Monday, October 20, 2014

Diabelli Project 062 - Piano Piece in A minor

 The Diabelli Project is about offering my weekly flash-composition sketches freely to all. Like Antonio Diabelli's theme these sketches aren't great music. But perhaps (as in Diabelli's case) there's a Beethoven out there who can do great things with them.

I debated whether to actually name a key for this week's flash composition sketch. Although the bass clearly outlines an A minor chord, the right hand ranges a little farther afield. Still, it does have a strong pull towards A, so that's where we'll leave it for now.

Of course, as the piece develops, another key center could emerge. That's up to you. As always, you're welcome to use all or part of this sketch. Just let me know what you come up with!

Friday, October 17, 2014

CCC 117 - Carter Pann

According to his website, American composer Carter Pann's music "has become known for its blend of crafty, popular-sounding idioms, subtle and unabashed humor, and haunted melodic writing." Which is why he's this week's  Consonant Classical Challenge featured composer.

Carter Pann has built an impressive body of works, both chamber and orchestral. While his melodies (and sometimes harmonies) reference other genres, such as jazz, ragtime, or even pop, they're simply building blocks that Pann incorporates into classical traditions.

Carter Pann is an advocate for the concert wind ensemble, and has composed a number of significant works in the genre. "The Mercury Concerto" is a good example of his writing. Some arrangers use clarinets as substitutes for strings. Pann's writing shows he understands the inherent character of the wind ensemble, and how it differs from a chamber orchestra.

Pann's chamber music is equally accessible. His Piano Trio No. 1 delivers on his website's promise of popular-sounding idioms and subtle humor.

That use of popular-sounding idioms is even more apparent in his concert rags.

Slalom shows Pann's skill as an orchestrator. This work is also available in a wind ensemble version, but to me the orchestral score more fully captures the excitement of a downhill race.


Carter Pann is a relatively young composer, and his reputation is growing. Still, I wish his music was more regularly programmed on concerts (and on air). Stylistically, his music could have been written at no other time than now, yet its strong connections to classical traditions mean his music should appeal to both traditionalists and those seeking out new music.

Recommended Recordings

American Portraits

Piano Concerto / Dance Patita

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Corelli - Assisi Sonatas Provide Fresh Perspective

Arcangelo Corelli
the Assisi Sonatas
Ensemble Aurora; Enrico Gatti, violin
Glossa Music GCD921209

Arcangelo Corelli is a well-known composer, but only for a fraction of his output. Like many Baroque composers, the bulk of his music was never published.

In Corelli's case, only the 72 sonatas made it to publication, and his reputation rests on those 72 works.

This new collection brings an additional 12 works to light, the "Assisi" violin sonatas. Named after the monastery where the manuscripts were stored, these works show Corelli in a somewhat different light.

Unlike his published works, these are all single movement sonatas, straight-forward and to the point. And they're somewhat lighter in character. collectively, the sonatas seem to have an airy, relaxed feeling to them, especially as performed on this album.

Part of that lightness comes from the texture -- the works are performed with only violin, cello, and harpsichord. Violinist Enrico Gatti lets his bow dance lightly over the strings in the fast sections, and sensuously draw out the melodies in the slow.

The recorded sound is clean and clear, with a nice ensemble blend. Whether you're familiar with Corelli or not, this release provides plenty of attractive music to enjoy.