Here’s where I’m at right now…
I’ve gotten several pages of sketches for the second movement of Trio for clarinet, bassoon, and piano. As always, I’m not as far along as I’d like, for the simple reason that other things keep coming up. At least now I have a pretty clear idea of what the form of the movement is going to be. If I can only clear my desk for a few weeks, I should be able to finish it soon, but we all know how that goes.
One of the “things that keep coming up” was a new project that came up late last week. Sarah McKelvie, a colleague of mine in Columbus, plays viola in a jazz quartet, if you can believe that, and asked me for an arrangement. They have a gig this Sunday, for which they need a medley of “she Swanee River” and “Back Home Again In Indiana,” so she asked me for one. I finished it this morning and e-mailed it to her. It was short notice, so I had to put it at the top of the pile this week.
On my own, I’ve had the idea to do a series of arrangements for string quartet. Most of the ones I’ve done so far are pretty gig-worthy, consisting of operatic excerpts mainly, and also a Faure piece.
Ancillary to the quartet project, I’ve been working on a quartet arrangement of five movements from Stravinsky’s Histoire du Soldat. I’ve had the idea to do this for close to twenty years now, but waited until recently to do anything with it. Four movements are mostly done, but then I got hung up on the Three Dances, because I couldn’t decide how to transcribe the percussion part in the Tango. This totally stumped me for the longest time. I thought about doing knocks with knuckles on the body of the string instruments in lieu of drums, but that seemed cheesy. I think what stymied me was the unavoidable harmonic implications involved in taking an unpitched part and changing it to pitches. No matter what I did, I ran the risk of changing the harmonic structure of the original, and I didn’t want to do that. Then, just a few days ago, I remembered that Stravinsky himself had transcribed several movements for clarinet, violin, and piano, including the Tango. And luckily, the library had a copy, so at least I have a reference to something Stravinsky actually did when faced with the same issue. So as of yesterday, the Tango is under way.
The orchestration of the Gurewich Saxophone Concerto (referenced in my last post) is nearing completion. Good, lets get all these projects out the door!