Oboe Quartet Comes to Penn

daedalus 3.24.17Oboist Peggy Pearson commissioned and premiered my Oboe Quartet, playing the first performances back in 2015 with members of the Apple Hill Quartet. This week’s performance here in Philadelphia will be the first time the Daedalus plays the work. Mark DeVoto reviewed the first performance of the Oboe Quartet for the Boston Musical Intelligencer – you can read the review here. Preview the piece with audio or the score.

Here’s a program listing and note on the piece: 

1) Moderato
2) Allegro con fuoco
3) Passacaglia: Adagio, ma non troppo
4) Moderato e fluente
5) Moderato; Allegro giocoso

 I first heard Peggy Pearson’s eloquent playing as part of the performances of Bach cantatas at Emmanuel Church in Boston, and I think that baroque context has influenced this quartet. The work’s central passacaglia invokes a baroque form, while the first, second and fourth movements, though not suggesting a baroque idiom, perhaps hint at cantata recitatives and arias without words – lyrical, dramatic, plaintive. The impulse throughout the work is more songful than symphonic. Using a stylized dance, as I do in the finale of the quartet, also reflects baroque practice, though the choreography in my quartet clearly has more to do with a 20th century dance floor than with an 18th century ballroom.

Ways of Listening

You may have noticed the link at the end of the recent NY Times review of the Tanglewood performance of my Dark the Star – it takes you to a YouTube posting of a track from the Bridge recording of the piece. The recording is by William Sharp, baritone, the 21st Century Consort, and Christopher Kendall, conductor. You really should pick up a copy of the disc (there are links to do that at the Bridge website), but if you disdain physical media (and paying artists for their work!) and want to hear the piece from the beginning, go here. Dark the Star consists of nine movements played without pause, which means the separate videos for each track of the piece interrupt the flow in disconcerting ways, sometimes in mid-phrase – another reason to spring for the physical disc. The pieces from the Sacred Songs cd featuring soprano Susan Narucki are also on YouTube – here’s the first track from the cycle Holy the Firm.

Another way of listening to my work is to visit the audio excerpts link above. I’ve just posted two items:

– under solo voice, you can find the recent premiere of Shadow Memory, with soprano Lisa Williamson and pianist Rami Sarieddine, recorded at SongFest this past June. The piece is on a text by Susan Orlean.

– under instrumental, you’ll find the Oboe Quartet I wrote for Peggy Pearson and the Apple Hill Quartet, this taken from their performance at St. Paul’s in Brookline, MA this past spring.

And, yes, I was thinking of this title when I titled this post, though not of the book’s content.

Oboe Quartet in Newburyport

Peggy Pearson and members of the Apple Hill Quartet gave the first performance of my new Oboe Quartet in Newburyport, Massachusetts this past Sunday, and Mark DeVoto reviewed the concert for the Boston Musical Intelligencer. A “csárdás with bebop chords underneath” is a memorable phrase and even more insightful than Mark might think, given the number of wedding receptions with a central European flavor I played during my student days in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, affairs at which my desire to be playing jazz had to be repressed while we performed the ethnic dance numbers that were expected of us. I’m not too sure I hear the Hungarian aspect of my quartet, but the bebop is definitely there. You can hear the piece in Peterborough, New Hampshire on April 25, and in Brookline, MA on April 26.

Finish Line in Sight

Finish LineI have almost finished the oboe quartet I am doing for Peggy Pearson and members of the Apple Hill Quartet: Elisa Kuder, Michael Kelley, and Rupert Thompson. Go to the performances page for a listing of when they will be doing the piece this spring. An additional performance, this time with Catherine Cho, Steve Tenenbom, and Marcy Rosen joining Peggy, has recently been scheduled for this June 18 at the Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival.

The piece is working out to be in five movements, tentatively headed as follows, with some comments on the music:
I. Moderato – lyrical, oboe takes the lead
II. Allegro con fuoco – terse, sometimes ferocious
III. Passacaglia: Adagio – harmonically the darkest movement of the set, the textures here are mostly spare and contrapuntal
IV. Moderato e fluente – lyrical again, but with the melodic burden shared more equally, and with a more polyphonic texture.
V. Moderato; Allegro giocoso – an introduction recalls the first movement, followed by a playful main section that hints at some jazz and rock idioms.

Back to work!