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8.559067 - CADMAN: Piano Trio in D Major / Violin Sonata / Piano Quintet
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Charles Wakefield Cadman conceived his new Trio in D major, Op.56, as early as 1908, but it was not until 1913, upon returning to his home in Denver, that he actually set it to paper. Beginning in May, he had completed the manuscript by 10th June. By composing a trio, his first venture in chamber music, he hoped to demonstrate that he could successfully compose in more advanced forms. The work was first performed on 23rd September, 1913, at a private home in Denver; the first public performance occurred a month later in Minneapolis. The opening movement, Allegro maestoso, in D major, is a brilliant, late romantic work in sonata-allegro form. The second movement, marked Andante cantabile, in G major, is in ternary form with the strings carrying the primary melody with a subdued piano accompaniment. It is the third movement, a D major Vivace energico, however, that has provoked curiosity through the years. Again in ternary form, it was one of the first attempts to incorporate ragtime elements in an American chamber work. Often classified as ‘idealised ragtime’, the movement projects a throbbing energy that musicians of the period felt was symbolic of "the restless energy of 'The Great Melting Pot'."

While staying with friends in San Diego in late 1929, Cadman began sketches on a projected new violin sonata. The Sonata in G major was completed near Fresno, California, in February, 1930, while he was holed-up in a "studio-shack" for a two-week working vacation. On 18th April the violinist Vera Barstow gave the first performance of the work in Los Angeles. During the next two years the sonata was performed several times from manuscript but Cadman wanted to "keep it with me a long time and improve it here and there." Shortly before its 1932 publication, he wrote to Norman Bel Geddes, set and lighting designer for his Opera Shanewis:

"I have the hallucination that it is American in spirit with a bit of the Pacific Coast and desert country in it. It is lyrical and DIRECT but isn't American life that anyway(?) -- I mean, after the superficialities are stripped from it? BUT what I mean, is that beyond this there is a native mood in the damned thing. Oh, I have gotten away from that Indian stuff years ago. . . . And YET, there may be an approach to that in years to come, a different approach. But time will tell."

The work is dedicated to Cadman's colleague, the violinist Sol Cohen.

Quintet in G minor for Piano and Strings (1937)

In July, 1934, Cadman spent five weeks at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. The previous year saw major upheavals in his life with bank foreclosures on his homes in La Mesa and Hollywood, California, and the death of his mother in 1934. He anticipated that a MacDowell residency would allow him to focus on his music and complete his first orchestral suite Trail Pictures. It was also the first time that Cadman had been confronted with academic composers. Slightly intimidated, he confided in a contemporary letter that his colleagues were "steeped in training." Privately, he recognised his limited technique and sought to develop a "New Style" by incorporating more contrapuntal techniques and better motivic development. He returned to the MacDowell Colony in the Summer of 1937; in hand was his Piano Quintet in G minor in the "New Style" which he was eager to show his fellow colonists, including Gardner Read, Charles Haubiel, Marion Bauer and Harold Morriss. With their enthusiastic approval, he made minor revisions and completed the work that September. Cadman's "New Style" was still conservative in nature with moderate dissonances and a curtailment of the broad lyricism he was known for. Although one critic called the work an Indian style "dressed-up", it is evident that Cadman had made great progress in mastering more advanced compositional techniques. The first performance, was in June, 1938 at the San Diego home of E. T. Guymon, Sr. (the score’s dedicatee) with the composer at the piano. The score remains unpublished.

Cadman was at the height of his popularity when he completed his short atmospheric Legend of the Canyon, Op.68 – Romance for Violin and Piano. It appears on numerous recital and club programmes during the 1920s and was often used as an encore. Since the printed score lacks introductory remarks, one can only speculate as to the meaning of the legend but certainly the word "Romance" in the sub-title leads us in the right direction. The work is dedicated to violinist Fritz Kreisler, who recorded it for Victor Records in 1925.

From the Land of the Sky-blue Water, Op. 45, No.1, of 1909 was based on two Omaha Indian tribal melodies collected by Alice Fletcher in her monograph A Study of Omaha Indian Music. The tribal melodies, the first an Indian flageolet love-call, represented by the opening piano trill lasting for three measures, and the second, an Omaha love-song, were "idealised" by Cadman with new words by Eberhart. Cadman is credited with composing the work on a cold winter day in less than a half-hour while seated at a piano in a Pittsburgh Sunday School. It was also several months before he had actually visited an Indian reservation. The work was issued in a solo piano and song versions by the White-Smith Music Publishing Company; the sixth publisher to review the manuscript. They also issued this piano/violin arrangement by Gaylord Yost. Numerous musicians helped popularise the work including recorded versions by Fritz Kreisler in 1925 and a trio version with Eugene Ormandy as the violinist in 1929. Cadman gave the original pencil manuscript to the Library of Congress in 1915.

Lance Bowling

Charles Wakefield CADMAN (1881-1946)

Piano Trio in D Major (1914)

Sonata in G for Violin and Piano (1930)

Piano Quintet in G minor (1937)

The Legend of the Canyon (1920)

From the Land of the Sky-Blue Water (1909/13)

Paul Posnak, piano

Peter Zazofsky, Violin [1]-[6] and [10]-[11]

Ross Harbaugh, Cello [1]-[3]

Bergonzi String Quartet [7]-[9]


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