Exotic Animals Suite Mark Dal Porto
I. Exotic Birds
In singularity or in large flocks, this movement represents a depiction of exotic birds which include (as in the last movement) many extended woodwind techniques (microtones, reed and mouthpiece crowing, multiphonics, and key slaps).
II. Exotic Snakes and Lizards
This is a 5-voice fugue with a slithering, snake-like fugue subject. Some typical fugal techniques (inversion, augmentation, and stretto) can be found in this movement.
III. Exotic Cats
This movement depicts large cats such as lions, tigers, and leopards. The horn’s insistent “roars” continually send all of the previously heard animals scurrying for cover and eventually into a frenzy. In the end, the lion (king of the forest) ends up having the final word over all of the other animals (exotic or otherwise).
– Mark Dal Porto
Sonata for Piano Richard Campanelli
I have to admit that I’m not a big believer in program/liner notes. It’s hard for me to imagine Beethoven or Stravinsky feeling the need to try to explain just what, exactly, a listener is supposed to understand about a late string quartet or Rite of Spring that will somehow convince them to like it. The understanding is in the listening.
That having been said: I’m a bit retro when it comes to composing. I like sonata form, which is not set in stone and offers a sensible way to communicate musical thought to others. For me the generalized form of 3 movements in fast/slow/fast is balanced and satisfying.
I began to compose the sonata in 2009. I wanted to write something that would convey that the piece was written by a pianistic ‘insider’, someone who knows how to write well for the instrument and explore its possibilities and colors. I came with an idea that I liked and thought I could do something with. This movement, first to be written, became the last movement. The majority of this movement is derived from material found on the first page.
The second movement is an intentional nod to Bartok’s night music, and the only movement that I was after a specific atmospheric effect. It is freely notated mostly without bar lines, and should sound improvised. It has a darker tone than the other two movements, and it is meant to be more psychological than a description of natural nocturnal sounds or nature.
The first movement was the last to be composed.
I don’t much care for the label “atonal”. I don’t consider this sonata to fit that category. It is dissonant, but, I like to think, in a lyrical and listenable way, presented in an organized and orderly fashion.
I would like to thank artist Will Atterbury for his generous gift in helping me finance this project.
– Richard Campanelli
FANTASY for Viola Solo David Nisbet Stewart
My daughter plays the viola and I’ve always liked the sound. It has a rich timbre comparable to a bassoon or oboe. In my orchestral music I always feature the viola section. I decided to start composing some viola pieces last year, with the ultimate aim of making a viola concerto.
Starting out modestly, I wrote this short “Fantasy.” When PARMA Recordings said they were looking for string music for an album, and that Peter Sulski was available to play it, that added to my motivation.
The piece is one movement but in two sections equal in length – slow and fast. The tonal center is B-flat with excursions to C and F, in the course of winding modulations. I like harmonies constructed of multiple triads and seventh chords placed a minor or major third apart. The fast section is perpetual motion with landings on structural points. Near the end, the motion slows with a dramatic passage of accented wide leaps across the strings. This mirrors a similar passage in the first slow section. The last measure has three strummed B-flat major chords, the only time I use any technique other than normal bowing.
– David Nisbet Stewart
GUSTS Paula Diehl
GUSTS, the oldest piece of music in this album, was written by Diehl in 2004. It was short, seemed to drag, and was different in style from her usual work. Disappointed, she put it aside, but soon retrieved it in an effort to learn the new style and figure the tempo. An organist she knew wrote her a letter saying he’d been able to play the piece in under a minute without losing any clarity or meaning. She decided she had to decide from her own hearings about letting it be heard in public. And, yes, the music was different, but it must work’ for her, also, . .
Meanwhile, she felt it was necessary to figure what it was in the piece itself that signified clarity and meaning. It may even be said that ‘her’ style itself was still new to her.
The first measure had been a standby, and like other first measures in old and more recent shorter pieces, some worked and some did not. She found she had to work at it several times before being satisfied.
With surprise, she also realized that her use of direct ‘and’ indirect style simultaneously wasn’t always recognized even by ‘her’ at first. In older works, she’d found that she could use successfully both styles on different Fourths in the same phase, but had to realize fully what she had done, and that these open and different styles in overlapping Fourths had to be ‘recognized’, then ‘placed’, and ‘closed’ properly.
– Paula Diehl
Nocturne: Inversions Jason R. Lovelace
Nocturne: Inversions (2012) began as both a deconstruction of the nineteenth-century nocturne and an homage to Chopin, my favorite Romantic composer and the first master of the genre. The delicate melody and the flowing accompaniment at the opening of the piece serve to evoke the image of a quiet evening of peaceful solitude. As the work unfolds, the mood gradually progresses from tranquility to agitation, as both melody and harmony become increasingly distorted before fading into oblivion.
The subtitle “Inversions” alludes to the atmospheric phenomenon known as a temperature inversion, which Nocturne depicts musically. Air closer to the surface of the Earth is usually warmer than the air above it; during a temperature inversion, however, this condition is reversed, so that air at the surface is colder than the air aloft. In Nocturne, similar reversals take place when elements of the theme recur. After a momentarily light, contemplative interlude, thematic material returns in an inverted, upside-down form. Afterwards, the melody plunges to the dark, lower regions of the piano, with the accompaniment settling among the higher notes where the melody had dwelled only moments before.
A temperature inversion also serves as a harbinger of sleet and freezing rain, those less pleasant forms of wintry precipitation common to the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. During the second half of Nocturne, a recurring sequence of pitches emerges in the cold, upper reaches of the piano to aurally intimate the fall of freezing rain. The precipitation begins gently but soon develops into a fierce ice storm as changes in meter, a thickening texture, and increasing dissonance propel the listener to the climax of the piece. Extended performance techniques, including striking and strumming the strings of the piano, further enhance the frigid colors that pervade the second half of the work.
Although Nocturne: Inversions portrays an atmospheric event, the piece is also a metaphor for the economic turmoil that was triggered by the financial crash of 2008 and the Great Recession that followed it, during which millions were afflicted with upside-down mortgages, joblessness, and intractable poverty.
– Jason R. Lovelace
Covering Mel Mobley
Covering was written to fulfill two separate requests for new music – one from a horn player, the other from a guitarist wanting a piece for electric guitar. Both had asked me to write a piece for them and the idea of combining instruments with such disparate history, repertoire, and sound color really excited me. I decided that the addition of piano would be helpful to bridge the gap between the two opposing forces. My goal was not to create a conflict between the two but to create an integrated piece that required the two to move in and out of their typical performance style with the piano serving as a constant that could help the two interlock. This setting of such an unusual instrumental combination then sparked the compositional elements as well. Throughout the work structures also utilize mismatched elements, such as a groove that cycles in and out of odd meters, a section with heavy backbeats but of dissonant clusters at an excruciatingly slow tempo, and traditional electric guitar strumming patterns with non-traditional pitch sets against a horn recitative and a polymetric piano ostinato. Compositional techniques also blend with the use of number sequences used on top of intuitively composed elements. The idea was to create something exciting and accessible by “covering” traditional elements with modern elements, classical elements with popish elements, etc. The result is intended as absolute music with interest generated by the combination of these contrasting elements, styles, and instruments.
– Mel Mobley
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