has been getting laudatory reviews all over the world since their formation in the mid-1990s. I've heard them live and they ARE fabulous.
Ewazen (b. 1954; pronounced eWAYzen) is a professor at Juilliard. His music has gotten a lot of play but I guess his name hasn't entered the general music-lover's consciousness quite yet, more's the pity. I've heard a good deal of his music for brass played at the Aspen Music Festival by the spectacularly talented American Brass Quintet, and I've always liked what I've heard. This is the first of his music for strings that I've ever heard and I have to say I am extremely impressed. It is generally in a tonal, even diatonic, language, with nothing more advanced harmonically than, say, Prokofiev; I'm often reminded of the music of Lars-Erik Larsson. It tends to have lean and pellucid textures. Form is readily apparent and tends to be neoclassic. His use of rhythm is often quite exciting, sometimes surprising or quirky. It tends, even in polyphonic sections, to dance or sing.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
I Can't Stop Playing This CD! April 30 2003
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
After a couple of weeks of listening pretty exclusively to complex and knotty new music, I came upon this CD of string orchestra music by Eric Ewazen and it was like a long, slow drink of cool, clear spring water to a parched throat. Not that I disliked the tough music, not at all; but this music is so good, so right, so smoothly crafted, and so songful that one can simply sit back, close one's eyes, open one's ears and go 'Ahhhh!' It doesn't hurt that the playing of the brilliant new conductorless string ensemble, International Sejong Soloists, is sensational. This group, mostly young players of Asian origin and all former Juilliard students, has been getting laudatory reviews all over the world since their formation in the mid-1990s. I've heard them live and they ARE fabulous.
Ewazen (b. 1954; pronounced eWAYzen) is a professor at Juilliard. His music has gotten a lot of play but I guess his name hasn't entered the general music-lover's consciousness quite yet, more's the pity. I've heard a good deal of his music for brass played at the Aspen Music Festival by the spectacularly talented American Brass Quintet, and I've always liked what I've heard. This is the first of his music for strings that I've ever heard and I have to say I am extremely impressed. It is generally in a tonal, even diatonic, language, with nothing more advanced harmonically than, say, Prokofiev; I'm often reminded of the music of Lars-Erik Larsson. It tends to have lean and pellucid textures. Form is readily apparent and tends to be neoclassic. His use of rhythm is often quite exciting, sometimes surprising or quirky. It tends, even in polyphonic sections, to dance or sing. His fast movements are quicksilver, his slower movements often plaintive or melancholy and always gorgeously tuneful; this guy can write soaring melodies. I'd love to hear songs, choral music or an opera by him.
To the music on this disc: "Concerto for Violin and Strings" is a three-movement neoclassic concerto with a spirited first movement that allows the soloist plenty of opportunity for virtuoso display. The Adagio is a set of variations on a long-limbed and soulful minor-key folk-tinged melody that sounds like it could have come from one of Schubert's strophic songs; it rises to a mezzo-forte climax culminating in a short cadenza that then blends into a backward-looking utterly serene morendo ending. The bustling, high-spirited last movement skips along in good humor like a young man, newly in love, overflowing with exuberance; there are several slow sections where he bursts into song, exclaiming his love for the world to hear. The violinist in this recording is Adele Anthony (who is married to violin superstar Gil Shaham) and she is absolutely top-notch, with silvery, tightly focused tone, musicianly phrasing and impeccable technique. She's one to watch.
"Down a River of Time" is a concerto for oboe and string orchestra. It was commissioned as a memorial tribute to her father by the recording's oboe soloist, Linda Strommen. Ewazen's father had also recently died and obviously he felt a strong identification with the notion of a memorial. The title comes from a phrase he read in an essay by Richard Feagler about long-gone relatives: "Moving, though they can't feel the current, down a river of time." The first movement, now rushing, now pausing, describes the onward flow of time full of hopes and dreams. The second movement, subtitled '... and sorrows,' limns feelings at times of loss. The oboe sings a plangent threnody upon a bed of chorale-like string chords. The third movement, '... and memories of tomorrow,' is a squaring of shoulders to face the future, buoyed by happy memories of the lost loved ones. Ewazen's music and his soloist convey the rush of energy that comes from the determination that Life Be Lived. This concerto has every reason to enter the rather small repertory of oboe concerti. Linda Strommen's playing is neat, musical, feelingful; her sound is somewhere between the beefy tone so often used by American oboists and the rather more reedy tone of Europeans, a very satisfying sound for me.
"Sinfonia for Strings," in three movements, is, if anything, even more neoclassical than the other pieces. One hears vestiges of such baroque dances as the bransle (whence our English word 'brawl'), the hornpipe, and the sarabande. One hears fugal passages, stretti, a canon. String textures vary from sonorous divisi legato chords to energetic passages of complex, virtuosic writing for all the players; even the inner parts must have been great fun to play! There are moments of breathtaking lyrical beauty and passages of fiery, foot-stomping verve. Let there be no doubt, Ewazen, a pianist himself, knows how to write effectively for strings. I want more!
This CD gets my strongest recommendation.
Scott Morrison
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Sheer bliss!!! Jan. 24 2006
By Arthur Leonard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I ordered a copy of this after reading a rave review in a record magazine. I was stunned! Who knew anybody was writing such incredibly beautiful music these days? The two concerti are each skillfully written to exploit the particular characteristics of their solo instruments, and the writing for string orchestra throughout is knowingly crafted to produce maximum warmth and rhythmic interest. Most importantly, Ewazen has a lyrical gift that is truly inspirational. A single playing was enough for me to migrate this music onto my ipod for frequent listening. I added the Horn Concerto, from another recent recording, a piece that lives up to the same high standards of beauty, emotion and craft.

