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Some Other Time / Zuill Bailey, Lara Downes

Barber / Bernstein / Foss / Copland Release Date: 04/29/2014
Label: Steinway & Sons Catalog #: 30025
Composer:  Leonard Bernstein ,  Samuel Barber ,  Lukas Foss ,  Aaron Copland Performer:  Zuill Bailey ,  Lara Downes Number of Discs: 1
Length: 0 Hours 59 Mins.

The transcriptions and concert pieces collected here are all big, beautiful examples of nostalgic American music. But this is timeless music too, and its romanticism, spirit of adventure, playfulness, and purity tap into our collective memory, our underlying, ongoing, deeply American nostalgia for what we all know as, simply, some other time.

“Bailey reaches from the soul of his instrument to our own." – San Francisco Classical Voice

“Lara Downes has created the perfect hyperlink from composer to performer to listener." –

R E V I E W S:

This is a disc where first impressions should definitely not
Read more influence your decision to purchase or listen to it. The three opening tracks here, pop tunes by Leonard Bernstein and (to me) not particularly good ones despite the high level of musicianship, are fortunately the exceptions to the rule regarding the repertoire on this CD. Even though In Our Time was just recently discovered, and is thus a word premiere recording, the music is a bit too much in the vein of sentimental pop music of the mid-20th century for my taste.

Happily, the remainder of the album is exquisite and a pure joy to hear. Certainly, there is no barrier to enjoyment with Samuel Barber’s Cello Sonata, an early (1932) but quite substantial work, or Bernstein’s Clarinet Sonata, his first published piece (1941–42, transcribed here for cello). These are well-crafted works, interesting and engaging, and the Bailey-Downes duo play them with energy and excellent phrasing. Moreover, they synchronize and mesh their individual sensibilities into a cohesive emotional unit, finding the delicate interstices of each piece and making them sound eloquent. These are pieces that can fit a number of moods, and the genius of Bailey’s interpretations are that one can listen to these performances in a number of different settings (and with different mindsets). I also loved Bailey’s phrasing of the Barber song Sure on This Shining Night and Copland’s Simple Gifts and Time Long Ago.

Lukas Foss’s solo piano piece For Lenny combines a habanera rhythm with one of Bernstein’s most famous tunes from On the Town, “New York, New York, a Helluva Town,” and Downes has a ball with it. The same composer’s Capriccioso is a jolly piece using an ostinato rhythm that, the liner notes claim, is set to a “theme straight out of a cowboy stampede.” Here, both Downes and Bailey are evidently having fun with the music, and their enjoyment is infectious. (Bailey learned this piece from Stephen Cates, a Gregor Piatagorsky pupil, whose performance of it at the 1966 Tchaikovsky Competition apparently won him a silver medal.)

I particularly enjoyed Bernstein’s two piano pieces from his collection Anniversaries, dedicated to famous friends (in this case, Foss and Copland), and sandwiching the clarinet sonata between them was a good idea. Bailey plays it as if it were written for the cello, which is as fine a compliment as I can pay to his performance.

We ride into the musical sunset with Copland’s settings of Simple Gifts and Long Time Ago, and happily both Bailey and Downes invest these tunes with a great deal of artistry as well as affection. Overall, then, an excellent disc, particularly recommended to the cellist’s legion of admirers.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley

“Simple Gifts” is the title of a Shaker song from the mid-1800s here arranged for cello and piano, but it could also serve as the title of this luscious, moody and dreamy recording of American songs, many of which just happen to pose as instrumental works by Bernstein, Barber, Foss and others. Zuill Bailey’s soulful cello and Lara Downes’s clean and sensitive piano playing prove perfect travel mates. -- New York Times

"Here, performed by a notable young cellist and pianist, is a burgeoning mutual admiration society in American classical music... Lovingly and superbly performed." -- Buffalo News

"American cellist Zuill Bailey, based in El Paso, has made a series of well-received concerto recordings for the Telarc label. Here he joins pianist Lara Downes for a chamber recital on the equally well-engineered Steinway & Sons, which has consistently offered a high level of American music-making with novel programming concepts. These pieces, a couple of them substantial cello-and-piano pieces and the rest arranged for that pair of instruments, look back fondly at what the booklet terms a golden age of American concert music. The appearance of most of these works marked a major musical event, and Bailey and Downes put the listener in the midst of an era of musical conversations: between different composers (several short piano pieces are addressed from one composer to another, with delightful effect) and, always, between classical and popular music, the central dialogue of American concert music. The program opens with a trio of songs by Leonard Bernstein, which work pleasantly when transferred to the cello, and thereafter alternates between short melodies and longer sonatas by Bernstein (the Clarinet Sonata) and Samuel Barber, with a couple of familiar Copland melodies to close. The recital as a whole is engaging, original, and insightful, bringing together a particular musical scene in a fresh way, and the studio sound is superb. Highly recommended." -- James Manheim, All Music Guide

"For the present album of tunes by Barber, Copland, Bernstein, and Foss, Mr. Bailey plays a 1693 Mateo Goffriller cello and Ms. Downes a Steinway Model D, so not only do we get a couple of the finest musicians in the world playing the music, they do it on a couple of the finest musical instruments possible. Kind of a two-for-one deal, which isn't even counting the superb quality of the music itself. And just to make myself clear, the music, the performances, and the sound are extraordinary." -- John J. Puccio, Classical Candor

"...there is a pleasant interconnectedness among the works: a short one by Bernstein is For Lukas Foss, a brief one by Foss is For Lenny, and another brief Bernstein piece is For Aaron Copland. Actually, there is more “serious” Bernstein (as opposed to “popular” Bernstein) here than usual: yes, the CD includes Dream with Me, Some Other Time and In Our Time, but it also includes the Clarinet Sonata, a substantial work that deserves to be better known – and that is certainly effective in this version for cello and piano. Foss’ Capriccio for Cello and Piano is also a piece of some depth, and although one Barber work here, Sure on This Shining Night, is rather trivial, the other, his Cello Sonata, is anything but: it is impressive in construction and really shows the skill with which Bailey and Downes plumb some genuine musical depths... it is exceptionally well played: both performers treat the lesser works with the same care and skill that they bring to the more-imposing ones. Not every track here will appeal to every listener, but the disc as a whole is certainly intended to reach out both to audiences interested in very well-played classical music and to those who would like to hear something beyond the standard repertoire and written in a more overtly popular vein." --
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