Skip to main content

Women of the Wind: McCormick Passacaglia

We got our recording back!  It's less than a month since our Women of the Wind performance, and I am so pleased to be able to share some of it with you.  I would love to just stream the whole thing, but one thing that did not come across was our speaking.  Most of it was cut out, and what you can hear is dim and unclear.  What I’ll do, then, is share one work at a time, and include my introductory material to give it some context. 

I was at Eastman with Dana McCormick, and this piece was composed for and premiered by one of my good friends, so I feel that I have a very personal connection to it.  It is in the form of a passacaglia, which as all you probably know is a set of melodic variations over an infinitely repeated bass line.  A famous example of a passacaglia is the Pachelbel Canon - it's also a famous canon, of course, but as you know if you have ever played the cello in a wedding, the bass line repeats over and over and over as the upper strings vary and vary the melody.  

In this case, McCormick's form is a little looser, but the basic philosophy is the same.  There is a repeating 12-bar chord progression in the right hand of the piano, and the left  hand introduces a sparse melody which the oboe then takes over and develops with increasing intensity.  In the middle section, the chord progression is still implied, but buried in interior voices amid complicated running notes - I can't hear it anymore myself, but I worked it all out in the score.  As you listen, you may be interested in the challenge of following those chords and fifths and sevenths throughout the work, or you may just want to lose yourself in the gorgeous soundscape she’s created. 

When I asked Dana about her piece, she said: it is sort of a love letter to the oboe and high notes and the piano sustain pedal, three of my favorite things in the world of sound. The form let me just really bask in the timbres.

I invite you all to bask with us.

Passacaglia from Sonata for Oboe and Piano by Dana McCormick.
Jennet Ingle, oboe, Ketevan Badridze, piano.

Comments

  1. You have a gorgeous sound! Are wide intervals on oboe really difficult? The ease you play them with is really impressive, it's one of those things that can be really difficult on the flute. Thank you for sharing. I am looking forward to hearing more pieces.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am basking, basking!! Thanks for the gift. I wish Dana had a blog or a biosite , I couldn't find anything about her on the Web. It is indeed a love letter to the oboe... congratulations to both of you.\Dimitri

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Resonance

When my students get too MOUTHY with the oboe, I put them in a corner.

Really.

They tend to play the oboe only from the TOP of their body, north of the collarbone, and it winds up unsupported.  Fussy.  Weak.  And out of tune.

So I back them into a corner, and have them stand a foot or so out from it, facing out into the room.  And I challenge them to find a sound that resonates BEHIND them, out from the corner of the room that they are not facing, to fill the space without blowing directly into the space.

It's a weird metaphor.  I wouldn't have any idea how to describe the physical technique to do it. When I find it in myself, it feels like my back is puffy and my body is round, and large, and barrel like, and also collected and zipped up, and supremely powerful.  If you know me, you know that these statements about my body aren't remotely true.  But that's what I feel when I'm blowing well, and filling the room, and owning my resonance.

I teach resonance.  I talk …

Five Minute Reedmaker: Length of the Windows

My Five Minute Reedmaker Season Two seems to be largely about experiments.  People ask me how LONG, how THICK, how SLOPED, etc - and I'm running the experiments for them and for you.

I've been posting these videos on YouTube, and sharing them from my Facebook Page, but haven't totally kept up with sharing here on my blog.

Here are the ones you may have missed:
Length of the Heart
Fallacy of the Long Tip
Moldy Cane

And here's the new one:




Here's the YouTube playlist with all of my other Five Minute Reedmaker videos.  You could subscribe right there if you wanted to - I'm dropping a video each week until I run out of ideas this season.
Here's my website, where you can order reeds or cane or ask me questions.  Questions will keep these videos flowing! 

Here's how you can send me your own reeds to analyze and improve on video for your learning pleasure!

Never Trust an Oboe, Part 2

(Part One HERE)
(Similar story HERE)

Mercifully, THIS one didn't happen to me.  But my poor student was playing an audition for his orchestra, and reached up with his right hand to turn the page of his music.  And heard a "plink".  And when, a split second later, he returned his hand to his oboe to continue playing, he found that his entire thumb rest had fallen off onto the floor, leaving only the post it had been mounted to.

With his hand now contorted uncomfortably, he finished the audition - ably, I am sure - and tracked down the crucial little piece of metal.  Evidently the screw that secures the adjustable thumb rest into its most optimal position had come out - never to be found again - so the thumb rest itself now can escape at will.

He devised a workaround - teflon tape to keep the thing in - but let this be a lesson to all of us.




Seriously, the oboe is not your friend.  It's like a cat trying to slip out the door - it's just WAITING for an opportunity …