31 August 2015
30 August 2015
Thought I had done this already, but I do not find any email in my Sent folder to confirm so . . . so I've also written to Rodney Dorsey to ask if a piece for 17 winds and harp may be of interest.
Wondering this morning, too, if Misapprehension may work for a choir of flutes. Or . . . double-reeds? Oh, madness that way lies . . . .
28 August 2015
From the composer’s notes to the CD:
The idea for Requiem and Resurrection arose in 1967 after the first terribly cut performance of Symphony No. 19 “Vishnu.” I was deeply disappointed because I felt it was one of my best works. . . .and:
The first performance [of “Vishnu”] was conducted by Andre Kostelanitz with the New York Philharmonic in 1967.Connecting the dots, then . . . “Vishnu” had been commissioned by the NY Phil and Kostelanitz, so perhaps the assumption of editorial rights was a function of feeling that they “owned” the composer on this occasion.
Personally, I find this story encouraging, both because there has been an occasion or two when my work was cut, in spite of my conviction of the value of the lost material; partly because yesterday (per my earlier post) was a story of discovering new music from the ashes of a disappointment.
In all events, both pieces are top-tier Hovhaness, the Requiem and Resurrection in particular.
Hi, Tim! I am guessing that my Misapprehension is not the good fit for your clarinet choir that I had hoped. It is my own fault, pretty much writing the piece which I wanted to write. If I were to make a second attempt, how should I do things differently in a new piece?
Thanks for your patience and understanding.
Earlier in the week, on my after-work walk to the pond, when I reached one of my favorite spots — a deep cabinet of slender pines — my eyes were met by an unusual sight. A young person was seated on a stump, oh, perhaps 150 feet into the brake. It isn’t often I see anyone lingering in that spot (most of the people I see are folks walking about, like myself — which means that, hey, I seldom linger there myself . . . seldom, though not never), but I certainly had never seen anyone there, with a handheld device, and earphones. I am not writing this to judge: here was someone perhaps who needed to be alone for a while, and this was the way in which she needed to inhabit solitude. On the face of things, it did look like a sorrowful icon of Our Disconnected Age, each individual in a cocoon of symbiosis with a smartphone. As one who avails myself daily of the convenience and interconnection which a smartphone provides, I understand the grey area, and my hand shan’t take up that stone, thank you very much.
Why I mention this here is, that I reached those pines on my walk yesterday, when (by the way, availing myself of the smartphone which I almost always carry with me — it serves as my pedometer, as well) I had sent the above message to Tim, and my musical mind was turning to a new piece (piece x, you may recall). My walk yesterday, and the spacious, many-columned beauty of the place gave me the musical ideas; and the unhurtful pang of recalling the sight of that lone youngster yielded a kind of title (you knew, Gentle Reader, that I should not leave it at “piece x”). It started out (arguably, a little petulantly) as:
27 August 2015
One of the things I find most interesting about revisiting this post is, that now, 13 years on, I generally enjoy Ives better, think better of him. Some of the collage-charabancs, probably I am still apt to lose patience with. But in fairness and good musical conscience I must retract the snide crack about that ain't Ives yer whistlin'.
What if I were to hear that program today? Chances are high that I should still have thought best of the Stravinsky. Perhaps, even if I might still have the odd artistic quibble with the other items on the program, my ears might be more musically charitable.
I had other (and soberer) music which I needed to write, and instead I dedicated the laborious portion of a (mostly relaxing) Sunday afternoon (ye gods, such profanation on the Sabbath Day!) to this rather absurd item. I do not believe I had ever before considered a stylish re-scoring of the Pachelbel Canon, and why this particular thought careened through my brain at this particular time baffles me.
It must have been the money.
The parameters were simple: (a) I wanted my own ear to be engaged and amused by the unfolding textures; (b) I limited myself to those instruments which sound reasonably good "out of the box" in the Sibelius sound library; and (c) since this was purely a matter of generating a sound-file, and not any practical matter of assembling actual musicians, I just chose sounds as they occurred to and pleased me, not worrying about logistics of transporting instruments or hiring players.
If it takes on, though, an actual score could be produced . . . .
26 August 2015
This past weekend, then, a message came from the much-esteemed and always-celebrated Peter H. Bloom, asking on behalf of his cousin if I might make (an easy switch in Sibelius) a version of The Crystalline Ship for voice & euphonium, for Joe Broom (now a student at the University of Michigan). I then was prompted to ask Joe if he might have use for pieces with piano. I was actually thinking of adapting the Little Suite, Op.127 (and indeed, I shall likely act on that thought); but, my eye fell first upon the folder with ... illa existimans quia hortulanus esset ...., and I thought of how I've scarcely heard anything from Kirstin on it. Thus I found myself adapting the Op.121 for euphonium, first.
Today is the deadline for putting our hats in the ring for conducting duties for the fall's Triad concert. Will report when the assignments are finalized.
[ 14 Mar 2002 ]
The Symphonies of Wind Instruments was even better than fond memory led me to expect. In other recordings (none of which have I heard especially recently, but the latest I remember being a Dutoit effort), sadly, some of the strongest "retention" was the impression of screechy clarinets in the block which opens (and, since it comes back, with this timbral barbarity, gave the impression of the Unwelcome Guest who didn't know enough to stay away ...
... but even this block sounded balanced and warm. The whole piece was a joy to hear ringing in Jordan Hall. The alto flute did an awful lot of swaying, but if that's her mode, let her at it; she played fine (and the alto flute always gives me the impression of requiring more air than a tuba). The alto flute and alto clarinet duet has to be experienced to be believed; and, having once experienced it, it is impossible to believe that Stravinsky himself would give that up in a revision. It is a fact that he did, but it is a sonically impossible fact.
