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Vincent Persichetti: "Divertimento, Op. 42"

August 15, 2010

Continuing with the music of Vincent Persichetti, today's blog post will focus on his Divertimento. Along with the Symphony (see yesterday's post), these two are widely considered Persichetti's two best works for bands. You can read two different sets of program notes below and hear a recording.

 

Vincent Persichetti, Divertimento, Op. 42

University of North Texas Wind Symphony, Eugene Corporon, conductor

 

Below are program notes by James Huff of the Claremont Winds.

 

The Divertimento started out as an orchestral work, but as the woodwind, brass and percussion figures evolved, composer Vincent Persichetti eliminated the idea of incorporating strings. The resulting piece has been described as "alternating between a sense of mischief and a poignant vein of nostalgia" and has become one of the most widely performed works in the entire wind band repertoire. One of the major figures in American music of the 20th century, Persichetti was influenced by Stravinsky, Bartok, Hindemith and Copland. Persichetti's first compositions were published when he was 14 years old, and by the age of 20 he was head of the theory and composition department at Philadelphia's Combs College of Music and simultaneously studying conducting at the Curtis Institute and piano and composition at the Philadelphia Conservatory. He produced a large body of orchestral, vocal and choral works in addition to his significant contributions to the literature for concert band.

 

The program notes below are from http://www.windband.org.

 

Divertimento for Band

 

Each of the six movements of the Divertimento covers completely different moods and styles. The work has a beautiful balance from the agitated woodwind figures and aggressive brass polychords in the first and last movements to the delicate and lyrical inner movements. This compendium of styles is rare for a single work. It has been said that Persichetti's use of instruments makes the reeds the movers, the brass the pointers, and the percussion the connectors and high-lighters. The Prologue is driving and electric, while the Song demonstrates Persichetti's lyricism as he weaves two simple and attractive melodies together. The music does Dance in the third movement as it is tossed about by the woodwinds around a trumpet solo passage. The "pesante" opening of the Burlesque suddenly changes to "brightly" with no change in the tempo, but a complete change in the texture. The beauty of the Soliloquy belongs to the solo cornet. The percussion entrance of the March returns the pace to that of the original opening as the brass and woodwind choirs work over the punctuation and timbre of the percussion section.

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