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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

Album Credits:
Recorded September 26–28, 2013 at Sono Luminus Studios in Boyce, Virginia.
Producer: Dan Merceruio
Engineer: Daniel Shores
Mastering: Bruce Leek

Executive Producers: Eric Feidner, Jon Feidner
Read more Direction: Oberlander Group
Cello: Matteo Gofriller (1693)
Piano: Steinway Model D #590904 (New York)
Piano Technician: John Veitch

This is a disc where first impressions should definitely not 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. Foss wrote a piece called “For Lenny,” Bernstein wrote pieces called “For Lukas Foss” and “For Aaron Copland” and they’re all played here along with Samuel Barber’s Cello Sonata Op 6, Bernstein’s clarinet sonata (adapted for cello) and Foss’ “Capriccio for Cello and Piano.” The cello/piano version of Bernstein’s gorgeous “Some Other Time” from “On the Town” is, along with a few others, a bit out of place with the ambition of some of the other music, but you have to appreciate what pianist Downes says: “The music that Bernstein, Barber, Copland and Foss wrote in the 1920s to ’40s, with its post-romantic grandeur, big-city bluster, and vernacular ease references the shape-shifting changes of those action-packed decades…It opened the ears, minds and hearts of the nation and the world to new possibilities to an American sound.” Lovingly and superbly performed here. -- 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. -- All Music Guide

What more could you ask for than a collaboration between preeminent cellist Zuill Bailey and innovative pianist Lara Downes? I've admired their work separately for several years already, and now they've produced an album together.

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.

In a booklet note, Ms. Downes says "The transcriptions and concert pieces collected here are all big, beautiful examples of nostalgic American music. But this is timeless music, too, its romanticism, spirit of adventure, playfulness and purity tap into our collective memory, our underlying, ongoing, deeply American nostalgia for what we all know simply as some other time." The nostalgia is for the four American composers represented on the program and for a "golden" time in American culture when concert music held a more-important place than it does today. As such, the music is romantic, adventurous, sweet, and utterly delightful, presented lovingly by the two star performers.

The first three items come to us from the pen of composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein: "Dream With Me" from the 1950 Broadway production of Peter Pan; "Some Other Time" from the 1944 musical On the Town; and "In Our Time," an unused song only recently published. All three are lushly nostalgic and appropriately sentimental. And they're exquisitely beautiful, with Bailey and Downes providing just the right amount of wistfulness and melancholy without the music becoming maudlin or melodramatic.

Next up we find Samuel Barber's Sonata for Cello and Piano, written in 1932. There's a haunting beauty about the piece, poignant at first and then becoming ever more lighthearted before settling back into a somewhat heavier concluding mood. After that, Bailey and Downes give us their take on one of Barber's most-popular songs, "Sure on This Shining Night," the performance giving us a delightfully lyrical dialogue between voice (cello) and piano.

-- 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."


This CD presents an informed collection of interesting combinations of works by modern era composers, in some cases referencing each other. Bernstein’s work “For Lucas Foss” is teamed with his Cello Sonata and another “For Aaron Copeland.” Foss’s “For Lenny” is paired with his “Capriccio for Cello and Piano,” and Barber’s Sonata is paired with one of his songs in transcription. It makes for great programming—references intertwining within the names of the pieces and musical allusions make this great music to entertain the mind as well as soothe the spirit with modern melodic romanticism. While it has become a joke that almost every instrument in the orchestra says it “is the closest to the human voice”…the cello is the one of which it is most often said, and here we have it speaking with intellect and depth in the hands of a master, accompanied by a great Steinway artist.

-- The WSCL Blog

Another program of mixed originals and arrangements may be heard here. This one is all American 20th Century composers who were friends. The big pieces are Samuel Barber’s glorious Cello Sonata, Lukas Foss’s Capriccio for cello and piano, and Leonard Bernstein’s Clarinet Sonata arranged for cello and piano by Zuill Bailey. These are surrounded by arrangements of songs such as Bernstein’s ’Dream with Me’, ’Some Other Time’, and ’In Our Time’, Barber’s ’Sure on this Shining Night’, and Copland’s ’Simple Gifts’ and ’Long Time Ago’. Then there are solo piano pieces written for one composer by another, Foss’s ’For Lenny—Variations on New York, New York’, Bernstein’s ’Anniversary 2’ for Foss and 1 for Copland.

The playing of this program is beautiful, as one might expect from these performers. It is a friendly group of pieces that quite supports the purpose of the program, demonstrating the relationship between all of these fine makers of music. The liner notes are by the pianist and present the relations between herself and Bailey and the composers to each other in a most positive way. It is a fine production in every respect, recorded with clarity and performed with love.

-- American Record Guide

Lara Downes says ‘this music holds a nostalgia for another time in American music—a golden generation when concert music in America had a real and present place in the culture. Families listened to Live from the Met and watched Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts at Carnegie Hall.’ You can see what she means, looking back two or three generations later, and this attractive anthology can be seen as an attempt to bridge the gap.

