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A Portrait

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About this Album

The release of Teresa Sterne: A Portrait celebrates the remarkable career of a woman who went from a gifted pianist in her early years to a revered label executive later in life. Disc one of this two-CD set contains recordings of Teresa Sterne’s performances made from 1938 to 1951, both solo and with the CBS Concert Orchestra and New York Philharmonic. The second disc highlights Sterne’s favorite recordings from her tenure at Nonesuch Records, including performances by Paul Jacobs, Joshua Rifkin, Jan DeGaetani, Gilbert Kalish, Joan Morris, and William Bolcom, plus selections from the Explorer series. The set includes a 48-page booklet with essays by William Bolcom, George Crumb, Richard Freed, Gilbert Kalish, David Lewiston, and Nonesuch Records President Robert Hurwitz.

At the tender age of four Teresa Sterne declared that Bach was her "sweetheart." Born into a musical family in Brooklyn in 1927, Sterne’s mother, a professional cellist who abandoned her career to devote herself to her daughter’s artistic development, and her uncle, a distinguished violinist, helped guide Sterne to fully realize her natural talents. At the age of 12, Teresa Sterne made a most auspicious performance debut, appearing with the NBC Symphony and the New York Philharmonic Symphony (the two major orchestras in New York at that time) in her first two public appearances.

The recordings contained in this release were made between 1938 and 1951, of repertoire ranging from Bach’s Italian Concerto, to the piano concertos of Mozart and Rachmaninov (the latter recorded with the New York Philharmonic), and the Piano Sonata of Dutch-born conductor and composer David Broekman, a long-time mentor and friend. The engineer Allan Evans, a close colleague of Ms. Sterne’s, helped to uncover the master tapes and supervised the remastering of the archived materials for release.

When Sterne decided to set aside her career as a concert pianist, determined to understand the practicalities of the music business and to find her way in the working world, she could not have imagined the important work that lay ahead and the impact it was to have on the business and future of new music.

Sterne was hired to run Nonesuch Records in 1965 by Jac Holzman, the founder of the label and head of the then-parent company, Elektra Records, where she was known as "Tracey" to her colleagues. When she took over Nonesuch she combined a fierce commitment to new and adventurous repertoire with the instincts of a performing musician, and began to make her mark on the record business. Over the course of the fifteen years that followed Tracey had the conviction to record music as diverse as the first three string quartets of Elliott Carter and works by Edgard Varèse; the music of George Crumb and the work of other lesser-known composers as William Bolcom, John Harbison, Charles Wuorinen, John Cage, and Morton Subotnick. She produced recordings of the piano rags of Scott Joplin, performed by Joshua Rifkin, creating such a sensation that two additional releases followed, and a Joplin revival had begun.

All the while Sterne maintained a commitment to such diverse repertoire as the music of Stephen Foster, turn-of-the-century American songwriters, Civil War songs and show music from the 1920s and '30s. She also sought out top-notch performers who were not necessarily household names, and built lifelong professional and personal relationships with such performers as Jan DeGaetani, Gilbert Kalish and Paul Jacobs. In 1966 she initiated the Explorer Series imprint, issuing some of the first recordings to document both ceremonial and secular ethnic music from six continents and numerous islands, released to the public for the first time. The Explorer Series, a catalog that now boasts nearly a hundred titles, set the stage for what became a new genre in the record business, so-called "world music."

Sterne’s contribution to the field of music, both old and new, while as a performer herself and as a skilled producer and label executive, is evidenced in the release of Teresa Sterne: A Portrait. It is a testament to her personal and professional integrity that such a diverse body of repertoire, all performed at such a high level, could be collected in one place, and ultimately under one name.


Disc One
Teresa Sterne, piano
Columbia Concert Orchestra conducted by Howard Barlow (2–4)
New York Philharmonic conducted by Efrem Kurtz (6)

