Chamber Music of Babbitt & Bavicchi

John Wummer, flute; Stanley Drucker, clarinet; Peter Marsh, violin; Donald McCall, cello; Walter Trampler, viola; Alvin Bauman, piano; David Glazer, clarinet; Matthew Raimondi, violin; Assunta Dell’Aquila, harp; Robert Brink, violin; Daniel Pinkham, harpsichord

The Composition for Four Instruments was the second work (the first was my Three Compositions for Piano) written after a long, enforced ‘vacation’ from musical composition, occasioned by World War II. When I was able to return to sustained compositional activity, my prewar works seemed many stages removed from me, and therefore, I ‘retired’ them; I had, so to speak, ‘thought’ myself through a whole compositional phase during the war period, with no works to show for it. My new works, though employing as did many of my earlier works—the twelve-tone system, were concerned with embodying the extensions, generalizations, and fusions of certain techniques contained in the music of Schoenberg, Webern and Berg, and above all with applying the pitch operations of the twelve-tone system to non-pitch elements: durational rhythm, dynamics, phrase rhythm, timbre, and register, in such a manner as to preserve the most significant properties associated with these operations in the pitch domain when they are applied in these other domains.

“My Composition for Viola and Piano usually has been regarded as a more ‘accessible’ work than that for four instruments, probably because the rhythmic materials make for a more easily comprehended rhythmic continuity on the surface. Also a one-movement work, this composition too can be heard to subdivide into clearly articulated sections; the first and last are characterized by the use of muted
viola, and, together with the piano and viola solo ‘cadenzas,’ serve to frame the three large-scale sections.
- Milton Babbitt

“In the first movement of the Trio No. 4, Op. 33 I use a ‘pyramid’ form involved with the statement of four themes ABCDCBA The structure is enlarged by the insertion of a short development section after each theme is stated and further enlarged by episodic material forming transitions. The form is extended even more by combining two or more of the melodies when they return. Also added, from material in the themes, are an introduction and a coda.

“The second movement is cast in the usual ABA mold. Theme A is stated at the outset in the clarinet and is taken up and extended by the violin. The harp then states Theme B which slides into a development section culminating in a big climax. Theme A returns, is extended, all the while combining with a new countermelody, and the movement closes quietly.

“The last movement of the Trio is built on a formal principle or device which is exciting to work with, and, to my knowledge, original in concept. The fundamental idea is one of expanding ‘elements’ of musical material, which is certainly not unique as a developmental device; but here I have attempted to use it as a formalistic principle.

“The first movement of my Short Sonata is a free fantasy, concerned with the development of a series of three intervals treated harmonically, and a characteristic rhythm in 16th notes, partly melodic. This serves as introductory to a quietly flowing movement, which is actually in the form of one long continuous melody, interrupted twice by dramatic fortissimo interjections. A ternary last movement contains a twelve- tone melody in the opening section, moves to a contrasting second theme, and returns to the opening melody through a section that makes short reference to the first movement, in combination with diminutions of material in the third movement itself. The work comes to a close with a coda which makes quick reference to all three movements.”

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Various Artists

Chamber Music of Babbitt & Bavicchi

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Track Listing

Composition for Four Instruments
Milton Babbitt
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Composition for Viola and Piano
Milton Babbitt
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Trio No. 4, Op. 33: I. Comodo
John Bavicchi
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Trio No. 4, Op. 33: II. Sentito
John Bavicchi
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Trio No. 4, Op. 33: III. Lesto
John Bavicchi
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Short Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord, Op. 39: I. Brillante e in modo di fantasia
John Bavicchi
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Short Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord, Op. 39: II. Riposato
John Bavicchi
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Short Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord, Op. 39: III. Precipitato
John Bavicchi
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