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I have created this site in order to provide performers, listeners and composers with a description of a composer's experiences with the creative process. The posts will provide discussions of the inspirations, challenges, and successes of a composer from the inception of the piece to the culmination in performance. I will provide a link to where you can see and hear the works in progress. Comments and questions are always welcomed. They will not posted unless you grant me permission.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Divertissement - V. Romanza for oboe and piano

Before discussing the Romanza, I would like to respond to Bret's comments about the Marche. As a composer, I have no problems with a performer adding their individual interpretation to my music. There is always a fine line that a composer needs to walk between marking every nuance in the music a la Mahler, and not having enough markings in the music to aid the interpreter. I mark my music with what I feel are the essentials. If Bret hears a pause on beat three of the first measure and wants to add an accent in measure 11, I have no problem with that. The same is true with slight crescendos and diminuendos to enhance the phrasing. I would be disappointed if the musician didn't do that.

On the other hand, the performer also walks a fine line with deciding when to change a composer's music. Most performers want to be true to what the composer has written, but acoustics of a hall, individual interpretation, balance issues, etc. all combine to make each performance unique. However, I feel that radically altering a composer's tempo and style indications goes beyond the freedom of interpretation. That happened to me on a recording of my "I Am Music" through ERM Media that had tempos almost 40 MM slower than indicated and what was discussed with the conductor. It totally changed the spirit of the piece.

All this leads me back to Bret's other suggestion of substituting a glissando instead of the chromatic sixteenth notes in the Marche. This I feel is approaching a radical change and I am glad he expressed his thoughts rather than just doing it. I am hearing 16th notes and these chromatic passages help unify the last section. If a glissando was inserted at measures 71-72, it would create a different meaning for the later chromatics. On the other hand, if a glissando was used in place of the chromatic 16th notes at measures 117-118, it could create a nice variety. I would like to hear those measures both ways before deciding, but I am open to that possibility as the chromatic scales have already unified the last third of the movement.

The Romanza was the easiest movement to adapt as I was not changing the solo instrument from the original version. All I needed to do was to eliminate the wind chime percussion part. Since the wind chime entrances were used to continue the motion, I inserted some notes in the piano part to compensate. I also added a run to the oboe part at measure 53 to aid with keeping the motion going.

To see and hear what I have discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/divertissement_mixed_woodwinds_blog.html. You will be viewing a transposed score.

As always, your comments are appreciated.

Dr. B

1 comment:

Bret Pimentel said...

First, thanks for your response about the Marche. For me it's a relatively simple matter to make interpretive decisions about a piece when the composer is deceased or otherwise distant. Working closely with a composer adds a layer of complexity that is both a challenge and a gold mine.

The challenge for me is that I do genuinely want to fulfill the composer's intent, and I do also genuinely want to put my own stamp on the performance. Thanks for the clarifications that you provided.

The gold mine is the insights that might have escaped me in an unguided interpretation, but so often strike like a bolt of lightning when the composer is willing to share. Your further explanation about the 16th-note runs helped me to see some of the purpose behind them that had escaped me thus far, and now I would definitely lean toward playing them just as written.

I got my first look at the Romanza just after finishing a lesson with an oboe student who is working on Schumann's Three Romances. Those are some of the crown jewels of the oboe repertoire and, though I don't know if it was intentional, I think keeping the Romanza on oboe is a nice tip of the hat to Schumann and to the oboe tradition.

One question about the Romanza at this point (surely more to come as I continue to study it), if you care to comment. In some places, such as measure 5-6 and 9-10, there are fairly large intervals in the oboe melody. Is there implied counterpoint here, with the oboe part splitting into two simultaneous lines? Or should it be read as a single, angular line?