Michael Colgrass / Gunther Schuller - Déjà vu - Works for Wind Orchestra

Michael Colgrass

 Gunther Schuller


  mode 125

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Mode Records - A Record Label Devoted to New Music Michael Colgrass / Gunther Schuller - Déjà vu
Works for Wind Orchestra


MICHAEL COLGRASS (b.1932)
Déjà vu  (1977)   (16:59)
     for percussion quartet and wind orchestra
     David Victor, Timur Rubinshteyn, Jeffrey Means,
     William Klymus, percussion soloists

Download the MP3 sample (1.9MB)


Dream Dancer  (2001)   (20:32)
     for saxophone solo and wind ensemble
     Kenneth Radnofsky, saxophone


GUNTHER SCHULLER (b.1925)
Symphony No. 3 "In Praise of Winds"  (1981)
     For large wind orchestra

Andante, spaciously; Allegro  (6:32)

Download the MP3 sample (1.6MB)


Moderato tranquillo  (11:06)
     (To the memory of Alec Wilder, a remarkable musician
     and uncorruptable human being)

Download the MP3 sample (2.1MB)


Scherzo  (4:12)

Download the MP3 sample (1.6MB)


Finale Rondo  (7:05)

New England Conservatory Wind Ensemble
Charles Peltz, conductor


Michael Colgrass and Gunther Schuller have led lives musically rich in varied influences - performing music of the 19th century tradition, embracing the 20th century innovations of both the academy and the avant-garde, and the exploration jazz and ethnic music. They are composers who enthusiastically cross musical genres and cultures, combining the elements they discover into works of great color and energy.
  • The three works on this disc represent extraordinary contributions to the repertoire of wind ensembles and wind orchestras.
  • Michael Colgrass is represented here by two works conceived with wide stylistic influences, and featuring soloists positioned both with and against the larger ensemble.
  • In 1977, Colgrass received the Pulitzer Prize for Déjà vu, for percussion quartet and orchestra, which joined his early drumming passion with colorful instrumental writing. This transcription of Déjà vu casts new light on this important Colgrass work, the colors of the wind ensemble providing both a vibrancy and immediacy less present in the original. Written as a conversation between the ensemble and the percussion quartet, Colgrass divides the ensemble into two groups to be placed "stereophonically" on the stage.
  • Dream Dancer (2001) was premiered by this soloist and ensemble as part of a co-commission of 25 wind ensembles. The saxophone solo is used to exploit the musical styles of three cultures - Arabic harmonic minor, Asian pentatonic and western diatonic - struggling to reconcile them into one kind of music. Early on, the saxophone seems satisfied to respond alternately to these musics and enjoy what each has to offer. But soon a sequence occurs where the soloist feels called upon to make a decision between styles, even moving to different locations onstage to interact with groups that represent each of these musics.
  • Gunther Schuller's Symphony No.3 (1981) - for a minimum of 104 players - transforms the wind band into an agile, graceful and, uniquely powerful ensemble. The ensemble engages in tutti playing for only a relatively small percentage of the piece, most often Schuller uses his enormous palette to paint a series of miniatures, building up to the large canvases only when the music is unable to resist its own momentum. Its' movements touch upon the music of Alec Wilder, waltzes, aleatoric passages, and big band.
  • Conductor Charles Peltz is currently the Director of Wind Ensembles at the New England Conservatory. He has worked closely with John Cage, Michael Colgrass, Gunther Schuller, Lukas Foss, Karel Husa, James McMillan, Augusta Read Thomas and Joan Tower. Past seasons have included appearances with the Lincoln Center Festival, Pacific Symphony, Hamilton Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic, New Jersey Ballet, and concerts with the North American New Music Festival.

Reviews:

Déjà vu: Music by Michael Colgrass and Gunther Schuller
New England Conservatory Wind Ensemble

Mode 125

The composers featured on this new release -- Toronto-based Michael Colgrass and U.S. composer Gunther Schuller - share a brilliant ear for orchestration and a love of jazz as well as lyricism. Colgrass won a Pulitzer Prize in 1978 for Déjà vu, for percussion quartet and orchestra; it's heard here in a version that replaces the orchestra with a large wind ensemble. The piece unfolds like a fast-cut film: bursts of playful, chattering energy are forever interrupted by more thoughtful, lyrical passages and rapid changes of colour and texture. There are tributes to the past -- vigourous use of drums recall Benjamin Britten; more than one Ravellian shadow passes over the musical landscape. The delicate percussion near the end recalls the eerie close of Shostakovich's 15th Symphony - but without the grimness. Colgrass's Dream Dancer (2001) makes unabashed use of the lyric qualities of the solo saxophone as well as its jazz associations. The expansive yearning of the opening flirts with the "exotic" harmonic minor scale, only to be jostled by brash, jazzy outbursts. Schuller's Symphony No. 3 In Praise of Winds calls for large forces -- at least 104 players -- but as Mahler often did, the composer tends to use them in small, chamber combinations. It's a pity all three works, which also recall Mahler in their fruitful juxtapositions of musical styles, are not heard more often. Under conductor Charles Peltz, the New England Conservatory Wind Ensemble performs with technical brilliance, infectious enthusiasm and watertight ensemble.
--- Tamara Bernstein, National Post (Canada), 8 September 2003
      © Copyright 2003 National Post

Related Resources:

Charles Peltz on Mode:
John Cage: The Piano Concertos (mode 57)
                 The Orchestral Works 2 (mode 86)
Peter Maxwell Davies: Le Jongleur de Notre Dame (mode 59)
Arthur Honegger: Christoph Colomb (mode 35)
Iannis Xenakis: Complete Works for Piano Solo (mode 80)

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Gunther Schuller profile
Kenneth Radnofsky profile
Charles Peltz profile



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