J and Helen Schlichting, executive producers
The story of this recording begins with James Matheson’s Violin Concerto, which he wrote for violinist Baird Dodge and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen as a commission from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. This album includes the concerto’s premiere performance in Chicago on the evening of December 15th, 2011, with Esa-Pekka Salonen leading the CSO with Baird Dodge as soloist.
Composer James Matheson lives in New York. But many cities, Los Angeles among them, claim him for their own. This humble, friendly and informal man, hashing out a compositional hurdle with a student on one day, is the same person on other days who wins Guggenheim and Charles Ives Living Awards and takes curtain calls from the most important stages in concert halls around the world.
The album includes the James Matheson String Quartet, described by Tim Mangan in the Orange County Register on February 20th, 2014 warmly: “Matheson’s String Quartet is an impressive piece of work. Thirty-two minutes long, it is brimming with ideas; the richness of their number is palpable…. The String Quartet is, perhaps first and foremost, beautifully orchestrated, the combination of instruments used to create one wondrous color after another. Motor rhythms and repeated patterns juice forward progress; these ideas move through tonal progressions, reaching plateaus of more static material (at least in the first two movements) – meditative, starry-skied, rapt. The quick finale is a syncopated romp.”
Also on this recording are soprano Laura Strickling and pianist Thomas Sauer performing Matheson’s song cycle Times Alone. Our friend the soprano Kiera Duffy commissioned Jim to write Times Alone, which sets five surrealist poems by Antonio Machado from his collection Soledades, galerias y otros poemas published in 1907. Jim set his songs to English translations by the eminent poet Robert Bly. Kiera was not able to join us for our concert and recording session because she had just given birth to her first child. The superb Laura Strickling joined our project instead, and became another friend for life.