David Jaeger Chamber Works for Viola

David Jaeger: Chamber Works for Viola​

David Jaeger composer
Carol Gimbel viola
Marina Poplavskaya mezzo-soprano
Cullan Bryant piano

Release date: June 9, 2023

CHAMBER WORKS FOR VIOLA from composer David Jaeger gathers together some of Jaeger’s most defiantly creative compositions and demonstrates the vast possibilities of the viola and the chamber music genre as a whole. The album includes pieces like Diptych for viola and piano, lamenting at one moment and brazen the next. Six Miniatures on poems by David Cameron, for solo viola brings to life the poetic works of David Cameron, winner of the 2014 Hennessy Literary Award for Poetry. The album features the tasteful virtuosity of violist Carol Gimbel and pianist Cullan Bryant. Jaeger’s music will surely remind listeners—and perhaps even some other composers—of the rich tonal palate the viola offers.

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Sonata no. 2 for viola and piano, Diptych for viola and piano, Three Songs for mezzo-soprano, viola and piano, on poems by Carol Gimbel
Recorded on November 16, 2021 & September 26-27, 2022 at La Grua Center in Stonington CT
Producers David Jaeger & Junah Chung
Engineer Christopher Greenleaf

White Moon Legend for solo viola, Six Miniatures on poems by David Cameron, for solo viola
Recorded on 31 August 2022 at Enoch Turner Schoolhouse in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Producers David Jaeger & Cullan Bryant
Engineer Dennis Patterson

Mastering Peter Weitzner

Executive Producer Bob Lord

A&R Director Brandon MacNeil

VP of Production Jan Košulič
Audio Director Lucas Paquette

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming, Morgan Hauber
Publicity Aidan Curran

Catalog #: NV6528


Sonata no. 2 for viola and piano for Carol Gimbel: I. With a certain abandon

David Jaeger, composer; Carol Gimbel, viola; Cullan Bryant, piano

Sonata no. 2 for viola and piano for Carol Gimbel: II. Quasi scherzo

David Jaeger, composer; Carol Gimbel, viola; Cullan Bryant, piano

Sonata no. 2 for viola and piano for Carol Gimbel: III. Penseroso

David Jaeger, composer; Carol Gimbel, viola; Cullan Bryant, piano

Sonata no. 2 for viola and piano for Carol Gimbel: IV. Vivo

David Jaeger, composer; Carol Gimbel, viola; Cullan Bryant, piano

Diptych for viola and piano: I. Lament

David Jaeger, composer; Carol Gimbel, viola; Cullan Bryant, piano

Diptych for viola and piano: II. Defiance

David Jaeger, composer; Carol Gimbel, viola; Cullan Bryant, piano

White Moon Legend for solo viola

David Jaeger, composer; Carol Gimbel, viola

Six Miniatures on poems by David Cameron, for solo viola: I. Landscape

David Jaeger, composer; Carol Gimbel, viola

Six Miniatures on poems by David Cameron, for solo viola: II. Evening

David Jaeger, composer; Carol Gimbel, viola

Six Miniatures on poems by David Cameron, for solo viola: III. Conjuring

David Jaeger, composer; Carol Gimbel, viola

Six Miniatures on poems by David Cameron, for solo viola: IV. For Winter

David Jaeger, composer; Carol Gimbel, viola

Six Miniatures on poems by David Cameron, for solo viola: V. A Blessing

David Jaeger, composer; Carol Gimbel, viola

Six Miniatures on poems by David Cameron, for solo viola: VI. Gifts

David Jaeger, composer; Carol Gimbel, viola

Three Songs for mezzo-soprano, viola and piano, on poems by Carol Gimbel: I. The Teeny Tiny

David Jaeger, composer; Marina Poplavskaya, mezzo-soprano; Carol Gimbel, viola; Cullan Bryant, piano

Three Songs for mezzo-soprano, viola and piano, on poems by Carol Gimbel: II. The Mystical Man

David Jaeger, composer; Marina Poplavskaya, mezzo-soprano; Carol Gimbel, viola; Cullan Bryant, piano

Three Songs for mezzo-soprano, viola and piano, on poems by Carol Gimbel: III. simple moment

