The first ideas for Anecdote came from the poem, “Anecdote of the Jar”, by Wallace Stevens. Stevens imagines a “jar…tall and of a port in air” placed “upon a hill”. He notices, “the wilderness rose up to it … no longer wild” and says, of the jar, “it took dominion everywhere”.
In Anecdote, the cello soloist “has dominion” in this slow, one-movement, work. It is as though the cello is the “port in air” and is surrounded and complemented by the various orchestral textures (especially those of the central string quartet).
Another meaning of “anecdote” also influences the composition. An anecdote is often a story shared, and shared again, in intimate circumstances. And so, the overall structure of Anecdote is that of an arch in which a personal story is told, and elaborated on, and retold. – HT
Anecdote was composed during the summer of 2000 in response to a commission from the Newark (DE) Symphony Orchestra. It was first performed December 10, 2000, in Loudis Hall (University of Delaware), by the Newark Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Roman Pawlowski, with cello soloist Ovidiu Marinescu.
The first ideas for Here, The Cliffs were inspired by a striking rock formation near my home in South Wales. Craig Cerrig-gleisiad is an ancient glacial basin, replete with rugged, steep walls, scree slopes, and a delicate mossy area beneath the cliff face. It seemed to me that the lone violinist in front of the orchestra was not unlike a lone traveler standing before the massiveness of such a rock formation.
As I worked, a stronger idea took shape: that of the way in which such ice-age cirques seem to possess the sky within the amphitheater of rocks. The image is sometimes one of brightness and fragility as sunlight is captured and reflected within the curve of the rock face; at other times, the image is one of mystery and great sadness, as low, dense mists curl downwards over the uppermost rim and earth merges with sky.
Here, The Cliffs is in one movement. The soloist enters beneath the high, bright sounds of the opening and leads into a light, fast, vivace. The central adagio is developed from the falling mist idea. When the vivace returns it is transformed at its conclusion by the powerful re-emergence of the mists. – HT
Here, The Cliffs was commissioned by Corine Brouwer Cook, violinist and the North Carolina Symphony, Winston-Salem Piedmont Triad Symphony, Canton Symphony, Western Piedmont Symphony and Salisbury Symphony Orchestras as part of the national series of works from the Meet The Composer/Arts endowment Commissioning Music/USA, with support from the Helen F. Whitaker Fund.
Performed here by Frantisek Novotny, violin with the Slovak Radio Orchestra, Kirk Trevor, conductor. (Audio is the beginning.)
IN THE FIRST, SPINNING PLACE (Concerto for Alto Saxophone & Wind Orchestra)
In The First, Spinning Place was composed during the summer months of 1999 for the North American Saxophone Alliance Biennial Conference in Tucson, Arizona, March 2000. Although the piece is in one continuous movement, it falls into three interlinked sections with a slow introduction. The concerto was inspired by the poem “Fern Hill” -- an exuberant poem about youth by Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas.
The first section, Vivace con gioja, is subtitled “Down the rivers of the windfall light”. It is a light, dancing movement which parallels Thomas’ words, “... as I was young and easy under the apple boughs”. The second section, Andante flessibile, contains echoes of Welsh hymnody and carries the subtitle “And the sabbath rang slowly / In the pebbles of the holy streams.” The subtitle of the third section also contains the title of the whole concerto, “So it must have been after the birth of the simple light / In the first, spinning place”. It is a fast, scherzando, finale where, after the cadenza, the soloist sets the whole orchestra spinning. – HT
In The First, Spinning Place was commissioned by the University of Arizona Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Jindong Cai, for the North American Saxophone Alliance Biennial Conference, hosted by Kelland Thomas. It was premiered in Crowder Hall, University of Arizona, on March 10, 2000, with Debra Richtmeyer, soloist and Jindong Cai, conductor.
Performed here by Debra Richtmeyer, alto saxophone, with the Slovak Radio Orchestra, Kirk Trevor, conductor. (Audio is the beginning.)
“Shakkei,” a term used in Japanese landscape design, means “borrowed scenery.” Two well-known examples of shakkei underlie the oboe concerto. The first movement, marked “slow and spacious”, is inspired by Mount Hiei as viewed from Shoden-ji, a temple with a dry landscape garden. The second movement, marked leggiero, is inspired by the hills of Arashiyama as viewed from Tenryu-ji, a temple with a lush stroll garden. In musical terms, the sparse landscape of the first movement is complemented by an “overgrown” second movement. In both movements the composer could not resist lightly “borrowing” from Debussy’s Nuages since the idea of borrowing was part of the identity of the piece and a cor anglais was at hand. – HT
Performed here by Virginia Shaw, oboe and the North/South Chamber Orchestra conducted by Max Lifchitz. (Audio is an excerpt from the 2nd Movement.)