Comstock Concert Hall, Louisville, KY
University of Louisville School of Music / Fred Speck
On my first visit to Louisville University in 2009, I had the great pleasure of hearing the University's Wind Symphony in full flight; confident, marvellous playing of strong and robust music. It's such a wonderful tradition in American universities and Louisville seems particularly well catered for in this regard, with great players and excellent teaching and direction. Having been asked by the University to write a work for Fred Speck and his WInd Symphony, I thought from the outset it would be fascinating to write a somewhat atypical piece for an ensemble of such potent sonic potential: quiet, fragile music that only hints momentarily at the latent power within its instrumental line-up.
What emerged is entitled "Engelsflügel" or "Wings of Angels", a short essay in mostly hushed, inward, even flighty textures. It found its beginnings in a recent set of piano pieces of mine that paid homage to the piano music of Johannes Brahms. Having started out as an examination and exploration of the very particular accompanying figurations found in Brahms' songs and duo sonatas, Engelsflügel took on a life of its own as I investigated the many timbral possibilities of this ensemble. The music oscillates between secretive whispers, cascading wind arpeggios and austere, almost funereal brass chorales.
© Brett Dean, Oct 2013