David Jaeger, composer; Marina Poplavskaya, mezzo-soprano; Carol Gimbel, viola; Cullan Bryant, piano


Artist Information

David Jaeger

David Jaeger


Wisconsin born-and-raised composer David Jaeger was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 2018 in recognition as recording producer, gifted composer and musician, and the legendary producer behind the CBC’s iconic “Two New Hours” radio series. Jaeger’s compositions draw on traditional musical styles and idioms channeled through his experimental nature into works for acoustic, electronic, and mixed musical mediums. Jaeger’s lifelong interest in and study of the visual arts and poetry lend themselves directly to a programmatic narrative in his music.

carol gimbel

Carol Gimbel


New York City violist Carol Gimbel has been described as an “intrepid adventurer,” a “swiss army knife” presenting “rare and thought-provoking concert performances.” Over the past 20 years she has spearheaded the commissioning and presentation of countless major concert and multimedia works, and premiered innumerable acoustic and electro-acoustic works for the viola and larger chamber ensembles.

Her acclaimed Music in the Barns project, founded in Toronto, Ontario, shaped new music concert presentations across Canada, launching her as a sought after performer and director internationally. In Canada, she developed the inaugural season of Shuffle Concerts for the Toronto Summer Music Festival, a six-concert series for the National Canadian Music Centre, and a public community development project #1000Strings for the Ottawa ChamberFest and INTERsections Festival for which she received the 2019 Awesome Ottawa award. Currently, Music in the Barns is exploring strategies for making music pedagogy more accessible with the development and early testing of a prototype gamified violin designed for creating and learning music at home and in the digital space. 

Pennsylvania-born, her early musical influence was shaped by the Philadelphia Orchestra string-playing legacy, and grew through an immersion in chamber music under the tutelage of Paul Katz and members of the Cleveland Quartet. With gratitude to the time spent with her beloved teachers and mentors, Gimbel performs with her compatriot the ex-Emanuel Vardi viola c. 1725. Recent cherished career moments include recitals in The Rose Studio at Lincoln Center (New York), Haus der Musik (Mexico), and the making of this album.

For more information visit carolgimbel.com

marina poplavskaya

Marina Poplavskaya


Marina Poplavskaya Guedouar, voice artist, international performer, and humanitarian has been performing since 1991 in venues including the Bolshoi Theater, Covent Garden, and the Metropolitan Opera, teaming with great artists such as Riccardo Muti, Sir Charles Mackerras, Sir Daniel Barenboim, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Sir Antonio Pappano, Sir Mark Elder, Semyon Bychkov, Jonas Kaufmann, Ferruccio Furlanetto, and Sir Placido Domingo. Poplavskaya enjoys her passion for parenting, social studies, performing and teaching in New York.

Cullen Bryant

Cullan Bryant


Pianist Cullan Bryant is a preeminent soloist, chamber musician, and accompanist in New York City. Celebrated for his “expressive grace…interpretive acuity and… total command,” (Gramophone Magazine), his performance legacy has brought him to the most prestigious stages around the world as a collaborative pianist with Midori, Mikhail Kopelman, Ju-Young Baek, Emanuel Borok, Colin Jacobsen, Misha Keylin, Oleh Krysa, Peter Rejto, Paul Tobias, members of the Amati, American, Arcata, and Borromeo Quartets, and members of the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, New York City Ballet Orchestra, Boston and the Detroit Symphony Orchestras.

Bryant made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1992 in recital with violinist Patmore Lewis, including the premiere of composer Meyer Kupferman’s Currents. He has been awarded prizes in the Leschetizky International Competition, the National Arts Club of New York, the Memphis Beethoven Competition, Miami Arts Competition, and a certificate of outstanding citizenship from Arkansas Governor Frank White. Recent releases include Beethoven: The Complete Sonatas for Piano & Violin on Historic Instruments. and Beethoven and His Teachers. 

He continues to create a lasting impact within new music as both a producer and performer, with critically-acclaimed world premiere recordings of works by composers Rose Bolton, Scott Godin, and Paul Siskind.


