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MP3 Robert Heath, Frank Cooper, Grigorios Zamparas: Edwin McLean - Sonatas for 1, 2, and 3 Harpsichords

Edwin McLean''s harpsichord sonatas may be rooted in the Baroque, but the musical language is distinctly modern, influenced by both jazz and pop. Counterpoint, guitar licks and Celtic tunes all assert themselves

13 MP3 Songs
CLASSICAL: Contemporary, CLASSICAL: Keyboard Music

About the Music . . .

In the fall of 1991, I had lunch with my friend, composer Edwin McLean. During the course of the conversation, I complained that I couldn’t find something to end a recital that was coming up, and -- half-jokingly -- asked him to write me something. The phone rang a couple of weeks later: “Your piece is ready.” Sonata for Harpsichord received its premiere performance on December 1, 1991 at Plymouth Congregational Church in Miami, Florida. The Sonata subsequently won an Alienor Award for new harpsichord music in 1994, was featured on NPR’s Performance Today, and has been both published and recorded.

A year later I asked Ed for another sonata, this time for two harpsichords. Frank Cooper and I premiered it in October, 1992, only a few weeks after Hurricane Andrew devastated Miami.

Sonata No. 2 was commissioned jointly by harpsichord builder Peter Tkach and the Southeastern Historical Keyboard Society (SEHKS) for harpsichordist Elaine Funaro, who premiered it at the SEHKS Conclave in February, 1997. It, too has been published and recorded.

Ed didn’t quite believe it when he received a commission for a sonata for three harpsichords from the Miami Bach Society. He agreed to write the piece on the condition that we would never ask for a sonata for four or more harpsichords. Igor Kipnis, Frank Cooper and I premiered the work for the Miami Bach Society on October 4, 1999.

While rooted in the contrapuntal style of the baroque era, the musical language is distinctly modern. The influence of both jazz and pop music is evident; guitar licks and Celtic tunes assert themselves -- all woven into a rich tapestry that explores the unique tonal qualities of the harpsichord.

The sonatas evolved into a cycle. The three-note motif that opens the first movement of the first sonata becomes the germ of musical material that influences the other sonatas. The Sonata for Three Harpsichords finishes the cycle with reflections of musical material from the previous works.

-- Robert Heath

Edwin McLean is a freelance composer living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He is a graduate of the Yale School of Music, where he studied with Krzysztof Penderecki and Jacob Druckman. McLean also holds degrees in music theory and piano performance from the University of Colorado.

Mr. McLean is the recipient of several grants and awards: The MacDowell Colony, the John Work Award, the Woods Chandler Prize (Yale), Meet the Composer, Florida Arts Council, and others, including the Aliénor Composition Competition for his work Sonata for Harpsichord. Since 1979 McLean has had a busy career in music publishing. He has arranged the music of some of today''s best-known recording artists. Currently he divides his time between editing and creating educational keyboard works. Many of these are published by The FJH Music Company, where he is Senior Editor.

Robert Heath enjoys an international career as a concert organist and harpsichordist, having performed throughout North America and Europe. He received his education at Wheaton Conservatory and the University of Miami and holds degrees in musicology and music theory. Since 1991 he has served as organist and director of music at the historic Plymouth Congregational in Coconut Grove, Florida, where he oversees the church’s wide-ranging music program. In 1984, with University of Miami professor Donald Oglesby, he co-founded the Miami Bach Society, one of Miami’s most successful classical music organizations. He currently serves as artistic coordinator and resident organist/harpsichordist. A composer, arranger, and music editor, Mr. Heath has publications with the FJH Music Company, Warner Brothers, and Transcontinental Publications.

Frank Cooper, pianist and harpsichordist, has performed in North America, Europe and the Caribbean, made broadcasts for the CBC (Toronto), BBC (London), Radio Nederlands (Arnhem) and National Public Radio (Washington), and recorded forgotten works by such nineteenth-century composers as Brull, Dreyschock, Herz, and Raff (Genesis Records). He has appeared as soloist with many major orchestras and performed with many of the world’s great musicians. Cooper first achieved national recognition in the United States for the Festival of Neglected Romantics that he created and directed in Indianapolis for a decade. Subsequently, he has directed the Festival Music Society of Indiana’s Early Music Festival since 1973 and the Coral Gables Mainly Mozart Festival since 1993. He was named Honorary Curator of Music for the Indianapolis Museum of Art and Honorary Curator of Fine Arts for the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami. In 1986, the Hungarian Ministry of Culture awarded him its Liszt Centennial Medal. In 1999, the National Federation of Music Clubs honored him with its Centennial Citation for “contributions to the cultural life of the United States and of the world at large.” After serving on the faculties of Butler University, Indianapolis, and the New World School of the Arts, Miami, Cooper is now Research Professor of Music at the University of Miami (Coral Gables).

Greek-born pianist Grigorios Zamparas has concertized extensively in Greece, Yugoslavia, Russia, Bulgaria, the United States, and South America. In addition to having a significant repertoire for solo piano and chamber music, he has also performed piano concertos by composers such as Brahms, Liszt , Chopin , Beethoven , and Shostakovich. In 1995 he received his first piano diploma in Greece from the Lamia Conservatory, where he studied under Professor Yorgos Manessis. He holds a masters degree in piano from Indiana University and a degree in musicology from the Aristotle University of Thessalonica, Greece. He is currently a DMA student in piano performance at the University of Miami where he studies piano under Ivan Davis and harpsichord with Frank Cooper. He has also taken lessons and attended master classes with Evelyne Brancart. Byron Janis, Menahem Pressler, J.P. Collard, Paul Badura-Scoda, Duo Ganev, and Arnaldo Cohen, among others. In February 2004 he recorded Beethoven’ s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Martinu Symphony Orchestra in Zlin, Czech Republic. Recent performances include solo recitals in Miami, Indianapolis, Romania, Greece, and at the Newport Festival, USA.

This recording has been made possible the gracious generosity of Jane and George Fogg. On behalf of the artists and the Miami Bach Society -- many, many thanks.

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