Faye-Ellen Silverman – Reviews

Faye-Ellen Silverman

Reviews

On “Transatlantic Tales” CD:

  • “One of Segovia’s life goals was to enrich the guitar repertory with new works from living composers. The tradition continues, and in this case, Volkmar Zimmerman, the leader of the Korona Guitar Quartet of Denmark has inspired several works from New York composer Faye – Ellen Silverman. I’m happy to say that each of these works is worthy, and most of the performances are quite fine.
    Silverman’s style is similar to many of the 20th Century who wrote music that was agreeably dissonant, yet didn’t forsake tonality entirely. Sometimes I hear something of Britten, or perhaps of Bartok – this is the sort of music made by fellow women composers Joan Tower and Ellen Zwilich. Yet Silverman has her own voice, and each of the works has a clear personality….
    Silverman is the real discovery here. I’ll seek out some of her other music. She is an inventive, original composer, challenging but not threatening. She writes well for guitar, and the collective and individual contributions of the Korona Quartet are the best performances here.” 
    Keaton, Kenneth.
    American Record Guide 74. 6 (Nov 2011): 174
  • “The CD begins with Zimmermann performing Processional (1996), a solo work that uses characteristic guitar techniques and is structured so that chordal sections alternate with non- chordal or contrapuntal sections. …This is a beautiful piece that incorporates a full spectrum of dynamics.
    In Shadow, a cycle consisting of three songs and two interludes, was composed in 1972 after, and in response to, the death of Silverman’s boyfriend. ….. “In Shadow,” the third song, is a soprano-guitar duet that accurately matches music and text through the stages of grief, from anger to acceptance, with tempi and dynamics that mirror the emotions. This work is balanced, poignantly set, and deeply heartfelt. The performers are flawless and delicate in their approach. Malene Bichel’s fine soprano voice is full of subtle nuance, as are the instrumental performances of her partners: clarinetist Maria Sook Garmark and guitarist Mikkel Andersen.
    Wilde’s World (2000) for tenor, viola, and guitar, commemorates the 100th anniversary of Oscar Wilde’s death… The frequent use of melismas in the tenor part remind one of Britten’s operatic arias. The work is beautifully performed by Jan Lund, violist Ninnie Isaksson, and guitarist Kristian Gantriis. The trio features three very distinct and independent but supportive lines, yet with tone and color they appear to perform as one entity. …. Both the text and music touchingly depict a failed relationship and its accompanying sadness.
    Silverman composed Danish Delights in 2009 for Zimmerman and his duo partner, soprano Sara Fiil. This exquisite cycle ties together the poetry of Sara Teasdale, ancient Greek poet Corinna, and Renaissance poet Thomas Campion… The entire set is imaginative and engaging to both the ear and the heart from start to finish.
    Silverman was inspired by the sound of crickets, and their chirping serves as the basis of her 3 Guitars (1980). The piece is imaginative as well as experimental.
    This recording concludes with the energetic Pregnant Pauses (2005). Silverman wrote this piece to explore the possibility of allowing her music to “breathe” more, and she explores the concept of incorporating pauses filled with anticipation and expectancy.
    Each work is elegantly performed, and each piece on the disc is a compositional gem.” 
    Cross, Julie.
    IAWM Journal Volume 17, No. 2 (Fall, 2011): 37, 38.
  • “This fine disc comes as the result of a recent friendship that New York-born composer Faye- Ellen Silverman made with German-born, Denmark-based guitarist Volkmar Zimmermann, when he was scouting for new American compositions suitable for his guitar quartet. It was a source of new horizons and challenges for Silverman, but in addition to the new works written for the Corona Quartet, this album looks back to her earlier guitar works, vocal and instrumental.
    We start very gently with Silverman’s evocative, Mediterranean-tinged Processional for solo guitar, with its ever-increasing intensity belying a clever structured use of familiar guitar chords and progressions, coming back full circle on itself. A deceptively simple-sounding work. In contrast, Three Guitars (1980) is a dissonant, menacing, and at times combative work of a young composer with a lot to prove. Although interesting and audacious, it is quite awkward, restless company on a disc full of more considered and lyrical compositions. Despite the atonality, Silverman’s gift for lyricism and text-setting is at the forefront of her miniature song cycle In Shadow, the earliest work here. It is a startlingly mature and original setting of three Emily Dickinson texts (Elysium, Out of the Morning, and In Shadow). Composed in response to personal tragedy, it acts like snapshots of grief, not just a response to the poems, but also in external ways, like the quote of a children’s song interrupting one’s personal grieving, the concept of other lives going on. The otherworldly nature of the vocal writing is wonderfully drawn out in Malene Bichel’s bright, sensitive singing.
    All in all, a very engaging disc of new guitar music.” 
    Rayfield ,Barnaby
    Fanfare Magazine Issue 35:1 (Sept/Oct 2011) : 437-8

