James Hartway: Pulitzer Prize Nominee on Naxos
November 29, 2008
"Fresh", "creative", "optimistic", "accessible" are some of the adjectives used to describe the compositions of contemporary American composer James Hartway. His Naxos CD features some of his best-known chamber works, such as Images of Mogador for harp, flute and viola, Scenes from a Marriage for one piano four hands, and the title work Imaginary Creatures for voice and string quartet. Mark Stryker, The Detroit Free Press, reports.
At 63…Hartway's reputation is getting a major boost. A CD of his music, "Imaginary Creatures," was released this month in the high-profile American Classics series on Naxos, whose international distribution promises to elevate his visibility to the highest point in his career. The recognition is nice, says Hartway, but his fondest wish is simply that musicians who hear the CD might like the music enough to play it…"He's not afraid to really reach out to listeners," said Sean Hickey, a composition student of Hartway's at Wayne State in the '90s. "It's not simple music in the same way that the populist ballets of Copland are not simple just because there's a directness of appeal."
Hickey, a native Detroiter who has his own CD out on Naxos, also works for the company as head of East Coast sales and marketing. He played a key role in bringing Hartway to the attention of the company's maverick owner, Klaus Heymann, forwarding the disc that Hartway had recorded locally using Detroit musicians who have long championed his work. Hartway received no money from Naxos. Instead, the company covered manufacturing and distribution costs and gave the composer a large allotment of discs.
The American Classics series includes nearly 250 recordings, from seminal figures like Copland and Charles Ives to important contemporary voices like John Adams and William Bolcom and a gaggle of little-known composers, almost all of whom write in friendly styles as opposed to thornier or atonal idioms.”
James Hartway Biography & Discography
Naxos American Classics Catalogue