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Vincent Persichetti: "Masquerade for Band"

August 16, 2010

Below are program note and a recording of Vincent Persichetti's Masquerade for Band

 

Vincent Persichetti: Masquerade for Band, Op. 102

"The President's Own" United States Marine Band, Col. Michael J. Colburn, conductor

 

Vincent Persichetti: Masquerade for Band, Op. 102 (1966)

 

Masquerade, a theme and set of ten variations, is a realization of examples and exercises that can be found in Persichetti’s book, Twentieth Century Harmony. Reflecting his ever-present sense of humor, Persichetti did not reveal the relationship between the book and the composition until long after its publication, later referring to the piece as “a masquerade of the harmony book.” It was written for and premiered by the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory (Berea, OH) Symphonic Band in 1966. The formal structure of Masquerade is that of a theme and variations, but not in the traditional sense; while Persichetti does extract a theme (more of a brief motto) from his book, most of the variations can be traced, not back to this theme, but instead directly to materials from the text. Persichetti culls material from almost every chapter; individual variations embody such various harmonic principles as: octatonicism, pentatonicism, polytonality, modality, parallelism, whole-tone harmonies, quartal harmony, pedal-points, and ending with 12-tone aggregates. While Masquerade could have been a dry litany of 20th-century compositional techniques, the music instead moves between the composer’s polar stylistic descriptions of “gracious” and “gritty,” all the while sparkling with Persichetti’s wit, enthusiasm and musical creativity—a fitting end to a concert that is a tribute not only to the American composer-teacher Vincent Persichetti, but also to the myriad musical relationships between mentor and protégé, teacher and student.

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