Composition - - American Recorder Society
Variations on a Theme, for Recorder Quartet
By Michel Marinier 2020-2021
 
S A T B
 
 
This three-part piece is a celebration of contemporary composers' freedom to write music without being restricted by conventions, forms and styles while fulfilling the musicians need to play interesting parts. The rich repertoire of Western music from the Renaissance to the 21st century is a vast buffet of influences that one can feast on, perhaps mixing a bit of Baroque with some Classical or Romantic before finishing with some 20th century Swing.

This is an intermediate level piece. Every part was written to be fun to play while offering some challenges and always ensuring the ensemble is enjoyable to listen to. Each movement is complete on its own and could be played as a short individual piece.

Here is a detailed description of this work. The main theme begins with a style familiar to recorder players but then surprises with a sequence of solid chords moving up chromatically to begin the transition that leads to a new key in the second movement. The second movement is an amusing take on the theme and related patterns from the first movement with some new twists. It's also a challenging layering of a variety of rhythmic patterns: triplets in the soprano over eighth notes in the alto, a dotted rhythm in the tenor, supported by sixteenth note shapes in the bass, building up somewhat like a canon. In the middle of this movement, there is an unexpected change in the meter that arose naturally during the writing process and resisted any effort to take it out. The proof that it fits is perhaps the fact that it sounds very natural and unobtrusive when listening to the piece without looking at the score. The final movement brings back the theme and related elements as a joyful tune in a swinging, syncopated style with the middle voices playing the role of the brass section in a big band.
-- Michel Marinier
 
 
All intermediate groups should check out this new original piece! It is fun and just challenging enough for everyone to maintain great interest, and is a well-crafted composition for SATB. The soprano has some high A and B-flats, but overall each part lies in a very comfortable range. Three separate movements can be performed individually as stand-alone pieces as the composer suggests, but for maximum entertainment the whole set should be played. The swinging third movement is just terrific, very enjoyable.
-- Glen Shannon
 
 
No. of Recorder Parts: 4
Difficulty: Moderate
Occasion: Any
Libraries: New Music for Recorder
Date Added: 02/01/2021
 
Style: Fast/Up-tempo, Tonal/Melodic, Ragtime/Jazz/Blues, Variations/Fantasies/Adaptations, Neo-Renaissance/Baroque/Classical