April 28, 2014
Cellist Zuill Bailey and pianist Lara Downes have collaborated on a recording inspired by friendship, adventure, and nostalgia.
Two musicians, with distinct artistic lives, each known for character and integrity, come together in Some Other Time, a collection of American music from iconic composers, including Leonard Bernstein, Samuel Barber, Lukas Foss, and Aaron Copland. Cellist Zuill Bailey plays on an instrument made in 1693 by Matteo Grofiller. His collaborator in this recording, pianist Lara Downes, used an instrument of much more recent vintage in the form of a Steinway piano made in New York.
And while it is often the very distant past that classical musicians are communicating from the stage, it's a past that's still within living memory for many that is the driving force behind both the individual selections of Some Other Time and the broader emotional impact of the collection. Bailey and Downes begin with Bernstein's music, specifically "Dream With Me," from a 1950 Broadway production of Peter Pan, followed by the piece that gives the recording its name, "Some Other Time," from On The Town. By the time we arrive at the third track, "In Our Time," a piece by Bernstein only recently published, the sound world Bailey and Downes have woven is one of simple, elegant, relaxed beauty.
What follows is a work to which Bailey is very personally connected. After Samuel Barber wrote his Cello Sonata in 1932, one of his dear friends, cellist Orlando Cole gave the premiere. Years later it was Cole who taught the piece to Bailey. Its three movements are signature Barber: slightly angular, an ever-present darkness offset against a determined optimism, and a melodic sweetness that arrives at the most opportune times. Like the composer's more famous Violin Concerto, it is an American masterpiece.
Lukas Foss was perhaps not as monumental a composer in the public imagination as Bernstein or Copland, but he was nevertheless a legendary American musical figure. In his "For Lenny: Variations on 'New York, New York'," written for Bernstein's 70th birthiday, we hear an aural version of the many pictures in which we see a smiling Lukas Foss, someone who knew the joy music could inject into any life.
It's Bernstein who pays tribute to friends in two selections dedicated to Foss and to Aaron Copland. And Bailey and Downes break in to the repertoire for another instrument with their performance of Bernstein's Clarinet Sonata.
Copland's music rounds out the recording with two selections from Old American Songs, including the timeless "Simple Gifts" and "Long Time Ago."
Those final sounds of the recording say in musical form what Lara Downes writes in the notes for this recording:
For Zuill and me, this music holds a nostalgia for another time in American music - a golden generation before our time, an era when concert music in American had a real and present place in the culture and in daily life ... It's not the world we grew up in, but it's a world we dearly want to see, and both of us have dedicated our musical vision and careers to a quest to rebuild something approaching that wider, more democratic audience.
Tune in to 99.5 WCRB all week to hear Some Other Time with Zuill Bailey and Lara Downes.
To purchase Some Other Time, visit ArkivMusic.
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