New Wine in Old Bottles
...is meant as a play on the pejorative “old wine in new bottles”. The works on these discs, though all composed and revised during the 1990s, use traditional Classical forms and harmonies, and represent the final versions of what I consider the best of my diatonic compositions. Thus it is new music in an old style, though in keeping with the long and honorable art-music tradition of borrowing, there are quotes from other composers in a few pieces: Mozart (who was himself quoting J.C. Bach) in the B-flat sonata and Beethoven in the G-major sonata. I also steal from myself—the opening movement of the G-major sonata and finale of the B-flat—both modified to an extent—serve as the slow movement and finale of the string quartet.
Overture to The Country Wife was written as a curtain-raiser for a still-uncompleted opera based on William Wycherley’s 1676 comedy; I went against tradition and wrote the overture first since I lacked a libretto that transforms a five-act play into a two-act opera buffa.
Der Struwwelpeter is a German children's book of poetry from the mid-19th century. The poems are intended to impart moral and behavioral lessons to kindergarteners through fear, it seems: a chubby, healthy boy starves himself to death; a thumb-sucker loses his digits to a scissors-wielding crazyman; and so on, colorfully illustrated, for 13 poems. I discovered the book in high school German class, and years later thought that the texts would make good art songs. The songs were written for Amy Johnson, a soprano I met at the Ash Lawn-Highland Summer Festival in 1992. The songs are out of the order of the book, though the last is also the final poem in the collection, and the gentlest.