Chamber Concerto ("Singing Figures")

Stephen Jaffe

Publisher: Merion Music, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

My Chamber Concerto, subtitled "Singing Figures", is at once a full concerto with an extended part for the oboist and a divertimento in which the discourse is positively light and airy. The size and smaller forces of the piece will recall Brandenburg Concerti, but in language and conception, my piece is very much of this time. The Chamber Concerto is scored for oboe solo and five instruments: two keyboard players sharing three instruments (piano, harpsichord and celesta), violin, viola, and cello. The score calls for the members of the ensemble to play with exuberance and precision, and with the poetry of pianissimo, as each is asked at times to detach from the tutti, and participate as soloist.

There are three movements of equal length and weight: "Dance Prelude", "Water Music", and "Finale". The "Dance Prelude" takes off from a characteristic rhythm which might be a funny kind of reggae, against which the oboe plays a long line and a leaping scherzando figure which is introduced about one minute into the piece. "Water Music" is very fluid, in contrast to the very clean articulations of the first movement. The title was not suggested by Handel, but by Robert Creeley?s poem of the same title (?Water music/loud in the clearing/off the boats, birds, leaves?). In the middle section, the oboe?s recurrent arabesque is heard over the darkly undulating color modulations of the ensemble, which I imagined shifting in and out of the background, sometimes a watery scrim, sometimes a participant in the oboe?s more plaintive rhetoric. The Finale is marked ?Decisively rhythmic (Slightly eccentric, jubilant).? It is a moto perpetuo whose quick tempo allows for many fanciful shifts in rhythm and articulation, including machine-like ostinati, the grotesque, lyrical, the brash, etc.

Each of the concerto?s three movements are inter-related thematically, and each features a cadenza for oboe. The Chamber Concerto was commissioned by the Orchestra of St. Luke?s for the St. Luke?s Chamber Ensemble; the first performance took place on April 10, 1996, at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, with Melanie Feld, oboe soloist, and the composer conducting

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Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by the Orchestra of St. Luke?s.
Composition Date 1994
Duration 00:22:00
Orchestration Solo Ob.; 2Kbd.Plyrs.(Hpsd./Pno./Cel.) Vln. Vla. Vcl.
Premiere 10th April, 1996. Melanie Feld, Oboe, St. Luke?s Chamber Ensemble, conducted by the composer, Guggenheim Museum, New York City.


I. Dance Prelude
II. Water Music
III. Finale

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