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Hi all,


Back with another wind quintet (to honour Stephen Lines, I won't refer to it as a woodwind quintet!)  The description from my site:  This wind quintet embodies the unbridled energy we feel in a state of euphoria. Wind instruments bubble with excitement. With the state of euphoria also comes a serenity that can be heard in the chorale moments between the firecracker pops bursting from the interweaving counterpoint.

Euphoria by David Carovillano

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!


Cheers,

Dave

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Hi David, 

I think this is my favorite of yours I have heard. It's quite fetching and sweet, with gentle sounds contrasted with the fireworks you seem to be striving for. Memorable melodic elements and nice production values round out a winning recording. As I am myself working with wind quintets right now, I wondered at times if the flute part would be considered virtuosic. That is not a criticism, but a real question. Well done, and thanks for sharing!

Gav

Hi Gav,

Thank you for listening and sharing your thoughts.  I'm glad you enjoyed it, and yes, to answer your question, the flute (all the parts, really) on are on the more difficult end of the spectrum.  I presented this to the oboist of a wind quintet that's a breakout group from the symphony.  They do school outreach concerts, and she said that she loved the piece, but they wouldn't ever be able to put it together in a single rehearsal, as they often get for these school gigs.  I laughed, because I already knew it wasn't a "pick up and play" kind of piece.  You're much better off doing as you're doing: targeting amateur/mid-range performers with your works as you'll actually be able to sell them. 

Cheers!

Dave

Gav Brown said:

Hi David, 

I think this is my favorite of yours I have heard. It's quite fetching and sweet, with gentle sounds contrasted with the fireworks you seem to be striving for. Memorable melodic elements and nice production values round out a winning recording. As I am myself working with wind quintets right now, I wondered at times if the flute part would be considered virtuosic. That is not a criticism, but a real question. Well done, and thanks for sharing!

Gav

Nice work that lives up to its aim and title! Uplifting. Very solid ending and a nice touch ending on a quiet chord. I'd say it's moderate virtuosity, (I tend to compare wind quintet virtuosity with Villa-Lobos' Quinteto em forma de chôros which is so very difficult). You'll get your money's worth from the musicians all right!

My only query concerns the dynamics, the flute in particular. As, in its various registers, it doesn't have a great dynamic range, it didn't seem to have enough presence at around 0:50" compared with the opening bars. Went a bit quiet. Can the flute play as quietly in that range? 

A good listen. Thank you.

 

David,

Your samples and technique at putting a file together are excellent. For my taste, the parts seem a bit disjointed and scattered. The section I liked the most was through the 3:30 area. 

But small ensemble and piano music are not my favorite.

Thanks, Dane.  On the issue of virtuosity, as I mentioned to Gav, it is on the difficult side, but certainly not "virtuosic" in the overt, look at me whiz away with endless scales, arpeggios, and flutter tongued repeated notes.  The bigger challenge is the ensemble unity, blend, and timing within the passed off individual lines.  As to dynamics, for sure, those passages you referred to are quite easily playable by a professional flutist...I have the benefit of my wife, Becky, a multi-woodwind specialist that always makes sure I don't go too extreme :)  Have a listen to some youtube flutists demonstrate the upper register...you'll be amazed at what high level pros can do.

Cheers!

Dave

Dane Aubrun said:

Nice work that lives up to its aim and title! Uplifting. Very solid ending and a nice touch ending on a quiet chord. I'd say it's moderate virtuosity, (I tend to compare wind quintet virtuosity with Villa-Lobos' Quinteto em forma de chôros which is so very difficult). You'll get your money's worth from the musicians all right!

My only query concerns the dynamics, the flute in particular. As, in its various registers, it doesn't have a great dynamic range, it didn't seem to have enough presence at around 0:50" compared with the opening bars. Went a bit quiet. Can the flute play as quietly in that range? 

A good listen. Thank you.

 

Appreciate your willingness to sit through something that's not your cup of tea, Bob, and I'm glad you enjoyed parts of it.  Overall, it was conceived as if looking through a kaleidoscope..with melodic fragments interweaving amongst each other, endless antecedent/consequent phrases/dialogue, and unpredictability...tempered with the more lyrical, homogenous passages, such as the one you enjoyed.  

As for musical preferences, we all have them.  I prefer to work in small ensemble forms because of the opportunity to create more interesting individual parts that interact without the limitations imposed by large orchestral forms.  Many of the greats much preferred writing string quartets to symphonies, precisely because they could exploit the subtelties and immense range of techniques amongst the smaller group, without creating a cacophony of unintelligible sound that would result from trying to give every part in the orchestra equal opportunity to showcase the range/scope of each instrument.

