Tableau, Tempest, and Tango

Tableau, Tempest and Tango – images, drama, power, intensity, color, and dance!  All these things make for great music. My latest CD project expresses my passion for putting together masterpieces of the past with great works from our era, whose roots grow from them.  One of my most important missions is to seek out great music of the present to bring to a wider audience through recordings.  David Finko and Richard Brodhead are great living composers whose piano music is still waiting to be brought to that audience. The images in their music reflect the ultimate work of images in music: Pictures at an Exhibition. This project makes this dream into a reality.

David Finko’s works are intimately connected with Russian history.  He grew up in Leningrad; his father held a top-secret post as a submarine designer for the Soviet Navy.  The Fantasia on a Medieval Russian Theme is a narrative in music about the Mongol invasion and eventual triumph of Russia.  David also loves Yiddish culture – Sonata #1 wonderfully portrays the art of Soviet actor and director Solomon Mikhoels.  His Sonatas #2 and #3 were written after his coming to the United States.  He is now 81; I promised him that he would live to see and hear his piano works preserved.

Richard Brodhead is composer emeritus at Temple University in Philadelphia.  His works express an extraordinary command of pianistic color and fantasy.  Una Carta de Buenos Aires, Tango Sonatina was written in 2011 for me and is inspired by Latin tango dance – His wife is a dancer and choreographer.  His Sonata Notturna magically evokes the night, it’s sounds, and experiences.  The power and intensity of David’s music contrasts ideally with the color and delicacy of Richard’s.

In 2015, PARMA Recordings released my album of African descent composer Nathaniel Dett, the first time this ground-breaking composer’s complete piano works had been available on CD.  The next year it was chosen as a critic’s choice at Gramophone UK, the top CD reviewing site in the world.  It racked up 17000 track downloads.  I again chose PARMA to release this project because of its top quality production and marketing teams, and the magnificent Steinway at the Futura recording studio in Boston.

Tableau Tempest & Tango by Navona Records

Clipper Erickson, piano

Navona Records artist Clipper Erickson presents a solo piano album of works by composers Richard Brodhead (1947- ), David Finko (1936-), and Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881) entitled TABLEAU TEMPEST & TANGO.

The mostly Russian-themed album climaxes with Erickson’s masterful interpretation of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. The original version for solo piano precedes the iconic orchestrations by many composers, most notably Maurice Ravel. For Erickson, the piano is his orchestra, and he conducts it marvelously through every movement, down to the famed finale, The Great Gate of Kiev.

Stellar, too, is Erickson’s interpretation of Finko’s Fantasia on a Medieval Russian Theme, which is inspired by a grievous poem about the oppression of the Russian people. Mussorgsky also used this poem, incorporating it as part of the libretto for the Act I choral scene of his Khovanshchina (1880).

The severity, which is truly captured in Finko’s fantasy, is made spiritual by Erickson’s interpretation. Finko’s Sonata No. 1 Solomon Mikhoels is next. It has folk roots–budding from the composer’s interest in Yiddish and Slavic cultures. Erickson executes the polarity in dynamic contrast and rhythmic complexity with incredible manual dexterity. Finko writes that his Sonata No. 2  “expresses the acute feelings of a sensitive intellectual who goes through several stages of personal sufferings and struggle.” This journey is demonstrated by Erickson’s acute attention to mood, even in the subtlest of harmonic progressions. Finko’s Sonata No. 3, composed in 2009, is evocative of the evolution of the composer’s technique since his first sonata in 1964. Erickson, too, shows an evolution — the melodies become more fluid, the separation between each note more precise.

The listener is transported to Argentina where Erickson presents Richard Brodhead’s Una Carta de Buenos Aires, a truly dark tango. It is mysterious and vacant, but Erickson handles it like a delicate flower. The finale is Brodhead’s Sonata No. 2, Sonata Notturna, dark, too, in its presentation, but Erickson’s light shines on the meditation of terrors we hear at night.

As evidenced on his previous recording, 2015’s MY CUP RUNNETH OVER, Professor Erickson’s prodigious performances are not only products of his superior musicianship, but also the in-depth studies he completes on every work performed. This is the best collection of such works to date. TABLEAU TEMPEST & TANGO is a must-have for the collections of piano dilettantes and savants alike. As the LA Times notes, Erickson plays “with extraordinary dash and power and he never let[s] flamboyance obscure art.”

Release Date: July 13, 2018

Catalog #: NV6170

Playlist:

David Finko (1936-)

Fantasia on a Medieval Russian Theme (1961)
Sonata No. 1 “Solomon Mikhoels” (1964)
Sonata No. 2 (1998)
Sonata No. 3 (2009)

Richard Brodhead (1947-)

Una Carta de Buenos Aires – Tango Sonatina for Piano (2011)
Sonata Notturna – Piano Sonata No. 2 (2016)
Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881) 

Pictures at an Exhibition