Emma Curtis, Contralto
Brennen Guillory, Tenor
David Stout, Baritone
Orchestra of the Swan conducted by Kenneth Woods
Following its release of the Erwin Stein chamber version of Mahler’s 4th Symphony, (SOMMCD 245/Orchestra of the Swan, David Curtis) SOMM has come up trumps again in this important Mahler Anniversary year, with yet one more new CD release of chamber versions recorded recently with Contralto Emma Curtis, Tenor Brennen Guillory and Baritone David Stout with the excellent Orchestra of the Swan in live recordings conducted by Kenneth Woods. These are Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen *(Arr. Schoenberg) and Das Lied von der Erde (arr. Schoenberg/Riehn).
At the end of the Great War, Vienna was a defeated city and Mahler’s disciple, Arnold Schoenberg created a Society for Private Musical Performance to revive musical life. The society did not have sufficient funds, so ensemble transcriptions of orchestral works were often made. Schoenberg reduced Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer for a concert in 1920, restoring the intimacy of the original piano version, while preserving many colours found in its later orchestral score. He also began arranging The Song of the Earth for the society in 1921, but did not progress beyond the first song, The sketches lay untouched until 1983, when the conductor Rainer Riehn completed them. Because much of Mahler’s score has the delicacy of chamber music, surprisingly little is lost in these skilled arrangements. On the contrary, both works benefit from increased transparency, intimacy and emotional impact.
Orchestra of the Swan
an excellent orchestra and conductor… BBC Music Magazine a brilliant performance... Daily Telegraph
Orchestra of the Swan is resident in Stratford-upon-Avon and is Associate Ensemble at Town Hall, Birmingham, performing at major venues and festivals including Cadogan Hall, Symphony Hall, Warwick Arts Centre and St John’s Smith Square.
OOTS’ Spring Sounds Spring Sounds Festival 2011 celebrates new work with 7 world premieres, visiting composers, soloists and conductors from the USA and a joint commission with the American Composers Orchestra.
TV appearances include the South Bank Show premiere of ‘Spring’ by Roxanna Panufnik, with Tasmin Little and Chinese TV with Julian Lloyd Webber and Jiaxin Cheng
Kenneth Woods, conductor
Kenneth Woods is widely known for his affinity with the music of Gustav Mahler as conductor, writer and commentator.Hailed by the Washington Post as a “true star” of the podium, conductor, cellist and author Kenneth Woods has worked with many orchestras of international distinction including the National Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Northern Sinfonia, and the State of Mexico Symphony Orchestra. He has also appeared on the stages of some of the world’s leading music festivals, including Aspen, Lucerne, Round Top and Scotia. His work on the concert platform and in the recording studio has led to numerous broadcasts on BBC Radio 3, National Public Radio, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
In 2010, Kenneth Woods was appointed Principal Guest Conductor of Orchestra of the Swan, with whom he made his debut in the final concert of their Spring Sounds Festival. In December 2010, Kenneth recorded the first disc in a series pairing the complete symphonies of Robert Schumann and Austrian émigré composer Hans Gál. This world-premiere recording of the Gál Third Symphony coincided with its first performance in over 55 years. Kenneth Woods made his commercial recording debut as a conductor in sessions for Avie Records with the Northern Sinfonia in 2009. The disc of world-premiere recordings of music by Hans Gál has been hailed by The Strad, Classical Music, Classical CD Reviews and Musical Pointers for its “committed performances”, “first class” and “quick witted” playing, whilst Gramophone underlined Woods’ “highly polished account, with orchestral playing throughout most assured.”
As music director of the Oregon East Symphony from 2000-9, he transformed a tiny orchestra in a remote, rural area into possibly the most talked-about orchestra in the Pacific Northwest, winning universal praise for their nationally celebrated “Redneck Mahler” cycle, progressive programming and innovative youth programs.
Other permanent affiliations include the Contemporary Music Ensemble of Wales (with whom he is often heard on BBC Radio 3), and the Rose City Chamber Orchestra of Portland, Oregon. In June 2010, he was invited by the Stradivari Trust to conduct their 25th anniversary concert, featuring a string orchestra made up of many of the world’s leading soloists and chamber musicians including Natalie Clein, Lawrence Power, Guy Johnston, Matthew Trussler and the Endellion and Fitzwilliam String Quartets.
American tenor Brennen Guillory (Das Lied von der Erde) studied music and singing in the Louisiana State University where he studied with Robert Grayson and Metropolitan Opera soprano Martina Arroyo. While there, he performed leading roles in Tales of Hoffman and La Boheme. Subsequently, he became a resident Young Artist at International Vocal Arts Institute, where he was coached by Joan Dornemann and Justino Diaz. He has become known for his powerful, dramatic voice and thoughtful interpretations of both operatic and concert music. He has appeared with such companies as Portland Opera, Eugene Opera, Rogue Valley Opera, Oregon East Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Rose City Chamber Orchestra, Willamette Concert Opera, Eugene Concert Choir, the Eugene Ballet, and is a guest artist with the Rose City International Conductor’s Workshop. With these companies he has performed a variety of works ranging from leads in operatic standards like Carmen and La Traviata, to more contemporary fair such as Floyd’s Susannah. Mr. Guillory has also had great success in the concert hall with performances of Das Lied von der Erde, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and Fidelio, Massenet’s Griselidis, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Mozart’s Coronation Mass, Mendelssohn’s Die Erste Walpurgisnacht, as well as concert excerpts from Il Trovatore, Carmen, Turandot, Tosca, Madame Butterfly, Aida and most recently Otello.
