Prelude for Recorder Orchestra

For: Large mixed ensemble
page one of Prelude for Recorder Orchestra

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Prelude for Recorder Orchestra




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Year of composition
Difficult (Grades 7+)
9 minutes
Classical music
License details
For anything not permitted by the above licence then you should contact the publisher first to obtain permission.

‘Prelude’ was written early in 1984. It is mainly a study in textures and is scored for 39 solo recorders. The dense note clusters that are a feature of the work are based on the various possible scales (Diatonic, Pentatonic and Chromatic being the most familiar). The proceedings open with a long held A from tenor 1. Other tenors suggest neighbouring notes and oscillations then begin. The sound rapidly spreads throughout the orchestra but then equally rapidly dies away. A dense bass cluster then sounds, within which overblown harmonics appear. A pulsating ‘curtain’ of sound abruptly stops leaving 3 trebles moving round the note D. A further ‘curtain’ and some agitated mutterings from the basses lead to the next, slightly faster, section. Small melodic fragments appear, increasing in density to form a thick web of sound. At the end of this section the notes get increasingly longer, as if the music is in danger of grinding to a halt. However another ‘heavy’ chord gets things moving again. Tension mounts and is relieved in an upward/downward glissando for the whole orchestra. The next section contains a variety of sounds, ‘just audible’ chords, ‘fipple whistles’, ‘finger patter’ and ‘key rattle’ which are interrupted by violent outbursts. A more stable ‘chordal’ section follows during which middle C becomes prominent. ‘Just Audible’ chords swell to normal and then die away. The note F is heard spread over three octaves and almost at once the ‘space’ between is divided and subdivided. Oscillations increase and it looks as if the music is heading for another climax, however, the music abruptly stops, it has all been a prelude to silence!

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