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Woodwind Music of Robert Fruehwald, Vol. 1


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Audio CD, October 15, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

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 the life 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. Atacameno Eluwun also incorporates vocal sounds and musical scales inspired by the music of the high desert.

My wife and I occasionally play for a university fund raising function known as the medieval dinner. 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 was 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. Terpsichore, A Quodlibet on Melodies by Michael Praetorius for Solo Clarinet was commissioned by Michael Dean and his wife to celebrate the birth of their daughter.

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.

When I started working on Metamorphosis of my Cat Fletcher, I thought about the advice given by high school creative writing teachers: write about what you know. At the same time, our cat kept bothering me about dinner. It occurred to me that my cat was something I knew. Why not write a piece about Fletcher?

I eventually made a video to accompany the piece. In many ways the piece works better with the video (posted on YouTube - search on the title). It is easier to follow and it's more humorous. Still, I think the purely auditory version presented here has its own charm.

Robert Fruehwald, 2010

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Product details

  • Audio CD (October 15, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Robert Fruehwald
  • ASIN: B004IA2ZSS
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