Illustrating the impact of Appalachian folk music on his often unconventional yet appealingly direct style, APPALACHIAN INSPIRATION, composer John Beall's debut album on Ravello Records, features three piano and string pieces that display a strong, expressive grasp of folk tunes and traditional classical techniques.
Sonata for Viola and Piano (2003) uses a modified yet identifiable sonata form with its principal phrases taken from the folk song The Rejected Lover, while Beall's muse for Quintet for Piano and Strings (2009) is Schubert and his "Trout" Quintet, which utilizes the double bass as opposed to the more conventional second violin in the string quartet. Emulating this string ensemble, Beall presents a spirited yet tender four-movement piece, highlighting W.S. Merwin's poem "December Among the Vanished." In the final piece, Wondrous Love Variations (1999), Beall manipulates the popular American hymn Wondrous Love, reframing its simplicity with striking harmonies, driving rhythms, and references to another folk tune Tender Thought.
John Beall has been Professor and Composer-in-Residence at West Virginia University since 1978. He studied at Baylor University and received his Doctorate degree from the Eastman School of Music, being awarded two of Eastman's highest composition distinctions, the Louis Lane Prize and the Howard Hanson Prize. Since 1992, Beall has spent his summers teaching at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan.