Three Intermezzi (1985) [14:00]
European 19th Century-style music.
THREE INTERMEZZI FOR CELLO QUARTET is a work which I composed looking towards the musical past. It is tonal and romantic, reflecting a refined Nineteenth Century European mood, with only occasional modernisms. These lyrical pieces began, in 1984, as portions of dance scores written for choreographers Lee Wenger (New Performing Dance Company of Durham, N.C.) and Stephanie Skura (performance artist, New York City). Several cellists encouraged me to adapt this music for concert performance, a task completed in the summer of1986. These intermezzi are dedicated to (with techniques borrowed from) several composers of the past century. While such composition might today be characterized as post-modern, in no way should it be taken (as it could be in some of my contemporaries) as a rejection of any "more difficult" aesthetic on my part. For me, the act of composition is not the generation of successive pieces within one style. Each new work establishes its own style, and my task is to learn to compose within those idiomatic boundaries, whether radical or conservative. While this appraoch is personally challenging, it has by now resulted in fifty or sixty compositions none of which "sounds like" Frank McCarty.
The first intermezzo, entitled L'Academique bears the dedication: "(for old Nick)". It is an etude or caprice written in the often devilish mode of expression shared by Paganini and many other popular virtuosi of a hundred years ago. The piece is mono-thematic and cast in four sections: statement, varied re-statement, development, and final re-statement.
Hesitations... (for John, Oscar, Dick & John) is a dream-like, Straussian, adagio-waltz. The theme is based upon my favorite interval, the sixth. The second section is somewhat faster, with a modified version of the theme placed in surroundings some might associate with another Viennese pop composer, von Flotow. Section alternations continue throughout the intermezzo; its overall design: AA BB A B AA.
The third and longest intermezzo, Romanza (for Clara and Johannes), is again cast in an alternating five-part form. The first section, Allegretto grazioso, is in quintuple meter and features expansions of the basic motive heard in the first bar. There follows a Piu mosso, poco scherzando with a new theme set in triple meter. (Of the three pieces, this is the only intermezzo with multiple themes.) The A section with its characteristic motive then returns, but with a new melody as well. This is followed by a return to the poco scherzando in which its theme is imitated at ever-decreasing canonic intervals - finally, only one note apart - thus increasing the dissonances. The A section then returns to round-out the piece.