Karel Husa - "Cheetah"
Born: August 7, 1921, Prague, Czechoslovakia
Instrumentation: Wind Ensemble
Duration: 6 minutes
University of Maryland Wind Ensemble
Friday, October 28, 2016, 8:00 pm
Elsie & Marvin Dekelboum Concert Hall
Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
The University of Maryland at College Park
Rich instrumental hues, motivic intrigue, and intense lyricism join forces in Karel Husa’s powerful and poetic Cheetah for wind ensemble. The musical metaphor suggested by the composer is evoked from the portrait of this “magnificent wild animal, now an endangered species—its colors, movements, power, speed.” Cheetah was commissioned by the University of Louisville.
The energy unfolds from small, quiet flickers of rhythm and interval gestures in the horns and percussion, along with gentle cascades of woodwind lines that act as musical premonitions cast against a distant fanfare motive in the trombones. These statements expand bit by bit through an additive process to create a brooding sense of dramatic possibility. Emerging to shape the second section of the piece is an extended melodic soli from the saxophones. It is lyrical and strong, with a passionate vocal quality that grows in strength through widening intervals and ranges. Throughout, this lyrical statement is provoked by a motoric pattern in the woodwinds that pulsates as a reminder of the undercurrent of rhythmic energy that is at the music’s core. Together, these elements unfold as the staging of a third section, identified by energetic fanfares from the trumpets and horns combined with rhythmic counterpoint from the percussion. Here, the music again gathers its rhythmic impulse to create rich, invigorated textures throughout the ensemble. At the same time, the fanfares, first heard in the trombones near the beginning, return to be reshaped, extended, and amplified through the entire brass section, culminating with the arrival at the climactic fortissimo of the work. Echoing out of this visceral release, Husa orchestrates a beautiful dénouement, dissolving the musical energy with subtle reminiscence, and suggesting a sort of sublime quality even, as the composer writes, in the “exhaustion after an unsuccessful chase.”
- Program note by Frederick Speck, Director of Bands, University of Louisville
Additional Husa Resources:
- Conversation between Karel Husa and Bruce Duffie from New Music Connoisseur.
Karel Husa, Cheetah
University of North Texas Wind Symphony