NOTES FROM douglas anderson

 

1. “increasingly, physical” for flute solo was written in January of 1980, just after the completion of my violin concerto (Ahai).  Having in that larger piece explored order and ‘unordering’ in serial music, I wanted to continue that exploration in a smaller framework.  In three sections, the piece takes advantage of the large range of the flute, and provides the performer with opportunities for both fingering and tonguing fireworks and gorgeous lyrical sound.

 

2. “procession, emerging…” for bassoon solo.  Lyrical, aggressive, gentle, explosive, this little piece makes use of the large and diverse range and rapidity of movement possible on the bassoon.  The differing moods (tied together by a row that is manipulated and unordered mercilessly) interrupt each other continually as the melodic line pushes immutably toward the dramatic conclusion.

 

3. Five Bagatelles and a Synopsis for piano solo began as an experiment in serialism: how to create different moods from the same ordered (and unordered) row.  Each Bagatelle focuses on various aspects of the row, presenting these aspects in different rhythmic and textural contexts, creating greatly varied moods.  It seemed only fitting that they end with a Synopsis, which looks back in summary (and in reverse order) at the contents of the preceding Bagatelles.

 

4. “springing, gradually…” for French horn explores the large range of the instrument, as well as the timbral opportunities of open, partial, and complete stoppage.  In three connected sections, the horn displays its well-known majestic side as well as its lyrical side, and the timbral changes provide a new aspect of its personality.

 

5.  Piece for Clarinet and Tape is an exploration of pitch, timbre, duration, and volume, the essential aspects of sound that organized to make music.  The live clarinet is accompanied by an unyielding tape (translated to digital for this recording) that mimics the instrument and takes its timbre beyond the natural world.  The sounds on the tape are all electronic, and include clicks and rumbles and bells and whooshes and yes, an electronic version of the clarinet.  Starting with grand and uncompromising statements, the clarinet and tape jostle with each other for attention, and respond to and coincide with each other.  Along the way they both have their ‘solo’ moments, and finally end with a gentle conversation.

 

6. “mood, enough” for viola has four connected movements, labelled Capriciously, Bouncy, Simply, and Firmly.  Using a serial row concocted from the physical and technical characteristics of the instrument itself, the viola proceeds to dismember and explore this row, presenting in these four movements a sort of dissertation on the instrument itself.  Along the way are an extended exploration of overtones via double-stops (without using harmonics!) and the discovery of a chorale melody (Es Ist Genug, set by J. S. Bach and quoted by Alban Berg in his Violin Concerto); I couldn’t resist a couple of nods to my distinguished predecessors.

 

7. Wedding Music for trumpet.  When I married in 1994, I faced the usual quandary of what music to use for the ceremony.  Since the ceremony itself was to some extent constructed by my fiancée and myself, we found there was a need for some short musical interludes, which I wrote, for trumpet alone.  Afterwards I expanded this set to include the other elements needed in such a situation, creating a suite including Prelude, Processional, Interlude I: Chorale, Interlude II: Fanfare, and Recessional.  On this recording John plays Interlude I on the flugelhorn, whose timbre enhances the different mood.  Designed as a practical piece, for use when other instruments aren’t possible or appropriate, these movements should be used as needed: partially, reordered, complete, etc.

 

8. “vikings, unless” for low clarinet.  I had long thought of writing something for bass clarinet, and actually started to jot down some ideas when I was on my first trip to Newfoundland in Atlantic Canada.  Struck by the stark beauty of that enormous island, and having visited there the site of the first European settlement in North America, I wrote some evocative melodic phrases that were later developed into this piece.  A single movement that is a sort of stream of consciousness, the melodic material extends and morphs and loops back on itself, visiting a variety of destinations, little echoes appearing now and again, and finally ending as gently as it began.

 

9. Abe’s Rag for piano solo is my homage to the great American composer Scott Joplin.  Having played in my youth on the first concert since his lifetime featuring only his music, including (among other works) excerpts from the opera Treemonisha and the Red Back Book, I developed a great affection for his music, especially the elegance and formal structure of his rags.  Here I use a serial row, unordering it at times to create a tonal center, modifying and exploiting it with traditional ragtime figuration to create a series of sections with differing moods, and ultimately circling back to the beginning in a grand finale.

 

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