    On “Interval Untamed: Five Miniatures” (for solo alto saxophone)

  • ” This five-movement unaccompanied work was written this past year for New York saxophonist, Broadway and Metropolitan Opera performer Allen Won. Composer Faye-Ellen Silverman, a New York area native on the faculty of Mannes College. The New School and other institutions, has written numerous large-scale works for orchestra, a one-act opera and several large choral works, but also often focuses her chamber music compositions on small, more intimate settings including duos and unaccompanied works such as this. She is well known to saxophonists through her 1971 work, Three Movements for Saxophone Alone, published by Seesaw Music….
    This piece makes an excellent recital selection for a professional player, and also would give an intermediate student first experience at some special techniques, allowing the freedom of building these scalar melodies into a dramatic and memorable work.” 
    Demsey, David
    Saxophone Journal Vol 35, No. 1 (Sept/October 2011): 48

    On “Meetings” (for euphonium-tuba quartet)

  • “Meetings was commissioned by the International Women’s Brass Conference and was premiered at the 2003 conference by Junction (Sharon Huff and Angie Hunter, euphoniums; Stacy Baker and Velvet Brown, tubas), to whom the work is dedicated.
    The work itself is in three movements: “Introductions,” “Joint Ventures,” and “Farewells.” The ranges are euphonium 1 G to b-flat’, euphonium 2 D to a-flat’, tuba 1 C to f1, tuba 2 FF-sharp to f1… As was previously alluded, much of the challenge comes from the rhythmic structure.
    While rhythms are not inherently difficult, the trick comes in the ensemble. Throughout the work the parts are playing off each other, trading off lines and rhythms and filling the rests left in other parts. Counting will be the primary challenge for any ensemble with this work; however, the payoff is worth it. The composer has done a wonderful job of weaving a musical tapestry with interesting harmonic structures and compelling motives. The juxtaposition of the individual lines serves well to keep the listener’s interest. In addition, the changing meters keep the various rhythmic motives fresh.
    With many of the new additions to the repertoire written to test the limits of the players involved, it is nice to find a work that derives its interest from the artistry of the composer rather than the prowess of the performer. While this work does present plenty of challenges for even the best collegiate players, the true beauty of the work comes from the pen of Dr. Silverman.” 
    Olt, Tim.
    “New Materials” ITEA Journal Vol. 32 No. 3 (Spring 2005): 49, 50

    On “Stories of Our Time” (for trumpet and piano)

  • “Stories of Our Time is a substantial three-movement work of twelve minutes’ duration…
    Marked by large intervals (particularly the seventh), thick chords, and a large variety of dynamic contrasts, the first movement titled First Tale opens the work brilliantly. Flutter tonguing in the low-register different speed trilling in the upper register, and the use various mutes help create a mysterious atmosphere. Quite a bit of rhythmic interplay between the piano and trumpet and a constant shifting of a duple and triple feel also effectively highlight the movement. Next, Calming Tale is quite lyrical and utilizes cup mute. The final movement, Tale of Joy, is brisk and features a rather extensive amount of playful response between the trumpet and piano. Fast eighth-note triplct and sixteenth-note passages pose particular challenges for the performer.
    Stories for Our Time makes an effective and dramatic recital piece. It is ideal for an advanced college student or professional trumpet player.
    Silverman’s work is one that can be enjoyed by trumpet players for some time.” 
    Bergman, Jason.
    ITG Journal June 201I: 100, 101

    On Tides (clarinet and piano) and Orchestral Tides (clarinet and chamber orchestra):

  • “Thematic ideas link through the movements and this is a very interesting work with lots to analyze and look for, not too difficult but not easy. The range extends to A and A flat an octave above the stave. I found the clarinet and piano version a little heavy going but the orchestral accompaniment makes the piece much more exciting and creates an ambience reminiscent of a film full of nautical adventure and mystery.” Reeve, Stephanie Clarinet and Saxophone Magazine, Vol 38, No. 3 (September 1, 2013), 43
  • “This most accessible new clarinet concerto is immediately attractive to listen to and play. The writing for the solo clarinet is idiomatically effective and playable, suitable for undergraduate students and beyond, with some knowledge of folk styles and a good command of the high altissimo range an advantage. The orchestral writing is well crafted and is scored for double winds, including a short solo for contrabassoon! There are references made here to Mendelssohn, Elgar and Takemitsu, and I was reminded of some of the pastorawriting of that underrated English composer Gerald Finzi in his Clarinet Concerto. The composer has also produced a version for clarinet and piano that would make a lovely addition to a college recital program. The piece is 15 minutes in duration, consisting of five short movements: “Prologue,” “Calm Seas,” “Drowned at Sea,” “Shared Waters” and “Epilogue.” On the composer’s website(FayeEllenSilverman.com) there is a nice recording of the work performed by clarinetist Ashlee Miller.” Roe, Paul. The Clarinet, Vol 43, No. 1 (December 2015), 4

