Commissioned by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
First performance: April 9, 2005 - Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Jeffrey Kahane, cond., Glendale, California
Fanfares & Laments, commissioned by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and its commissioning club, Sound Investment, was begun in May, 2004 and completed in January, 2005. At several points during its composition I had the experience of sharing the work-in-progress with a sizable group of sound investors. For me these sessions were very unique: fun, scary, exhilarating - you name it. I would like to offer my gratitude to LACO and Sound Investment for the chance to participate in this adventure.
Fanfares & Laments is a symphony in one movement for virtuoso orchestra lasting about twenty-five minutes. It opens with declamatory, fanfare-like music in the higher strings, punctuated by chords in the rest of the orchestra. An aggressive fast section follows which features syncopated music in the brass; thick, jabbing chords; and, later, overlapping descending scale passages in a trio of violins. An extended lament for solo violin follows - a slow movement in this compressed symphonic form. The next large section (the third movement) is a scherzo featuring piccolos, piano and mallet percussion, and later harmonics in the violins and violas, with two kinds of fanfare music in the brass. After this is a small set of variations. The theme, a lament, is first presented in a quartet of violas and cellos, passing to piano and mallet percussion before moving to the double reeds and then to the whole orchestra in a series of cascading chords. The finale begins in a quick tempo, returning to music heard in the first ‘movement’ before ending with a recollection of the violin lament - now in solo bassoon - and fragments of distant fanfares in the brass, all supported by soft, sustained, gentle, elegiac chords in the strings.
On a personal level, Fanfares & Laments suggests an individual journey by ‘the hero with a thousand faces’ in these turbulent times.
- Donald Crockett