IRIS Orchestra of Germantown, Tennessee commissioned this clarinet concerto of Stephen Hartke, suggesting he take the regions’ contributions to roots music into account. Together Stephen Hartke and I ventured down the blues highway to Clarksdale, Mississippi, visited a juke joint or two, and watched a few dozen purple martins feasting on mosquitos in the sultry evening light. This latter moment made its way musically into the second movement of the concerto, Delta Nights. The premiere and subsequent recording session, with the inimitable Richard Stoltzman on solo clarinet and the young crackerjack IRIS musicians, formed the basis for this disc, which The New York Times’ Anthony Tommassini listed as one of the best classical recordings.
Carpe Diem String Quartet: This disc represents the penultimate in a series of the complete string quartets of Sergei Taneyev, a composer mostly overlooked by chamber audiences until recently. Exploring great and lesser-known repertoire with musicians of this caliber is a joy, and having the unusual opportunity to devote almost a decade to one slice of such compelling repertoire is an unforgettable artistic journey.
Leonardo Altino: Brazilian-born cellist Leonardo Altino found a way to bring a dream to life with this recording project. It is his very personal account of the complete works for cello of Brazilian composer Marlos Nobre — virtuosic, sometimes gritty, sometimes unabashedly vernacular, often deeply spiritual, and suffused with the soul of a great poet.
IRIS Orchestra: The percussion ensemble Nexus has been an inspiration to me since my first explorations into contemporary American music in the 1980s. So it was a particular thrill to be asked to produce this recording of another IRIS co-commission from the esteemed Pulitzer-prize-winning composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. The unusual form and format of the work, the unparalleled virtuosity and ensemble playing of Nexus, and the prismatic soundworld of Zwilich’s imagination made this project a blast for everyone involved.
Carolyn Huebl and Mark Wait: My aim with every recording is to bring the musicians’ unique voices to life. The often very intimate music of Alfred Schnittke aligns so perfectly with the artistic sensibilities of violinist Carolyn Huebl and pianist Mark Wait that these sessions felt like an encounter with the composer’s works so trenchant and revealing that we all discovered many new layers in the music.
Baltimore Chamber Orchestra: Though twentieth-century and contemporary works compel me, I am at heart also a lover of the whole broad tradition of music. It was a special treat to be able to collaborate with — and find the perfect sound for — the agile and very sensitive Baltimore Chamber Orchestra in this disc of early classical viola concertos with Victoria Chiang. Her stellar musicianship brings each singing line of these works the perfectly-calibrated sweetness they demand.