Joseph Schwantner: "Recoil"
Born: March 22, 1943, in Chicago, Illinois
Instrumentation: Wind Ensemble
Duration: 14 minutes
Recoil was commissioned through the Raymond and Beverly Sackler New Music Foundation for the University of Connecticut, and was given its premiere on November 3, 2004, at the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall, in New York, by the University of Connecticut Wind Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Jeffrey Renshaw. It is the only one of Schwantner’s four works for winds to include both saxophone and euphonium parts, and is also the only one of the four not inspired by poetry from the composer’s own hand.
Schwantner’s orchestration is reminiscent of the resonance and articulation of the guitar, especially the idea of “plucked” notes that are allowed to ring, inspired by his own experience as a guitarist. Over the course of the work, the rhythmic motifs gradually expand, and then “recoil” upon themselves, returning to their earlier states. The composer writes:
Recoil is a highly rhythmic work that opens with an aggressive six-note figure played by piano and ringing pitched percussion, including a two-octave set of crotales, vibraphone, marimba, tubular bells, glockenspiel, xylophone, four triangles, and a large cowbell. This figure, employed obsessively throughout the music, is a primary developmental element found in all of the linear, harmonic, and gestural ideas…
While Recoil employs a larger instrumentation than [my] earlier works, they all share similar characteristics in that each is framed in a single continuous movement and each exploit the rich timbral resources of an expanded percussion section that includes amplified piano.
Joseph Schwantner, Recoil
University of North Texas Wind Symphony, Eugene Corporon, conductor