Blue Fever, No Prescription:
Double Concerto for Two Percussionist and Symphonic Wind Ensemble (2007)
(click here to view selected score pages [pdf]: wind ensemble version mvt. 1)
(click here to view selected score pages [pdf]: wind ensemble version mvt. 2)
(click here to view selected score pages [pdf]: wind ensemble version mvt. 3)
(click here to view selected score pages [pdf]: 2 pianos version)
Double Concerto for Two Percussionists and Symphonic Wind Ensemble, entitled Blue Fever, No Prescription, was written for Alissa Kirk and J. Samuel Bryson for performance with the Utah State University Wind Orchestra in 2007. The work is intended to express the wide range of palettes available in a percussion ensemble, while maximizing the accompaniment of the symphonic wind ensemble. The solo and accompaniment parts are integrated, and neither reaches its full potential without the other.
The concertino parts require a wide range of instruments and allow the performers to demonstrate artistry on each. While both use mallets instruments extensively, the finale slants toward membranophones and accessories. There are three additional ripieno percussion parts that operate as complements to the wind ensemble and soloists alike.
The title of the work is only to create preconceived emotion, and it is not programmatic otherwise. . . Verbal description is meant only to supplement the mood of each movement. The work is base on two motives, one for the first movement and one related to the second. Both are related to the sonority of “sol–do-mi–re” played both melodically and harmonically in permutations throughout the piece. Harmonically, the piece is triadic in design with the major second and seventh above the base being the most common added tones.
IV. “Fever” The first movement is centered on a sustained melodic figure with arpeggiated percussion accompaniment. After an opening tutti section and subdued establishment of rhythmic feel, a duel-marimba ostinato supports the sustained theme with subtle interjections of rhythmic counterpoint. A contrasting transitional section is then introduced by a dialogue between one soloist in C major and the other in Gb pentatonic, the remaining five notes of the major scale.
A secondary theme—primarily rhythmic—is then introduced by alternating vibraphone and marimba followed by a similar figure in muted and non-muted trumpets. The section drives to a smooth half-time section through use of a descending sequence that becomes a staple of the second movement. After two melodic statements of the original sustained theme and a transition, the rhythmic secondary theme reappears, this time truncated, before a return to the duel-marimba ostinato and sustained theme. A subtle sequence leads to a quiet end to the movement, followed immediately by the second.
II. “Soliloquy and Caprice” The second movement is in two parts, the first of which maximizes the impressionistic qualities introduced in the sustained sections of the first movement, and the second is a bluesy faster section based on a harmonized ostinato. A solo trombone presents the Soliloquy, giving way to an oboe solo accompanied by the solo percussionists on glockenspiel and marimba. After a flute solo accompanied separately by each soloist on marimba, the section closes quietly as it began before entering section two.
Section two begins with a bass trombone/euphonium ostinato, primarily in parallel thirds. The initial melodic material is an inversion of the descending sequential material from the first movement, and the original descending version appears as a consequent phrase. As the trumpets take the melody, the soloists take bongos and cabasa in accompaniment. A short layered section featuring the soloists and eventually the ripieno percussionists ensues, leading to a return of initial material before a transparent closing in the percussion.
III. “Hallucinogen” The final movement is a 6/8 rondo (ABACABA) at a moderato tempo. A brass introduction statement states a rising fourth-decending third figure, the contour of which is derived from the “bluesy” melody of the second movement. The soloists are primarily on “drums” in this movement: Part I on four tom toms and bass drum and Part II on timpani. Repeated patterns is the solo parts are their primary function in this movement with the melodic material relegated to the winds. The B section is timpani-centered along with traded antiphonal phrases by each soloist. The C section includes the introduction of a timpani ostinato along with bongos accompanied by cabasa; figure continues as accompaniment to the succeeding A section. The final A section becomes a coda that contains a metered cadenza featuring the soloists, separately and together, before a last tutti cadential section and drammatic ritard in the final measures.
Written for specific individuals and a specific ensemble, the technical and intellectual challenges in the work are a compliment to the work ethic and musicianship of those musicians with the hope of providing a musical challenge for them and to add a unique work to the genre of the wind ensemble as well as the percussion repertoire.