Sometimes we whisper our prayers, sometimes we scream.
Sometimes we cry our prayers, sometimes we joyfully shout.
Sometimes we pray for the mundane, sometimes we pray for our lives.
This record is my offering, a moment in time, some of my prayers.
Four Prayers is a mix of old and new music for flute and piano, featuring works by Ned Rorem and Philippe Gaubert, as well as two world premiere recordings of music by Jonathan Bailey Holland and marc faris. Here are some words from the Chris Chaffee, marc faris, and Jonathan Bailey Holland about the music on Four Prayers:
Philippe Gaubert - Sonate in A Major
Gaubert’s Sonate in A is a cornerstone of the flute repertoire. I believe a much larger audience should know it. In craft, beauty, and impact, it deserves the same esteem as the great Romantic Sonatas by Franck and Brahms, to name but two examples. To prepare for this recording, I performed it in recital numerous times, everywhere from high schools to a packed hall at the 2014 National Flute Association convention. Like any great work of Art, the more I lived with it, the more I found to explore. One often overlooked fact about Gaubert- he saw action in WWI at the Battle of Verdun, one of the grisliest human follies of all time. The Sonate is from this period. At the core of this piece is a persistent tension between light and dark- even the opening and closing theme has a tinge of bittersweet.
marc faris - Social Movements
Social Movements (2005-6) reflects my preoccupation with music as a social phenomenon — a reflection of, and commentary on, the sociocultural climate in which it emerges and the minds and bodies that make it. The piece manifests this conceptual background through the interpolation of a variety of sociopolitical metaphors (conflict/resolution, cooperation, resistance, and so on) with compositional techniques and processes. For example, the gradual deconstruction and transformation of serialized rhythmic and melodic constructs across the piece might symbolize the triumph of individual/collective will over the mechanization of modern society; the frequency of unison textures, especially in the pointedly jagged passages, might resonate with the notion of communal effort in the face of adversity. Further, a loose overarching “narrative” is suggested by the movement titles, which are drawn from a Mexican socialist manifesto. In writing it, I was also attempting to capture and capitalize on certain features of Chris and Josh’s specific musical strengths and personal characters; Social Movements will ideally come across as the musical embodiment of a spirited, late-night conversation between three lifelong friends – sometimes in agreement, sometimes argumentative, often meandering and unpredictable.
Jonathan Bailey Holland - Dark Flowers
Originally commissioned by the Curtis Institute of Music, Dark Flowers was written to honor H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, the Chair Emeritus of the Board of Trustees of Curtis. The composition grew in scope from its initial conception and receives its world premiere performance with this recording. The work features the warm, dark timbres of the alto flute and bass flute, and its two movements, which are intended to be performed without pause, are titled after the mysterious and elegant Black Baccara rose and Black Velvet petunias. The music is loosely derived from the ever rising and narrowing nature of the natural overtone series, and the flute incorporates some notes of unequal tuning (i.e. microtones) that are a part of the overtone series.
-Jonathan Bailey Holland
Ned Rorem - Four Prayers
Ned Rorem composed Four Prayers in 2006 as part of a commission project initiated by flutist Myra Martin. I had the pleasure of reviewing her world premier recording, and began performing it on recitals shortly after. Every time I played it, someone would inevitably comment, “I don’t see how those are prayers” or “I don’t understand the title” or the like. This recording is my reply.
- Christopher Chaffee
Dedicated to my sons Tristan Wolf Chaffee and Brodan Bear Chaffee