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About the CDs

Beverly Serra Brooks
Song of a Country Priest
American Solo Piano Works:
Copland, Roush, Lees & Brooks

The Aaron Copland Sonata is one of the great 20th century works for solo piano. Utilizing the three movement format of sonata form, this pessimistic work reflects the influence of living in the industrial age. The first movement, rather than relying on melodic content, exploits widely spaced cords, tonal variety, texture, dynamics and polarized ranges to build color and expressivity. The Vivace is essentially a scherzo and reflects Copland's interest in Jazz idioms. This formidable movement features cellular thematic material that develops through changes of meter, syncopation and virtuosic leaps. The last movement employs elements of the previous movements, techniques of polyphony, and tonal transparency to create a deeply elegiac statement.

The Cat and the Mouse is a programmic tale of hide and seek.

Song of a Country Priest for pianist/narrator with text by Tom Andrews was written in 2003 by Dr. Dean Roush especially for Dr. Serra-Brooks. This work is a stirring question of inner spiritual and artistic faith filled with imagery, symbolism, and poetic interplay between sound and text.

Benjamin Lees' Fantasia, written in 1954, is a breathless show piece in the grand toccata style.

Lee Brooks' Our Hearts, written in Austria especially for Dr. Serra-Brooks, is an eloquent affirmation of love. Boom You're Dead, composed the night the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, questions the value of War.


Beverly Serra Brooks
From the Musical Tree

Chromatic Fantasia and Fuge BWV 903 in d moll
J.S. Bach (1685-1750)

The Chromatic Fantasy, originating in Cothen, Germany around 1720 is representative of his greatest work in the form of Toccata and Fantasy writing. Even today in the year 2000- the 250th anniversary of Bach's death, it stands as one of the highpoints in all piano repertoire. The fantasy features virtuoso passage work, chromatic harmonies, instrumental recitative writing reminiscent of vocal recitative in early Baroque opera, and use of improvisational techniques. The Fuge is built on an ascending theme. The clear contrapuntal texture is contrasted with episodes derived from rhythmic and intervallic cells of the theme. In this piece, Bach was able to fuse Baroque texture and form into a romantic palate of color and mood.

Sonata Opus.57 f moll
LV. Beethoven (1770-1827)

There is a revolutionary spirit as well as an autobiographical feel to this sonata. Written in 1803-04 when Beethoven’s hearing was deteriorating, the first movement incorporates Beethoven’s "fate" motive as in his fifth symphony to work through his despair at losing his hearing and is filled with alternations of lyricism and bold outbursts. The second movement is a gentle set of variations acting as a bridge to the explosive finale filled with power and virtuoso passage work in one last run from his fate.

Sonata Opus.57 f moll
LV. Beethoven (1770-1827)

There is a revolutionary spirit as well as an autobiographical feel to this sonata. Written in 1803-04 when Beethoven’s hearing was deteriorating, the first movement incorporates Beethoven’s "fate" motive as in his fifth symphony to work through his despair at losing his hearing and is filled with alternations of lyricism and bold outbursts. The second movement is a gentle set of variations acting as a bridge to the explosive finale filled with power and virtuoso passage work in one last run from his fate.

Images Book I
C. Debussy (1862-1918)

Debussy's unique style reached its mature perspective with this suite written in 1905. "Reflect dans L'eau" (reflections in the water) centers around his fascination with creating an impression of water, its movement and the reflections of light upon water. This new way of writing for the piano utilizes pentatonic and whole tone harmonies shrouded in limpid dynamic hues of pianissimo and special pedal effects to create color and an atmosphere of shifting patterns of light. "Hommage a Rameau" is a serious gesture of admiration for the famous composer, Rameau. The final Movement is a fun, if not hectic romp around the piano. The visual excitement of the" Movement" is also created by overlapping and crossed hands toccata technique that Debussy expanded and then became a feature of his technical style, new harmonies and sweep.

Jeux d'Eau
M. Ravel (1875-1937)

Whereas Debussys' writing is more like Chopin, Ravel seems more like Liszt in his compositional writing, yet they were both interested in depicting the elements of water,light and motion in sound. In the tone poem Jeux d'eau, he evokes elasticity and sensuality through his harmonic language and exploitation of the upper registers as he creates in sound the stillness and movement of water. The subtitle helps to set the mood -- the river god laughs as the water splashes over him.


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