Violist Carol Gimbel showed an affinity for my writing for the viola not long after we first met in 2009. I had written several short works for her, which she took up with great enthusiasm. Over a period of more than a decade it became clear to both of us that I needed to write a longer, multi-movement work for her, and her duo partner, pianist Cullan Bryant.


Early in 2022, I began composing my second viola sonata, with Gimbel’s particular expressive manner of playing in mind. In the years immediately preceding this, I had concentrated on melody, and had, in fact, written dozens of art songs. In writing for Gimbel, several of these songs seemed to fuel the design of the melodies that appear in this sonata. The four contrasting movements share thematic material with four of my settings of poems by the Scottish author, David Cameron: For WinterSometimes the SummerThe Red Deer and A Blessing, respectively. Movement 1 “For Winter” lays out a theme that seems dark and brooding at first, but then finds release and abandon. Movement 2 “Sometimes the Summer” is a quasi-canonical setting of a depiction of a flirtatious mood. Movement 3 “The Red Deer,” marked “penseroso,” is introspective and reflective, and Movement 4 “A Blessing” is playful and affirmative.

My Sonata No. 2 for viola and piano was commissioned by Gimbel and Bryant, with the support of the Toronto Arts Council.

— David Jaeger

I have been attracted to binary forms for most of my creative life. Perhaps this grew from my early experiences playing the organ and Baroque repertoire. Whatever the reason for this, I decided, about the same time as I was composing the second sonata, to work with starkly opposing ideas, in the form of a diptych. The two movements that make up this work, “Lament” and “Defiance,” not only contrast in their respective melodic idioms, but also in the roles played by the two instruments. In contrast to the sonata, where the viola and piano are mostly supportive in their working together, I tried, in the diptych, to stir things up a bit, almost as if the conversation was more of a debate. At the same time, I modeled the mood of the two movements on sentiments that are clearly contrasting. When I started composing the “Lament,” I had the feeling it might actually be incorporated into the second sonata, and I discussed this possibility with Gimbel and Bryant. But we soon agreed, the nature and temperament of this piece was sufficiently different, requiring a context of its own. The melodic material in both “Lament” and “Defiance” was first sketched in a pair of art songs, and later modified for the purposes of the Diptych.


— David Jaeger

Early in 2015 my good friend and frequent collaborator, violist Rivka Golani asked me for an unaccompanied viola work. She said she planned to premiere the work in a recital consisting entirely of unaccompanied pieces. She further asked that I make reference to the lore of the people of the Blackfoot First Nation, with whom she had made a strong personal connection. Initially, I struggled with this, not wishing to disrespect the Blackfoot people. 

I came across a poem by Gimbel while I was working on the piece, and the last stanza seemed to contain the right emotional tone for what I was writing. This poem fuelled my melodic design, and helped to shape the form of the piece, as well.

Gimbel’s poem is as follows:

Through the Eyes of a Criminal
By Carol Gimbel

I cultivate the sickness
Growing inside
It’s cultures are good

Rare it is
To find another
Whose river runs deeper than
eyes can see or my mind can know
Deeper than the never ending waves of the sea
Deeper than the ends of the soul

White hat of grace
Gracing the skull of elephants
The rough corners of our chins, brows & eyes
Show signs of aging
Far too soon
Far too old
For the youthful spirit housed inside this crumbling body
Renewed by passion
And love

The loneliness of love nourishes
The loneliness of lovelessness is like a jail
I drag
Day after day
Highway chain gang
Going through the motions
But dead inside
Looking for the next stop
On the highway to nowhere
For a whore
Or a cup of joe
A cigarette
A breeze
A small reminder of once being free

— David Jaeger

I was introduced to the Scottish poet David Cameron in 2018, and was immediately struck by the innate musicality of his poetry. In fact, his poems have inspired me to make both vocal and instrumental settings. I was, at about this time, beginning to explore the art of the unaccompanied melody, and when I realized what a wealth of melodic inspiration lay awaiting discovery in these lines of poetry, I began setting them in earnest.

The Six Miniatures for solo viola are all based on Cameron’s poetry, with the viola soloist, in effect, playing the role of reciter. The six original poems are titled: 1. Landscape 2. Evening 3. Conjure You 4. For Winter 5. A Blessing 6. Gifts.

