February 6, 2007

River Shining Through

Composer: Peter Scott Lewis Producer: Lapis Island Records: LIR003 © & ℗ 2007

Composer: Peter Scott Lewis
Publishers: Theodore Presser/ASCAP and Lapis Island Press/ASCAP
Cover Painting: Ward Schumaker; Back Photo: Conrado Velasco; Design: Lori Barra

Recording Engineers: Robert Shumaker, Bay Records, Berkeley, CA; and Dwight Robinett, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina (River Shining Through)

Funding: This recording was made possible by a general grant from the Argosy Foundation.

Program notes:


Timothy Day, Flute

Marc Shapiro, piano

The Dorian Wind Quintet

The Ciompi Quartet

A Whistler’s Dream was commissioned by Timothy Day, with the help of a generous grant from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. The composition was then completed on November 22, 2005. It will be premiered by Timothy Day and Marc Shapiro at the conservatory’s new building in the spring of 2007.

The duo starts with an extended movement that begins in the bottom range of the alto flute. This hauntingly lyrical material gradually develops dramatically and rhythmically up the range, creating more intensity, until the soloist finally changes to the standard flute to help bring the movement to its conclusion. The following three movements then explore a series of contrasts between dance rhythms and highly lyrical material inspired by the opening.

Serenade for Winds was commissioned by City Winds. It was completed on November 15, 2002, and was premiered by that same group on June 6, 2003, in San Francisco. On November 23, 2003, the Dorian Wind Quintet performed the New York City premiere, before taking it on tour throughout New York and Northern California. They recorded it, in Berkeley, at the end of their California tour in March of 2005.

The Serenade is scored for flute (alto flute), oboe (English horn), Bb clarinet (bass clarinet), and bassoon, and French horn.

River Shining Through was commissioned by the Ciompi String Quartet and was completed on March 31, 2004. The premiere took place at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, on October 2, 2004. The Ciompi recorded it the following day.

After composing a series of pieces with extended movements, I decided to create a few compositions with relatively concise movements. Both The Serenade and River Shining Through are part of this group of music. They’re both in four movements with contrasting sections.

The title of the quartet comes from the return of various hard driving rhythms that insist on making their mark through the otherwise lyrical music.

Track Listings

1. A Whistler's Dream: Morning Sunrise, with Adventure
2. A Whistler's Dream: In Lush Green Hills
3. A Whistler's Dream: Walking Home, with Open Sky
4. A Whistler's Dream: Toccata
5. Serenade for Winds: Prelude
6. Serenade for Winds: Serendipity
7. Serenade for Winds: Toccata
8. Serenade for Winds: Traveling Music
9. River Shining Through: Prelude
10. River Shining Through: Into the Deep, and Up Again
11. River Shining Through: Dramatic Dancing
12. River Shining Through: Toccata


Track 1-4: Timothy Day, alto and standard flutes; Marc Shapiro, piano
Track 5-8: Dorian Wind Quintet
Track 9-12: Ciompi String Quartet


**** The three chamber works on this 2007 release from Lapis Island Records may give the impression that Peter Scott Lewis is an eclectic composer of a highly poetic nature, yet they also point to the importance of organization in his music and demonstrate a formal consistency that may not at first be apparent. A sublime, even dreamy mood is established at the beginning with "A Whistler's Dream" (2005), a four-movement work that could be viewed as a programmatic sonata for flute and piano, or conversely, as a somewhat formalized suite of four evocative tone poems; either way, its success is due to the strength of its long-breathed melodies; its rich, thirds-based harmonies; the evenness of its moods; and its balanced form. Lewis' musical language is often freely chromatic and quite rhapsodic in spirit, so it might seem on the surface that these pieces are loosely organized and nearly improvisational in origin; yet structure is always clear in Lewis' work, and the modified classical forms that he employs keep his expressions well within the expectations of chamber music. This is evident in the tightly organized "Serenade for Winds" (2005), which is quite tuneful and varied in effects, yet efficient in the development of ideas and compact in its partita-like arrangement. "River Shining Through" (2004) is indebted to the modern string quartet and is the most harmonically complex and energetic piece on the program; yet Lewis avoids the density and hyper-virtuosity that make many contemporary string quartets difficult to appreciate, and the lightness of its rhythms and clarity of its textures bring out the underlying dance impulses. The performances by flutist Timothy Day, pianist Marc Shapiro, the Dorian Wind Quintet, and the Ciompi String Quartet are all first rate in execution and interpretation, and they are handsomely served by the studio's responsive acoustics and exceptional engineering.
- Blair Sanderson, All Music Guide
River Shining Through is well-crafted and engaging. Exploring ideal textures for string quartet, Lewis shows a knack for the medium. He gives the players some fun counterpoint through out, and spicy rhythmic ideas in the final two movements.
Lewis shows equal skill and intuition when writing for winds. Serenade for Winds is delightful and bouncy; with tender moments juxtaposed with driving chordal textures ("Serendipity"). Lewis' works are full of contrast, alternating between complex harmonic motions and simple melodies.
- Sequenza 21