New York-based composer James Matheson is widely regarded as one of the most distinctive, vital, and creative musical voices of his generation. Among his commissions are works for the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, the Chicago and Albany Symphony Orchestras, Carnegie Hall, and the St. Lawrence and Borromeo String Quartets. The American Academy of Arts and Letters honored him in December, 2011 with the Charles Ives Living.
A 2016 release from Yarlung Records featured three major Matheson works: Violin Concerto (Baird Dodge, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra led by Esa-Pekka Salonen); Times Alone, (soprano Laura Strickling and pianist Thomas Sauer); and String Quartet (Color Field Quartet).
Recent commissions include a new work for large orchestra, commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, to be premiered February 24th, 25th and 26th, 2017; Violin Concerto, co-commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic; True South, commissioned by the New York Philharmonic; The Age of Air, for two shakuhachi and chamber orchestra, co-commissioned by Kyo-Shin-An Arts and River Oaks Chamber Orchestra for soloists James Schlefer and Akihito Obama; String Quartet (2014), commissioned by Justus and Elizabeth Schlichting for the St. Lawrence String Quartet; Times Alone (2013), commissioned by soprano Kiera Duffy, Cretic Variations (2013), commissioned by pianist Nadia Shpachenko, and Peace Talks (2014), commissioned by Swarthmore College for its Sesquicentennial Celebration. Other recent projects include new works for violinist Jennifer Koh, pianist Bruce Levingston and pianist Nadia Schpachenko.
From 2009 to 2015 James served as Director of the the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s innovative Composer Fellowship Program. In addition to the Ives Living award, Matheson has received fellowships and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, Civitella Ranieri, the Bogliasco and Sage Foundations, ASCAP, and the Robbins Prize. From 2005-2007, Matheson was Executive Director of the MATA Festival of New Music in New York, which commissions and performs the work of young composers who are making their entry into professional musical life. Matheson has held residencies at Yaddo and the Liguria Study Center, and has been a fellow at the Aspen Music Festival and the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival.
Cover Title (Subtitle) Duration Instrumentation Drag Here to Add To List Solo Cretic Variations
110-41801 14:00 Piano La Seine
For English Horn
114-41416 4:00 English Horn Unaccompanied La Seine
For Alto Saxophone
114-41417 4:00 Alto Saxophone Unaccompanied Pound
For Solo Piano
110-41784 12:00 Piano Unaccompanied Chamber Ensemble The Anatomy Of Melancholy 114-41414 16:00 Clarinet, Violin, Cello, Piano Bagatelle
For 3 Pianos, 12 Hands
110-41806 4:30 Piano Ensemble Borromean Rings
Quintet for Piano and String Quartet
114-41411 20:00 Piano Quintet Buzz 114-41419 7:00 Clarinet, Violin, Cello, Piano Contact 114-41418 14:00 Alto Saxophone, Piano Fault Lines
For Violin, Viola, Violoncello, and Piano
114-41412 10:00 Piano Quartet On Spaces
For Piano, Six Hands
110-41785 4:00 Piano Ensemble Pull
Alto Saxophone and Piano
114-41421 6:00 Alto Saxophone with Piano Quartet
For Soprano Saxophone and Strings
114-41427 11:00 Small Mixed Ensemble (2-9 Instruments) Quartet for Oboe and Strings 114-41413 11:00 Oboe Quartet Sonata
For Violin and Piano
114-41415 16:00 Violin with Piano Songs Of Desire, Love And Loss
For Soprano And Chamber Ensemble
111-40259 :18:00 Voice and Instrument Spin
For String Quartet
114-41420 13:00 String Quartet String Quartet 114-41653 :33:00 String Quartet Times Alone
For Soprano and Piano
111-40246 17:00 Soprano, Piano Violin Concerto
Violin and Piano Reduction
114-41585 :25:00 Violin, Piano Orchestra Colonnade
for Chamber Orchestra
17394 18:00 Fl. Ob. Cl. Bsn. Hn. Hp. Vibe. 2Vln. Vla. Vcl. Cb. Four Fanfares (With Assorted Nightmares)
17468 1:30 3(Picc.) 3 3 3(Cbsn). – 4 3 3(B.Tbn.) 1; Timp. 2Perc. Cel. Hp. Str. River, River, River
17396 10:00 3(2 dbl. Picc., 3 dbl .A.Fl.) 3(E.H.) 3(dbl.B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3 3(B.Tbn.) 1; Hp. Pno./Cel. 3Perc. Str. Sharp Objects
For String Orchestra
116-40043 5:00 String Orchestra True South
17438 20:00 2 0 2 2 – 2 1 1 0; 2Perc. Hp. Pno.(Cel.) Str. Umbras and Illuminations
17397 20:00 3(dbl. Picc.) 3(E.H.) 2 2 – 4 2 3 1; Str. Orchestra w/ Soloist(s) The Paces
Concerto for Piano and Chamber Ensemble
17393 18:30 Solo Pno.; 1 1(dbl. E.H.) 2(dbl.EbCl.; B.Cl.) 0 – 0 0 0 0; Perc. Str.(Cb. with C extension) Sleep
Concerto for Violin and Mixed Ensemble of Fourteen Players
17392 25:00 Solo Violin; 1(dbl. Picc.) 1 1(dbl.E(Cl.) 1 – 1 1 1 0; Perc. Pno. Str.(2Vln. Vla. Vcl. Cb.) Violin Concerto 17500 24:00 Solo Vln.; 3(3rd dbl. Picc.1; 2nd dbl. Picc.2) 3(dbl. E.H.) 3(2nd dbl. Eb Cl.; 3rd dbl .B.Cl.) 3(dbl. Cbsn.) – 4 3 3(B.Tbn.) 1; Timp. 3Perc. Pno.(dbl. Cel.) Hp. Str. Band / Wind Ensemble Burn
for Wind Ensemble
17395 8:30 Wind Ensemble: 2Picc. 3Fl. 2Ob. E.H. EbCl. 3Cl. B.Cl. Cb.Cl. 2Bsn. 4Sax.(SATB) 4Hn. 3Tpt. 2Tbn. B.Tbn. Euph. Tu. 2Cb. Pno. Timp. 5Perc.]
