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WAC: Naumann, Clark, Drenk, Drexler, Roumanis, Stright
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Program
Joel Naumann: Partita
Daniel Clark: Deadsy
Daniel Drenk: Afterwards
David Drexler: Forgotten at dawn...recalled at dusk
Ronald Roumanis: Night Steps
Robert Stright: Wild Blue Yonder

Performers
Marilyn Chohaney, flute
Jennifer Morgan, oboe
Nancy Mackenzie, clarinet
John Aley, trumpet
Anne Aley, horn
Leyla Sanyer, violin
Warren Downs, cello
Carl Davick, double bass
Jeffrey Sykes, piano
Robert Stright, percussion

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The Madison chapter of the Wisconsin Alliance for Composers presented six premieres Saturday evening in the Civic Center's Spotlight Room. The audience numbered about 100, which is more than a full house in that acoustically very dry space. The new works all got decent performances by professional and semi-professional players, who comprised Marilyn Chohaney (flute), Jennifer Morgan (oboe), Nancy Mackenzie (clarinet), John Aley (trumpet), Anne Aley (horn), Leyla Sanyer (violin), Warren Downs (cello), Carl Davick (double bass), Jeffrey Sykes (piano), and Robert Stright (percussion). As with any first hearing, one is left primarily with surface impressions, rather than detailed familiarity with the potentials of the scores.

Joel Naumann's Partita for flute, oboe, clarinet and horn punctuated several of its five movements with rather long pauses. The instrumental group was used primarily to make moving blocks of sound, rather than to display soloistic or contrapuntal aspects.

Daniel Clark's Deadsy, scored for clarinet, horn, cello and double bass, was primarily rhythmic in character. I thought it could have showed greater development of expressivity in the individual instruments by varying the articulation more, especially in the cello/bass rhythm group.

Daniel Drenk's Afterwards (oboe, horn, violin and piano) was well orchestrated but rhythmically and formally a bit vague. Overall, the effect was rather like a film score might have been 75 years ago: an easy-paced, entirely pleasant sound.

Forgotten at dawn...recalled at dusk, by David Drexler, is scored for flute, clarinet, violin and cello and was by far the most successful work on the program, I thought. It subtlely melded harmonic, rhythmic, and soloistic elements -- including some first-rate playing -- into an impressive structure of about 11 minutes' duration.

Ronald Roumanis's Night Steps (flute, oboe, clarinet and piano) displayed some very nice writing for the flute. I felt it overran its materials, so that it seemed longer than necessary.

The final work, Robert Stright's piece for flute, clarinet, horn, trumpet, and percussion, called Wild Blue Yonder, rested mainly on a solid rhythmic base combined with complex and vivid instrumental textures. It was an absorbing way to enliven seven minutes.

The concert convincingly demonstrated the great vitality of the compositional scene in Madison, with highly individual works from long-practiced professionals as well as a couple of undergraduate students. The Madison chapter of the WAC is a new group. The works on this first program were chosen by a random process in an effort to spread among the composer-members that most elusive of things, a good performance. I'm sure it's exciting indeed to hear one's work played in the way one actually intended. It's really very encouraging that we should find such creative richness in our midst. The group plans more events in future, and if this one is any guide, they should be well worth hearing.

Isthmus, January, 1995
Copyright 1995 Jess Anderson




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