The texts of the poems are:

Poetry by David Cameron

1. Landscape
I draw my hands apart
So you’re free to go.
The blue trees rise again:
This landscape I know.

2. Evening
I heard you the first time
Say, ‘Careful as you go,’
But could not keep my feet,
And went down in the snow.

So, overwhelmed by snow,
I laughed to see you keen,
Until only the moon
And one star could be seen.

3.Conjure You
Is there a letter that could conjure you?
Or what metamorphosis must I go through?
In whose company would I find you?

Tie up the black parcels with string
And go to their funeral-wedding.
Strip your body, your world, of meaning.

Nothing ever amazes
There, where heaven’s explained to us.
It’s you, your edge, I’ve wanted always.

4. For Winter (Solo Song #1)
I thought my love for winter lost
Till your insomniac eyes of frost
Burned into me, so pure and clear
With slow abandonment of fear.

5. A Blessing (Solo Song #4)
I call a blessing
Down on your head.
A shadow’s moving
In the oyster bed.

I hear a whisper
In the loudest room.
I see an angel
Perched on my tomb.

Angel oh angel,
Put down your pen.
Did I love enough?
Will I see her again?

6. Gifts (Solo Song #5)
Child of the light, I bring you
Fresh handfuls of wild flowers
From fields you do not visit.
I bring them. Don’t despise them,
Though you find their scent bitter.

They can be arranged, so,
Into a wreath of heartbreak.
But it will wither.
The fields will be drenched again
By the sweet waters.

— David Jaeger

The realization that Gimbel is capable of expressing herself poetically gave me the incentive to make settings of selected works from her canon of poetic writings. Now that three of the resulting songs have found their way into a recording, I felt we needed a statement from her.

Gimbel says:
“It was a surprise and an honor for my poetry to be a source of inspiration for David’s songs. Never in a million years would I have imagined my private writings ever being more than just that, as they are little streams of consciousness and most certainly not crafted poetry, as the likes of several of my poet friends who have spent their lifetimes creating. As an element in musical works, bringing them to life together with my dear colleagues was a rare, unanticipated, and special happening in my life.”

The three songs are settings of the following Gimbel poems:

I. The little teeny tiny
The little
Hidden key

That unlocks
The little

Hidden deep inside
The little







II. The Mystical Man
I’m a stray cat
When I scratch at attempts of love
I am a dying cat
When my emotions pour out
I go and hide
To be with myself

The mystical man and his bird
Said loneliness becomes you

You claim there is only one of us
Doing this dance
Yet sideways comments and subjects
Point to other theories

The mystical man and his bird
Told me I do things right

Sacred spaces we share in our hearts
But I take this one and keep it precious in solitude

The mystical man and his bird
Picked a card:
You do things right
And when it’s not
You do it twice

III. simple moment
in a simple moment
i come to realize
that what i thought was gone
or didn’t exist
was always there
to begin with

The combination of mezzo voice, viola, and piano is full of a rich palette of sonic possibilities, and provides ample opportunity to tone paint, which happens in each and every line of Gimbel’s poems.

— David Jaeger

“Shortly after I met David Jaeger, his retirement from the CBC was imminent. I visited his office finding myself surrounded by 40 years of recordings, tapes, documents, and relics about to be carefully packed for their next chapter. With David’s retirement, there was no slowing down. He voraciously continued his mission of “fostering the ‘next’ generation of musicians” (as it was said in his induction to the Order of Canada) and I was fortunate to be one of them.


David would often mention long lists of composers and ensembles in his stories, opening the world of Canada’s new music scene to me. My most cherished memories are catching the twinkle in his eye when he would introduce me at concert receptions and other events. We got a chuckle observing the response of those we encountered after he would mention I was the founder of “something new” called Music in the Barns…(head scratch). David loves to improvise in life and creation!

Together we immersed ourselves in the exploration and presentation of music from many young and emerging composers to established, and eventually our ongoing collaboration and performances of David’s electronic music.

David became an invaluable guiding light as a mentor, colleague and a dear friend. It is with this album that I get, in a small way, to return the gift.”

— Carol Gimbel, January 2023


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