It includes songs without words. The Broadway Bernstein is represented by one song from On the Town and two little-known examples—‘In our time’, available only recently and never used, would surely have been a hit. Then there’s Barber’s catchy ‘Sure on this shining night’, which works well instrumentally with its antiphonal exchanges. His substantial early Cello Sonata, which has become a classic, gets an arresting performance, with Bailey’s magisterial tone ably matched by Downes. In contrast, Lukas Foss’s pieces are amusing. Then Bailey purloins Bernstein’s early Clarinet Sonata and turns it into an idiomatic cello piece. It works—might have been written that way.

The sequencing on the CD is neat—after Foss’s pieces we get Bernstein’s piano Anniversary for Foss; after Bernstein’s Anniversary for his influential friend Copland we get the latter’s arrangements of ‘Simple Gifts’, with a lingering ending, and ‘Long time ago’.

-- Gramophone

This coming Tuesday the Steinway & Sons recording label will be releasing the latest in a series of albums featuring the adventurous young pianist Lara Downes. While Downes has a busy touring schedule, she is Artist in Residence at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts at the University of California at Davis, where she serves as Artistic Director of the Young Artists program. This brings her close enough to the San Francisco Bay Area to provide me with opportunities to both preview and write about her performances, most recently as the Director of a concert series in San Francisco called The Artist Sessions.

The new release is actually a duo album on which Downes performs with cellist Zuill Bailey. The title is Some Other Time; and, as is usually the case, it is currently available for pre-order from The title is that of one of the last of the songs from the musical On the Town, for which Leonard Bernstein composed the score. The entire album offers a generous sampling of Bernstein's music along with works by three of his contemporaries, Samuel Barber, Lukas Foss, and Aaron Copland. Furthermore, two of the Bernstein compositions were actually written as anniversary pieces for Foss and Copland, respectively. These, along with a set of variations Foss wrote on New York, New York, another song from On the Town, were written for solo piano, which is how Downes performs them on this recording.

Many of the selections are transcriptions; but it seems fair to begin by addressing the two pieces that were actually composed for cello and piano, one each by Barber and Foss. I must confess that I was particularly drawn to the performance of Barber's Opus 6 cello sonata, having first been exposed to it through the collection Samuel Barber Historical Recordings 1960 on the Canadian West Hill Radio Archives label and available for import from On that album the recording was made on January 28, 1973 in Curtis Hall at the Curtis Institute of Music. Pianist Vladimir Sokoloff accompanied cellist Orlando Cole, who had given the sonata's premiere performance in March of 1933. (I believe that Barber was in the audience for this 1973 performance.)

Barber did not write many pieces for an accompanied solo instrument. The best known of these is his 1939 violin concerto. Listening to Bailey and Downes, I found I could appreciate their awareness of Barber in his own historical context, even to the point of suggesting (but never emphasizing) that the cello sonata provided some of the seeds from which that violin concerto would later grow. I also enjoyed the fact that they had chosen to revive interest in the sonata. It has received relatively little attention on recording and thus runs the risk of being dismissed as a historical relic. However, both Baily and Downes have embraced the rich expressiveness of Barber's rhetoric; and I can only hope that, through this recording, it will establish a more secure place in the current chamber music repertoire.

The Foss composition is a capriccio composed in 1948. Over the course of his life, Foss explored a broad variety of both genres and theoretical approaches to composition (the latter including both extended improvisation and the use of electronics). However, as an immigrant to the United States who arrived in 1937, Foss displayed a strong streak of Americana in many of his earliest pieces; and this capriccio is one of them. One may thus approach the capriccio as Foss' attempt to endow a cello with the vigor and spontaneity of a square dance fiddler; and the result is a rather engaging combination of virtuosity and wit, making for yet another example of cello chamber music that needs to be brought out of the shadows, at least for encores if not for concert programming.

The major transcription is of Bernstein's clarinet sonata, completed in 1942. Bailey prepared that transcription, and it is definitely a sensible one. The cello shares with the clarinet a broad pitch range with distinctively different sonorities in different registers. However, what may be most important is the way Bailey endowed his transcription with its own distinctive cello rhetoric. In the ordering of the tracks, one listens to this transcription after the Foss capriccio; and it is difficult to avoid detecting further evidence of that fiddle virtuosity that Foss had exploited in his own composition. The result is music that really sounds like a cello sonata, rather than a cello trying to play a challenging clarinet part.

The remaining transcriptions are all of songs. While the accompanying booklet does not provide details, I would be willing to guess that they are the result of an effort shared by both Bailey and Downes. Indeed, it would not surprise me if each transcription began with Bailey playing the vocal line and then, when necessary, working out with Downes how the content would be divided over the course of rehearsal, eventually documenting the mutually agreed-upon results. In other words this was music that emerged from the process of making it, rather than from any attempt at pre-planning.

Each of the song composers is approached from a different rhetorical stance. For Bernstein that is the rhetoric of Broadway, with a decided preference for wistful sentiment over flashier pizzazz. For Copland it is two of his folk song settings, Simple Gifts and Long Time Ago, both of which capture a rhetoric of quiet introspection, rather than an excess of sentimentality. Barber, on the other hand, was a serious lover of poetry; and the transcription of Sure on this Shining Night captures all of his admiration for how James Agee fashioned the words that Barber would then translate into song.
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