Mountain Songs by Robert Beaser for Guitar and Flute

Miles Johnston (guitar) and Ji Young Kim (flute) perform Mountain Songs by Robert Beaser (b.1954). This comes via Johnston’s YouTube Channel. Nice to hear this excellent set of works by Beaser and well performed too. Some beautiful moments with wonderfully calm pacing but also some contrasting virtuosic moments with amazing rhythmic drive and playfulness. They mention in the YouTube description that they got coaching by Carol Wincenc, Robert Beaser, Eliot Fisk, and Sharon Isbin. The work was commissioned and premiered by Paula Robison and Eliot Fisk in 1985.

Mountain Songs

0:00 – Barbara Allen
3:18 – The House Carpenter
5:23 – He’s Gone Away
10:27 – Hush you Bye
15:23 – Cindy
17:53 – The Cuckoo
22:52 – Fair and Tender Ladies
26:35 – Quicksilver

Sheet Music via Schott: Mountain Songs by Beaser (Amazon)

I found this programme info on the work from Beaser via this page on Schott Music Corporation & European American Music Distributors Company:

Mountain Songs is a cycle of eight songs based largely on American folk music. Most of the tunes, as reflected by their titles, are lyric ballads from the southern mountains of Appalachia with the exception of Cindy, a minstrel fiddle song, and Hush You Bye, a popular lullaby from the Deep South. Quicksilver, which ends the cycle, is a wholly original song written in collaboration with the American poet Daniel Mark Epstein. 

While the cycle is based on folk material, each song is original and through-composed. The new melodies, dialogues, harmonies, and architecture sprung, sui generis, from the traditional strophic tunes. Guitarists especially should note that although an improvisational spirit pervades the cycle and the use of expressive rubato is encouraged, it is enormously important to pay close attention to all the details of this edited version before introducing one’s own liberties.

I recommend that the cycle be performed in its entirety. If for reasons of timing and/or difficult it becomes necessary to abridge the work, I would suggest that the following combinations be used:

I, II, III, V
I, II, III, VIII
I, II, IV, V
I, II, IV, VIII
I, II, V, VII
I, II, VII, V
I, II, III, IV, V
I, II, III, V, VI, VIII
I, II, IV, V, VII, VIII

If any one of these groups is programmed I ask that the individual titles be listed on the program, followed by the remark “from Mountain Songs”.

– Robert Beaser, 2014

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