|The recent all-Britten recital by tenor Rufus Mueller and David Leisner on the Guitar
Plus series at Symphony Space in New York received a glowing review from Vivien
Schweitzer of the New York Times. Of Leisner's performance of Britten's Nocturnal,
she wrote: "Mr. Leisner offered a deeply expressive interpretation of the enigmatic,
haunting variations." She went on to say, "Mr. Leisner and Mr. Mueller proved
exemplary, characterful collaborators throughout, the guitarist's playing rich and
nuanced and the tenor's voice expressive." For the full review, click here.
Embrace of Peace for orchestra, composed by David Leisner in 1991, is now available
for rental from Theodore Presser Co. This one-movement tone poem, in three
sections, is 14 minutes long and is inspired by a painting by the great American artist,
George Tooker. At its premiere, the Westport News (CT) reported that it is "a rich
tone poem, striving, passionate, hopeful. It reflects brilliant intellect in combination
with brilliant sensitivity...The result is a sparkling work using new and imaginative
combinations of instruments, with dissonances that were not so much strong for effect
as they were subtle setups for warm and satisfying resolutions...a meaningful sendoff
into the mainstream of important repertoire."
David Leisner's latest CD for the Azica label is in the editing process, and should be
released soon after the beginning of the new year. It features two significant works
that Leisner has commissioned from two major composers - the 35-minute solo piece
in 4 movements, Facts of Life by David Del Tredici, and Fish Tale for flute and guitar
by Osvaldo Golijov. The superb flutist on the recording is Tara O'Connor. This
eagerly-awaited album also includes the Lute Suite No. 2 by J.S. Bach, a work Leisner
has often performed in concert.
Merion Music/Theodore Presser Co. recently released Disturbed, a Lullaby for solo
guitar by David Leisner. In his program note, Leisner writes, "A lullaby interrupted,
or a lullaby in a disturbed state of mind that can never quite relax, or both. Either
way, this is a lullaby for a troubled time."
Presser is in the process of publishing all of Leisner's unpublished works to date.
Other recent releases include: Das Wunderbare Wesen (11') for baritone and solo
cello, commissioned and premiered by baritone Wolfgang Holzmair, Labyrinths II
(15') for solo piano, Four Pieces (15') for solo guitar, Vision of Orpheus (18') for
guitar and string quartet, and Confiding (30'), a song cycle to women's poems (mostly
Emily Dickinson and Emily Bronte), available for high voice and guitar or high voice
and piano or medium voice and piano. The music may be ordered through all
normal sheet music suppliers, as well as at Theodore Presser Co.
Audio recordings of much of David Leisner's vocal music may now be heard on
Thomas Hampson's excellent website, Song of America. Click on "Songs" for a
listing with links to many of his works for voice and piano, voice and guitar, and
voice with other instruments.
Julia Crowe's book, My First Guitar, subtitled Tales of True Love and Lost Chords
from 70 Legendary Musicians, was recently released. David is one of those "legendary
musicians", along with Ben Verdery, Sharon Isbin, the Assad Duo, David Russell,
Fred Hand, Fabio Zanon, William Kanengiser, Scott Tennant, Andrew York, John
Dearman, Roland Dyens, Carlos Barbosa-Lima, Jorge Morel, Dennis Koster and a
bunch of rock, jazz and blues guitar greats. It includes some delightful photos of the
musicians as kids and a whole lot of terrific stories about their first encounters with
the guitar. Go to amazon.com for more info.
The Arc Duo's latest flute and guitar CD for Azica features the Leisner composition,
Away. It is one of four commissions by the Diller-Quaile School of Music featured on
the album. The other three are by Roland Dyens, Shafer Mahoney and Judah
Adashi. For more info, click here.
"David Leisner is among the finest guitarists currently performing - and, given that
the level of playing has never been higher, that means among the finest of all time,"
writes Ken Keaton of the American Record Guide. David's most recent solo CD for
Azica, Favorites "may well be one of the top guitar discs for an Earth Time Capsule,"
reports Roger Cope of the CVNC Online Arts Journal. For the full review, click here.
The album contains 3 major works that David has played for most of his life and feels
especially close to: the Britten Nocturnal, Bach Chaconne and Paganini Grand Sonata.
The disc also includes 5 pieces by the little-known Alexander Ivanov-Kramskoi, a
20th-century late Romantic composer in the tradition of Tchaikovsky. For more info,
iTunes now has all of David's solo CDs on the Azica label, as well as his Naxos
recording of the Hovhaness Concerto. Click here for more info.
Favorites CD photo by Lisa-Marie Mazzucco, Del Tredici photo by Ralph Jackson
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guitarist and composer