JENNIFER HIGDON (b.1962): Percussion Concerto, KEIKO ABE (b.1937): Prism Rhapsody II, DANIEL MCCARTHY (b.1955): Chamber Symphony No. 1 for Marimba and Winds, MARK FORD (b.1958): Stubernic Fantasy.
Catalogue Number: 04T073
Description: Ford's Stubernic Fantasy was more or less demanded of the composer by Eugene Corporon after the premiere of Afta-Stuba, the sequel to Stubernic for three players at one marimba. Stubernic was written after the Stubers, who had recently returned from Nicaragua (see what he did there?) regaled Ford with tales of their Latin American travels and the marimba bands they had heard. The Fantasy presents the marimba part largely intact, with a sumptuous accompaniment. The piece has a Bernsteinian swagger and energy (one section in particular recalls West Side Story), and although no material is quoted the piece has a strong Latin feel throughout its exhilarating, irresistibly toe-tapping span. The title of McCarthy's piece reflects the fact that it is conceived more as an ensemble piece with a featured instrument than a traditional solo plus accompaniment concerto, and despite a substantial cadenza in the last movement the music is more about portraying the atmosphere and landscape of the composer's native Michigan with a bracing, outdoor quality than with being a virtuoso vehicle. Prism Rhapsody II is Abe's two-marimba version of Prism Rhapsody; either version is a stunning virtuoso tour de force, featuring multiple mallet playing and as wide a range of technique as anything in the repertory. This version contains more notes! It manages to sound exploratory and technically innovative while also being a high-energy rollicking crowd-pleaser with an utterly ridiculous, thrilling race to the finish. Higdon's colorful, extrovert concerto in its wind orchestra version, now in danger of becoming standard repertoire (but none the worse for that), rounds out an appealingly varied program. Mark Ford (percussion), North Texas Wind Symphony; Eugene Migliaro Corporon.