"Svane's works for cello are imaginative and show a strong understanding in writing for the instrument. The recording is excellent."
"Svane has a beautiful and original musical voice."
International Tchaikovsky Competition
Gold Medal Winner, 1978
"This is really beautiful and interesting music.
You have been able to use the sonorities of the cello to great effect..... Richard Locker is an ideal conveyor of the expressive possibilities contained in your compositions."
Principal cellist, San Francisco Symphony
"Svane's three cello suites echo with lessons well-learned; one can hear the counterpoint of Bach, as well as the dark lyricism of Britten. Cellist Richard Locker's flair for detail helps make repeated listens a pleasure.
Another early piece, "Dreams Go Wandering Still," is a gem-like adagio for cello and piano in melodious neo-Romantic style, a la Barber. Locker and his niece, Martha Locker, paint a lovely picture with it."
NEWARK STAR LEDGER July 26, 2005
"You have to admire contemporary composers who choose to grapple with classical music's sacrosanct past, especially those with the chutzpah to take on the task of adding to a well-trodden repertoire niche. Are there any stones left unturned by J. S. Bach and Benjamin Britten when it comes to unaccompanied cello suites? Well, there must be a few pebbles lying around yet to be discovered. So like a determined prospector, composer Randall Svane decided to hunt in a stripped quarry in search of diamonds. The booty turns out to be these three expressive cello suites that demonstrate Svane's clear, straightforward approach and admiration towards his material."
NEW MUSIC HITBOX
CELLO MUSIC OF RANDALL SVANE
Admiration for the cello suites of J. S. Bach and Benjamin
Britten inspired Randall Svane to compose his own three unaccompanied cello suites.
Suite No. 1, composed in 1979, begins with an expressive, song-like theme stated in the treble register, providing intervallic material for the short, abstract quasi-variations that follow. The opening theme, somewhat altered, makes two additional appearances. The final statement of the theme is disrupted by a double-stop idea, which eventually dies away in a pianissimo ending.
The Lento that follows is a through-composed song that takes full advantage of the cello's expressive upper register.
The third movement, marked Allegretto scherzando, begins with trills interrupted by arpeggiated pizzicato chords. Soon, however, repeated pizzicato notes begin to dominate. The repeated notes evolve into a running pizzicato line, which is occasionally cut short by the arpeggiated chords. After a final extended series of pizzicato chords, the movement comes to a surprising conclusion with two arco glissandi.
The Allegro vivace concludes the first suite. Opening with a forceful theme based on the open strings (C, A, G, D) of the instrument, sections of quiet pizzicato alternate with explosive outbursts of the opening material. Eventually, a gentle lyric idea appears, temporarily breaking the hold of the opening. Quiet pizzicato open-fifths, however, begin to appear, preparing for the final return of the theme. As the end of the suite approaches, the music builds to a fortissimo. The line arches higher and higher until a single note is held. After a pause, a final surprise is heard-a quiet pizzicato afterthought, ending with the four open strings of the cello.
This is the 2005 revision of the work.
Suite No. 2 was composed in 1982. The Prelude opens with a forceful, declamatory theme based on the parallel triad progression of C-D-E-F#. A lyric second theme follows. A struggle ensues, with each theme attempting to overshadow the other. Suddenly, outbursts of trills interrupt the development. Eventually, the second theme manages to break free and bring the movement to a quiet, yet somewhat restless conclusion on an arpeggiated pizzicato chord.
The Courante takes its name from the seventeenth-century Italian courante. As in the old Italian courante, it begins in a meter based on three, but it quickly departs, mixing diverse meters along the way. Nevertheless, a feeling of three pervades this movement. There is a light dance-like mood, hearkening back to the original, ancient style. The movement is in a ternary form with a free- flowing middle section. A return to the opening material completes the Courante.
The Theme and Variations opens with a cantabile theme written for the cello's expressive treble register. Three variations follow, concluding with a passacaglia. Near the end of the passacaglia, the cello line peacefully ascends until it leads into a final reprise of the theme stated in its original form.
A lively and spirited Toccata follows, utilizing a theme based on a repeated note. Harmonically, the final movement picks up where the first left off. The closing E cadence of the first movement resolves with the opening repeated A of the Toccata. This movement displays a cyclic return to the opening declamatory theme from the Prelude. After a retrograde announcement of the Prelude theme, the entire suite returns to the opening tonality of C for its rousing finish.
Suite No. 3 was composed in 1988. It opens with a slow and introspective Prelude, which pays homage to the suites of J. S. Bach.
A Scherzo follows, with an opening theme that makes use of chromatic writing, as well as rhythmic shifts to create a darker, somewhat unsettled mood. After a more lyric middle section, the opening material returns, this time developed more extensively. Eventually, the theme starts to disintegrate into fragments and finally peters out in a pianissimo chromatic sigh.
The Variations are based on a lyric theme stated in the expressive upper register of the cello. Four variations follow. A stately first variation makes use of double stops and rising and falling scalic passages. The second variation employs pizzicato as it sounds a more abstract commentary. Variation number three utilizes an expansive melodic line in 9/8 with shifting rhythmic patterns. A forte announcement in sixteenth notes heralds the opening of the fourth variation. There is a dramatic cadenza-like passage in the middle of this variation. Finally, the first variation returns, serving as a kind of coda that brings the third movement to a quiet and peaceful conclusion.