Disc Two
1. The Little Orchestra of London, Leslie Jones, conductor
2–5. Paul Jacobs, piano
6. The New Jersey Percussion Ensemble, Raymond DesRoches, conductor
7. Joshua Rifkin, piano
8–9. Jan DeGaetani, mezzo-soprano; Gilbert Kalish, Chickering square piano (8), piano (9)
10. Paul Jacobs, harpsichord; Gilbert Kalish, piano; The Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, Arthur Weisberg, conductor
11. Gilbert Kalish, piano
12. Joan Morris, mezzo-soprano; William Bolcom, piano
13. William Bolcom, piano
14. Jan DeGaetani, mezzo-soprano; Michael Dash, boy soprano
15. Hakurotwi Mude, voice and mbira; Cosmas Magaya, mbira; Ephat Mujuru, hosho
16. Vasilka Andonova, Kremena Stancheva,
17. Nadezhda Georgieva Klicherova, Gena Ivanova Bodenova, Nadezhda Georgieva Palestova, vocals
19. Edith Pinder, Geneva Pinder, Raymond Pinder, Joseph Spence

Produced by Allan Evans

Disc One
Compiled by Joe Patrych
1. Recorded December 1938 at Raymond Scott Studios
2–4.Recorded June 21, 1941 during a CBS Radio Network nationwide broadcast
5. Recorded April 16, 1944 at a Brooklyn Museum recital broadcast on WNYC
6. Recorded August 7, 1946 at a Lewisohn Stadium concert broadcast on WNYC
7. Recorded July 21, 1951 at a WNYC studio recital

Disc Two
1. Recorded August 25, 1967, at Conway Hall, London, engineering by Michael Claydon, editing by Philip Wade
3. Arranged by Ferruccio Busoni
4. Recorded June 1975 at Rutgers Presbyterian Church, New York City, engineering and musical supervision by Marc J. Aubort, Joanna Nickrenz (Elite Recordings, Inc.)
5. Musically supervised by Joanna Nickrenz (Elite Recordings, Inc.)
6. Engineered & musically supervised by Marc J. Aubort, Joanna Nickrenz (Elite Recordings, Inc.)
7. Recorded in 1970, engineered and musically supervised by Marc J. Aubort, Joanna Nickrenz (Elite Recordings, Inc.)
8. Recorded at the Smithsonian Institution, Division of Musical Instruments, Washington, DC, April 1972, instrumental accompaniments realized by William Bolcom, editorial supervision by William Bolcom and Joshua Rifkin
9. Recorded November 1974, engineered and musically supervised by Marc J. Aubort, Joanna Nickrenz (Elite Recordings, Inc.)
10. Recorded September 1973 by Phonag Studios, Lindau/Zurich, Switzerland, in cooperation with Elite Recordings, Inc., New York City. Recording Directors: Helmuth Kolbe (Phonag) and Joanna Nickrenz (Elite Recordings). Engineering by Helmuth Kolbe and Robert Lattman (Phonag Studios).
11. Recorded September 27-29, 1976, New York, engineered and musically supervised by Marc J. Aubort, Joanna Nickrenz (Elite Recordings, Inc.)
12. Recorded April 1974, engineered and musically supervised by Marc J. Aubort, Joanna Nickrenz (Elite Recordings, Inc.)
13. Engineered and musically supervised by Marc J. Aubort, Joanna Nickrenz (Elite Recordings, Inc.)
14. Recorded January 1971 in New York City, engineered and musically supervised by Marc J. Aubort, Joanna Nickrenz (Elite Recordings, Inc.)
15. Recorded 1972 at the University of Rhodesia, Salisbury, by Paul Berliner
17. Produced by Ethel Raim and Martin Koenig, recorded 1968 in Bulgaria by David B. Jones
18. Recorded 1965 in Bali by David Lewiston, tape editing by Peter K. Siegel
19. Recorded June 1965 in the Bahamas by Peter K. Siegel and Jody Stecher. Remastered August 1992 from the original session tapes under the supervision of Peter K. Siegel, engineering and editing by Peter K. Siegel.
20. Recorded in Sivas, Southeast Turkey by Laxmi G. Tewari
21. Recorded at the Istana Mangkunegaran, Surakarta by Robert E. Brown, engineered by Robert E. Brown with assistant engineers John Pemberton IV, Nancy Pemberton and Alan Feinstein
All tracks on Disc Two originally mastered by Robert C. Ludwig, except tracks 5, 7, 12, and 13 by Joanna Nickrenz, Elite Recordings, Inc.

Compilation mastered by Robert C. Ludwig, Gateway Mastering Studios, Portland, ME

Design by John Heiden and Barrie Goshko, SMOG
Cover photo: Wengerow, courtesy of Tracey Sterne; 1940

Executive Producers: Robert Hurwitz, Norma Hurlburt

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