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HARMONIZE YOUR SPIRIT WITH MY CALM

Instrumental works and songs to poetry

of Russian and American poets

 

Leonard Lehrman

Joel Mandelbaum

 

OVERVIEW

 

Composers and longtime friends Joel Mandelbaum and Leonard J. Lehrman present their collaborative HARMONIZE YOUR SPIRIT WITH MY CALM. The two first met in 1976, and, since then, have carved out prestigious careers in New York. Both are prolific creators, respected academics/lecturers, and important institutional leaders, particularly in the world of American and Jewish music. Each composes somewhat traditional music infused with their own originality and sometimes unconventional influences.

 

This is particularly true with Joel Mandelbaum’s music, which should be heard within the context of his lifelong interest in alternative tunings. Indeed, early in his career, Mandelbaum experimented heavily with microtonality, and has since employed multiple tuning systems that attempt to achieve more practically the nuances of just intonation – a tuning system popular in the Renaissance.

 

With this said, almost all of Mandelbaum’s compositions use conventional modern tunings, including Chaconne and most of In Sainte Chapelle. It is only in the final minute of In Sainte Chapelle that the microtonal higher partials in the horns emerge conspicuously to add sufficient depth to the final consonance, to overcome the destabilizing effects in the middle of the piece and restore the calm of the beginning. Thus, microtones are integrated into, not opposed to, the normal harmonic fabric, an aesthetic position very much akin to Mandelbaum’s approach generally, both to music and to life.

 

Leonard Lehrman has also employed microtonality in his music, most notably his String Trio (1968) in memory of Martin Luther King, as well as dodecaphony, in his Flute Concerto (1965), Piano Trio (1969-70), first string quartet (1971), and numerous songs and operas. His use of selective serialism in his opera Karla was the subject of a 2015 D.M.A. dissertation by Jeremy Blackwood, which can be viewed here. Leonard Lehrman’s vocal music is extremely expressive, and seemingly changes style to mirror the mood of the text he has set. In Quartet for example, Lehrman’s music follows the narrative of Russian writer Ivan Krylov’s fable with exact precision, shifting its personality with each detail of the story. The result is both highly animated and endearingly playful, two characteristics that emerge in Lehrman’s other vocal pieces, even those that tend to be more dissonant than Quartet. Lehrman’s facility in writing for the voice and text painting is well earned, as he has composed hundreds of songs, eleven operas, and seven musicals.

 

Lehrman’s career has also been defined by a deep artistic and scholarly connection to Russian musical and literary culture. In addition to the work of Ivan Krylov, Lehrman has set texts by numerous Russian writers, including Anton Chekhov and Mikhail Sholokhov. He has also translated operas by Russian composers Modest Mussorgsky, Mikhail Glinka, and Alexander Dargomyzhsky into English.

 

Lehrman and Mandelbaum have enjoyed programming and performing each other’s works. Their wives Helene and Ellen participated in HARMONIZE YOUR SPIRIT WITH MY CALM as performer and designer, and the entire album is dedicated to the memory of Leonard’s mother, Emily R. Lehrman.  The English title, drawn from one of the songs on the album, is representative of the two composers’ relationship with each other. The Russian title, the first words sung on the album, represent their homage to the need for building on the past in order to create a viable future.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

Lehrman and Mandelbaum are close friends and colleagues whose musical interests and styles intersect and differ in important and personal ways.

 

Mandelbaum has a decades-long interest in alternative tuning systems, that subtly influences his otherwise mostly traditional compositional language.

 

Both composers have a strong connection to their Russian Jewish heritage. The recordings that took place in Russia were performed by Russian musicians.

 

Texts for Lehrman’s 8 Russian Songs are presented in both English and Russian.

 

The composers’ wives Helene and Ellen participated in the project as performer and designer.

 

The release date of January 13, 2017 marks exactly the second anniversary of Lehrman’s mother’s death, to whose memory the album is dedicated.