The hypnotic power of this music arises from a moment-to-moment drama that fascinates the mind and creates its own unpredictable structure.
–Jonathan Saville, San Diego Reader
James Matheson is simply one of the best of his generation of American composers. He speaks in a clear, humane, deeply expressive voice and with polished, elegant technique.
James Matheson is ignoring style labels and writing synthetic, satisfying music that avoids the glib theatricality of postmodernism.
–The New Yorker
The music of James Matheson is free of academic sterility and postmodern irony in equal measures. He forgoes those well-worn refuges in favor of an eloquent language capable of deep feeling and genuine surprise: a language founded in some sense on tradition, but tradition constantly reinvented. Matheson is not afraid of beauty. His masterly play of consonance and dissonance affords him a broadly humane expression that has put him in the forefront of his generation.
–Award Citation, The American Academy of Arts and Letters
ANATOMY OF THE MELANCHOLY, THE
Joined by clarinetist Garrick Zoeter, the group launched into “The Anatomy of Melancholy” by James Matheson, which they premiered two days ago in Chicago. The piece, written for the group, had a surprisingly beautiful and eerie feel. The composer created a delightful effect by having the violin or cello pluck the same notes at the same time as Huebner hit the keys – creating an almost bell-like sound. Later in the piece, the four players bounced a note back and forth and then finished in a frenzy.
–Laura Stevens, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock)
SONGS OF DESIRE, LOVE, AND LOSS
James Matheson’s “Songs of Desire, Love, and Loss,” a song cycle for soprano and mixed ensemble, gave seven poems by Alan Dugan an evocative treatment, the soprano unfolding words carefully and pointedly while the instruments provided dappled, dovetailed, secretive underpinning – painting the place of the poems.
–Timothy Mangan, Orange County Register
Matheson’s Songs of “Desire, Love and Loss” illustrates and dramatizes seven poems by Alan Dugan. Matheson tends to build to a punch line, which often helps clarify Dugan’s slight obscurities. You may not know what the poet means, but the music at least directs you to the right place emotionally.
–Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times
“Buzz” swoops and tumbles like a songbird coasting on a summer breeze.
–Steve Smith, TimeOut New York
James Matheson’s “Buzz” made the most of the instrumentation…, dividing the ensemble interestingly, with the clarinet and violin combining in a mercurial counterbalance to the weightier cello and piano writing … [I]t is accessible and eclectic.
–Allan Kozinn, The New York Times
James Matheson’s “Pound” opens with a soft repeated note that grows like a beast, forming a kind of rhythmic spine, with whorls of accented notes that dance around it in a concept that only grows more chilling in its relentlessness. Eric Huebner, who was so expert in the Ligeti “Piano Concerto” last season, seemed doggedly immersed in the pummeling rhythmic patterns that only grow more and more fiendish.
–Bruce Hodges, MusicWeb’s “Seen and Heard International
Matheson’s String Quartet is an impressive work…brimming with ideas; the richness of their number is palpable. Matheson…obviously has a talent for writing for strings. The “String Quartet” is, perhaps first and foremost, beautifully orchestrated, the combination of instruments used to create one wondrous color after another.
–Timothy Mangan, Orange County Register
[“The Paces”] isn’t afraid to be quiet… it does not fear beauty… it is prone to turn a melody in an unexpected direction, or color a harmony with a subtle surprise.
–Peter Dobrin, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Matheson’s lively 20-minute sequence of ear-catching timbres and evocative passages was bracketed by episodes of surging energy and buoyant fanfares.
–Steve Smith, New York Times
Matheson writes in full orchestral 3-D. Waves of tonal sounds moved across the stage, and sections had individual voices and even voices within the sections.
–Andrew Patner, Chicago Sun Times
Yarlung Records (YAR25670DSD); September 30, 2016
Performer(s): Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Baird Dodge, violin, Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor; Color Field Quartet; Laura Strickling, soprano, Thomas Sauer, piano
Work(s): String Quartet
WOMEN AT THE NEW PIANO
Reference Recordings (FR-711); November 11, 2014
Performer(s): Nadia Shpachenko-Gottesman, piano
Work(s): Cretic Variations
Equilibrium Records (EQ77); June 1, 2005
Performer(s): Ambassador Duo
Innova Records (618); March 1, 2005
CRI/New World Records (NWCR855); January 30, 2001
Performer(s): Xak Bjerken, piano
2011: Charles Ives Living Award
2008: Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters
2002: Hinrichsen Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters
2000: Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship
for Wind EnsembleColonnade
for Chamber OrchestraFour Fanfares (With Assorted Nightmares)
for OrchestraRiver, River, River
for OrchestraThe Age of Air
for Two Shakuhachi and OrchestraTrue South
for OrchestraUmbras and Illuminations