The Clare Fischer Orchestra, Dr. Clare Fischer, Gary Foster & Brent Fischer | Music for Strings, Percussion and the Rest

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Music for Strings, Percussion and the Rest

by The Clare Fischer Orchestra, Dr. Clare Fischer, Gary Foster & Brent Fischer

Complex Simplicity: Continuing to amalgamate grand orchestral traditions into extraordinary yet accessible sonic artistry
Genre: Classical: Orchestral
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Pensamientos for Solo Alto Saxophone and Chamber Orchestra
The Clare Fischer Orchestra & Gary Foster
13:47 $0.99
2. Miniature
The Clare Fischer Orchestra & Brent Fischer
4:14 $0.99
3. Realización for Strings
The Clare Fischer Orchestra & Gary Foster
19:18 $0.69
4. Interlude for Piano
The Clare Fischer Orchestra & Bryan Pezzone
3:58 $0.99
5. Two for the Road
The Clare Fischer Orchestra & Dr. Clare Fischer
2:37 $0.69
6. Weekend in Stockholm
The Clare Fischer Orchestra & Brent Fischer
5:15 $0.69
7. Coming Home
The Clare Fischer Orchestra & Dr. Clare Fischer
2:20 $0.79
8. Reflection for Piano
The Clare Fischer Orchestra & Bryan Pezzone
5:01 $0.79
9. Retrograde Orbits for Vibraphone
The Clare Fischer Orchestra & Brent Fischer
3:55 $0.99
10. Suddenly
The Clare Fischer Orchestra & Brent Fischer
5:15 $0.99
11. A Moment of Silence
The Clare Fischer Orchestra & Dr. Clare Fischer
6:16 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
The music of Dr. Clare Fischer is a synthesis of influences across an unusually broad spectrum. From an
early age, he was absorbing the works of Bach, Bartok, Ellington, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Strayhorn,
Berg, Villa-Lobos and later Jobim and Dutilleaux. He considered himself an orchestral composer first and
foremost. All of his educational degrees reflect this.

By the time he had finished his formal education, he had played and become proficient on all wind and string
instruments. This gave him the ability to write for them in an absolutely idiomatic manner. Because of his
talents across so many genres though, he became busy, well known and respected in the Jazz, Pop and
Latin fields.

People such as Richard Stoltzman in the classical world, who knew of his orchestral work and
commissioned him, found it to be an unparalled approach to chromatic tonality. Building on centuries of
history, most of it is incredibly complex in ways that stun those able to analyze it, yet at it’s core is a
beautifully logical simplicity and thus accessibility beyond the realm of the purely classical.

Continuing to write timeless chamber and symphonic works throughout his life, he passed on his distinct
harmonic and orchestrational concepts to me through a decades long apprenticeship. Herewith then,
following up on his previous orchestral album, After The Rain, as I continue to carry on his legacy, is our
latest collection of works:

Pensamientos for Solo Alto Saxophone and Chamber Orchestra – All who’ve seen this score agrees it’s
one of the most important works for alto saxophone in an orchestral setting. It was started by Clare Fischer
in the 1950s, just as his career took off in other directions, finalized in the 1990s, and then remained
dormant until I found it recently during my archiving of The Clare Fischer Music Library. The work is something instrumentalists dream of: inventive, challenging and, most importantly, idiomatic.
Besides the incredible writing, I found something I had never seen before: the 3 percussion parts (snare
drum, bass drum and suspended cymbal) were to be played by a single person on a drumset. Such a
logical idea and yet none of us had thought of it.
Before we recorded the piece, my father decided to change the chamber string parts into full string section
parts. Although it can be performed in it’s original form, it appears here as a piece for alto saxophone and
large orchestra. Gary Foster did magnificent work conducting the orchestra and then adding his superb
saxophone artistry.

Miniature – In the early 1970s, a colleague who my father respected very much as a drummer, told him that
he was taking up mallets. As a gift, my father wrote this piece for him featuring soprano and standard
vibraphones, standard and bass marimbas plus keyboard. The colleague never came by to look at it. It too
remained dormant until I was finishing up my degree in symphonic percussion about 15 years later. Then
he gave it to me.
Recognizing it, even at my young age, as an incredible piece of literature for percussion ensemble, I took on
the responsibility of preparing all the parts. Just before we recorded it, he decided to orchestrate the
keyboard part for strings. I take great pride that, as a young man, I was able to execute these difficult parts
artistically. It’s too bad then that when we recently transferred the original 24 track tape to digital format,
there were quite a few dropouts. So I had to again prepare these parts to fill in the missing areas. I can say
happily it was easier the second time. Interesting note on this recording that as a keyboardist, my father
played the shakers and as a percussionist, I played the auxilliary keyboard part.

Realización for String Orchestra – This started as a string quartet by a young Clare Fischer in the 1950s.
By the late 1980s he had developed it into a piece for a full string orchestra and we recorded it during his
final years with Gary Foster conducting. When I was young, the mood of the piece reminded me of Bartok
and I suggested that he call it Bartokianas Americanas, knowing he was fond of Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas
Brasileiras. Then I found elements of Shostakovich, Ellington and Berg (in other words, the very essence of
Clare Fischer) interlaced among the intricate construction, causing me to rescind my earlier comment. As
with Pensamientos, I suggest concentrating on a different aspect with each listen in order to reveal the depth
of profundity.