All the best,

Dave

Bob Porter said:

David,

Your samples and technique at putting a file together are excellent. For my taste, the parts seem a bit disjointed and scattered. The section I liked the most was through the 3:30 area. 

But small ensemble and piano music are not my favorite.

Well yes, but I don't believe that composing is about showing off the range and scope of the instruments. The late nineteenth century was full of solo works that showed off the instruments but were dreadful musically. For me a larger group presents far more variations of all types than does a small ensemble. Both have their challenges. 

You don't have to believe that composing is about showing off the range and scope of the instruments, but it can be about that.  It can also be about evoking an emotional response through a simple melody, tastefully harmonized.  A piece can be an experiment in instrument timbres.  Composition can take any form, and a good composer will evolve in such a way as to likely exercise their musical curiosity in a variety of ways.  I personally do write for orchestra; I write for solo and chamber ensembles; I write for concert bands; I write jazz tunes, corporate music for media placement, etc.  I am not defined by one style or perception, though others may perceive that, especially if they only listen to select pieces.  

Of course, larger groups also have the ability to present "far more variations" in certain musical respects, especially with regard to timbre, and constructing a large scale, large ensemble work is no small feat, but neither is writing for chamber ensembles.  One final thought:  I have many friends in orchestras throughout North America that almost universally prefer the repertoire and challenges of small ensemble performances over orchestral rep.  That doesn't mean the chamber music is better, but I am a defender of it, because it's near and dear to my heart, and as both a performer and composer, I'm certainly sensitive to why many of those orchestral musicians prefer to express themselves in more intimate forms.

Cheers,
Dave

Sure, a composer should be able to explore various genres and and instrumentation. I have played all kinds of music in all kinds of groups. From orchestra to rock band to just me. I'm not sure I have a favorite. They all have pros and cons for me. Though it may be harder to perform just by myself. I don't have any one else to blame for wrong notes :)

I'm fence-sitting on this "should these ensembles be virtuoso or not?" There's plenty of evidence that composers compose them to be, perhaps to surrender to the hubris of players. I quoted a work by Villa-Lobos. His Woodwind Trio is another that must be extraordinarily difficult. And I doubt anyone would claim Barber's Summer Music is easy. Likewise, Beethoven's later String Quartets and a few written since. An elderly WIlliam Pleeth told me he'd far sooner play any of Bartok's Quartets than the late Beethoven.

As for soloists, some performers wrote music purely to showcase their brilliance - Liszt, Paganini. There was nothing in the existing repertoire for them. I dare say that you, Dave, are in a similar situation. 

But then, there's plenty of chamber music just for easy listening and background. I can't boast playing in ensembles and orchestras other than local outfits these days - wage-earning being elsewhere I can't afford the time. I'm in touch with a few professionals who play along with the County orchestra, and a few who've retired. I also play a fair bit of lounge piano at receptions of various sorts (and was once accused of showing off).

But a String Quartet and Woodwind Quintet I'm working on come with an amount of bravura. (It is a Woodwind Quintet too, if a little unusual because of resources at my disposal. More on that if ever I submit it here).

As for you, Dave, I'm not surprised at the bravura demands of your work given how you play that accordion! 

Very well done David, I think you have made great use of the wind quintet timbre combination which I know from experience is not easy.  Writing some flowing flute and horn lines should be a no-brainer I thought, but it is not so.

There has certainly been misuse of virtuoso writing.  I can't find the quote but I remember someone in the 19th century complaining about "virtuoso disease".  Piano concertos often ramble on with up and down and up and down the scales etude fashion. But I believe that rapid passages have an important melodic function that you really can't get any other way. It's all about the phrasing and the smooth shapes that well executed rapid passage work can produce. I think your writing here does this, good work!

I love discussions like this, as it allows us to reflect on the reasons why we might be compelled to do things the way we do.

First, to address your idea of virtuoso writing, there are clichés of virtuosity (rapid scale runs, arpeggios, and assorted "fireworks) all designed to wow people with technical fluency, manual dexterity, and nimbleness.  Then there is the more subtle form of virtuosity, which is the seamless integration of excellent technique, musicality/sensitivity, interpretative ability, and showmanship.  Some of the most obviously virtuosic sounding music, is actually quite idiomatic and playable, as it "sits under the fingers".  Perhaps more impressive, is taking music that doesn't follow scale/chord patterns, and presents ridiculous passages which aren't intuitive, and making these awkward moments sound effortless.  Unfortunately, audiences don't distinguish "behind the scenes" difficulty from obvious "in your face" playing.

