Mozart: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, K. 525
Emmanuel Séjourné: Concerto for Marimba and Strings, Mvmts II and III
Shostakovich: Chamber Symphony, Op. 110a
Corey Robinson is a Wichita Falls, Texas based percussionist, educator, and composer. He currently serves as Assistant Professor of Percussion and Associate Director of Bands at Midwestern State University. Previous appointments at the University of Texas at Tyler, Texas Woman’s University, the University of North Texas, Abilene Christian University (TX) Flower Mound High School (TX), Argyle High School (TX) and Coppell High School (TX) allowed Dr. Robinson the opportunity to work with hundreds of percussionists of all ages and ability levels. Many of Dr. Robinson’s recent performances have been as half of a percussion/saxophone duo with his wife, Amy. They have premiered numerous commissions and a number of his own works at saxophone conferences around the world including the World Saxophone Conference and six North American Saxophone Alliance Conferences. Dr. Robinson has also performed at three Percussive Arts Society International Conventions including a concert with the University of North Texas Percussion Ensemble at PASIC 2016. This performance included the world premiere of his large percussion ensemble work, Twisted Metal. Dr. Robinson received his Bachelor of Music Education from Slippery Rock University in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, his Master of Music in Percussion Performance from Indiana University, Bloomington, and his DMA at the University of North Texas. His percussion teachers include Mark Ford, Christopher Deane, Paul Rennick, Ed Soph, Poovalur Sriji, Stockton Helbing, José Aponte, Ed Smith, John Tafoya, Kevin Bobo, Michael Spiro and Dr. David Glover. Dr. Robinson currently endorses Marimba One and Innovative Percussion and his compositions are available through Murphy Music Press, Musicon Publishing and Innovative Percussion Publications. He currently resides in Wichita Falls, Texas with his wife Amy and their two cats, Beesly and Halpert.
“Modern String Landscape”
March 20, 2021
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Eine kleine Nachtmusik (Serenade No. 13 in G major, K.525) (1787)
It’s the classic Classical serenade—Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik, or “A Little Night Music.” Indeed, ClassicFM.com places it at the top of their list of today’s most well-known classical compositions. Selections from the four-movement serenade have appeared in everything from TV commercials to films such as Alien, There’s something About Mary, and, of course, Amadeus. The divertimenti, nocturne and serenade forms were, one might say, the elevator music of Mozart’s time—light music performed outdoors in the evening as a tribute to a particular individual or event. While Mozart used these terms rather loosely in his catalogue, the forms all share certain characteristics: a wealth of material presented in the opening march, two slow movements, two minuets, and, on occasion, another fast movement or two in sonata form. Mozart wrote two serenades in the summer of 1787 while working on his opera Don Giovanni in Vienna—Eine kleine Nachtmusik and, six months earlier, Ein musikalischer Spass, or “A Musical Joke,” a satire on the small town composers of his day. Eine kleine Nachtmusik, which originally had a fifth movement that has been lost to time, is scored for string quartet and double bass, though it is now most commonly performed by orchestra. However one hears it, whether in the concert hall or at an annoying distant relative’s wedding, its liveliness and memorable melodies are sure to uplift and please.
Emmanuel Séjourné: Concerto for Marimba and Strings (2005)
French composer and percussionist Emmanuel Séjourné was born in Limoges, France in 1961. To date, he has composed music for orchestra, chamber ensemble, ballet, theatre, television, and more. Séjourné’s music embraces both the classical tradition and popular music; it is energetic, rhythmic, and, unlike much modern music, is romantic at its core. The Concerto for Marimba and Strings, which was commissioned and first performed by Romanian marimbist Bogdan Bacanu and the Salzburg Soloists in 2005, features two movements—a lush opening cadenza marked “Tempo Souple,” with an evocative melody reminiscent of the third movement of Braham’s Symphony No. 3, followed by the flashier “Rythmique, energique.” In 2015, Séjourné added a third movement to round out the composition. What we hear here is the original two-movement version. Already a standard work in the repertoire, Séjourné’s concerto pairs the marimba with a small string orchestra that never overshadows the solo instrument, even at its most gentle and subtle moments. Whether listeners are drawn to the rich, melodic playing of the strings, or the diversity of styles and pyrotechnics of the soloist, the Concerto for Marimba and Strings will appeal to all who have the pleasure of hearing this modern masterpiece which has already been performed by over 300 orchestras around the globe.
Dimitri Shostakovich: Chamber Symphony for Strings in C minor, Op. 110a (1960)
Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony is a transcription of the Russian composer’s String Quartet No. 8 in C minor, also composed in 1960. That the quartet is dedicated “to the victims of fascism and war” is made even more poignant when we consider that Shostakovich wrote it while working in the ruined city of Dresden, which had been fire-bombed fifteen years earlier during World War II. The Chamber Symphony is an autobiography for the ears, so to speak, in that Shostakovich included self-referential quotes from three of his earlier symphonies and his opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. It also quotes from the Russian song “Exhausted by the Hardship of Prison.” Another autobiographical hallmark, along with Shostakovich’s usual melancholic depth and profound sense of anguish, is the inclusion of the notes of D, E-flat, C and B, representing the German spelling of “DSCH,” letters derived from the composer’s name. The first of the five interconnected movements of the Chamber Symphony opens with a sense of mournfulness and foreboding with Shostakovich’s trademark monogram. The second movement erupts with a frenzied savageness, while the skittering “Allegretto” returns the “DSCH” motive, followed by the two final “Largos,” the first of which suggests the “Day of Judgment” melody from a Gregorian chant associated with death and the apocalypse, the latter, once again returning to the “DSCH” motive, seems weary and bleak, as it drifts away into silence. In the Chamber Symphony we hear some of Shostakovich’s grimmest thoughts as this survivor of the Russian Revolution, the Second World War, and the Stalinist holocaust broods over a scene of incomprehensible devastation.