Brass Knuckles

Fracas is a sometimes violent confrontation between saxophone, electric guitar, piano and drum set, which incorporates influences from rock to chant. In "Shriek," the saxophone and electric guitar wail at one another while the piano and drums egg them on with contrasting percussive support. The angular opening statements eventually unfold into a more flowing presentation of the source melody, an adaptation of a Salve Regina chant. In "Thud," the percussive elements from the first movement come to the fore. The movement builds from a dolcissimo brushed drum solo, which presents the germinal Hungarian folk tune, to presentations of the melody in barely-pitched slap-tongued saxophone, palm-muted guitar and muted piano. Pitch finally breaks through at the end of the movement. "Bang" explores pitched, percussive sounds. The movement builds over a ground bass first articulated in the strummed electric guitar solo and then picked up by the piano with drum punctuation. Eventually, the saxophone enters with a wailing melody reminiscent of the first movement. Each instrument is given the opportunity to solo before the fugato finale escalates to a sustained, strummed, banging close.

Fracaswas commissioned by Ossia New Music Ensemble and was premiered by Ossia in October 2008. Fracas was recognized with a 2009 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award.

Click on one of the selections below to listen!


1-2.Shriek, Thud

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