 

CREDITS

 

Prelude

Recorded September 9, 1997 at Queens College in Flushing NY

Engineers Norman Greenspan & David Barnes

Original Capstone Records release (CPS 8661)

 

8 Russian Songs, Chaconne, In Sainte-Chapelle

Recorded July 1-2, 2016 at Studio 1, House of Radio

in St. Petersburg, Russia

Session Producer Bob Lord

Session Engineer Alexei Barashkin

 

Bloody Kansas

Recorded November 9, 2007 at Queens College in Flushing NY

Engineer Rick Krahn

 

An Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Love Song Cycle

Recorded March 2, 1997 at the Hicksville Public Library in Hicksville NY

Engineer Norman Greenspan

Original Capstone Records release (CPS 8647)

 

String Quartet #2

Recorded July 2000 at LeFrak Concert Hall, Queens College

in Flushing NY

Session Producer Silas Brown

Mastering Adam Abeshouse

Original Capstone Records release (CPS 8692)

 

Love Is Not All

Recorded February 18, 1999 at the Garden City Public Library

in Garden City NY

Producer & Engineer Norman Greenpan

Original Capstone Records release (CPS 8667)

 

Cover image: Window from Marian Woods

sketch and window design by Ellen Mandelbaum.

 

Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R Sam Renshaw

A&R Michael Papa

Audio Director Jeff LeRoy

Art & Production Director Brett Picknell

Graphic Design Emily Roulo, Ryan Harrison

 

 

 

Release Date: January 13, 2017

Catalog #: RR7951

 

 

TRACK TITLES

 

01 Prelude (1950)  Joel Mandelbaum  3:06

Leonard Lehrman piano

 

8 Russian Songs  Leonard Lehrman  24:54

 

02  I. Benediction (1977) (Alexander Blok)  1:58

  Helene Williams soprano

 

03 II. Me & Russia (1985) (Velemir Khlebnikov)  4:05

St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra

Vladimir Lande conductor  Alexander Mikhalëv bass-baritone

 

SONGS OF BIRDS (1977)

 

04      III. Greeting (Afanasy Fet)   3:19

          Helene Williams soprano  Yulia Orlova English horn

 

05      IV. Quartet (Ivan Krylov)   4:01

          Alexander Mikhalëv bass-baritone  Özge Inci oboe

           Margarita Elizarova viola  Sergei Voloshchuk horn

           Alexey Glazkov cembalo

 

06      V. Nightingale in a Dream (Gavril Derhavin)  3:23

          Helene Williams soprano

 

07  Vi. My University (1970) (Vladimir Mayakovsky)   3:02

St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra

Vladimir Lande conductor Alexander Mikhalëv bass-baritone

 

08  Vii. Winter Morning (1986) (Alexander Pushkin)   3:00

St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra

Vladimir Lande conductor  Helene Williams soprano

 

09  Viii. Untitled (2015) (Galina Leybovich)   2:06

St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra

Vladimir Lande conductor  Helene Williams soprano

 

10  Chaconne (1977)  Joel Mandelbaum   5:19

St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra

Vladimir Lande conductor

 

11  Bloody Kansas (1976) Leonard Lehrman   1:00

Chamber Music Live Orchestra at Queens College

Joel Mandelbaum conductor

 

12 In Sainte-Chapelle (2002)  Joel Mandelbaum   9:12

St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra

Vladimir Lande conductor

 

An Elizabeth Gurley Flynn   14:30

Love Song Cycle (1994) Leonard Lehrman

Helene Williams soprano  Leonard Lehrman piano

 

13  I. If I can step within   3:07

 

14  II. To my Jewish friend in Pittsburgh   2:13

 

15 III. The beauty of love   1:19

 

16  IV. I lock my heart against you   0:35

 

17  V. Won’t you unlock   1:55

 

18  VI. To Carlo   3:46

 

19  VII. On “Equality”   1:35

 

String Quartet #2 (1962-78)  Joel Mandelbaum   15:29

Meridian String Quartet

Sebu Sirinian violin  Lisa Tipton violin

Liuh-Wen Ting viola  Wolfram Koessel cellist

 

20 I. Theme and Variations   4:31

 

21  II. Allegro   5:12

 

22  III. sniotairaV dna emehT   5:46

 

23  Love Is Not All (1959)  Joel Mandelbaum   2:36

Helene Williams soprano  Leonard Lehrman piano

 

Total Time  76:06

 

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