"I have loved Italian madrigals since my student days. Recitation Book for saxophone quartet feels something like a madrigal collection, but with a grand finale. My approach to composing is vocal, and the singing quality of saxophones is one of their fine strengths. The movements in this piece are relatively brief and intimate songs.
Much of my recent music draws its inspiration from the distant past. An old melody pushes open a door in my mind and a parallel world or dream makes its way out. Each piece in this set found its inspiration in that way.
The title, “Recitation Book,” implies a set of lessons. I don’t want to say explicitly what each “lesson” means, but the titles of the pieces circle around the theme of death, which for me implies the passing of the old, and the coming of the new.
I have not only quoted a number of old melodies in Recitation Book, but two whole brief pieces as well. This first is J.S. Bach’s four-part chorale Jesu, meine Freude, and the second is an arrangement for the four saxophones of the five-voiced madrigal Ecco, morirò dunque by Gesualdo di Venosa."
“Etudes are difficult pieces. They’re difficult not only for each player, but also for the ensemble itself. Fantasy Etudes implies that there is an envisional realm of fantasy or fantastic ideas involved with pieces that are quite a bit more ambitious than some of the etudes or studies in the repertoire that we know and love.
The work is in many ways very complicated and extends over a vast range of ideas and material… One of the constants, however, is the flavor of American jazz, sometimes in the background, sometimes in the foreground, but because it is innate to the saxophone, it is always an important ingredient, too.
…The first piece is actually a prelude, and it is like a table of contents…It’s more like what you would find at the beginning of a book or a magazine.
...Then we settle down into the first movement, which is called, “A Real Nice Number.”… I won’t tell you the whole anecdote that it’s based upon, but the punch-line is, “Now that Claire-de-Lune; that’s a real nice number!” As you might guess, this piece is a little bit of an homage to Debussy.
'Pypes' movement, etude number two, I hope you will find a fun trip because it is based on Highland bagpipe playing, as introduced to me by my late father’s very good friend.
'The Fives for Steve,' etude number three, is dedicated to the memory of composer Stephen Albert, who died too soon and tragically in 1992 as a result of an auto accident.
We’re on another trip now with the 'Phantom Galop,' a piece that is partly inspired by the [galloping figures] of the Lone Ranger, but more importantly inspired buy different kinds of signals that we hear or don’t hear so much of anymore: diesel trains, steam trains, European whistle trains, diesel horns on trucks, tug boats, ocean liners docking.
['Harmonium,' movement five]. When I was a kid, I grew up with relatives on farms in Illinois, and they all had Victorian harmoniums. I enjoyed toying around with these things. I especially enjoyed playing hymns and seeing how I could distort the sound, by pumping too hard or not hard enough.
For our finale, 'They only come out at night.' It’s a romp and a tribute to those jazz band arrangements used for 1950s-1960s TV gangster/cop shows."
David Clay Mettens
"Ornithology S is inspired by a series of works created by the visual artist Juan Fontanive. He began the series by repurposing old Victorian clock parts to create “flip book” machines that rapidly turn over images of hummingbirds.
His machines animate the diverse colors and forms of the birds in a kind of stuttering, perpetual flight, accompanied by the constant sound of whirring pages.
Fontanive’s constructions closely align with some of my recent compositional interests: flickering colors, composites created by blurring many parts into a single entity, irregularities within perpetual motion, and careful blends of pitch and noise.
To these ends, I have hollowed out the timbre of the quartet in two distinct directions, exploiting the airy qualities of the instruments on the one hand, and transforming the ensemble into a vast battery of (barely) pitched wooden percussion on the other."
Thank you to Parma Recorings!
Parma Recordings will be releasing our album on one of its four in-house record labels.
We are ecstatic to be joining a community of incredibly talented and creative artists on their roster!
THank you to our album supporters!!
Jessamyn Anderson, Cris & Marilyn Barnes, Elizebeth Barnes, José Barrientos, Jen Batson, Candy & Dave Beaulieu, Jennifer Blackwell, Hunter Bockes, Isaac Brinberg, Jason Bronson, Dilon Bryan, Merial Buikema, Bruce &Jane Burkelman, Victoria Byrom, Caleb Carpenter, John Case, Damien Cheek, Trevor Chu, Joe Clark, Grace Crain, Colin Crake, Janos Csontos, John Cummins, Cathy L. Dayan, Joel Diegert, Jessica Dodge, Erin Doman, Don & Joan DuChane, Bob Eason, Clancy Ellis, Hanna Elmgren, Alexis Evers, Christine Ewald, Raleigh Fagerhaug, Emma Flanagan, Rich Forsen, Wendy Franklin, Connie Frigo, Julia Gallo, Sean Gardner, Gilbert Garza, Dan Gelok, Kevin Good, David Gould, Jacob Graybill, Amanda Guidi, Hayley Hajic, Allison Hamilton, James N. Hamilton, Jeannie Hamilton, Zac Hammond, Adam Hawthorne, Sarah Hetrick, The Himmelberg Family, Roman Holder, Timothy Hommowun, Takako Howell, Pamela Jennings, Rebecca Klopp, Scott Kolar, Lucas Kremer, Thomas Kurtz, Kristina La Marca, Mia Laping, Morgan Lanahan, Gloria Lee, Mark Lesser, Jeffrey Leung, Arthur Liang, Bailey Liu, Michael J. Loftus, Paul Lorenz, Jeremy Loui, Craig Lovett, Bill Lowery, Jordan Lulloff, Andres Luz, Joe Lyons, Brandon MacNeil, Kyle Malone, Chisato Eda Marling, Ricardo Martinez, Michael Matthews, Michael McKain, Kristen McKeon, Billy McPhail, Nathan Mertens, Emily Mikel, Chris Murphy, Joe Murphy, Gary & Leslie Muscanell, Spiro Nicolas, Doug O'Connor, Christopher Olen, Nick Ortiz, Hannah Pearson, Alexia Perez, Stephen Peterson, Daniel Phipps, Phil Pierick, Daniel Piqué, Suzanne & Jim Plouffe, Wilson Poffenberger, Justin Polyblank, Ann Porterfield, Fritz Prejean, Joshua Presley, Dan Price, Project Fusion Quartet, Brandon Quarles, Andrew J. Rainville, Shane Rathburn, Brooks & Jan Reid, Anne Renggli, Robin Rice, Debra Richtmeyer, Greg Rife, Ben Robichaux, Jim Robinson, Justin Rollefson, Katie Roman, Elizabeth Rosinbum, Eugene Ryoo, Matthew Sadowski, S. Scarantino, Brad Schilit, Leo Schlaifer, Mona Seghatoleslami, Baljinder Sekhon, Isaiah Shankar, Kiran Singh, Tim Sleep, Alexander Smith, Scott Solenberger, Joseph David Spence, Nathan Stack, Zach Stern, Ben Still, Drake Stoughton, Dylan Suehiro, Taimur Sullivan, Bill Tiberio, Josh Tuttle, Nathan Trivers, Frank & Gail Venturino, Jilliana Walch, Jared Wallis, Ye Wang, Dylan Ward, Jared Waters, Ethan Wetzel, Nick Winkles, Zachary Woolhouse, Tyler Young, Aiwen Zhang, Jiaqi Zhao, Nick Zoulek