A recording of Andrew Schultz’s “captivating” and “eloquent” chamber work, After Nina, Opus 73 (2007), will be given a digital release on 20 October 2014 on the Sedition label (SEDITION7). The recording is by three outstanding Australian chamber musicians: Paul Dean – clarinet, Patrick Murphy – cello, and Stephen Emmerson – piano.
After Nina, Opus 73 (2007), by Andrew Schultz was commissioned by the Endeavour Trio (Paul Dean and Stephen Emmerson with cellist Trish O’Brien). The title and the mood of the ten minute piece refer to the Nina Simone version of the song, Strange Fruit with its sparse piano accompaniment. Click here to view the release on i-Tunes.
After Nina work was recorded in Brisbane, Australia in February 2014 along with a number of other chamber and vocal works by Andrew Schultz that will be released as a full CD in 2015 by the Southern Cross Soloists ensemble on the Wirripang label (Wirr 065). Other works on the forthcoming disc include To the evening star for soprano and piano – a work which won the Paul Lowin Prize in 2009. Also to be included will be a work commissioned by the Southern Cross Soloists in 2006, Lines drawn from silence.
Paul Dean is currently the Artistic Director of the Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne and a member of Southern Cross Soloists. He is regarded as one of the finest clarinettists and chamber musicians in Australia and has recorded for several CD labels. As soloist, recitalist and chamber musician, Paul Dean has performed in Norway, England, Japan, China, the USA and Canada. His recording of brother Brett Dean’s clarinet concerto Ariel’s Music won an ARIA in 1999 and the piece was the Selected Work at the 1999 Paris Rostrum of Composers. In 2004 Paul recorded a CD of music by Andrew Schultz for the Tall Poppies label and in 2009 received rave reviews throughout Europe and the US for his recordings of the Mozart clarinet works on the Melba label. He has performed the premieres of over fifty works, many of which have either been written for or dedicated to him, including Colin Brumby’s and James Penberthy’s Clarinet Concertos and Wilfred Lehmann’s Theme and Variations.
Patrick Murphy is Cello Performance Fellow at the University of Queensland School of Music and a member of Southern Cross Soloists. Prior to that he was Lecturer in Cello at the University of Tasmania, Hobart Conservatorium. He has also taught cello and chamber music at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and worked regularly with the Sydney Symphony. Patrick started learning the cello with Rosemary Iversen in Perth. He completed his Bachelor degree studying with Gregory Baron and Michael Goldschlager before spending several years with the Halcyon String Quartet. Their studies took them to the UK and Canada where they were resident artists at the Banff Centre for the Arts. Patrick then completed a Masters Degree studying with Alexander Ivashkin and Natalia Pavlutskaya. Patrick has an extensive background in chamber music performance, and was a founding member of the Tankstream Quartet (now Australian String Quartet) whose international career was launched after winning first prize in the Osaka International Chamber Music Competition, Japan 2002. They went on to be prize-winners in the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition (2003).
Stephen Emmerson studied piano with Pamela Page at University of Queensland and later in London with Peter Wallfisch of the Royal College of Music. At the completion of his undergraduate degree, a Commonwealth Scholarship enabled him to study at New College Oxford where he graduated with a Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. He has been on full-time staff at the Queensland Conservatorium since 1987 where he teaches various music history and performance-related courses. As a pianist, he has performed widely around Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the Pacific. In addition to solo performances on piano and fortepiano, the focus of his performance career in recent years has been within various chamber ensembles including the Griffith Trio and Dean–Emmerson–Dean, with whom he has toured internationally. Recordings of his playing in collaboration with a variety of performers have been released by ABC Classics, Move Records, The Anthology of Australian Music on Disc, CPO, Tall Poppies, Contact and Melba. His performances and recordings are broadcast regularly on local and national radio.
After Nina for clarinet, cello and piano, Opus 73 (2007) – Andrew Schultz
After Nina was composed in the first half of 2007 for the Endeavour Trio (Paul Dean, Trish O’Brien and Stephen Emmerson). It is a ten minute work which was written at the same time as my chamber opera, The Children’s Bach. The work is a slow and lyrical study based around a pattern of low chords heard first in the piano. The title and the mood of the piece refer to the Nina Simone version of the song, Strange Fruit with its sparse piano accompaniment. Strange Fruit is the anti-lynching civil rights song written in the 1930s by Abel Meeropol and then made famous by Billie Holiday.
‘Southern trees bear a strange fruit, Blood on the leaves and blood at the root, Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze, Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.’
I have often been asked why it is the Nina Simone version of the song that interested me rather than the more well-known version by Billie Holiday. It is the relatively detached style of Simone’s version – the limited use of overt emotionalism when dealing with a topic that so easily invites it. Whilst Simone does give vent towards the end, her style is mostly sparse and allows the text to stand.
That idea of restraint as embodied in the use of the stalking, low chords was important to me at this time because I was also dealing with unsettling and emotive material in the subject and text of The Children’s Bach. The question in my mind was how to allow the text to be heard and its impact kept in clear focus with the music still suggesting and adding more than the text could provide on its own.
c. Andrew Schultz, 2007
Excerpts from Reviews of After Nina:
“Schultz’ captivating After Nina, with its slow, stalking chords, was partly inspired by the brooding tone of Nina Simone’s rendition of Strange Fruit. A recording of the latter, played to the audience before Schultz’s work, was an ideal way to familiarize listeners with the composer’s music.” [Gillian Wills, The Australian, 22 August 2009]
“Andrew Schultz’s After Nina is inspired by Nina Simone’s version of Billie Holliday’s Strange Fruit. After Selby read the first stanza of the original poem, ”black bodies swinging in the Southern breeze”, it was hard to hear anything but tragedy in Schultz’s eloquent, spare writing.”
[Harriet Cunningham, Sydney Morning Herald, 5 July 2012]
Schultz, Andrew. After Nina, Opus 73 (2007). Paul Dean – clarinet, Patrick Murphy – cello, Stephen Emmerson – piano. Sydney: Sedition, 2014. SEDITION7.