Now, you bring up great points regarding Pleeth's comment, and the difficulty of music.  As a composer, it is my desire to write music that will attract top level players.  It must be rewarding to listen to (both for the performer and audience), challenging to learn, but still respecting the idiosyncrasies of instruments, and have enough depth that a piece can grow with the performer over the years, as opposed to utilitarian or overly simplistic music for which the performer just goes through the motions.  If a performer sits with a score long enough, they should find new details in the music that excite them, so that after a dozen performances, they're still not entirely sure how they want to definitively perform/interpret the piece.  

Many performers value such repertoire, however, in a practical sense, their selection of difficult music must be balanced against the time required to learn/perfect it.  Further, good concert programming dictates that a program should flow, provide contrasting selections, and engage an audience on a variety of levels.  If I'm learning a program for my duo, it is going to include some difficult, show-stopping works, some reflective/introspective selections, singable/memorable tunes, and perhaps something a little out of most peoples' comfort zone, to push/challenge them.  

Where the problem lies with difficult music, and modern-day performers' willingness to learn/perform it, is that there is not necessarily a pay-off commensurate with the amount of effort.  Performers play Beethoven because the name recognition instantly gives them credibility with audiences, many of whom may not know anything but a few works by the big masters.  That said, most audiences wouldn't appreciate the effort to learn Beethoven's Hammerklavier anymore than they would enjoy listening to Fur Elise (I'd argue they'd prefer Fur Elise simply because of the familiarity with it).  

But, the performer needs the challenge, and his/her ability to play the Hammerklavier gives him credibility with fellow musicians, and knowledgeable audiences.  To that end, virtuosic music is in some ways a form of distinguishing those that can execute it well, from the myriad of amateurs/professionals that cannot.  Classical music, for better or worse, has always had a history of elitism.  And like all entertainment/art, spectacle is an important element in awakening interest in the apathetic masses.  If a person sits at a piano in the middle of a mall food court playing Bach's Prelude in C Major, it will not command the interest of the passive audience as readily as playing the above mentioned sonata.  

Virtuosity as an element of a well-rounded musician playing a well-rounded repertoire, is invaluable.  Virtuosity as a simple display of technical brilliance, devoid of musicality, or executed with Pavlovian response, such as might occur with a young prodigy whose physical skills are far more developed than their musical maturity, may be impressive to some, and a turn-off to others.  It all comes down to what an individual values and seeks out in their art.

As for composers, we may write more difficult music, not just for the performers' sake, but to challenge our own abilities; to see what we're capable of.  Can I handle six independent voices and give each of them meaning, while still preventing them from sounding chaotic/nonsensical?  Can I weave fancy passagework in to a piece, while still giving it a sense of expressiveness, of meaning beyond notes?  Can I write something that sounds pleasant enough on the surface, but when examined on a deeper level, also showcases an intricate understanding of complex theoretical principles?  These are some of the things I ask myself when I write.  They give me meaning as a composer.  My goals/desired outcomes when writing may be very different from someone else's. 

If one has a Lamborghini, should they use it to drive around a Walmart parking lot?  Beethoven, Villa Lobos, Liszt, etc. all possessed the ability to go beyond what the vast majority of composers/performers were capable of accomplishing.  The fact that they chose to push the limits of virtuosity/difficulty in some of their writing is a reflection of their talent, ego, and artistic drive.  Same with performers...if 100 cellists can play piece "A" and only a handful can play piece "B", it stands to reason that they should perform it, if for no other reason than because they can :)

Cheers!

Dave



Dane Aubrun said:

I'm fence-sitting on this "should these ensembles be virtuoso or not?" There's plenty of evidence that composers compose them to be, perhaps to surrender to the hubris of players. I quoted a work by Villa-Lobos. His Woodwind Trio is another that must be extraordinarily difficult. And I doubt anyone would claim Barber's Summer Music is easy. Likewise, Beethoven's later String Quartets and a few written since. An elderly WIlliam Pleeth told me he'd far sooner play any of Bartok's Quartets than the late Beethoven.

As for soloists, some performers wrote music purely to showcase their brilliance - Liszt, Paganini. There was nothing in the existing repertoire for them. I dare say that you, Dave, are in a similar situation. 

But then, there's plenty of chamber music just for easy listening and background. I can't boast playing in ensembles and orchestras other than local outfits these days - wage-earning being elsewhere I can't afford the time. I'm in touch with a few professionals who play along with the County orchestra, and a few who've retired. I also play a fair bit of lounge piano at receptions of various sorts (and was once accused of showing off).

But a String Quartet and Woodwind Quintet I'm working on come with an amount of bravura. (It is a Woodwind Quintet too, if a little unusual because of resources at my disposal. More on that if ever I submit it here).

As for you, Dave, I'm not surprised at the bravura demands of your work given how you play that accordion! 

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