Trying to reach for a comparison, the best I could come up with was Douglas Lilburn, the leading New Zealand composer whose orchestral works date from the 1940s and 1950s. Ewazen's harmonic language is tonal and traditional, but by no means archaic. The rhythmic liveliness, syncopations and long lyrical lines sound very contemporary.

Urgently recommended to all...
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Sejong plays Ewazen July 28 2008
By Resolute Son - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I believe Ewazen is one of the finest composers of this current era. The CD of the ISS is an exceptional performance of exceptional pieces. The two pieces that I find I listen to over and over are the Violin Concerto and the Sinfonia for String Orchestra. They are truly significantly sophisticated, yet wonderfully substantive works in the more traditional scope of the given genre, unlike many of the "miniatures" that contempory composers seem to produce. Immediately accessible, yet fully original, I believe Ewazen will be championed by the cognoscenti of the musical community over the next 10 years.
Unusually-accessible 21st century music of great beauty. July 26 2014
By Joseph Kline PhD, MD - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Eric Ewazen teaches at Julliard, and his music has the simple beauty and accessibility of Karl Jenkins. In this album the International Sejong Soloists play Ewazen’s Concerto for Violin and Strings, Down a River of Time (Concerto for Oboe & Strings), and Sinfonia for Strings. Each are three-movement works. Each is a refined, well-played work of considerable interest. Most of all, each work is a pure delight. Is Ewazen really a modern-day composer? The question is at once appropriate for his music is heaven sent in a day usually filled with dissonance and atonality. Not so with Ewazen. While not quite music that you hum after listening, this (like Jenkins) is almost too accessible to be 21st century products.

I very much enjoy listening to and reviewing modern music with its often times difficult-to-describe sonorities. I was surprised by the sheer beauty of this music. It is truly a breath of fresh air. I compose piano music without major dissonance and sometimes feel like I am in the wrong century. Ewazen quells my self-doubt. It IS possible to write serious music that doesn’t attack the listener after all. I don’t typically enjoy concertos other than piano, but both the violin and oboe concertos are splendid creations. His Sinfonia is a sublime work of music.

Ewazen’s music has considerable poignancy infused throughout each work. I don’t know if Ewazen’s music will stand the test of time, but I can assure you that his music will fall favorably and easily on the ears of our time. I strongly encourage you to take the opportunity to hear this wonderful music. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The best living classical composer played by a wonderful group! May 6 2007
By H. Meyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Eric Ewazen brings a unique perspective to contemporary classical music ... warm and lyrical, his compositions are evocative of both place and feeling. We can listen to his work over and over again!


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