Robert Onofrey, clarinet; Eastman Musica Nova Ensemble: [Meredith Cooper, cello; Melissa Shuler, flute; Judith LeClair, bassoon; Robin Chudy, harp; Polly Schaffner, celesta; James Culley, vibraphone; Elizabeth Vochecowicz, percussion] Sydney Hodkinson, Conductor; John Loban, violin; Maura Chatman, celesta; Carole Morgan, flute; Barbara Haffner, cello; Lambert Orkis, harpsichord; Linda Quan, violin; John Graham, viola; André Emelianoff, cello
Stephen Chatman writes:
“On the Contrary, for solo clarinet and eight virtuoso instrumentalists, was composed in 1974 for Robert Onofrey and the University of Michigan Contemporary Directions Ensemble. As the title implies, the work involves contrasts of several musical elements: loud versus soft, solo versus ensemble, and pedal points in static textures versus active voices. The ideas are developed and ordered so that the form is like a maze which is initially complex and finally utterly simple. The 'suspended' coda, as if out of the maze, is a contrasting and separate world of sound and time.
“The combination of muted violin and celesta in Hesitation results in a more delicate effect than would the traditional combination of violin and piano. The work implies a musical plot, a dialogue which, initially, through false starts and frequent repetitions of rhythmic and tonal ideas, establishes a hesitating quality. Eventually, the duo almost succeeds in overcoming its shyness before it returns to its previous state. It then evolves into a timid coda consisting of a single voice in the celesta against shaky, artificial harmonic tones in the violin.”
Robert P. Morgan writes:
“My Trio for Flute, Cello and Harpsichord was written in 1974. It is conceived as a vehicle for three virtuoso performers, who interact with one another according to two alternating types of musical situation: 1) complex, tightly controlled ensembles in which the three instruments are more or less balanced in importance; and 2) freer, more cadenza-like passages in which one instrument usually dominates while the other two provide accompanimental punctuations. The music associated with the first type is normally fast and has a driving rhythmic quality, while that of the second is slower and more relaxed, thus the larger flow of the piece is determined by this dialectical contrast.
Joe Hudson writes:
“In composing Fantasy/Refrain I have made a very straightforward attempt to write a Rondo in the classical way. Since the contemporary aesthetic encourages the principle of constant, organic variation, the repetitions of the rondo subject are primarily reiterations of the underlying pitch structure. Superficial variants of rhythm and register used in each return of the subject make them difficult, at first, to recognize. Repeated listenings, it is hoped, will reveal to the listener the sense of return implicit in these sections.”
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