The closing Meno mosso (Tempo primo) section was astoundingly beautiful; I don't know when I've heard three trumpets play with such sensitive intonation, and indeed with such timbral sympathy that they sounded like a single trumpet. When the flutes and clarinets were added for the last page, the effect was magical, not as though new color were being added, but as though a highlight was cast on the color already on the canvas.
They played the Ives very well, too. Indeed (at once to paraphrase a hobbit, and subvert his meaning) I almost felt I liked Ives, while they were playing. They did a terrific job. The test of a wind transcription is, not wishing that there were the original strings, instead (but maybe there weren't original strings ... the program notes hinted at a band version of a [no longer extant] organ piece .. so maybe the strings were added by Ives).
But at the last, I was forcefully reminded of a complaint I have brought to Ives' door before -- for as I walked from Jordan Hall to the T stop, what was sounding in my inner ear was the march tune. And when Ives writes in a way that you remember a ta-da-da-taaa tune that he "quotes" and not Ives, well, you ain't remembering Ives, are you?
The surprise quiet coda, while theoretically the point, doesn't stay with you; the boorish blat of the brass band has had too heavy a sonic footprint.
The NEC Jazz Composers Orchestra (somebody help me but, decent ensemble though they were, this is an abuse of the word orchestra) had opened the program with a tune called Dreams. It was all right, without striking me as anything special. The trumpets/flugelhorns could have benefited from contemplating the wonderful intonation evidenced in the Stravinsky performance. I have a hard time taking seriously any clarinetist who plays with puffy cheeks. I mean, if he sounded like he had control, puffy cheeks notwithstanding, I could handle that.
But these clarinets sounded every bit like the cheeks were puffy.
There was a bass clarinet, but the way the "head" was written, you didn't care. Another sharp contrast with the Stravinsky, in which, while the alto clarinet was expected to have fully the facility of a soprano clarinetist, the part was brilliantly written with the registral characteristics of the alto in mind.
A most enjoyable evening at the hall.
25 August 2015
24 August 2015
It was not exactly what I had in view, either as part of musical activities yesterday, nor as the piece upon which to perform this operation, but I've now adapted ... illa existimans quia hortulanus esset .... for euphonium. More on that afterwards.
What I did mean to do yesterday, was continue work on From the Pit of a Cave in the Cloud; and I did manage to make some progress. I was mildly mired in consideration that I want this to be a 12-minute piece, and the Adagio opening runs almost a full minute, but addresses only the slightest fraction of the text. But, then, we always wanted to up the tempo for much of the work. More on this, too, afterwards.
An old Buffalo mate of mine, Scott Tinney, surfaced on Facebook, and in June he called generally for any and all composer friends to write him 15-second pieces. I think that, just at the time I saw his call, I was puttering yet with the audition portion of a piece for double quintet (m. on that a.) So the weekend of 27/28 June I wrote one 15-second piece. Over the course of the first week in July, I wrote the second, third, and fourth pieces; and I already knew that I was not just going to write four of them. I quickly (or quickly-ish) decided on a set of 20 in emulation of Prokofiev's early (and, no argument, more substantial) set, which gave me a title:
Visions fugitives de nouveau, Op.131
№ 1: One Leaf
№ 2: Versuch eines Milonga
№ 3: Beneath the Clear Sky
№ 4: That Tickles!
№ 5: Stephen Goes to California
№ 6: Kay's Blue Crabs
№ 7: Questionable Insistence
№ 8: Morning Prayer
№ 9: Bunny Keeping Still
№ 10: Gamboling Squirrels
№ 11: The Street Musician
№ 12: The Shade of an Oak
№ 13: "Could you change one more thing?"
№ 14: Waiting
№ 15: Bicycling in Boston Common
№ 16: Mist on the Harbor
№ 17: Peter Moves to Montréal
№ 18: Seeing a Long-Since-Cancelled Stamp
№ 19: ... but his mind is elsewhere
№ 20: Starless Summer Night
The set was done by 11 July.
23 August 2015
Night before last, I finished (at last) a flute duo for Orlando Cela. (How I came to write the duo is a mildly amusing story.) I then allowed that last draft to "cure" ... the novelty for me in the process of this piece, is related to typographic concerns. There is an idea I had for the final section, which I have probably thrown out. (Really, I reserve it for yet fuller execution in the new Schulte setting.) So, Friday evening I made my way to a provisionally final double-bar. I then began the trying phase: stress-testing the draught, deciding on places where (1) I might wish to make an adjustment, and (2) where my gut felt strongly I must make an adjustment.
The novelty, though, is that I regulated both (1) and (2) by the consideration of parts layout. All this while working on the piece, I wondered if I should "cheat" by just ("just"!) having the two players read from score together. At heart, I knew I must not settle for that cheat. So I checked the parts each time I made an adjustment. Perhaps inevitably, I began to devise adjustments specifically to yield a page turn here (for Flute 1) and there (for Flute 2).
So, yesterday morning, I reached the point where, now that changes are in place so that both players have convenient page-turns (itself, a perfectly reasonable and practical consideration), I wanted to make sure the piece works and flows as well as I felt it did before I began a-tampering.
And I find that these mundanely-driven alterations to the piece in no way impair the composition. And thus, Neither do I condemn thee, Op.132 for two flutes, is now finished.
Downside: No idea when it may be performed.
Upside: I know three flutists (including the commissioner) who will take an active interest in the piece, and I am sure they will all like it.
Downstream upside: Will be eminently marketable at the annual flutey-toot conventions.
Why-didn't-I-think-of-this-before? Upside: In November I made the acquaintance of a flutist in the ASO, whom we may interest in the piece, too.