Concerto after Mendelssohn (Konzert nach Mendelssohn)

for Bassoon and Orchestra

  • Genre
    Solo Instrument with Orchestra
  • Commissioned by/written for
    Rodney Ackmann
  • Year completed
  • Year revised
  • Timing
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Concerto after Mendelssohn was written between December 10, 2016 and January 26, 2017, and orchestrated from February 20th to March 8th of 2017. Not many people know that Mendelssohn was actually intending to write a concerto for Carl Traugott Queisser, the principal trombonist in his Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Unfortunately for trombonists and music lovers, the project was never realized, and consequently I thought that it might be worthwhile to attempt to write a trombone concerto that might have borne some similar ity to the one that Mendelssohn could have written. Realizing the dearth of works in 19th-century Romantic styles for bassoon and tenor saxophone as solo instruments, I prepared versions of this piece as well for these instruments. All three versions may be considered "originals," since they have been tailored to the solo instruments they employ. The bassoon and saxophone versions are in fact a bit longer than the trombone version, since the trombonists have endurance issues that have to be taken into consideration. Given that I like to take differing approaches in the works I write in my "After" series (of which this is the 14th), I took the short bridge movement that links the second and third movements of Mendelssohn's E Minor Violin Concerto, and expanded it into an entire movement, more or less in the style of the German master. After a near-verbatim quote of this movement, I expand and develop the thematic material along the lines of 19th-century German practice. Thus the first movement is written in modified sonata allegro form, with divergence from that form coming as the development section flows immediately out of the elaboration of the second theme in the relative major. Another novelty occurs after a cadenza, where there is no coda, but only a reiteration of Mendelssohn's bridge movement. The second movement is in A-B-A song form, with an opening that features long lines in the solo instrument. A middle section shifts from D Major to its parallel minor, C Minor, and picks up in activity and drama, with flourishes in the tenor saxophone part undergirded by dramatic gestures in the accompaniment. The movement concludes with a modified and expanded reiteration of the opening statement. The work ends with a driving finale in modified rondo form. The movement is fast with a lot of notes, and the spirit of the movement is inspired by that found in the Mendelssohn’s incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and a couple quotes from its popular "Wedding March" will doubtless not escape the attention of even the most casual listener. As in other "After" works in my output, I didn't concern myself too much with the places in this work that sound more like me writing in a 19th-century style than Mendelssohn, but I did make an effort to incorporate the melodic gestures and harmonic sequences normally associated with this great composer. The development section of the first movement also incorporates a good bit of counterpoint to pay homage to Mendelssohn's rediscovery of the music of Bach, as do the several quotes from Bach's chorale, "Wachet auf ruft uns die Stimme" in the slow movement. Listeners will also note that the key relationships of the three movements in this work exactly mirror those of Mendelssohn's E Minor Violin Concerto, albeit transposed up a semi-tone. They may also detect my subtle quotation of a small portion of the theme from the opening movement in both of the following ones. I also sought to personalize this work for its dedicatee, and did so by customizing the solo part specifically with the bassoon in mind. There are significant differences between the solo bassoon part in this version compared to the solo parts of the tenor saxophone and trombone versions. Prof. Ackmann edited the solo part throughout. He premiered the piano-accompanied version of this work with pianist En-chi Anna Ho on May 2, 2018, and the orchestra version with the Oklahoma Community Orchestra under the direction of Irving L. Wagner on Ocotober 2, 2018.

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