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String Music Index:
Strings in chamber music - quintets and larger
THE HEAVENS AWAKEN (2008) for solo bassoon & string quartet by Howard J. Buss is dedicated to bassoonist Arnold Irchai. The structure of this exciting work is highly symbolic in that it was inspired by the details of the visions of the priest Ezekiel while living with the Jewish exiles in Babylon. Ezekiel saw a powerful, glowing, and complex entity appear in the sky out of a “great cloud.” He believed it to be an appearance of God: “Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of 4 living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.” (Ezekiel 1:5 KJV) The formal scheme of The Heavens Awaken is programmatic in the sense that the sequence of events described in the vision is musically represented in a general way. The serene opening gradually becomes mysterious and gives way to a series of passages that serve as an ominous portent to the arrival of the airborne object. The 4 string instruments, each with 4 strings, 4 tuning pegs, and human-like body shape symbolize the 4 “creatures” of the vision. The bassoon represents the “voice” of what Ezekiel believes is God. It should be noted that many people also have interpreted his vision as a sighting of a UFO, described with the insights and vocabulary of the day. “This significant work is a “must for the advanced bassoonist!” (12’30”) Grade V-VI.
OCEAN MOODS “Three Sonic Portraits” (2014) for flute, clarinet, violin, viola, and cello by Howard Buss ranges from lyric tenderness to powerful and sometimes dazzling technical displays. The three movements, Vistas (5:15), From the Depths (3:45), and Blustery (4:25), explore a wide range of sonic atmospheres and moods. The sophisticated musical language, coupled with vibrant melodies and intriguing rhythms, make this a significant chamber work. (13’30”) Grade VI. B444 $28.50
Sound samples: Movement 1 excerpt.mp3; Movement 2 excerpt.mp3: Movement 3 excerpt).mp3
SHORT STORY (1980) for flute, clarinet, oboe, cello & piano by Haskell Small was commissioned by the Georgetown Symphony. The thematic material in this entertaining work is mostly of a lyrical nature juxtaposed with a "chase" motif and several sections of a gently jazzy flavor. It is essentially in sonata form, with an introductory recitative-like section that repeats in the middle and at the end of the composition. A short fugue based upon the main lyrical theme precedes the ending. Recorded on 4Tay Records CD #4020 The Twisted Pine Branch. Haskell Small has been hailed by the Washington Post for his "rich imagination and assured mastery." (1030) Grade V.
Sound Samples: Sample 1.mp3, Sample 2.mp3
SINFONIETTA (1990) for string quintet (2-1-1-1) or string orchestra by Howard J. Buss was commissioned by the Imperial Symphony Orchestra to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the American Music Center, the official United States information center for music. This colorful composition was premiered by the Imperial Symphony Orchestra on April 23, 1991 in Lakeland, Florida. Sinfonietta commences with a beautiful, mystical introduction that is somewhat transparent in nature. Haunting melodies for the solo viola and violin are superimposed over the sustained sonorities of the ensemble creating a deeply reflective mood. The music gradually becomes agitated and builds in intensity as the introduction gives way to a sequence of passages of varying length and character: A fanfare-like transition followed by an energetic segment characterized by driving rhythms and changing meters leads to a section featuring buoyant melodies where, through the fast-moving surface elegance, runs an undercurrent of tension. The composition concludes in a spirit of triumphant proclamation. (630) Grade V. Sound Samples: Excerpt 1.mp3; Excerpt 2.mp3
TRACES(1987) for flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, violin & cello by Erik Lund addresses the individual and collective aspects of a group contending with a common tragedy - realized through various groupings within a quintet and changing compositional procedures. Winner of the 1988 National Composers Competition, recorded on Opus One Records: CD164. (1240) Grade VI.
Sound Samples: Sample 1.mp3, Sample 2.mp3, Sample 3.mp3 WHERE NOW RUSTS THE IRON? (1994) by Howard J. Buss is a dramatic tribute to the composers grandfather who, like many ironworkers in his day, worked under brutal conditions with the dream of making life better for future generations. A moving work touching our communal soul. (8) Grade IV-V.
Where Now Rusts the Iron? (voice and piano version) score sample: Excerpt.pdf (6 pages)
Where Now Rusts the Iron? (voice and flute, cello, & 6 percussion version) score sample: Excerpt.pdf (8 pages)
Percussion distribution: Perc. 1: Timpani (4), orchestra bells, tubular bells (shared with perc. 2), and finger cymbals; Perc. 2: two anvils (metal pipes may be substituted), and tubular bells (shared with perc. 1: Perc. 3: Xylophone, and suspended cymbal; Perc. 4: Vibraphone & suspended cymbal; Perc. 5: marimba; Perc. 6: two suspended cymbals, tam-tam, wind chimes & bell tree. Percussion Set-up Chart .pdf file
Text: Where Now Rusts the Iron?
Homes now stand where once the foundry coughed.
Countless tons of iron -
wheels and pans,
boilers and pipes,
latches and plates.
Countless train loads of hardware
shrieked from the pounding, grimy world within.
Iron converted from life itself,
energy given form.
Precious moments, days, and years
poured into molds and sealed
amid the ashes and dust,
always ashes and dust,
suspended in life-stealing air.
The graves of the workers overlook this place,
their famlies spread afar.
Season come and go, yet frozen in memry
are the days of youth spent in toil, hope, and purpose.
Where now rusts the iron once cast by pounding hearts,
releasing the dreams, the souls,
invested in tough, cold metal?
The foundry still stands among the houses,
coughing on smoke-laden air.
Invisible as the iron once made,
its souls as mist remains. - Howard J. Buss
Copyright © 1994 by Brixton Publications
Music or CDs may only be returned if defective.
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