Eclipse encompasses world-premiere recordings of inventive, virtuosic, and impassioned chamber works, written in a present-day musical language by the strikingly original American composer and pianist Mischa Zupko. Joining him are two close friends and accomplished colleagues, the sublime violinist Sang Mee Lee, who chairs the string department at the Music Institute of Chicago, and internationally renowned cellist Wendy Warner, a protégé of Mstislav Rostropovich. Zupko wrote some of the works expressly for these artists.
Imbued with Zupko’s heartfelt humanism, Eclipse explores themes of separation, contrast, and convergence on cosmic as well as intimate levels. In the album’s centerpiece and title track, Eclipse, violin and cello approach like two celestial bodies, their distinct musical lines merging and becoming one strangely luminous entity before continuing on their trajectories across the cosmos. From Twilight and Nebula also reflect on mysteries of the distant universe. The ecstatic Rising depicts Jesus’s ascension to heaven as recounted in the Gospel of Luke. The violin creates an aural illusion of a spiraling ascent while the piano’s reverie evokes the earthbound faithful waiting for his return. The contrasting Fallen is a study in spiritual despair, based on a García Lorca poem. Shades of Grey for violin and piano (no relation to the similarly titled erotic romance novel) is an “inventive and intricate exploration” of the dynamics of personal relationships (Chicago Reader). Love Obsession for cello, piano, and six pre-recorded electronic cello tracks exudes a more visceral, single-minded passion.
Composer-in-residence at the Music Institute of Chicago, Zupko has received plaudits from The New York Times and Los Angeles Times. He’s been featured in the Chicago Reader and New Music USA’s New Music Box, which called him “a humble, energetic, and constantly searching artist.” Chicago’s New City hails him as a composer “with something to say, and the adventurous listener will be rewarded.”
Listen to Steve Robinson’s interview
with Mischa Zupko and Sang Mee Lee on Cedille’s
Classical Chicago Podcast
MISCHA ZUPKO (b.1971)
Shades of Grey
What the Critics Are Saying
“A wonderment of shades of color infatuate this fascinating composer’s music . . . this delightful introduction in my favorite chamber music form is well worth following by anyone interested in ‘what’s happenin” Chicago way. Great sound to compliment the readings.”
“This is very stimulating music, expertly performed. The composer himself is the pianist, impeccable throughout; the recording too is top drawer. A fascinating release.”
“These pieces of chamber music are both fluid and inventive, issuing from the pen of a composer both aware of history but never enslaved to it . . . captured brilliantly by the recording team in a wonderful acoustic. While this is no surprise, given Cedille’s top-drawer recordings, it is certainly a pleasure to report that all elements are in place for what is really a superb program of chamber pieces by a composer to match.”
“Zupko has a musical mind both open and exceptionally inventive, certainly as exemplified by the works on this album … The trio of musicians each brings an enormous absorption and focus to the music, making it sing, bringing its reflective and reflexive brilliance to bear on our experiencing ears … I have no hesitations in recommending this music to you.”
“Mischa Zupko is a composer who . . . manages to address the starry skies and the adventures of love without falling into neo-romantic gestures that seem pat or over rehearsed . . . it’s hard to imagine performances more fully capable of realizing this music.”
“The performers . . . demonstrate both passion and virtuosity on this lucid recording. They play very well together and they all have ample opportunities to show off their respective skills.”
“Zupko’s chamber music leaves me uncharacteristically speechless . . . It simply asserts itself with force and eloquence. I intend to keep this album near the top of my listening pile.”
Program NotesDownload Album Booklet
Notes by Mischa Zupko
Eclipse is the embodiment of serenity, using as a focal point subtle, overlapping figures between the violin and cello. Even as heavenly bodies coalesce, the points of overlap between the two voices increase, until the luminous process resolves into simultaneous song. But, the moment is all too fleeting as the mingled voices soon diverge and separately traverse the universe once again. This musical form was inspired by the image of two heavenly bodies slowly engulfing one another in a shadowed sum greater than their parts. Eclipse puts voice to that long-anticipated union that shines with a strange and profound new light.
Eclipse was written for Sang Mee Lee and Wendy Warner.
Producer: James Ginsburg
Engineer: Bill Maylone
Editing: Jeanne Velonis
Editing Assistance: Mischa Zupko
Recorded: Nichols Concert Hall at the Music Institute of Chicago
Rising and Love Obsession: September 1, 2014; Fallen: January 6-7, 2014; Shades of Grey: February 22, 23, and March 31-April 1, 2015
Fay and Daniel Levin Performance Studio at WFMT Chicago
Eclipse, From Twilight, and Nebula: June 17-19, 2015
Photography: Lisa Mazzucco
Graphic Design: Nancy Bieschke
© 2016 Cedille Records/Cedille Chicago