My Solo CD... an ongoing project

Jan 11, 2018

After two successful chamber music releases and several recordings with the Baltimore Symphony, I have just recorded my first solo CD.  The idea has been in the back of my mind for years, but my ensemble playing seemed to be taking a front seat.  More than a year ago, a very dear friend of mine finally rubbed the rocks together in a way that produced the first spark, catapulting the project from a musing into a reality.  I believe the question he asked was, “Yeah, yeah, I know you don’t have time to make a solo CD, but if you did…. what would you play?”  I identified immediately a work or two that I knew I would want to record.   Once I recognized the thematic connection between those two works, the rest of the pieces began falling into place with astonishing synchronicity.

There are three works on the program that represent the genre of theme and variations in the traditional sense: Mozart’s Twelve Variations on “Ah, vous dirai-je maman,” K. 265; Clara Schumann’s Variations on a Theme by Robert Schumann, Op. 20; and Derek Bermel’s masterpiece, Turning, written in 1995.  For the remaining works, I cast a wider net on the concept of theme and variations by including a transcription, Rachmaninoff’s take on J.S. Bach’s Partita in E Major for solo violin, BWV 1006.  And the final work, Brahms’ late set of piano pieces, Op. 118, is not a variation set at all, but was composed using a compositional technique known as developing variation.  (Those who know me well are aware that Brahms is a must include.) I also managed to pay tribute to my obsession with the Brahms/Clara/Robert love triangle, include a modern work, a work by a female composer, AND represent all the musical style periods!

My team included two stellar professionals: Tom Wright of Wright Piano Services was my piano technician extraordinaire, who coaxed amazing sounds out of my piano and quieted certain other undesirable ones such as creaking pedals…. my piano Clara is almost 100 years old and has a tendency to sound like the Titanic at times. Antonino D’Urzo of Opusrite Audio Productions was once again my incredible producer and audio engineer, having also produced and engineered my disc Inner Voice with violist Peter Minkler. Both of these gentlemen are absolutely at the top of their respective fields, and I am so fortunate to have had a team of people I hold in such high regard and trust implicitly.  I am so grateful to them!

We now enter the editing phase….stay tuned for updates!

Lura Johnson