Emma Curtis, contralto (Das Lied von der Erde)
British contralto Emma Curtis studied at the Guildhall School of Music, London, and at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California where she worked with Marilyn Horne. She debuted at the Staatstheater Stuttgart and was a full-time member of the Solo Ensemble until 2006.
Emma created the leading role of L’Ainée in the world premiere of Jacques Lenot’s J’étais dans ma maison et j’attendais que la pluie vienne at Opera de Genève, conducted by Daniel Kawka, and the role of Galatée in the world premiere of Pastorale by Gérard Pesson for Staatstheater Stuttgart conducted by Kwamé Ryan. She also sang Eine Kranke and 4. nackte Jungfrau in Schönberg’s Moses und Aron conducted by Lothar Zagrosek for Staatstheater Stuttgart – Naxos recording conducted by Roland Kluttig.
As a Baroque soloist Emma’s performances include the title role in Cavalli’s Giasone, Aspen Music Festival conducted by Harry Bicket, Irene in Handel’s Atalanta at the International Handel-Festival, Göttingen, conducted by Nicholas McGegan, Eduige (Handel’s Rodelinda) for Portland Opera, USA, conducted by George Manahan, Bertarido (Handel’s Rodelinda) with Randall Behr, Cleofe in Handel’s La Resurrezione with Trevor Pinnock and The English Concert, Les Leçons de Ténèbres by Marc Antoine Charpentier, plus the world premiere of Les Leçons de Ténèbres by Philippe Fénelon, with La Grand Ecurie et la Chambre du Roy, and Au temps de Port Royal with Les Arts Florissants and William Christie.
Concert highlights include Sibelius’s Jokamies conducted by Thomas Adès and Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music with Leonard Slatkin at the BBC Proms, both with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Emma directs The Frolick whose first recording, Calliope was awarded Best Classical Vocal Album by All
David Stout, Baritone (Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen)
A former Head Chorister of Westminster Abbey, David studied Zoology at Durham University, sang with the choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge University and studied Opera at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Rudolf Piernay, where he was recipient of the Principal’s Prize.
His operatic roles include Papageno Die Zauberflöte, Dr. Falke Die Fledermaus, Ping Turandot, Konrad Nachtigall Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Le Dancaïre Carmen and Schaunard La Bohème for Welsh National Opera, Schaunard La Bohème for English National Opera, Roucher Andrea Chénier, Angelotti Tosca, Nikita Das Portrait and Mick Playing Away for the Bregenz Festival, Flemish Deputy Don Carlos and Baron Douphol La Traviata for the Royal Opera House, Don Juan From the House of the Dead for Teatro Massimo di Palermo, Papageno The Magic Flute and Harašta The Cunning Little Vixen for Grange Park Opera, Marcello La Bohème for Mid-Wales Opera, Marullo Rigoletto for Opera Holland Park, Alfio Cavalleria Rusticana at the St. Endellion Festival, Aeneas Dido and Aeneas, Pluto Orfeo for English Touring Opera, Pietro Simon Boccanegra and Hercule Alceste for Chelsea Opera Group.
David has an extensive concert repertoire including recordings from the NMC Songbook, The Creation with New College, Oxford, and Patrick Hawes’ Fair Albion. He has performed Beethoven 9th Symphony with Sir Colin Davis, The Messiah and Brahms Requiem with The Hallé Orchestra, A Sea Symphony with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, St. John Passion with Polyphony at St John’s Smith Square, Belshazzar’s Feast at St. David’s Hall, Szymanowski Stabat Mater with the Derby Bach Choir, The Kingdom with Nottingham Bach Choir, Ich habe genug at King’s Place, Christus St. Matthew Passion for the St. Endellion Festival as well as, Mendelssohn Songs with Iain Burnside for BBC Radio 3, Schubert Schwanengesang and Wolf Eichendorff Lieder at the Oxford Lieder Festival, The London Song Festival, Copland’s Ten Old American Songs and Il Maestro di cappella with the Haffner Orchestra.
Futher oratorio repertoire includes Bach St. John and St. Matthew Passion (both Salisbury Cathedral), B Minor Mass and Haydn Nelson Mass (OSJ), Polyphemus Acis and Galatea, Mozart Requiem (OAE), Beethoven Missa Solemnis (Gloucester Cathedral), Verdi Requiem and A Child of Our Time (King’s College, Cambridge) Elijah, Rossini Stabat Mater, Carmina Burana (Snape Maltings), Verdi Requiem (Hereford Cathedral), The Dream of Gerontius, Belshazzar’s Feast (St David’s Hall) and Britten War Requiem.