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ClassicsOnline Home » SAINT-SAENS, C.: Introduction et rondo capriccioso / SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: Overture on Russian and Kyrgyz Folk Themes / SOUSA, J.P.: Nobles of the Mystic
Pulitzer Prize winning composer Michael Colgrass’s Urban Requiem headlines this recording. This nearly half hour work explores the technical and expressive qualities of the saxophone quartet, as well as providing an aural experience that vividly describes life in the Big Apple. Scott Lindroth’s exciting Spin Cycle explores a variety of timbral and rhythmic aesthetics and is reflective of many of the technically exhilarating works currently being written for wind band. Lee Brooks’s transcription of Saint-Saëns’s popular Introduction and Rondo- Capriccioso gives this exciting work a new and fresh perspective. October demonstrates Eric Whitacre’s exceptional melodic gift as well as his use of the sonorities of wind and percussion instruments. Guy Duker’s setting of Shostakovich’s powerful Overture on Russian and Kirghiz Folk Songs is an invigorating and challenging contribution to the repertoire. Finally, the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine by the American March King, John Philip Sousa, reminds us of the magic of his exceptional compositional talents and of the tradition of the wind band in the 21st century American music scene.
Urban Requiem: Music for Wind Band
Lindroth • Saint-Saëns • Whitacre • Colgrass • Shostakovich • Sousa
H. Robert Reynolds commissioned Scott Lindroth to compose Spin Cycle for the University of Michigan Wind Ensemble. This piece marks the beginning of a series of works that tend to have fast tempi, conspicuous virtuosity, and a generally lighter expressive character than some of the composer’s earlier works. The first musical ideas are the swirling and spinning melodic figures that are heard throughout the composition. As it happens, these gestures circulate in a rigorous cyclical pattern, leading to the whimsical title.
In addition to a wealth of concertos, the repertoire for violin and orchestra is endowed with numerous shorter, single-movement works, showcasing the vast musical dimensions of the instrument and the virtuosity of the soloist. None is more popular than Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo-Capriccioso, Op. 28. It succeeds not only as a vehicle for brilliant technical display but also as a work of considerable lyricism and expression, embodying some of the best aspects of nineteenth-century romanticism. French composers have shown a fondness for the combination of flute and clarinet. As to transcriptions, French publishers like Durand and Leduc have always issued compositions in versions for various instruments, thus the rationale for adapting the work to feature flute and clarinet in lieu of the original work’s use of the violin as the solo voice. The present arrangement was adapted, arranged, and edited by Lee Brooks in 1972 and was revised in 2005.
Eric Whitacre states, “October is my favorite month. Something about the crisp autumn air and the subtle change in light always make me a little sentimental, and as I started to sketch I felt that same quiet beauty in the writing. The simple, pastoral melodies and subsequent harmonies are inspired by the great English Romantics (Vaughan Williams, Elgar) as I felt that this style was also perfectly suited to capture the natural and pastoral soul of the season. I am quite happy with the end result, especially since I feel that there just is not enough lush, beautiful music written for winds.” A Juilliard student of John Corigliano, Whitacre is regularly commissioned and published, and has received awards from ASCAP, ACDA, the American Composers Forum, as well as being honored with Grammy nominations.
Urban Requiem by Michael Colgrass was commissioned by Gary Green and the University of Miami Wind Ensemble through its Abraham Frost Commission in 1995. Written for four saxophones and wind orchestra, it is inspired by a diversity of random impressions - a homage for all urban souls, living and dead, who love our cities and are inspired by them. It is a musical portrait of tragedies and struggles that occur in this environment on a daily basis. Colgrass chose saxophone to express the variety of emotions required for this idea, because it can be not only highly personal and poignant in character but also powerful and commanding. It can howl like a banshee or purr like a kitten. Singing like a vocal quartet, the four saxophones produce music that is liturgical in nature with an “afterhours”/ bluesy overtone.
Born in St Petersburg, Russia, in 1906, Dmitry Shostakovich was the leading Soviet composer of the mid-twentieth century. His conservatory graduation piece, Symphony No. 1, brought him early international attention. Like many Soviet composers of his generation, he had to write under the pressures of government-imposed standards of Soviet art. After his early works were condemned by the Soviets, his Symphony No. 5 (1937) and No. 6 (1939) were well received by both the Party and the public. Shostakovich’s Overture on Russian and Kirghiz Folk Songs was transcribed by Guy Duker and given its première performance by the University of Illinois Symphonic Band, James Keene, conductor, at the 1990 ABA Convention in Champaign, Illinois.
John Philip Sousa’s Nobles of the Mystic resulted from his becoming a member of the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. In 1922 he was promptly named the first honorary director of the Almas Temple Shrine Band in Washington. In 1923 the Almas Temple hosted the national convention and Sousa conducted a band of 6,200 Shriners in Griffith Stadium; the largest band he ever conducted. In subsequent tours with his band, many of Sousa’s appearances were arranged by the Shriners, and occasionally the host band joined in the playing of “their” march, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. John E. Veneskey, YSU Associate Director of Bands, prepared and guest conducted this march.
Stephen L. Gage
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SAINT-SAENS, C.: Introduction et rondo capriccioso...