Interlude for Piano – A true convergence of the many influences that led my father to the peak of his
career. He always referred to his music as a fusion; his kind of fusion, not having anything to do with the
genre classification used in pop and jazz fields.
Bryan Pezzone’s incredible interpretation of this piece took place on my father’s treasured home grand
piano during a long night of recording. My father was so moved (as was I) by Bryan’s playing that he made
the long trip (for a then 81 year old man) down the stairs from his bedroom to compliment and thank him
profusely. Then he did it again an hour later during the next piece. We are eternally grateful for the
keyboard mastery of Bryan Pezzone.

Two for the Road – Part of the genius of Clare Fischer was his ability to take uncomplicated melodies, such
as this one by Henry Mancini, and turn them into profound expressions of orchestral beauty. I’m hoping that
this new masterpiece of chromatic tonality will turn a pop music classic into popular classical music.

Weekend in Stockholm – Conceived after my first trip to Europe in 1987 as a piece for solo vibraphone, I
recently added a chamber orchestra accompaniment. Because Fischer harmonies are typically 5 and 6
part, I used a sextet of 1st and 2nd violin, 1st and 2nd viola, cello and contrabass.
On vibraphone, I start out with 4 mallets then switch to 5 and finally 6. Based on the Musser grip, I found a
way to have three mallets in each hand that still allows me to change intervals between the mallets. My
modified grip also affords many more chord positions than other grips I’ve seen, making it practical for my
pandiatonic and polytonal purposes.

Coming Home – This is the first piece my father wrote after having been confined to a hospital bed, due to
a concussion, and separated from his beloved piano. First appearing on his solo piano album, Introspectivo,
he later wrote the string orchestration presented here. It’s amazing how, late in life as his physical systems
were failing, his creativity remained pristine and thrived.

Reflection for Piano – Polytonality in it’s most sonorous form, brilliantly performed by Bryan Pezzone. This
work represents a paradigm of beauty; analytically dazzling and timelessly passionate. Additionally, it fits
into those philosophies of music currently and for the last 60 years being referred to as comtemporary or
modern; terms first used in relation to music and other arts in the 13th century.

Retrograde Orbits for Vibraphone – I wrote this based on my father’s often intensely percussive approach
to the piano. Related melodic and harmonic ideas coincidentally employ inverted rhythmic groupings, hence
the title.

Suddenly – My favorite of my father’s many compositions, it was written as a catharsis from the unexpected
loss of a close friend and colleague. I was able to appreciate it intuitively as a teenager, but since I have
gained the skills to analyze it in depth, I feel like a quantum physicist who is slowly unlocking the secrets to
the formation of the universe. For decades I had wanted to take the original quartet recording and add a full
orchestra. Now I finally have.

A Moment of Silence – Although there are many of his works still left to record, this is one of the last pieces
my father ever composed and conducted. At that point in his life, he didn’t need to write to impress anyone
or prove himself, but to simply express his feelings by letting the music that naturally flowed out of him,
sometimes even in his sleep, come to life without any reason other than to create freely.

In producing this album, my goals were to let the music be heard and to preserve it for future generations of
performers in all fields. For my father and I, genre matters not, only creativity.
--Brent Fischer



to write a review

Simon Pilbrow

Fischer Orchestral Brilliance
This collection of brilliant orchestral and other music by the late Clare Fischer, arrangements of his music by his son Brent Fischer, and some compositions by Brent Fischer himself, shows the depth of musical talent and accomplishment in the Fischer family and the mantle that Clare passed on well to his son and that Brent still carries faithfully following his father’s death. It also showcases both father, son and Gary Foster in conducting roles. Clare Fischer had mastery of a wide range of music from jazz to classical/orchestral to Latin music forms, and put his hand to the plough in whatever setting he was called to, and threw his probing musical mind and imagination into each situation with an authenticity that few could match. To achieve the depth he could as a world-class jazz pianist, in mastering the rhythmic textures and sounds of latin music forms, and adapting his unique melodic and harmonic sensibilities to everything from close-harmony vocal ensembles to big bands to orchestral writing, took a keen and brilliant musical mind and a great deal of hard work and commitment.

This recording focuses, although not exclusively, on the Fischer orchestral palettel, which from previous recordings of his music clearly was highly developed early in Fischer’s life, developing further during his postgraduate years at Michigan State (I recommend listening to the Fischer recording After the Rain). Some of the music on this recording dates from early in his life but was not recorded till near the end or afterward. It is a tribute to his son Brent that he has worked tirelessly to get this fine music ready for recording, a large undertaking. Realizacion for String Orchestra is a fine piece of orchestral writing, adapted originally by Clare from an early String quartet he wrote in the 1950s into a full orchestral form in the 1980s. Probably the towering masterpiece of this recording is the ‘Pensamientos for Solo Alto Saxophone and Chamber Orchestra’, and this features the fine virtuoso alto saxophonist Gary Foster, himself a brilliant jazz soloist and multi-instrumentalist and 50-year collaborator with Clare Fischer on a host of recordings. ‘Two for the Road’ shows what Clare could do with a Mancini piece – finding beautiful sounds that others might not. Brent adapted his father’s beautiful piece ‘Suddenly’ for full orchestra, displaying his own mastery of the Clare Fischer harmonic language and orchestral textures, learned in a decades-long apprenticeship with his father, and sensitively applied to his father’s piece.
Brent’s ‘Weekend in Stockholm’ blends his multi-mallet vibraphone conceptions with fine orchestrations of his own, whereas his ‘Retrograde Orbits’ is an intensely percussive solo vibraphone work.

This recording, with all the variety of orchestral and percussive textures, is a welcome addition to the corpus of Fischer music and Brent’s efforts to bring his father’s music to life and to keep the flame of the musical legacy burning is to highly commendable.