Search - Wayne Barlow, Paul Earls, Robert Gauldin :: Music for Quiet Listening

Music for Quiet Listening
Wayne Barlow, Paul Earls, Robert Gauldin
Music for Quiet Listening
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Classical
  •  Track Listings (11) - Disc #1


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A truly special and beautiful CD
James M. Fitzwilliam | Staatsburg, NY, USA | 02/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The music on this CD has been a part of my life in so many different ways I almost don't know where to begin. It is probably the most treasured CD I own. This is a collection of music of Eastman (School of Music) composers. Two of my favorite music teachers in high school, husband and wife, had both of their children study at the Eastman School. So, one day one of these teachers of mine plays me a bit of this album -- when it still WAS an "album", that is, the Mercury LP -- and I fell in love with it literally from the first minute. I could not obtain my own copy, however, as the LP had long been out of print.

A few years later, I attended the Eastman School of Music myself. The bookstore often had rare Eastman recordings, including some of the Mercury LPs, for sale -- but NEVER this one. (Everyone wanted it, you see!) However, pursuing leads, I learned that one of the deans of the school had a secret personal stash of brand-new, unopened, Mercury LPs of which he might sell you one if you asked him REALLY nicely. For me, getting my hands on that LP copy of Music For Quiet Listening still in its shrink wrap was like finding a gold double eagle in your loose change.

Fast-forward a few decades, and finally, the Mercury Living Presence LPs are being re-issued on CD! But Music For Quiet Listening never seemed to be in stock. Finally a record store clerk, who knew the CD himself, took pity on me and found a copy that had been mis-shelved. Again, it was like finding the Holy Grail.

What really captivated me about this recording on first hearing all those years ago was the very first piece, Ron Nelson's "For Katherine In April", a beautiful melody in the strings, with lush harmony and heart-wrenching counterlines in the inner voices. Later, after a more melancholy passage in the english horn and oboe, the sun bursts forth, and there is an almost unbearably beautiful climax with the full orchestra, strings still most prominent, with some ecstatic birdcalls from the flutes running through it all. The only description I can come up with is: Most people can remember, with joy, and longing, and perhaps regret for what might have been, the first time they were ever in love. This is that feeling, expressed in music.

And that is just the FIRST FIVE MINUTES of this CD.

This recording is a collection of pieces from the 1950s by Eastman School of Music composers which were awarded the Benjamin Prize at the school. This was a composition prize founded by a philanthropist who wanted to encourage music that inspired a feeling of quiet beauty in the listener. And "quiet" does NOT mean flat and lifeless, or bland elevator music. These pieces, as you can tell from my description of For Katherine In April, DO have highs and lows in them. And, they have different moods. Some are dark or mysterious, some melancholy, some light and peaceful, but they are all soothing to the mind, and the heart, and the soul.

And as for the quality of the CD itself: ALL re-issues of beloved, classic LPs should be this good. For one thing, the original Mercury studio recordings were captured either on a 35 millimeter film recorder, or on a custom-made three-track Ampex reel-to-reel recorder. For the CD mastering of these Mercury re-issues, they found and restored to original working condition THE VERY SAME RECORDERS from which the LP masters had been made. (You can thank Ros Ritchie, head of the Eastman Recording Services department for many years, for having the foresight to keep that priceless, one-of-a-kind equipment intact.) Thus, the CD has exactly the same timbre and frequency balance as the original LP.

But it gets better! Not only do they give you the original cover art, and the original liner notes, but there are also new, expanded liner notes telling you what the composers went on to do in the years after the original LP was made. This is a really thoughtful, very nice touch.

And, if THAT wasn't enough, since there is more room on a CD than on an LP, there are three bonus tracks on the CD! All were also winners of the Benjamin prize, and all were recorded on the same mastering equipment as the original LP contents. One of the new additions is an early recording of Kent Kennan's "Night Soliloquy", which has become a staple of 20th century flute repertoire.

Well, I have gone on enough. This is a truly special recording, one that has beautified my own quiet, thoughtful moments for years, and the fact that it is available to us on CD in such pristine condition is really fortunate. I hope that it comes to mean as much to you."
James M. Fitzwilliam | 07/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Each of these is a lovely work. All range from Romantic to Impressionist. Each is special.Hanson takes works by Eastman students and makes up a restful compendium. Rest assured, these aren't current--the original LP came out in the late 50s, so this is an outstanding document of what was going on in composition at Eastman during that period.Taken either as history, or strictly as music, this Mercury classic is one every serious lover of American music should have. It's pure, sonic balm."
Killer music.
Gregory Whitfield | Vallejo, CA United States | 05/10/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Killer" is a household term for music which is so beautiful, so luscious, that it, well, just kills you. I'm a music school graduate, 50 years old, and my partner and I have amassed hundreds and hundreds of LPs, tapes and CDs over the decades. This is one of the handful of albums which gets played repeatedly. The music is sometimes melancholy, sometimes bitter-sweet, but always "accessible" yet spiritually fulfilling. I don't want you to think that it will make you depressed--it won't. But it's great for those times you want something to think by, remember by, mourn by. (I'm buying it for a friend who just lost a close relative). I'm thrilled to see there is a second volume available on CD. Listen to what beautiful music Americans were creating at mid-Century even while the "challenges" of Milton Babbitt and Elliot Carter were the only things being proselytized in music schools. Vindication is sweet and so is this album."