Breitman Called 'Most Sensitive of Fortepianist;'
J. Reilly Lewis' Work Is 'Lovingly Detailed' in D.C. Concert
Associate Professor of Historical Performance David Breitman's
February Kennedy Center performance of Beethoven's Choral
Fantasy, with J. Reilly Lewis '67 conducting the Washington
Bach Consort, inspired a Washington Post reviewer to write:
"Breitman proved the most sensitive of ortepianists, drawing
a supple singing line from his unusually even, full-bodied instrument."
Aside from being smitten with Breitman's fortepiano playing,
the Post's Joe Banno questioned, with more than a twinge
of longing, why Lewis' "taut, red-blooded, and lovingly
detailed work" with the Consort doesn't appear at the Kennedy
Center more often.
Breitman's instrument is a fortepiano similar to one owned by
Beethoven toward the end of his life, and to one given by Conrad Graf,
builder of Beethoven's piano, to Robert and Clara Schumann for
Roger J. Regier of Freeport, Maine, built the instrument for Breitman
in 1995 after having spent several years working on the restoration
and maintenance of the instrument collection at the Finchcocks Living
Museum of Music in Kent, England a collection that includes
two Graf pianos. Referring to Graf as likely the most famous builder
in Vienna between 1820 and 1850, Breitman says, "My piano has
a range of six and a half octaves, and four pedals damper,
una corda, moderator, and double moderator."
Although acquainted with a number of the players in the orchestra,
the concert marked the first time Breitman had performed with Lewis
and the Consort. "I was amazed at how many orchestra members
are Oberlin graduates," he says. "I enjoyed working with
Reilly Lewis, who was enthusiastic and supportive."
Lewis is recognized internationally as an accomplished conductor and
keyboard artist, as well as a leading specialist of baroque music,
particularly the music of J.S. Bach. He founded the Washington Bach
Consort in 1977 and is the group's music director.
Breitman, director of Oberlin's Historical Performance Program,
is as comfortable with the modern piano as he is with the fortepiano
and his growing discography reflects his versatility. He recently
recorded a major new song cycle by the Cuban-American composer Jorge
Martin with baritone Sanford Sylvan, after giving the 65-minute work
its New York premiere at Carnegie Hall last May. This was his fourth
recital recording with Sylvan, following Beloved that Pilgrimage
(20th-century American song cycles), Schubert's Die schöne
Müllerin, and an all-Fauré disc, L'horizon
chimerique, in 1996. Pilgrimage and the Fauré were
nominated for Grammy awards.
Also in 2000, Breitman released a four-CD set on the Amberola label
of Mozart's fortepiano-violin sonatas with Jean François
Breitman has also been involved in another large and unusual project:
a Beethoven piano sonata cycle on original instruments, shared among
seven fortepianists. This series, originally presented in eight concerts
at New York's Merkin Concert Hall in 1994 and recorded for CLAVES,
was repeated in
2000 at the Accademia Bartolomeo Cristofori in Florence.
Highlights of Breitman's current season include performances
of Mozart and Beethoven quintets with members of Tafelmusik in Toronto
and an all-Beethoven recital with cellist Antonio Lysy for the CBC
Lewis and the Consort have made several recordings. In 1989, they
recorded a compact disc, featuring the complete motets of J.S. Bach
on the Pro Organo label. The group released their newest compact disc,
the Magnificats of J.S. Bach and His Son, C.P.E. Bach, in February
1999 on the Newport Classic label. «
Jeffrey Mumford Premieres Works in Cleveland and Washington, D.C.
Jeffrey Mumford's composition a still radiance within dark
air was at first a work for solo piano and four instruments. Mumford,
Oberlin's newly appointed assistant professor of composition,
expanded the orchestral boundaries of the 1995 piece at the request
of Edwin London '52, artistic director and principal conductor
of the Cleveland Chamber Symphony. It premiered in November 2000 under
the baton of Andrew Rindfleisch. Robert Shannon '71, professor
of pianoforte, was guest soloist.
Cleveland Plain Dealer music critic Donald Rosenberg wrote
that the work "claims a coloristic glow created by the leisurely
unfolding of layered lines . . . with gleaming touches evoking poetic
In December Mumford returned to his hometown Washington, D.C., where
his neighborhood paper, The Washington Post, hailed him as
"one of the country's finest young composers," for the premiere
of as a spray of reflected meadowlight informs the air. Presented
at the Corcoran Gallery of Art by the Contemporary Music Forum, Joseph
McLellan, writing in The Post, called the composition for alto
saxophone, violin, and percussion "a highlight of the evening."
In January at the Chamber Music America (CMA) Conference, held in
New York City, Mumford was invited to join in a discussion of the
participation and success of blacks in the field of chamber music
in general, and their participation in CMA in particular.
In February Wendy Richman '01, a viola performance major, performed
Mumford's revisiting variazioni elegiaci, which he had
arranged for her, in a chamber music program presented by the Cleveland
Composers Guild. His filaments was offered in a March MusicNOW
concert at Chicago's Symphony Center, with Cliff Colnot conducting
musicians from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The program also featured
George Walker's '41 Wind Set.
Also in March, Mumford served on the Illinois Arts Council's
Artists Fellowship Program in Music Composition and in April on the
Massachusetts Cultural Council's composer panel.
Cloud imagery inspires Mumford's compositions, he says. "I
am fascinated by the layers that result by the differing rates of
speed at which clouds move," he explains. "I am interested
in setting up layers of simultaneous activity in which musical lines
often develop independently of each other."
Mumford has received several new commissions in 2001, including those
from the National Symphony Orchestra; the Nancy Ruyle Dodge Charitable
Trust (for the Corigliano Quartet); the Empyrean Ensemble, in residence
at the University of California, Davis; violist Wendy Richman; and
a consortium of St. Paul, innesota's Schubert Club, New York's
Miller Theater, and the Phillips Collection in ashington, D.C. (for
pianist Margaret Kampmeier). «
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