    On “Zigzags” CD of Joanna Hersey :

  • “The heart of the CD, Zigzags, is a tour de force by Faye-Ellen Silverman for the solo tuba. It has something of everything including extreme range, tricky rhythms and intervals, multiphonics, and other etended techniques. Hersey really shows off her versatility and mastery of the instrument with this work.” Nelson, Mark.
    ITEA Journal Volume 42, No. 4 (Summer 2015)

    On “Manhattan Stories: Music of Faye-Ellen Silverman” CD:

  • “Her music as presented here is tonal (though its melodic lines can be quite disjunct), resourceful, and elegant. In each of the pieces on this release she conjures up not merely mood, but totally self-contained sound worlds with seemingly the most limited of instrumental resources….
    …All musical composition is autobiographical, consciously or otherwise, on one level or another. Only the best of composers manage to ascend from the specific to the universal. Faye-Ellen Silverman is clearly in that category. The performers on this disc are all, given current world standards, of the first rank, and the sound cannot be faulted.” 
    William Zagorski
    Fanfare, Inc. Mar/Apr 2009 p.237-38
    Click here to read the full article
  • ” Manhattan Stories is an inspiring collection of pieces. Manhattan, the composer explains, is where many of her friends live and where the works on this recording originate. Each piece stands alone, yet there is a common thread which ties these works together by means of Silverman’s fluid melodies, colorful instrumental and vocal combinations, and the language of the spirit coming through the music. ….
    [In] Translations, .Bruno Eicher, violin, and Kari Jane Docter, cello, play the hauntingly beautiful melodic lines with rich, pure sounds that invoke the sense of the ancient, of remembering. ….
    Ms. Silverman’s music is poignant. Sometimes it offers the listener breathing room, release; other times it presses on the emotions. The listener is invited to let the imagination oscillate from abstract feelings to distinct emotions, to experience the musical organization as well as freedom within that organization, and to bask awhile in the richness of the sounds and words. And it is a pleasure to hear musicians who color their sounds in a way which richly expresses the music. “
    Davis, Jo Dee. Noteworthy-Official Newsletter of the International Women’s Brass Conference Vol. 15, No. 1 (Summer, 2009), 11, 14.
  • ” One of the most immediately apparent elements of her music is the use of unique and varied media. It is rare to find music for horn and voice without more accompanying instruments. As well, horn and marimba is a captivating medium with a huge array of possibilities. A work for the three lowest brass voices is also rare. There are some wonderfully haunting passages in all these works combined with moments of exaltation. These are unique works of chamber music that deserve to be explored, performed, and shared with audiences of all types….
    Explore this disc for some new music making headlines on the East Coast.”
    Dressler, John. The Horn Call – Journal of the International Horn Society 39:2 (February 2009), 89-90.
  • “Manhattan Stories is a CD recording of Faye-Ellen Silverman’s solo and chamber music compositions. Reviewed here are the two pieces including a tuba part: a duet for horn and tuba and a trio for horn, trombone, and tuba….
    Overall, these two compositions from Manhattan Stories showcase the tubist’s role in contemporary chamber music. Accomplished collegiate or graduate level players could consider adding these pieces to their recital repertoire.” 
    Johnson, Daniel.
    ITEA Journal Vol. 36, No. 3 (Spring 2009): 31, 32
  • “The disc proved to be a tribute to the richness of Silverman’s work—the depth and thoughtfulness of her purpose, her understanding of the possibilities of both singer and instrumentalist, and her conception of sound. In all of her compositions on this disc, Silverman captures the essence of chamber music and its intimacy, finding in this medium the perfect vehicle for her stories. “Lucia, Margaret.
    Journal of the International Alliance of Women in Music, Vol. 15, No. 2 (2009), 42-3.

    On “Points of Entry: The Laurels Project, Vol. Two” CD:

  • ” Also compelling is the drama of Faye-Ellen Silverman’s “Taming the Furies”, in which the dialogue becomes most dramatic in her development of embellishments. Attack sounds and trills give life to the edges of tones, so internalizing the drama that each exchange between 0rpheus and the Furies becomes immediate, involuntary and profound. Bryan Guarnuccio’s inventively colored sound, especially in the high register, makes vivid the work’s deeply reflective quality.”Garniez, Nancy.
    Flutists’Marathon. New Music Connoisseur Vol. 17, #1 (Summer 2009), 17,18.