Cambria Master Recordings, 2012

Conrad Chow-Violin, Sinfonia Toronto, Ronald Royer-Conductor & Bruce Broughton-Piano

“Royer gives us a great vehicle and Chow plays his music with great finesse. I definitely want to hear more from this composer.” 

FANFARE, Maria Nockin

Introduction by Conrad Chow

The focus of this CD centers on the concept of the Premiere: the first showing of, or introduction to, something new. To that effect, I’m honoured to present each of the works on this CD for the first time on a recording. While new, each piece is inspired by earlier musical styles: Bruce Broughton’s Triptych evokes elements of the Baroque, 20th-century Prokofiev, and Celtic fiddle music of Scotland; his Gold Rush Songs are based on traditional American folksongs. Ronald Royers’s Rhapsody was inspired by rhapsodies of the mid-19th to early 20th centuries; the inspiration of his In Memoriam J.S. Bach needs no explanations. Kevin Lau’s Joy is inspired by turn-of-the-century Romanticism, as well as film music. Finally, I chose to include a favourite of mine, Chopin’s Nocturne in C# Minor, as an encore.

Ronald Royer – Rhapsody for Violin and Chamber Orchestra (12:43)

The Rhapsody draws inspiration from a variety of European sources, including French Impressionism, German Expressionism, Hungarian folk music, and virtuosic Spanish violin music. Combining all these disparate styles of music, ranging from Ravel and Bartok to Sarasate, allowed me to create a new work based on a traditional and popular form. Composing took place in three comfortable locations, my home in Toronto, my in-laws’ home in the rural Ontario town of Cayuga and my parents’ home in Los Angeles. This also helped in giving me the right ambience and variety of influences for this enjoyable endeavor. The Rhapsody was commissioned by the Orchestras Mississauga (John Barnum, music director) with the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts.

Ronald Royer – In Memoriam J.S. Bach (Sarabande and Capriccio) for Violin Solo, Flute, Clarinet, Bassoon, String Quartet and Harpsichord (5:58 & 5:51)

In Memoriam J.S. Bach (2011) is a new arrangement of two movements from the Partita for Violin and Chamber Orchestra, composed in 2000 to honor the 250th anniversary of the death of J.S. Bach in 1750. In Memoriam takes its inspiration from Bach’s compositional mastery, as well as his ability to compose expressive and virtuosic music.

My Sarabande is based on the first two bars of the Sarabande from Bach’s Cello Suite No. 2 in D minor. The second part of this movement is more emotional in character and is based on the Allemande from Bach’s keyboard Partita No. 4 in D major.  I had to do some juggling with the rhythm, since Bach’s Allemande contained four beats per bar. One beat from each bar had to be removed to fit the three-beat form of the Sarabande.  The original melody is heard again at the end of the movement, overlaid by a florid counter-melody by the solo violin.

Capriccio, an Italian word-meaning whim or fancy, was used by Bach as a title of two of his compositions for keyboard. I chose this title to describe a work which combines a more contemporary style with Bach’s compositional techniques, as well as highlighting the humour of these works.

The Capriccio is a playful variation of a Bach Gigue, transformed into a classical era Rondo (ABACABA) form. The original A theme in G minor is written to imitate a Bach Gigue, although the rhythm is irregular, switching between five, six, or seven beats per bar. The B section begins with a darker and smoother version of the A theme, before leading into a series of Bach-like sequences. The C section enters in the new key of E minor and is derived from the first four bars of the A melody, but appears in retrograde (i.e. played backwards). This incarnation of the A theme assumes a Latin American character, as found in the music of Alberto Ginastera. When the A section returns, it is in the form of a Bach Fugato, although the rhythm is still irregular. The returning B and A sections are in an ornamented form, another Bach technique. There follows a short cadenza for the solo violinist, which leads into the final coda section with its homage to Bach’s cadential endings.