About this Recording
8.570074 - MACKEY: Redline Tango / MOWER: Flute Concerto / PANN: Slalom
English 

Redline Tango - Music for Wind Band

 

Carter Pann (b. 1972): Slalom

Carter Pann's honours in composition include the K. Serocki Competition and a Grammy nomination for his Piano Concerto, first prizes in the Zoltán Kodály and François d'Albert Concours Internationales de Composition, a Charles Ives Scholarship from the Academy of Arts and Letters, and five ASCAP composer awards. His works have been performed by the London Symphony, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony, National Repertory Orchestra, National Symphony of Ireland, Stockholm Radio Symphony, the Czech State Philharmonic, and the Seattle Symphony. Slalom for Wind Ensemble is his first work for band. Carter Pann holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the University o f Michigan.

Composer's Note

Slalom for Wind Ensemble was commissioned in 2003 by the University of Kansas. It is a taste of the thrill of downhill ski-ing. The work is performed at a severe tempo throughout showcasing the wind ensemble's volatility and endurance. The idea for a piece like this came directly out of a wonderful discovery I made several years ago at Steamboat Springs, Colorado when I embarked on the mountain-base gondola with a cassette-player and headphones. At the time I was treating myself to large doses of Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony and Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances. The exhilaration of barreling down the Rockies with such music pumping into my ears was overwhelming. After a few years of ski-ing with some of the greatest repertoire, it occurred to me that I could customize the experience. The work is presented as a collection of scenes and events one might come by on the slopes. The score is peppered with phrase-headings for the different sections such as "First Run", "Open Meadow, Champagne Powder", "Straight Down, TUCK", and "On One Ski, Gyrating", among others. In this way Slalom shares its programmatic feature with that of Richard Strauss's Alpine Symphony. The similarities end there, however, for Slalom lasts ten minutes … precisely the amount of time I needed to get from Storm Peak (the peak of Mt. Werner, Steamboat Springs) to the mountain base.

Carter Pann

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Charles Ives (1874-1954), arr. Jonathan Elkus: The Alcotts

At once revered and reviled, Charles Ives is one of America's most colourful 20th-century musical icons. An insurance salesmen by trade and a musician at heart, Ives uses the commonplace and the strikingly dissonant side-by-side. It is music both distinctive and personal.

The Alcotts is a re-imagining of the lyrical third movement of Ives's Concord Sonata. Jonathan Elkus, an eminent Ives historian and former arranger for the United States Marine Band, provides us this wonderful setting. For Ives, the Concord Sonata was a summation of his worldview and aesthetic philosophy (ideas expounded on in his literary commentary Essays before a Sonata). The three main ideas presented in the sonata include the idea of honest, robust self-reliance embraced in the utopian mysticism of the commonplace associated with the New England Transcendentalists. The second idea presented in The Alcotts is the reaction against the intellectual trends of the world of his time in favour of the innocence and naiveté of his home in Danbury, Connecticut. The third idea is Ives's personal obsession with the issue of art music's presumed threat to his masculine identity. It surfaces in the sonata as a mixture of shock and dissonance and confrontation. The Alcotts represents both the idea of home and a real historic family. Ives conjures up the humble Alcott parlour where we can hear the old spinet piano Sophia Thoreau gave to the Alcott children on which Beth played the old Scotch airs, the "fifth symphony," and a missionary tune. The movement opens in B flat and is pervaded by what Ives calls the "human-faith-melody" that floats above Concord and rings out at the climax near the end, elevating us transcendentally a whole step higher to C major.

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Michael Mower (b. 1958): Concerto for Flute and Wind Band

Concerto for Flute and Wind Band was composed in 2004 by Michael Mower and commissioned by a small consortium of universities including the University of Kansas. Mower is a native of England and has been composing "cross-over" music for many years fusing classical and jazz styles. This concerto marks his first major work for the wind band medium. A variety of popular styles including swing, Latin, and rock are utilised in the concerto and the orchestration includes a drum set and upright bass. Jazz rhythms and inflections are found throughout, especially in the outer movements. The middle movement, by contrast, is more free flowing and impressionistic. The flute writing is virtuosic with technical and stylistic demands throughout.

