Robert Fruehwald | Woodwind Music of Robert Fruehwald, Vol. 1

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Woodwind Music of Robert Fruehwald, Vol. 1

by Robert Fruehwald

Music for solo flute and solo clarinet evoking a sunrise on the Mississippi, an Andean funeral, renaissance and Turkish dance music, plus preludes based on Christmas carols with a modernist twist and interjections from animal friends.
Genre: Classical: Modernist
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Summer Sunrise on the Mississippi
4:16 $0.99
2. Turkish Preludes: I. Bak Suda Kasin Karesine
2:01 $0.99
3. Turkish Preludes: II. Portakal Dilim Dilim
2:18 $0.99
4. Turkish Preludes: III. Indim Yarin Bahçesine
2:41 $0.99
5. Atacameno Eluwun
4:48 $0.99
6. Terpsichore
3:55 $0.99
7. Andy and Me
7:33 $0.99
8. Hymntunes I: Angels from the Realms of Glory
2:56 $0.99
9. Hymntunes I: It came upon a Midnight Clear
4:31 $0.99
10. Hymntunes I: Angels We have Heard on High
2:06 $0.99
11. Metamorphosis of My Cat Fletcher: I. Étude aux Mutations
2:54 $0.99
12. Metamorphosis of My Cat Fletcher: II. Étude de "Purr"
1:32 $0.99
13. Metamorphosis of My Cat Fletcher: III. Étude Scherzo
3:58 $0.99
14. Metamorphosis of My Cat Fletcher: IV. Étude Primitive
2:28 $0.99
15. Metamorphosis of My Cat Fletcher: V. Theme—Finale
3:28 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Music is not abstract, it is shaped by life experience.

Every day, when walking home from my job at the university, I would see a glint of blue through the trees on the horizon. For many months, I thought I was seeing the sky. Then, one day, I saw a stern-wheel steamboat squarely in the middle of that patch of blue—what I had been seeing was the Mississippi River. Every day after that, I would watch the river and its changing moods. It became my daily companion. I decided to write a piece about the river—a passage from Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi was my inspiration. Summer Sunrise on the Mississippi was commissioned by clarinetist Michael Dean. In addition to the solo clarinet, ambient sounds of life on the river appear.

The Turkish Preludes were shaped by someone else's life experiences—the experiences of New York flutist Linda Wetherill. In addition to being a great proponent of new music, Linda spent a number of years traveling the world performing and teaching. Much of that time was spent in Istanbul. While in Istanbul, Linda became interested in Turkish folk music and collected quite a few folk melodies. These pieces are based on some of the melodies she collected.

Atacameno Eluwun was inspired by the loneliness of the high desert. When I was a student in California, I would look across the valley to the barren mountains and wonder what it was like to live in such a place before the subdivisions, the freeways, the apartment complexes. I heard a recording of a funeral procession of native people from the high desert of Chile. The music of the procession was evocative of the loneliness of that landscape. Atacmneno Eluwun also incorporates vocal sounds and musical scales inspired by the music of the high desert. To my surprise, the piece has been performed quite often, in venues ranging from great cathedrals to dance concerts.

My wife and I occasionally play for a university fund raising function known as the medieval dinner. At this dinner, guests dress up in medieval-renaissance costume and consume medieval-renaissance food while listening to medieval-renaissance music. Some of the music we play comes from Terpsichore, the quintessential renaissance “gig-book” of dance tunes by Michael Praetorius. While performing these tunes one night, it dawned on me that I could fit several of the tunes together into a kind of simultaneous medley, a quodlibet. In order to make this work, it’s necessary to change the rhythm of the melodies so that the different melodies alternate, with the gaps between the fragments of one melody allowing bits of the other melodies to be heard. Since only one melody was actually being heard at any given time, it seemed appropriate to use this material in a work for a solo melody instrument, the clarinet.

Andy and Me is a piece about a man and his dog. It is a kind of duet. First, between the clarinetist and himself (prerecorded clarinet sounds) and later between the clarinetist and Michael Dean's dog, Andy. The work presents snapshots of Andy's daily routine. His barking at strangers, his excited scrambling across the deck in the back of his house, and his enthusiastic enjoyment of dinner.

Hymntunes I: Three Chorale Preludes for Christmas was one of my first attempts to use familiar melodies as material for extreme transformation. I think there is something artistically interesting in witnessing something transformed into something else. In order to make the transformation perceptible, it helps if the original material is familiar. Each phrase of these familiar melodies is transformed in a number of ways, often until it is unrecognizable.

Metamorphosis of my Cat Fletcher has a long history. When I started working on the piece, I thought about the advice given by everybody’s high school creative writing teacher: “write about what you know.” This recommendation seems pretty trite, but it's actually very good advice. At the same time, our cat kept bothering me—he wanted his dinner. It occurred to me that the cat was something that “I knew.” Why not write a piece about Fletcher?

I put the piece together and premiered it myself at a summer music camp at Southeast Missouri State University. This camp was, at one time, cited as the largest summer music camp in the world. There were several thousand students spread out over three or four weeks. When I took the stage the students were pretty quiet, but after a few cat howls came from the loud speakers there ensued fifteen minutes of bedlam. Campers were literally rolling in the aisles. Stravinsky would have been proud.

While the piece made quite an impression, no-one seemed to recognize the form of the work. The form is designed to be a “backwards” theme and variations with the variations appearing first and the theme at the end. The problem was that nobody guessed what the theme was before the final movement. Even the camp's teachers didn’t recognize it. This puzzled me a little because I had included many clues along the way: seagulls singing part of the theme, even some of the lyrics from the theme. The fact that these lyrics were in German, and that the people speaking them were using “cartoon” voices, probably made them difficult to understand.

So I added video to the piece. In many ways the piece works better with the video (the video version is posted in three parts on YouTube). It is easier to follow and it's more humorous. Still, I think the purely auditory version presented here has it’s own charm.

—Robert Fruehwald, 2010



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