I will be performing a new work for clarinet and bassoon, entitled Hollywood Counterpoint by composer Robert Fruehwald.
Joining me on the premiere of the duo will be Scott Pool, bassoon professor at the University of Texas at Arlington.
Below are information on the recital and program notes by Robert Fruehwald on Hollywood Counterpoint.
Hollywood Counterpoint (Premiere) by Robert Fruehwald
Miracle on Wilshire Boulevard
Michael Dean, clarinet
Scott Pool, bassoon
Friday, August 1, 2014
Music and Dramatic Arts Building
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Program Notes by Robert Fruehwald
Hollywood Counterpoint was inspired by motion pictures and my experience of living in Los Angeles in the early nineteen-eighties. The first movement, “Immoral Beloved,” is a reaction to a number of overly sentimental movies about the love lives of great composers. In these films, the great composers generally have mildly unfulfilling love affairs. I wondered, what would it be like if these love affairs went really, really, bad? They might end up like the characters in the opera, Carmen. “Immoral Beloved” combines a famous theme by Beethoven with a lesser known melody from Bizet’s Carmen.
Wilshire Boulevard is perhaps the main street in Los Angeles. It runs from downtown to the Pacific ocean. Much of it is lined with offices and shopping. When I lived in Los Angeles, one of the city’s major department stores, the May Company, was located on Wilshire and during the holidays the street was lined with giant candy canes (and palm trees). To me, the real miracle on Wilshire Boulevard was the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It is located next to the La Brea Tar Pits (only in Los Angeles would they build an art museum next to tar pits). The museum was the venue for the famous Monday Evening Concerts, the city’s premiere new music series. It is a kind of miracle that Los Angeles became a center for contemporary high culture. A number of prominent composers, including Stravinsky and Schoenberg called the city home. “Miracle on Wilshire Boulevard” combines the familiar sound of Christmas music with techniques borrowed from Stravinsky.
“The Kentuckian” is inspired by all of those B movies that romanticize frontier life in America. Being a native of Kentucky, movies about Kentuckians have a particular appeal for me. Many of the films have music based on folktunes or songs by early American composers. Among Kentucky composers, Stephen Foster rises to the top of the list. Foster was originally from Pittsburgh, but he lived for many years in Covington, Kentucky, directly across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio. While Foster’s music seemed perfectly suited for this project, I just couldn’t find a Foster song that suited me. I looked for music by other Kentucky composers and found a song by Anthony Philip Heinrich that better suited my needs. Heinrich was a composer, pianist and violinist who moved to Kentucky in the early nineteenth century. He gave some of the first performances of classical masterpieces on the frontier (he is credited with giving the first performance in America of a Beethoven symphony). While Foster was a city dweller, Heinrich was a true pioneer. He was the kind of person that might appear as a character in one of these films.