Mike Mower works as a composer, mainly writing newly commissioned works. His music is published by Itchy Fingers Publications, for which he has written a series of very successful books of educational standard music. He also works as an arranger for commercial music in a wide range of styles and combinations. He studied flute at the Royal Academy of Music in London and was later awarded the ARAM (Associate of the Royal Academy of Music). As a freelance musician he has played and recorded with jazz, rock and classical artists as diverse as Gil Evans, Tina Turner, Paul Weller, Björk, James Galway and Ryuichi Sakamoto. As a composer and arranger he has written for numerous Big Bands including the BBC Big Band and Radio Orchestra, NDR Radio Big Band, the Stockholm Jazz Orchestra, the University of Kentucky and the Texas Tech Wind Orchestra. Individual artists such as James Galway, Airto Moreira and Flora Purim, Clare Southworth and the Safri Duo have commissioned works from him as well as numerous ensembles from saxophone quartets to string quartets. He has arranged orchestral pop scores for styles as diverse as for Pop Boy Bands, MOR covers, and for the Eurovision Song Contest.

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John P. Lynch (b. 1963): Were You There?

Were You There? by John P. Lynch is a tone-poem based on the traditional hymn tune. The title becomes a philosophic rhetorical question examining various contemporary views of the message of religion. The introduction hints at the hymn tune and is followed by the river motive marked "flowing", a metaphor for life. Two new themes are then introduced. The first marked "with conviction" is strong and righteous representing the literal interpretation of the message of Christianity and is vaguely reminiscent of another traditional hymn. This gives way to the second original theme marked "tenderly" which expresses a looser interpretation based upon compassion. The following section re-introduces the flowing river idea, now with a sense of stasis reflecting Buddhist philosophy, in which the themes are presented as questions. A circular contrapuntal motive appears in the piano presenting the atheist viewpoint. This section culminates in the most straightforward statement of "Were You There?" The piece draws to a close with a forceful presentation of the three main themes in juxtaposition, leaving the final conclusion up to the listener.

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John Mackey (b. 1973): Redline Tango*
*Winner of the American Bandmaster's Association Ostwald Composition Contest, 2005.

John Mackey holds degrees from the Juilliard School and the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with John Corigliano and Donald Erb, respectively. His works have been performed at the Sydney Opera House, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and throughout Italy, Chile, Japan, China, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brazil, Germany, England, Norway, and the United States. Mr. Mackey has received numerous commissions from the Parsons Dance Company, as well as commissions from the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, New York City Ballet, the Dallas Theater Center, the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, the New York Youth Symphony, the Juilliard School, Concert Artists Guild, and many others, including several college wind ensembles. As a frequent collaborator, he has worked with a diverse range of artists, from Doug Varone to David Parsons, from Robert Battle to the US Olympic Synchronized Swim Team. (The team won a bronze medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics performing to Mackey's music.) To learn more about John Mackey, please visit www.ostimusic.com

Composer's Note

Redline Tango was originally commissioned by the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and premièred by that ensemble with Kristjan Jarvi conducting in 2003. The original orchestra version has since received performances with the Dallas Symphony and the Minnesota Orchestra (both conducted by Andrew Litton) and at the Cabrillo Contemporary Music Festival (conducted by Marin Alsop). In 2004, Mackey was commissioned to re-work the piece for wind ensemble through a consortium consisting of Emory University, Lamar University, Arizona State University, Florida State University, Louisiana State University, Illinois State University, the University of Kansas, and Mercer University. The wind ensemble version heard on this CD received its première on 26 February 2004, at Emory University with Scott Stewart conducting. It has since received over 75 performances worldwide, and it won the 2004 Walter Beeler Memorial Composition Prize, and in 2005, the prestigious Ostwald Award. Redline Tango is John Mackey's first work for wind ensemble.

Redline Tango takes its title from the idea of "redlining an engine," or pushing it to the limit. The work is in three sections. The first section is the initial virtuosic "redlining" section, with constantly-driving 16th-notes and a gradual increase in intensity. After the peak comes the second section - the "tango" - which is a bit lighter, but demented, and even a bit sleazy, complete with a hint of klezmer thrown in. The material for the tango is derived directly from the first section of the work. A transition leads us back to an even "redder" version of the first section, complete with one final bang at the end.

John Mackey

All programme notes (except the 'Composer's Notes') by Joseph Dubiel

 


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