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Bearbeitungen ueber das Glogauer Liederbuch

fl(picc),cl(bcl),vn,cb or vc
6/15/1962 - 6/29/1962
For Bertram Turetzky
Original composition was written for contrabass.

The transcriptions of pieces from the Gogauer Liederbuch naturally represent a world entirely different from that of the String Trio, for here I am “composing with someone else’s notes,” as my choice of title reveals. But I have felt for many years that the recovery of pre-Classic music and the persistence into our own age of the 18th- and 19th-century music - and the widespread dissemination of this (and our own) music through recordings - has invalidated conserva­tive/progressive dichotomies and rendered notions of avant-and arrière-garde irrelevant. We have most of the past with us in the living form, for comfort, influence, rejection, embrace. In this milieu, an occasional desire to make my own some particularly attractive artifact of an older musical culture may perhaps be understandable. And of the many kinds of old music I love, the pieces contained in the Glogauer Liederbuch were, in 1962, favorites.“Around 1475, the canon of the Glogau Cathedral had copied for him a collection of chansons, sacred works, and instrumental pieces from a largely anonymous repertory dating mainly from the 1460s and 1470s. The collection primarily contains vocal works, but some are clearly intended for instru­mental use, and it is mainly upon these that I have drawn for the settings in the Bearbeitungen. In 1962, 1 was greatly taken with many kinds of 15th-century music, and in the pieces I chose to instumentate - or “recompose” - what particularly attracted me was the rapidity with which the intervallic environment changed from moment to moment, almost every new note kaleidoscopically creating a functionally “new” harmony. This characteristic of so much 15th-century counterpoint contrasts sharply with what came later. Here we have not yet arrived at the larger overarching sense of harmonic hierarchy that even in the music of the Josquin generation already tends to organize, subsume, and span smaller details of pitch behavior into larger, broader units of continuity. Yet unlike earlier music, this 15th-century repertory treats note-to-note harmonic relations with great care, respecting consonance and dissonance, often with the effect of obscuring the significance of more fundamentally cadential parts of a passage. Paradoxically - for my own concerns were already in that larger spanning which can be heard in the String Trio. .. I was attracted by the very character­istic I have been describing in these pieces; their angular melodic behavior charmed me and beckoned me toward timbral composing with the notes that the works already provided.”“I chose six pieces (some of whose titles are whimsical and some identificatory) and set them for four instruments (really six since the flute and clarinet double piccolo and bass clarinet, respectively). The originals are all three-part works, and the challenge in making these settings lay in trying to project a wide timbral variety with but one more instrument than there are real polyphonic voices. To this end, I have employed doublings, octave transfers, and many kinds of articulation; it never happens that a single instrument is identified with a single contrapuntal part for any length of time.

-CW, from liner notes to a recording

"Wuorinen’s six-movement suite for flute, clarinet, violin, and cello–modern arrangements of instrumental pieces from the 15th-century source Glogauer Liederbuch–is a frolic that captures, to good effect, the feel of the Renaissance-era dances. The originals bear the syncopations and harmonic complexities of Dufay, elements Wuorinen, writing in the early 1960s, easily adapted to suit modern tastes." Boston Classical Review, 2013