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MP3 Leonard Enns - Hammer & Wind

New Canadian music sparkling with energy and virtuosity, interlaced with exquisitely serene moments, and sprinkled with humour.

13 MP3 Songs in this album (52:52) !
Related styles: CLASSICAL: Chamber Music, CLASSICAL: Piano solo

People who are interested in Benjamin Britten should consider this download.

The disk title, Hammer and Wind, is a reference to pulse and breath, to heart and spirit; pedantically, of course, the title evokes the percussive piano and breathing voice—in this case either the human voice or that of the saxophone, but that parsing really doesn’t stand up well, since roles are often blurred, exchanged, or shared. Best to leave it at hammer and wind—the two realities that both carry and are our life, as long as pulse beats and breath moves.

The music and musicians are closely linked—all the compositions were commissioned by the performers on this disk: Piano Sonata No. 1 by Catherine Robertson; Hammer and Wind by Willem Moolenbeek, who, together with Boyd McDonald, presented the work at the 2000 World Saxophone Congress in Montreal; In the End was commissioned by Stephanie Kramer, and premiered with pianist Catherine Robertson; finally, Two by Four (written in support of Habitat for Humanity) was commissioned by Willem Moolenbeek—he, Kramer, and Greer were part of the ensemble for the in 1996. In several ways, then, the music here is as much the music of these amazing performers as it is mine; I am grateful, as any composer of acoustic music must be, for the commitment, musicianship, and simple good will and trust of artists who are willing to take on the task of giving voice to my ideas.


Piano Sonata No. 1 was composed in 2003, commissioned by Catherine Robertson. Of the three movements, the first and third are "exterior" both structurally and psychologically, embracing an introspective and gentle middle movement. Each movement has its own tonal language: the first uses the whole-tone scale (CDEF#G#A#); the second takes the F#/A# diad from the 1st movement whole-tone scale as a constantly pulsing interval, with a melody using the "other" whole tone scale (C#D#FGAB); the third movement breaks out with a puckish kind of energy, using an octatonic scale—a series of regularly alternating tones and semitones, sounding like a major scale, but not quite.

Hammer and Wind was commissioned by Willem Moolenbeek, who premiered it with pianist Boyd McDonald in March 2000, followed a few months later by their performance at the World Saxophone Congress in Montreal.

The music has much to do with dualities, as already expressed in the title. The main musical germ is the Db/C diad, which is announced in the piano at the outset of the first movement. The entire work is an expression of the uneasy relationship between these two pitches. Rhythms are also slightly unnerving and intense--often the saxophone and piano are rhythmically (and sometimes metrically) independent. In the second movement, the two pitches become the scales of Db and C major, expressed simultaneously in piano and saxophone respectively, and then swapped between the instruments at the mid-point of the movement. It is a peaceful movement, but has a bittersweet edge because the instruments retain tonal independence. The final movement is driven much by the hammer/wind duality, as is obvious from the percussive nature of the piano part which establishes the movement, and the almost uncontrolled fury of the saxophone. And the pitches, the Db/C, are never totally reconciled—the music simply "runs out."

The news of Canadian composer Harry Somers’ passing in March 1999 was announced while I was struggling with this piece. I was stunned, and not prepared for that death. Somers’ music had been the object of my PhD dissertation analysis, and I had learned much from him and his music. The work, dedicated to his memory, ends with the both piano and saxophone robbed of their music—the piano is left with pitchless pulses, the saxophone with a final breath only.
……in memoriam Harry Somers……

In the End was written for Stephanie Kramer during the fall of 2003. Its five movements are organized as a palindrome. The first and fifth movements are based on biblical texts, presented by the soloist in a near-static recitation. The second and penultimate songs are settings of epitaphs--the second a light hearted send-off (send-up?), while the fourth is a tender lament. The central song of the cycle is a setting of John Donne’s wonderful sonnet, “Death be not Proud”, and forms the musical and ideological heart of the work. Kramer and Robertson premiered the cycle in May 2004.

