McBride, Moore & Claflin: Orchestral Works
McBride, Moore & Claflin: Orchestral Works
Liner Notes   Cat. No. NWCRL107     Release Date: 2010-03-01

Martha Graham’s popular Punch and The Judy combines elements of the original with less morbid aspects of standard domestic comedy. Her “group dance with spoken text,” in tandem with music by Robert Guyn McBride, was given in première during the 1941 session of the Bennington (Vermont) Summer School of the Arts.

The Arizona-born (1911) McBride is known to the broader public for such unashamedly low-brow pieces as Mexican Rhapsody and the notorious Jingle-Jangle, not to speak of his equally ubiquitous (but rather more anonymous) music for “March of Time” documentaries and innumerable other films, among them many recurrent cartoons. This notwithstanding, he has evinced a strong leaning toward serious choreographic composition throughout his career. As recently as 1956 he completed a full-length work that had been commissioned by the New York City Ballet. And it was his contribution to Punch and The Judy, as much as any other achievement of that early period, which prompted the American Academy of Arts and Letters to honor him in 1942 for “having created a new idiom in native American music.”

"Punch” as a noun has several meanings. There is a breed of cart-horse, for example, known as the Suffolk punch. Also, a punch could be any one of many alcoholic delights, among which the so-called Fishhouse punch is, to certain connoisseurs, the supreme delight of all.

It is of passing interest that the principal melody of Avery Claflin’s piece —a jig tune —occurred to him one day back in the forties when he was pruning a blueberry bush at his summer place, which is in upstate New York at Rensselaerville. He jotted down the theme for future reference and a year or so later turned it into this short scherzo for orchestra. The title actually was an afterthought, “sort of in commemoration of a hilarious Fishhouse punch party we gave for our housewarming up here.”

Douglas Moore’s Cotillion, a suite of dances for string orchestra, was written in 1952 for the Columbia Broadcasting System. The network’s own orchestra gave the work in premiere the next spring under Alfredo Antonini, to whom the score is dedicated. There are six movements, all based on forms that were in vogue during the nineteenth century. The opening “Grand March” suggests the initial event of a cotillion, in which the dancers parade formally around the ballroom. Next is the “Polka,” with its strongly accented rhythm;’ then a heart-on-sleeve “Waltz” in which the swooning rubato is emphasized by the insertion of occasional extra beats; this is followed by the “Gallop,” a lively bucking dance in two-time. The penultimate “Cake Walk” recalls the back-bending, high-stepping strut that was a feature of the old minstrel shows. The finale is a “Quickstep,” another fin-de-siècle favorite of enduring charm even unto this impatiently unsentimental age.

The Vienna Orchestra

McBride, Moore & Claflin: Orchestral Works

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Track Listing

Punch and the Judy: The Three Fates
Robert McBride
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Punch and the Judy: Overture
Robert McBride
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Punch and the Judy: Soliloquy of Judy
Robert McBride
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Punch and the Judy: Pony Express
Robert McBride
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Punch and the Judy: Pegasus
Robert McBride
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Punch and the Judy: Punch
Robert McBride
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Fishhouse Punch
Avery Claflin
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Cotillion Suite: I. Grand March
Douglas Moore
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Cotillion Suite: II. Polka
Douglas Moore
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Cotillion Suite: III. Waltz
Douglas Moore
Buy
Cotillion Suite: IV. Gallop
Douglas Moore
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Cotillion Suite: V. Cake
Douglas Moore
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Cotillion Suite: VI. Quickstep
Douglas Moore
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