Quintet Matinee (Physical CD)
Quintet Matinee (Physical CD)
Symphony Number 3 - Quintet Matinee
by Kevin Walczyk
Voices In Da Fan
by Andrew Sorg
It Was Whispered
by Earl MacDonald
Symphony Number 3 - Quintet Matinee was composed as a result of winning the 9th annual Raymond and Beverly Sackler Music Composition Prize. Composed specifically for the University of Connecticut Wind Ensemble, directed by Dr. Jeffrey Renshaw, and the Atlantic Brass Quintet, Quintet Matinee uses two contrasting interval cells that comprise the work's entire melodic and harmonic structures.
The work contains nine tableaux of various dramatic characteristics and musical styles that showcase the unique performance abilities of the Atlantic Brass Quintet. The eclectic nature of the work includes the fusing of concert music techniques with jazz improvisation and vernacular music attributes, including hip-hop, blues, rock, Latin, and funk. Quintet Matinee achieves its title by adapting its limited melodic content to various styles in dramatic, underscore fashion and tracing its transformation through the story-telling protagonists of the brass quintet.
The first tableau presents the work's principal melodic motif - comprised of the more consonant interval cell, in the wind ensemble and serves as an introduction to the brass quintet's initial entry. The second half of the first tableau integrates the quintet with the wind ensemble in a somewhat labored, dance-like variation of the principal motif. The brighter paced second tableau features the quintet performing long, lyrical presentations of the principal motif against an energetic and rhythmic accompaniment. The third tableau, labeled "funky", features the dissonant second interval cell and utilizes rhythmic and harmonic-voicing techniques associated with jazz-rock fusion. The third tableau is interspersed with solo improvisations by Atlantic Brass Quintet trombonist, Tim Albright. A transition slows the pace to the tender yet, haunting fourth tableau that features the Atlantic Brass Quintet’s Seth Orgel on horn. The melodic and harmonic constructs of the fourth tableau are generated from both interval cells and their respective complementary intervals, which give way to wider, more angular intervallic leaps. An intense, mechanical section serves as the outsets of tableau five. Between them a driving jazz-rock section reprising Tim Albright as improviser, and an abstract hip-hop blues section featuring improvised solos by trumpeter, Andrew Sorg. Albright and Sorg alternate solos and, ultimately, join forces by soloing simultaneously. The dark, mysterious nature of the sixth tableau features the low register of both the wind ensemble and the Atlantic Brass Quintet's tubist, John Manning. The melodic and harmonic structures are, once again, obtained through the employment of both interval cells that birthed the entire symphony. The exploration of unique timbres and non-metered passages in the accompaniment provide a murky backdrop for the tuba's recitation. Tableau seven inconspicuously shifts to a solemn and optimistic passage whose lyric and expressive qualities are derived from the work's consonant interval cell and intoned by Atlantic Brass Quintet trumpeter, Louis Hanzlik. After a solo flute brings the seventh tableau to a close, the quintet accelerates the work to the intense eighth tableau, which features symmetrical, octatonic scales and matrices - all derived from the work's two interval cells. Tableau eight, with its use of intense jazz-rock passages pitted against frenetic and dramatic passages, serves as the works climactic finale. The brass quintet provides a moment of gentleness in the middle of tableau eight but capitulates to the intense character that preceded it. Tableau nine serves as the work’s coda and, after a brief fanfare by the quintet, concludes with the
principal melodic motif in a stately and declamatory manner.
The idea for Voices In Da Fan, which I wrote for the Atlantic Brass Quintet, came to me after years of using the white noise of a fan to sleep. I started hearing strange gestures in the static sound of the fan while drifting into sleep. Squeaks, beats, rumbles, sounds of pain, people talking to screams of terror. Paranormal experts believe the dead are trying to communicate to us through white noise, including fans…This brass quintet represents what I hear in the white noise of the fan.
The first movement, “Voices” demonstrates the contemporary stylings of the brass quintet starting with a single drone which morphs into a climactic blast. This is the main content of the piece, using extended techniques such as multi-phonics, savvy plunger work and dark dueling trumpets.
“Scherzo”, is a quarter-tonal movement which is fun, catchy, fast and soft. The players are muted, and this movement is meant to be the comedic relief, video game style.
“Haunted Lullaby” is a tonal movement, somber but pretty. A combination of two famous lullaby’s can be heard layered on top of each other and it represents actually falling asleep, which segues into the fourth movement “Nightmare”. “Nightmare” contains hip hop feels, difficult hocketing, complex multiphonics and singing.
It Was Whispered was inspired by Ornette Coleman, a major innovator in the free jazz movement of the 1960s. I am fond of the short, folksy, poetic melodies he wrote, and wanted to capture this aesthetic within the context of a fully-developed chamber ensemble piece. Evoking the essence of "free jazz” while writing a fully-notated piece for interpretation by skilled, classically-trained musicians, was an engaging compositional challenge.
- Earl MacDonald