We brought nothing into this world,
and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
-1 Timothy 6:7

Here lies Ned Purdon, from misery freed,
Who long was a bookseller’s hack;
He led such a damnable life in this world,
I don’t think he’ll ever come back.
-epitaph by Oliver Goldsmith
for Edward Purdon

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think''st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell''st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
-John Donne (1572-1631)

Warm summer sun, shine kindly here;
Warm southern wind, blow softly here;
Green sod above, lie light, lie light --
Good-night, dear heart, good-night, good-night.
-epitaph for Olivia Susan Clemens (1866-1890),
daughter of Mark Twain

The eternal God is thy refuge,
and underneath are the everlasting arms.
-Deuteronomy 33:27

Two By Four is a set of two pieces for four performers (of course a 2x4 also serves other purposes) composed using traditional tonal and stylistic building materials, concerned with shelter, security, comfort, joy and play. The set was commissioned by Willem Moolenbeek, and written in 1996 for a benefit concert for Habitat for Humanity. My text for the first song was inspired by a the children’s book, A House is a House for Me by Mary Ann Hoberman, which had become a favourite in our family; the second text by Oliver Herford is simply a favourite for me, which has stayed in my memory since my own elementary school years.

1. A House for Me

A mouse is at home in its nest underground,
and a vole at the Pole, where the snowflakes abound
is as snug as a bug all wrapped up in a bed,
but it wouldn''t be a house for me.

I could rent me a tent ''til my money''s all spent,
I could live in a balloon like the man in the moon,
I could put on a show and just live in the snow
but it wouldn''t be a house for me.

So what will you do with all this boo-hoo,
when the cold winter blows and I''m losing my toes,
or the summer''s so hot that I wish it were not,
and the buckets of rain are severely a pain,
and I just can''t find a house for me?

Just put your arms around me,
and let me say I''m so glad you found me,
so let''s make it our goal (I''m not a mouse nor a vole)
to put a roof overhead,
and make a room for a bed,
and that will be a house for me.
-Leonard Enns

2. The Elf and the Dormouse

Under a toadstool crept a wee elf,
Out of the rain, oh he was trying to shelter himself,
Under the toadstool sound asleep,
Sat a big Dormouse
--a big old ugly mouse that no-one could adore,
this was no squeaky mouse, this one could really snore,
he was a Dormouse, a big old Dormouse, and he sat all in a heap.

Trembled the wee Elf, frightened and yet
Fearing to fly away lest he should get wet.
Oh how he trembled, oh and how he was upset,
and how he feared to do a thing he would regret!
To the next shelter–– maybe a mile!
Sudden the wee Elf smiled a wee smile.

Tugged until the toadstool toppled in two.
Holding it over him, so gayly he flew
Soon he was safe home, dry as could be.
Soon woke the Dormouse–– "Good gracious me!"
"Where is my toadstool?" loud he lamented.
––And that''s how umbrellas first were invented.
-adapted from Oliver Herford (1863-1935) by LE

Leonard Enns: composer (b. 1948, Winnipeg)
Canadian composer and conductor Leonard Enns holds a PhD in Music Theory from Northwestern University, Chicago (with a dissertation on the choral music of Harry Somers), a Master of Music in choral conducting (supervised by the late Margaret Hillis), and undergraduate degrees from Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, and Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg, Manitoba. He has an ARCT in piano performance.

Enns has been on faculty in the Music Department at Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo, Ontario since 1977, where he directs the Conrad Grebel Chapel Choir. He is the founding director of the acclaimed DaCapo Chamber Choir, and is active as adjudicator, clinician and guest conductor.

An Associate Composer of the Canadian Music Centre, Enns has produced a significant body of compositions ranging from works for solo piano to full choral/orchestral forces.
Recent recordings of his works include the 2006 CD NorthWord, recorded by the Elora Festival Singers on the Canadian Music Centre Centrediscs label (https://www.tradebit.com), and the 2007 CD Hammer and Wind, featuring his instrumental chamber works, and works for vocal solo. His music is published by Boosey & Hawkes, E.C. Schirmer, Gordon V Thompson/Warner Chappell, and other publishers.

