About this Recording
8.572889 - CHEN, Yi: Dragon Rhyme / HIGDON, J.: Soprano Saxophone Concerto / WEILL, K.: Violin Concerto (Koffman, Miller, Hartt School Wind Ensemble, Adsit)

Dragon Rhyme
Music for Wind Band


Jennifer Higdon (b. 1962): Soprano Saxophone Concerto (2006)

I have always been struck by the range of power and beauty that comes from saxophones. I have seen a saxophone quartet bring a large school room filled with hundreds of children to a complete halt with one tutti note. Many people don’t realize just how much power exists in this group of instruments, and often they may not realize the potential for beauty. The soprano saxophone in particular produces a tone of warmth and a real agility that allows it to sing like none of the other instruments in this group. So it seemed logical, when I was approached by several saxophonists, to arrange my Oboe Concerto for this instrument.

The original version of this work was commissioned by The Minnesota Commissioning Club. This arrangement was commissioned by the University of Michigan, the Hartt School, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Jennifer Higdon

Kurt Weill (1900-50): Violin Concerto, Op. 12 (1924)

One of the outstanding composers in the generation that came to maturity after World War I, Kurt Weill was a key figure in the development of modern forms of musical theater. His successful and innovatory work for Broadway during the 1940s (he became an American citizen in 1943) was a development in more popular terms of the exploratory stage works that had made him the foremost avant-garde theater composer in the Weimar Republic. Weill, though, initially showed no inclination toward writing for the theater; his early works such as Symphony No 1, are serious and display the influence of Alban Berg, Igor Stravinsky, and Paul Hindemith on the young composer. Perhaps the greatest influence on Weill were not musicians, however, but two playwrights: the leading Expressionist Georg Kaiser and the vitriolic Bertolt Brecht. In Weill, the collaboration between Weill and Brecht produced in 1928, among others, a work which practically redefined music theater: The Three Penny Opera.

The Concerto for Violin and Wind Orchestra which Weill composed in the early summer of 1924, shortly before Busoni’s death, is the first large-scale work he wrote after his time with Busoni—and the first work in which he consciously declares his independence, if only in technical procedure and not in aesthetic principles, from his beloved teacher. The concerto was written for the violinist Joseph Szigeti, but was given its première by Marcel Darieux at an ISCM (International Society for Contemporary Music) concert, conducted by Walter Straram in 1925. During the 1920s, it became one of his most widely performed instrumental works. The philosopher TW Adorno wrote the following regarding the work:

“In this piece, the lines of Weill’s development intersect; the Busoni-esque lucidity is still there, playfully avoiding both dense polyphony and indeed the melodic plasticity which Weill was later to round out so strikingly. There is a strong trace of Stravinsky to be found in the classical, masterly clarity of the sound and in much of the wind writing. The later Weill can be heard in the dramatic pungency which often enough contradicts the classical balance, but most remarkable of all is a Mahlerian quality, at once garishly expressive and painfully laughing, which calls everything playful and secure into question. Weill thus relinquishes objective realism in favor of the dangerous, surrealistic realm he inhabits today. The piece stands isolated and alien: that is, in the right place.”

Steven Dennis Bodner

Chen Yi (b. 1953): Dragon Rhyme (2010)

Commissioned by the National Wind Ensemble Consortium Group, and premièred by the Hartt Wind Ensemble at Carnegie Hall, Chen Yi’s Dragon Rhyme for symphonic band is in two movements: I. Mysteriously – Harmoniously; II. Energetically. The first movement is lyrical and the second powerful. Featuring the basic intervals found from Beijing Opera music, the thematic material in both movements is matched, which is used economically for development throughout the work. The instrumental texture is rich in colors, from transparent and delicate to angular and strong. Taking the image of the dragon, which is auspicious, fresh and vivid, the music is layered and multidimensional. It symbolizes Eastern culture. When it meets the world, it becomes a part of the global family.

Chen Yi

Close the window