PROGRAM NOTE on The Land of Song by David Evan Thomas:
My cellist sister Christine requested a suite of folk songs from Wales—often called the “Land of Song”—for recital use. Chris sent a list of her favorite tunes; I chose five that make a little journey through the repertoire, as well as a display piece for her talents.
From the Land of Song (O Gwlad y Gân) (2010):
Pant Corlan yr Wyn (Let Now the Harp)
Tros y Garreg (Over the Stone)
Yn Nyffryn Clwyd (The Missing Boat)
Ar hyd y nos (All Through the Night)
Dwfn Yw’r môr (Well I Know This Lovely Place)
Approaching as if from a distance, the cheerful “Let Now the Harp” is answered by its inverted form, which foreshadows the well-known “All Through the Night,” and the two dialogue in sonata style. “Over the Stone” recalls Fauré in its siciliana setting. “The Missing Boat” has special significance: our great-great-grandfather, John Thomas of Aberaeron, Wales, captained the clipper-built schooner Clifton, which ran aground on Bideford Bar in a storm on December 3, 1859, drowning him with three of his crew. His son, Thomas Bennett Thomas, subsequently emigrated to the U.S., founding the American branch of our family. While “All Through the Night” needs no introduction, note that its incipit is shared by “Well I Know This Lovely Place,” making a smooth bridge to the finale. The latter tune develops in a Schumannesque manner, leading to a virtuosic coda.
From the Land of Song received First Prize (The Myfanwy Bajaj Prize) in the 2010 Ninnau and Y Drych Music Eisteddfod.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
Cellist Christine Thomas Tsen attended Eastman School as an undergraduate studying under Paul Katz. She received her Masters with high honors from the New England Conservatory studying under Colin Carr. More at www.ChristineThomasTsen.com.
Grace Choi is an accomplished composer and pianist. She studied at Brandeis University, Peabody Institute, and Seoul National University.
Narine Babadjanian studied piano performance at Tbilisi State Conservatory in Georgia. She has performed with orchestras throughout Europe.
Born in Rochester, New York, David Evan Thomas studied at Northwestern University, the Eastman School, and with Dominick Argento at the University of Minnesota. His work has been commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, honored by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and published by ECS, Augsburg Fortress and MorningStar. More at www.davidevanthomas.com.
This CD is dedicated with love to my parents John and Mimi Thomas.
Playing Love (by Christine Tsen)
Departing the stage, he rises into the concert hall of the streets
Takes out his encores, his chocolate Chaconne —
Fingers lovingly vivacious, he evaporates into sparks
He knows it is about true artistry as they file vacantly by
Hurrying to their three-headed corporeal offices.
Before the rains, fingering a rosary of hues,
Her soft gentle hands chalk a coating of joy on cracked concrete.
As the bunioned oh-so-sophistocated rush by
She rehearses over and over her art’s death.
In a forget-me-not garden I take out my dulcimer.
Entranced fingers strew delicate orchids
As the children gather one by one to listen.
The parents pull petulantly, insistently
Frustrated at the pause they are being forced to take in life
The spirited Sufis know their birthright is every last Note.
Rumi’s bewilderment is free
And yet we hold cleverness dearer.
So our savage hearts ache
As we forsake the beauty that lifts us above savagery —
As the children turn to scatter into the throngs
Will they remember the gifts of love?
© 2010 Christine Tsen. All Rights Reserved.