Music of Eric Ewazen, William Schuman, and Mel Powell
Juilliard Wind Ensemble, American Brass Quintet; Mark Gould, conductor
Eric Ewazen (b. 1954) often uses traditional musical forms and finds inspiration in written texts and pictorial images to create a piece's profile: Shadowcatcher clearly fits this pattern. In the preface to his score for this work, the composer tells of the source of his inspiration and provides insight into the concerto's formal devices: "Edward Curtis, the great American photographer who traveled throughout the American West during the early decades of the twentieth century, took literally tens of thousands of photographs of native American Indians. He chronicled their ancient lifestyle--capturing a time and place destined to disappear in the face of the modern age. His mysterious, beautiful, and powerful photographs had a distinctive play of light and dark, and the Indians dubbed him the "Shadowcatcher." Four of his photographs are the inspiration for this concerto for brass quintet and wind ensemble.
The New England Triptych is the work that comes to most minds when William Schuman's name is mentioned. Schuman (1910-1992) shared Charles Ives's delight in American hymn tunes and music of the people. He was also a friend and colleague of the foremost twentieth-century proponent of the hymn and fuguing tune, Henry Cowell, from the 1930s onward. Given these influences, it is not surprising that he would put considerable effort into creating a "fusion," as he put it, of the music of the eighteenth-century hymnodist, William Billings, with his own. Originally written for symphony orchestra, New England Triptych was subsequently arranged for concert band by the composer.
The Capriccio for Band of Mel Powell (1923-1998) occupies the stylistic middle ground of the composer's first attempts to leave his jazz origins behind. The spirit of Hindemith and the neo-classical Stravinsky suffuses this concise, rhythmically ingratiating, and harmonically transparent piece.
All three works are CD premieres and represent a significant addition to the discography of music for concert band.
Reviews"...the Juilliard players give Mel Powell's brash, choppy (in the best sense) Capriccio for Band a stunningly on-target performance--full of life and direction, incisive, with a gorgeously played lyrical middle section. The piece is a profound romp..." - Classics Today