John Sichel is a composer from New Jersey. His works have been played in North and South America, Europe and Asia by artists and ensembles including the National Symphony Orchestra, Duo Fresco, New York Philharmonic Chamber Ensembles, cellist Ning Tien, and the violin and guitar duo of Vladimir Tsypin and Evgeny Beleninov. His works are recorded on the Opus One, Newport Classic and Musicians Showcase labels and his orchestrations of music by Anthony Scarmolin have been recorded on the Centaur and Naxos labels.
John is a professor of music at Raritan Valley Community College, where he conducts the college chorale, and is also the conductor of the Madrigal Singers. He is an avid birder, amateur astronomer and writer of lurid science fiction, which he has self- published under a pen name.
He writes about the works on this album:
String Quartet #3 (2005)
This is a somewhat apocalyptic one-movement work, encompassing a prelude and passacaglia, and ending with a bitter and vicious march. The primary motive of the work is the abrupt, tornado-like figure heard in the opening measures. It is punctuated with a whimper and followed by a lugubrious cavatina in mock-baroque style. At the climax of the central passacaglia the tornado figure reemerges, as it does in the “dogfight” portion of the march and at the quartet’s conclusion: a final snap of the whip. He who sows the wind reaps the whirlwind.
String Quartet #4 (2010)
This is a much more Apollonian work than its predecessor, though born of personal loss. There are five movements: Prelude, Fugue, Dance, Lament and Mystic Dance. The stern melody heard in the viola at the outset of the Prelude is the works motto; it recurs in all subsequent movements. The Fugue contrasts a lyrical subject with various mechanistically funky answers while the Dance is a study in sustained energy. In the Lament the motto theme becomes the basis of a passacaglia. The final movement is a mysterious and detached polka.
Piano Trio (2003)
As with the 3rd Quartet, this work begins furiously and encompasses several movements within a single, uninterrupted span. The opening prelude and fugue culminate in a passage of slow-motion fury, contrasting plangent strings with crashing piano chords. There follows a melancholy, free-floating adagio with iso-rhythmic talae in the strings realigning themselves against each other and against a meandering chorale in the piano. There is then a
scherzo, the theme introduced by the piano against sul-ponticello scales, and a final lament, introduced by the cello. The material of the first movement returns at the end, and, after ascending to a pinnacle of fury, the work closes exhaustedly and ambiguously, the cello trailing away in Ivesian fashion.
This performance was recorded live at Raritan Valley Community College on October 11, 2011.
Taiwanese-born pianist Hsin-Yi Tsai is in demand as an exciting performer and an inspiring teacher. She began piano lessons at the age of three and continued studying percussion, flute and singing. At age 11, Hsin-Yi had her international debut in San Francisco as a soloist playing Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1. She earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts from Taipei National University of the Arts and received her Doctoral of Musical Arts from Rutgers University, under the tutelage of Susan Starr. In her career, Hsin-Yi has performed as recitalist, chamber musician and soloist with orchestra in major cities such as Beijing, Vienna, Budapest, Salzburg, San Francisco, New York, and major cities in Taiwan, including concerts at Taipei National Recital Hall. Hsin-Yi is also an active teacher with a private piano studio and having co-founded Piano Summer Workshop, a unique program of musical exploration, composition, and performance. Recently, Ms. Tsai was signed by Fazioli Piano as promotion concert pianist. She was on the promotion tour in Asia in October 2009.
Hailed for their "precision, assertiveness and vigor" (New York Times) and "gripping intensity...suspenseful and virtuoso playing" (San Francisco Chronicle), the Amphion String Quartet is a winner of the 2011 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition. The ASQ has been selected to join the roster of the prestigious Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Two program, beginning the 2013 season. Most recently the Quartet has been named the 2012-2013 Ernst Stiefel Quartet-in-Residence at the Caramoor Center for the Music and the Arts. The ASQ has also been awarded the First Prize at both the Plowman Chamber Music and Hugo Kauder String Quartet competitions.
Highlights of the 2011-2012 season included performances at the Alexander Schneider Concert Series at the New School, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, St. Bonaventure University (NY), Elon University (NC), Bargemusic's Masterworks series and a return visit to the OK Mozart Festival. In the summer of 2011 the ASQ were the Protégé Quartet-in-Residence at Chamber Music Northwest. In the summer of 2010 the foursome performed at the Beethoven Institute at Mannes (NYC), working closely with members of the Brentano Quartet.