The first three movements of this suite start and end quietly. In the last movement, entitled Dance, the music breaks this pattern and begins with a forte statement of the rhythmically accentuated theme. A second, gentler theme appears, and then returns to the rhythmically driven first theme. The second theme continues its attempt to be heard, only to be interrupted by the forceful opening material. Eventually, the first theme wins out and brings the entire suite to a powerful ending.
Dreams Go Wandering Still was composed in 1985. The title of the adagio (scored for violoncello and piano) is borrowed from the great Japanese haiku master Basho. In 1694, as he lay dying, Basho composed his final haiku:
On a journey, ill,
and over fields all withered, dreams
go wandering still.
Dreams Go Wandering Still is a contemplative aria that expresses both tender lyricism and more intense passion. This is a heartfelt reflection for violoncello and piano in which the composer displays soaring lyricism.
Randall Svane's distinguished and expressive music has captured the imagination of audiences across the United States and Europe. The New York Philharmonic Ensembles Series, the Orchestra da Camera Fiorentina in Florence, the Vratsa Philharmonic in Bulgaria, the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Santa Fe's Twentieth Century Unlimited, the Colonial Symphony, the Minneapolis Artists Ensemble, and the Borromeo String Quartet are just a few of those who have performed Svane's works to critical and public acclaim.
Svane's achievements have been recognized through grants, prizes, and awards from such organizations as ASCAP, Meet the Composer, the American Music Center, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Astral Foundation, and the Jerome Foundation. His extensive catalogue includes orchestral, chamber, operatic, and choral works.
In a recent review in The Strad, critic Dennis Rooney had this to say about Svane's second string quartet: " A short Presto with pizzicato effects led to a slow finale that contained a fugal episode but was tinged throughout with the profound sadness of Shostakovich and the Richard Strauss of Metamorphosen. Svane knows how to entice the ear and to sustain interest."
Active for the past thirty years as an organist, conductor, and teacher, Svane currently serves as Music Director for the Montclair Kimberley Academy located in Montclair, New Jersey, and as Music Director/Organist for St. Luke's Church in Gladstone, New Jersey.
He was born in 1955 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and in 1973 entered the Manhattan School of Music, where he earned a B.M. in organ performance. While pursuing organ studies, he studied composition and orchestration with Giampaolo Bracali. In 1978 Svane entered the composition program at New York University, where he worked with Paul Ramsier. He received his M.A. in 1980.
Works by Randall Svane
Mass (for Unaccompanied Choir) (2005)
Sonata for Flute and Piano (2003)
Violin Concerto (chamber orchestra) (2002)
Compostela (chorus and large orchestra) (2000)
Sojourner Suite (oboe, horn, bassoon) (2000)
String Quartet No. 2 (1999)
Evocation and Remembrance (large orchestra) (1998)
St. Francis Symphony (large orchestra) (1997)
All American Fanfare (1997)
The Scarlet Letter (full-length opera) (1995)
String Quartet No. 1 (1994)
Concerto for Strings (string orchestra) (1993)
At the Round Earth's Imagined Corners (tenor, horn, strings, timp.) (1993)
Horn Concerto (chamber orchestra) (1990)
Quantum Flight (orchestra) (1990)
Suite No. 3 for Unaccompanied Cello (1988)
And Still the Snowflakes Fall (orchestra-ballet) (1987)
3 Preludes for Piano (1986)
Songs of Innocence (boys choir and chamber orchestra) (1985)
Dreams Go Wandering Still (cello and piano) (1985)
Duo for Cello and Bass (1985)
I Waited for the Lord (choir and organ) (1984)
I Was Glad (choir and organ) (1984)
Suite No. 2 for Unaccompanied Cello (1982)
Rhymes for Soprano and Piano (1981)
I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes (choir and organ) (1981)
Psalm 100 (brass, organ, percussion) (1980)
Suite No. 1 for Unaccompanied Cello (1979)
Well known for his stylish and expressive performances, Richard Locker enjoys an unusually varied musical life as soloist, chamber musician, teacher, orchestral principal cellist, and recording artist. Winner of prizes from the American Bach Foundation and the National Arts Club, he made his New York recital debut in 1979 to high critical acclaim and toured much of the world as soloist and chamber musician. He also served as Principal Cellist with Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival and New York City Ballet Orchestras as well as with the American Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of St Luke's, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and countless other ensembles in concerts and/or recordings. He also taught cello at Princeton University. In recent years he has been first-call cellist in New York City, playing on over 4000 recording sessions with artists ranging from Leonard Bernstein and Pinchas Zuckerman to Wynton Marsalis, McCoy Tyner and Elvis Costello, and on over 150 film scores. His first solo CD, Jewish Cello Masterpieces, has consistently been a top seller among independent releases in its genre. It was nominated for the Best CD of 2004 in the Just Plain Folks music awards, and was called one of the top 10 CD's of 2003 by the New York Jewish Week. Mr. Locker performs on the cello made by Nicolo Gagliano in Naples, dated 1780.
At the beginning of what promises to be an illustrious career, pianist Martha Locker's recent engagements include performances at the Helen Clay Frick Recital Series, the Steinway Society Recital Series, National Gallery of Art, Brooklyn's Bargemusic, Bermuda's St. John Consort, and with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, the Westmoreland Symphony and the New York University Symphony. Ms. Locker holds two degrees from the Juilliard School and is currently a candidate in the PhD program at New York University. She is Mr. Locker's niece.