DR. BRICE ADDISON
2022 - 2023
Chamber Music Series
FRIDAY October 14 7pm
SUNDAY October 16 2pm
There's something for everyone—from the upbeat dance beats of Techno-Parade by Connesson to the bright and jazzy Sextet by Martinu and the lush harmonies of Miguel del Águila’s Sextet Dances.
420 Central Avenue
First Congregational Church
2900 9th Ave S
Pianist Wesley Ducote, noted for his “elegant and brilliant pianism” (South Florida Classical Review) joins the quintet as guest artist.
Miguel Del Aguila
Sextet Dances is based on themes from Aguila’s third opera Time and Again Barelas where they are introduced by the chorus and entire orchestra as part of a dance number: The Rhythm of a City. With this music the people of a young, buzzing town celebrate their prosperity and optimism for the future as they literally build the town on stage while dancing.
After a brief introduction by the clarinet the work starts with a ceremonious, quasi baroque character where the main theme (Rhythm of a City), is introduced in its irregular 13/16 meter and punctuated by a baroque walking bass played by the piano. This portrays the founding of the town. The clarinet solo returns to close this section and give way to the main theme, now with a fast tempo and decidedly Latin character. The music is simple, lively and carefree, constantly shifting irregular meters as it alternates with a new syncopated theme also reminiscing of a Latin dances from the 1940’s. Soon a third theme introduces elements from a Latin Big Band giving the piece a more Caribbean feel. The excitement grows into a pleasant chaos which is only stopped by a passionate Tango which ends the piece. A structurally simple, light hearted work, Sextet Dances relies mainly on rhythm and instrumental color to tell its story.
Notes by Miguel Del Aguila
II. Andantino mesto
Procaccini is an Italian composer and teacher. She spent her career directing the Conservatory of Foggia (in Southern Italy) and teaching composition at the Accademia di Santa Cecila in Rome. She has written a multitude of works, both instrumental and vocal, ranging from pieces for children to full symphonic works, even including some theatrical and cartoon music. Her compositions are highly regarded and have won national and international prizes. She has also given masterclasses at a variety of music festivals across Europe. She speaks of her own compositional style, saying:
“Among contemporary composers I may be the one who is most determined to conserve links with the past generation whilst still being set upon the constant acquisitions of the new. Tradition, modernity, respect for formal classical values, the search for new sounds: these are constants in my idiom which strives to maintain a balance between the different factors. Some critics have seen in my works a stylistic coherency that is remarkable in the context of contemporary music, characterised (at least up to few decades ago) as it is by a proliferation of various avant-garde experiences that in time have often proved sterile. Indeed my work as composer is not conditioned by avant-garde research into new creative processes, for I have constructed a complete and congenial expressive language of my own. The reasons for my artistic attitude lie in respect for values which may be considered inseparable from the very idea of music. More precisely: Music as structure: the elaboration of structural elements in a construction which is comprehensible to the listener, having as its basic value completeness rather than complexity. Rejection of those modes of composition in which the concept of form is driven to its extreme limits such that the very idea of comprehensibility is prejudiced, either destroyed or rendered so complex as to be difficult to perceive in the score of the composition. Music as an essential language of expression must be music which involves the emotional processes of the listener (communication with whom is of the utmost importance). My music is therefore conceived in line with the more classical aesthetic ideals and is characterised by incisive timbre, clarity of patterns, a fluency that is alien to cultural trends, linked to melodic lyricism that opens out in ample lines. These elements bring to my music quite a high level of emotive tension which both facilitates and encourages comprehension.”
This style of writing, both contemporary and traditional, is heard in this sextet. The first movement features active melodic lines passed between instruments with an underlying rhythmic energy that creates momentum. The second movement features a more angular melody that is presented by two instruments that begin together, then separate and become off-set, and finally separate entirely, ending with a solo voice. The accompaniment works as a block, with each voice having the same rhythm throughout. The final movement is a whirlwind, full of flying intervals throughout each part. Many of these intervals and melodic figures are very contemporary sounding, though Procaccini’s values of “completeness rather than complexity” and “encourag[ing] comprehension” shine through.
Notes by Madeleine Folkerts
(1912 - 1997)
L'Heure du Berger
I. Les vieux beaux
II. Pin-up Girls
III. Les petits nerveux
L'heure de berger is actually three brief character sketches of Parisian café life. Françaix wrote the piece in 1947, the story goes, for a Paris restaurant to use in the background as its customers dined. Françaix wrote what he called la musique sérieuse sans gravité (serious music without weight), providing witty, accurate descriptions in sound of three types of people seen while at the café.
The first movement is Les vieux beaux (The Old Dandies). The piano plays a jaunty accompaniment for the woodwinds' ironic, gliding sighs, as if the dandies are remembering the good old days. A quicker central section breaks into gossipy sixteenth notes between the flute and bassoon, with the occasional butting in of the horn, but the sighs return: those days are gone. In the second movement, the clarinet describes the teasing Pin-Up Girls in delightful arpeggios while the flute, oboe, horn, and bassoon parade around and the piano is silent.
The set ends with Les petits nerveux (Nervous Children). All the instruments skitter around, their melody lines moving against each other. The trio section finds them better organized, with the flute and oboe playing offbeat, against the others. The opening section is repeated, followed by a coda wherein the nervous excitement builds to an inevitable collapse.
Notes by Patsy Morita
(1890 - 1959)
III. Scherzo (I. Divertimento)
IV. Blues (II. Divertimento)
Written during a period of musical and cultural independence for Martinu, the sextet for piano and winds features the diversions and obsessions of his Parisian years. While neoclassicism undergirds the work, it is American Jazz (at least in the hands of a Czech ex-pat) that gives it life and distinction. The wind writing (with its bluesy riffs and block chords) is even reminiscent of a sax section at times. The first movement presents pentatonic melodies gliding above unctuous jazz harmonies and the characteristic syncopation that pervades the work. The second movement is cast in a stately (if even liturgical) character with a dialogue between the choral textures of the wind quintet and the pipe-organ sonorities of the piano. What follows are two strikingly different divertimenti. The first is a rather playful, if a bit frantic, scherzo between the piano and flute with off-beat jabs in the accompaniment. The second is a veiled blues that breaks dramatically into some jaunty and stylized ragtime before dissolving back into the shadows. The finale is Martinu in his neoclassical wheelhouse. Fugal entrances by each of the players, quick Mozartean runs and riffs, and tempi that keep ratcheting faster and faster send the work off in an exciting flourish of humor and drama.
Notes by Wesley Ducote
Composed for flute, clarinet and piano, my Techno-parade is made up of one movement with a continuous beat from beginning to end. Two incisive motifs swirl and clink together giving the piece a festive, but also disturbing character. The wails of the clarinet and the obsessive patterns of the piano try to replicate the raw energy of techno music. In the middle of the piece, the pianist and his page-turner chase after the piano rhythms with a brush and sheets of paper (placed on the strings inside the piano), accompanied by the distorted sounds of the flute (rather like the tone of a side drum) and the glissandi of the clarinet. After this percussive “pause”, the three instruments are pulled into a rhythmic trance and the piece ends in a frenzied tempo.
Composed for the tenth anniversary of the Festival de lʼEmpéri, I dedicate my Techno-parade to its three creators Eric Le Sage, Paul Meyer and Emmanuel Pahud.
Notes by Guillaume Connesson