Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Daniel Crozier the Storyteller: Samuel Barber of the 21st Century?

Composer:  Daniel Crozier (1965-)
Title:  Capriccio for orchestra (2001)
Link to the Music

It has been more than a decade since Daniel Crozier wrote Capriccio, but the piece still sounds new. This has to do with both the novelty of the written notes of the piece and the lack of its exposure to the public at large.

Daniel Crozier, nephew of Fred Rogers (the Mr. Rogers of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood), received his DMA in composition at the Peabody Institute, and he is currently an Associate Professor of Theory and Composition at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. His music usually contains motivic elements that aim to serve as a narrative, storytelling function, and this piece is not an exception.

As the title suggests, the piece is very capricious, and numerous ideas bounce back and forth throughout the piece. The whole piece is bound together, however, by a single 7-note motive that is played by the clarinet in the energetic beginning of the piece. The motive turns into a melody in the first section of the piece, then it is truncated to 3 notes that start a new melody--calmer but still bouncy and a bit "coy"--in a slower section. Then the music comes back to a hyper-enegeric section that starts with the same motive, and it reaches the climax right before its dwindling end seconds later, where the bassoons start the subdued version of the the motive before they are abruptly cut off by jagged interjections from the other instruments.

The style of the piece is hard to pin down in my opinion, but the generally narrative nature of the piece and the the prevalence and the importance of melodies that are given in it seem to suggest a style of neo-romanticism. This style of music also entices me to make a comparison--illogical but interesting nonetheless--between Crozier and Samuel Barber, one of whose musical philosophies seemed to aim for a Romantic musical storytelling in the midst of the sea of modernism in the early 20th century.

The link to the music above is a recording of Seattle Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Gerard Schwartz. Unfortunately, the recording is not yet publicly available.

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