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A Warm Day in Winter

Naxos has released a CD of chamber music
by American composer and bassoonist Truman Harris,
written for his orchestral colleagues

 

American composer Truman Harris (born 1945) draws on decades of experience as a professional bassoonist to craft appealing music perfectly suited to wind instruments in this new recording of his works, A Warm Day in Winter - Naxos American Classics, 8.559858. The CD was released on 8 March 2019. The compositions on this album, all written for Harris' colleagues at the National Symphony Orchestra and Eclipse Chamber Orchestra, demonstrate his close ties with these performers.

Harris reflects on composing for his long-time colleagues:

In some sense, a long running chamber music relationship is a bit like a marriage among the players. A good musical marriage can have a little of the 'finishing-each-other's-sentences' quality as the players become accustomed to each others' individual styles. Composing for old friends, I can sometimes hear their unique musical voices in my head while writing the notes, and some of the musical lines come from that knowledge.

Truman Harris' music is influenced by art - Art Deco, De Stijl, Bauhaus, etc - from the years between the World Wars, and composers including Stravinsky, Poulenc, Françaix and Hindemith. The works on this CD also draw upon popular music from that period such as ragtime, the Charleston, silent movie music and tango. This music is also rich with imagery as the description for the CD's title work shows:

A Warm Day in Winter begins with a depiction of a particularly cold January morning: a near absence of bird sounds creates an eerie quiet. But a warm front moves across the area and as the day (and the music) warms up, one feels more and more like dancing, with the piano inviting the listener to move, and the work hinting at Latin American rhythms.

The works on the CD are: Rosemoor Suite (2015) for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn, Aulos Triptych (2015) for four flutes and piano, the Concertino for Horn and Chamber Orchestra (2001), Flowers (2006) for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn, the Sonata for Two Bassoons and Piano (2008) and the Concertino for Flute and Chamber Orchestra (2003).

Truman Harris: A Warm Day in Winter; Rosemoor Suite; Aulos Triptych; Flowers. Naxos American Classics 8.559858

Composer and bassoonist Truman Harris was composer-in-residence at Eclipse Chamber Orchestra (Washington, DC) 2004-14, which premiered several of his works during that time. In celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Harris was commissioned to write a fanfare for the National Symphony Orchestra. The resulting work, Prelude for 12 Violas, was performed by the NSO conducted by Leonard Slatkin.

Truman Harris. Photo © 2017 Steven Wilson
Truman Harris. Photo © 2017 Steven Wilson

From 1973 until his retirement in 2017, Harris was bassoonist with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington DC, becoming Assistant Principal in 2000. He was also Principal Bassoonist of Eclipse Chamber Orchestra from its founding in 1992 until 2017, and was bassoonist of the Capitol Woodwind Quintet (1977-2012), National Musical Arts (ensemble in-residence at the National Academy of Sciences), and the Twenty-First Century Consort at the Smithsonian Institute. Truman Harris holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Texas and a Master of Music degree from the Catholic University Of America, and his music is published by Trevco Music Publishing.

Posted 3 August 2019 by Gail Wein

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FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT TRUMAN HARRIS

 

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