Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Barnes: Fantasy Variations On a Theme By Paganini, etc, James Barnes, Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra

Composer(s): James BARNES
Conductor: James BARNES
Orchestra/Ensemble: Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra
Label: Kosei Publishing Company
Catalog #: KOCD-0301
Format: CD
Time: 57:25 min

(Text From Wikipedia)
About the Composer:
James Charles Barnes
(born September 9, 1949 (1949-09-09) (age 61) in Hobart, Oklahoma, U.S.) is an American composer.

Barnes studied composition and music theory at the University of Kansas, earning a Bachelor of Music in 1974, and Master of Music in 1975. He studied conducting privately with Zuohuang Chen. Since 1977 he has been a professor of theory and composition at the University of Kansas, where he teaches orchestration and composition.

Barnes is also a tubist and has performed with numerous professional organizations in the United States.

His numerous compositions are frequently played in America, Europe, Japan, Taiwan and Australia. The Japanese concert band Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra has produced 3 CDs to date with works of James Barnes.

He has twice received the American Bandmasters Association Ostwald Award for contemporary wind band music.

For my information click here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Barnes_%28composer%29

Fantasy Variations On a Theme by Niccolo Paganini

As I could find no review on the web, I've made a personal account of the piece, pardon my amateurish lingo:

Fantasy Variations (on a theme by Niccolo Paganini), the theme being Caprice No. 24 in A minor from the 24 Caprices for Solo Violin. The piece is composed by James Barnes in 1989 for concert band.
The difficulty level is grade 5+ to grade 6 (American band difficulty standard).
This is considered to be an advanced level, usually performed by university levels and above.

It opens with the theme, highlighted by an oboe solo. After that, 20 variations on this theme are played through, thus the name.
Variation I: Basically the theme played, developed to include the entire ensemble, with melody played by the flutes and clarinets.
Variation II: A slower melody, played by the oboes and clarinets.
Variation III: The "Trombone Special." The first comic relief section. The 2nd and 3rd trombones (that's me) play two notes, followed by the 1st trombones playing a high, whiny, glissando, all muted. Four measures in, the contra-alto clarinet plays a very low melody. My personal favorite.
Variation IV: The flutes play a very fast dance-like melody.
Variation V: The next four variations are slow melodies played by various instruments. This one is oboes.
Variation VI: Bassoon.
Variation VII: Clarinets.
Variation VIII: Saxophones.
Variation IX: Speeds up again, melody carried by bass clarinet.
Variation X: Similar to IX, played by clarinets.
Variation XI: Very fast, Russian sounding melody played by trumpets.
Variation XII: Slower, foreboding melody played by trombones.
Variation XIII: Another good one, trombones and saxophones play a duet that sounds like boss music.
Variation XIV: A continuation of XIII. Hardly warrants its own section.
Variation XV: Comic relief #2. Tuba and baritone quartet. Have you ever heard tubas playing (trying to) sixteenth notes?
Variation XVI: This is my least favorite. Bland, boring, little distinct melody.
Variation XVII: Percussion solos. Very fast, very good sounding. Another favorite.
Variation XVIII: Similar to XVII, with flutes and oboes playing melody.
Variation XIX: Sets up the final variation, almost everyone plays the booming melody.
Variation XX: Same as Variation I, ending similar to the beginning.

The rest of the CD represents other various works by James Barnes that is often played by concert bands.


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