Catherine Robertson (piano)
Catherine Robertson studied piano at Queen’s University in Kingston, graduating with highest honours (1982). In 1987 she completed a Licentiate at the Royal Academy of Music (LRAM), London, England, studying with Kendall Taylor C.B.E. Catherine attained her Masters of Music Degree in piano performance and literature from the University of Western Ontario. She’s been a medalist and award winner in numerous international competitions. Catherine has given recitals in the United Kingdom, the U.S.A. and in Canada, most recently presenting works by Debussy and Ravel at the Elora Festival. Ms. Robertson is active as a coach, chamber musician and accompanist. She also maintains a busy schedule adjudicating at music festivals across the country. Catherine teaches piano and keyboard literature at Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo.

Stephanie Kramer (soprano)
Stephanie Kramer is a seasoned singer who has enjoyed an active solo career based primarily in Southern Ontario. She has been a guest performer with such local choirs as Menno Singers, Renaissance Singers, Guelph Chamber Choir, Da Capo Chamber Choir as well as several appearances with the Mennonite Mass Choir. She has also appeared with the K-W Symphony and the Kitchener Waterloo Chamber Orchestra. For the past 20 years, Stephanie has been a frequently featured soloist with the Elora Singers in repertoire ranging from Bach and Mozart to Gilbert & Sullivan. Many of these performances have been broadcast on CBC Radio. She has appeared in concert in Toronto, most notably with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir, in New York City with Robert Shaw, and has toured Germany and Austria as a guest soloist with the K-W Philharmonic Choir.
In addition to her solo career, Stephanie is also a member of Tactus Vocal Ensemble, an eight-voice a cappella group specializing in music of the Renaissance and early Baroque. She is also the voice instructor at Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo.

Willem Moolenbeek (tenor saxophone)
Willem Moolenbeek enjoys a varied musical career that spans most genres and styles. He has performed throughout Canada and in Europe with pop groups, as an orchestral soloist, chamber musician and in recital. His performances can frequently be heard on broadcasts by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
At the suggestion of his mentor and friend Canadian concert saxophonist Paul Brodie, his focus in recent years has been to exploit the vocal qualities of the tenor saxophone. As a proponent of new works for his instrument he has premiered and recorded pieces by many Canadian composers. He has recorded two previous albums with pianist Boyd McDonald, Songs without Words and Heartsongs.
As an artist/clinician for Jupiter Instruments Canada, presenting workshops and concerts at schools and universities, he is a veteran of over 2000 school performances and has been part of the Edward Johnson Music Foundation’s “Musicians in the Schools” program since its inception in 2001. Moolenbeek teaches saxophone at the music faculties of McMaster University and Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo. Gino Nobili at the Music Lab in Toronto maintains Mr. Moolenbeek’s Jupiter 2089GL Custom Tenor saxophone. Visit https://www.tradebit.com

George Greer (string bass)
Double bassist George Greer received a BMus degree in performance from the University of Toronto. He was principal double bass with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and played with the London Symphony Orchestra. Since returning to Canada, he has been with the Canadian Opera Company, the National Ballet of Canada, Hamilton Philharmonic, Mainly Mozart, and Stratford Festival orchestras. He is associate principal double bass with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and has often served as principal. George is principal double bass with the Mississauga Philharmonic and the Elora Festival Orchestra.
George performs regularly as a recitalist and chamber musician. He teaches bass at Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo and at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo.
He plays a fine, Italian bass circa 1750 made by Alberti of Milan, Italy.

Boyd McDonald (piano)
Boyd McDonald studied piano with Lyell Gustin and composition with Murray Adaskin in Saskatoon. A Canada Council Grant allowed him to study in Paris for three years with Nadia Boulanger. He gave his solo Wigmore Hal debut in 1960 and his Town Hall debut three years later in New York as a result of winning the Leschetizky Debut Prize. He toured North America, Europe, and England as a member of the Beckett and McDonald Piano Duo.
Since 1982, McDonald has been an active fortepianist, performing both classical and contemporary repertoire. Recent CDs include the complete cello and fortepiano works by Beethoven with Paul Pulford (ebs) and Songs Without Words with saxophonist Willem Moolenbeek (Millstream Records). His compositions have been performed by the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Waterloo Chamber Players, The Scholars of London, and Canadian artists Guy Few (trumpet/piano), Alain Trudel (trombone), and Joseph Petric (accordion). McDonald is Professor Emeritus at Wilfrid Laurier University.

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