|About this Recording
8.572242 - Wind Band Music - HINDEMITH, P. / HOLST, G. / GRAINGER, P. / SCHWANTNER, J. (Trendsetters) (Peabody Conservatory Wind Ensemble, H.D. Parker)
Trendsetters: Music for Wind Band
Paul Hindemith (1895–1963): Symphony in B flat
The Symphony in B flat for Concert Band by Paul Hindemith was composed at the request of Lt Col Hugh Curry, leader of the United States Army Band, and had its première in Washington, D.C. on 5th April, 1951, with the composer conducting. The three-movement symphony shows Hindemith’s great contrapuntal skill, and the organized logic of his thematic material. His melodies develop ever-expanding lines, and his skill in the organization and utilization of complex rhythmic variation adds spice and zest to the strength of his melodies. The first movement is in sonata allegro form in three sections, with the recapitulation economically utilizing both themes together in strong counterpoint. The second and third movements develop and expand their thematic material in some of the most memorable contrapuntal writing for winds. The second movement opens with an imitative duet between alto saxophone and cornet, accompanied by a repeated chord figure. The duet theme, along with thematic material from the opening movement, provides the basic material for the remainder of the movement. The closing section of the third movement utilizes the combined themes while the woodwinds amplify the incessant chattering of the first movement. The brass and percussion adamantly declare a halt with a powerful final cadence. The symphony rivals any orchestra composition in length, breadth and content, and served to convince other first-rank composers, including Giannini, Persichetti, Creston and Hovahness, that the band is a legitimate medium for serious music.
Gustav Holst (1874–1934): First Suite in E flat
British composers have produced several exceptionally fine works for the concert band. Of all these, the First Suite in E flat by Gustav Holst is generally regarded as the cornerstone. Written in 1909, it is one of the few band originals that have been transcribed for symphony orchestra. It was given its first known public performance by the Royal Military School of Music Band, conducted by D. W. Jones at Kneller Hall in 1920. Various instruments repeat the opening theme of the Chaconne incessantly as others weave varied filigrees about the ground theme. In the middle of the first movement, the principal theme is inverted and the tonality changes to minor for a few repetitions. The Intermezzo is based on a variation of the Chaconne theme, presented first in an agitated style, then in a cantabile mood, the two styles alternating throughout the movement. The two themes of the March, one dynamic and the other lyric, are also taken from the Chaconne theme. The first is something of an inversion and is played in a marcato style by the upper brasses, the second, a more flowing rendition of the theme, now ‘right-side-up’, is played by the woodwinds and lower brasses. Eventually, the two are combined in a thrilling counterpoint leading to the coda.
Although Holst’s daughter, Imogen (a gifted musician and author), was critical of some of his compositions, she writes that “The whole suite is superbly written for military band…It must have been a startling change from the usual operatic selections…In spite of its original approach, the Suite never breaks away from the essential traditions of the band, and the March is the sort of music that is beloved of bombardons (basses) and euphoniums.” The “inevitable meno mosso,” was written “with the assurance of an experienced bandsman who knows exactly what the other players are going to enjoy.”
Joseph Schwantner (b. 1943): …and the mountains rising nowhere
…and the mountains rising nowhere by Joseph Schwantner came out of the composer’s experience of writing for professional chamber groups. The work was dedicated to Carol Adler and to the performers of the première, the Eastman Wind Ensemble, conducted by Donald Hunsberger. Although not specifically programmatic, the evocative imagery of the following poem by Carol Adler provided inspiration for the composition.
In addition to a large group of winds (though only two clarinets), the score calls for amplified contrabass and solo piano as well as 46 different percussion instruments played by six players. Tuned water goblets, whistling and singing help to create a unique sonic tapestry.
Percy Aldridge Grainger (1882–1961): Lincolnshire Posy
Percy Aldridge Grainger’s extensive compositional output consists mainly of original compositions and folk-music settings. Lincolnshire Posy (1937) is considered the pinnacle of his folk-music settings. While he wrote for practically every medium, Grainger’s first love was the wind band. In his program notes on Lincolnshire Posy he writes, “Why this cold-shouldering of the wind band by most composers? Is the wind band—with its varied assortments of reeds, its complete saxophone family that is found nowhere else, its army of brass—not the equal of any medium ever conceived? As a vehicle of deeply emotional expression it seems to me unrivalled.” [Note 1] In response to this, Grainger conceived and scored Lincolnshire directly for the wind band with five of the six movements found in no other finished form. [Note 2] Unlike composers who used folk-songs as basis for their own compositions, Grainger tried to match the original intent, the underlying ethos, of each folk song: Indeed, each [movement] is intended to be a kind of musical portrait of the singer who sang its underlying melody—a musical portrait of the singer’s personality no less than of his habits of song—his regular or irregular wonts [sic] of rhythm, his preference for gaunt or ornately arabesqued [sic] delivery, his contrasts of legato and staccato, his tendency towards breadth or delicacy of tone. [Note 3]
In accord with Grainger’s intent, produced below are small fragments of the lyrics for each of the six movements.
1. Lisbon (Verses 1, 2 of 7)
’Twas on a Monday morning, all in the month of May;
I wrote a letter to Nancy, for her to understand
2. Horkstow Grange (Verse 1 of 3 and Chorus)
In Horkstow Grange there lives and old miser,
Pity them what see him suffer,
3. Rufford Park Poachers (Verse 1 of 9 and Chorus)
A buck or doe, believe it so, a pheasant or a hare
4. The Brisk Young Sailor (Verses 1, 2 of 9)
A fair maid walking all in her garden,
You seem to be some man of honour,
5. Lord Melbourne (Verse 1 of 5)
I am an Englishman to my birth,
6. The Lost Lady Found (Verses 1, 4 of 9)
’Twas down in yon valley a fair maid did dwell,
Three gypsies betrayed her and stole her away.
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