Corigliano title TK

Subhead tk

BY Charlie Richards

March 09 2009 11:00 PM ET

Much shorter than his
first two symphonies, the third is scored only for winds, brass
and percussion - there are no strings in this work at all. This
gives the symphony a definitively brash and peculiar sound,
which is very much in keeping with its theme. Corigliano calls
the work "Circus Maximus", but it is not really an
"historic" depiction in sound of what the ancient Roman
entertainment arena was like. In actuality, the work explores
the aggressively violent, manic and schizophrenic world of our
own contemporary tastes in entertainment - from reality TV to
cable, and contrasts them with the very similar Roman
amphitheatre.

The most startlingly
original aspect of the work is how the orchestra is laid out.
The instruments are not placed in the hall in the traditional
way - in fact, the layout mimics that of the Roman Circus
Maximus, complete with a separate marching band that makes its
way from the back of the hall to the stage. A complete diagram
is provided in the CD booklet - it makes for a fascinating
study.

The work is organized
into eight relatively short movements, all played without
pause. The 1st, called "Introitus" (Latin -
"Introduction") begins, as one would expect, with a fanfare
which becomes rapidly more and more dissonant - even violent. A
trombone solo accompanied by wood blocks introduces a rather
sinister episode, which is followed by the original fanfare.
The second movement, "Screen/Siren" is dominated by a
seductive melody played by saxophone quartet, sometimes
undulating passages in the winds interject giving a sense of
languorous movement. This leads abruptly to "Channel
Surfing" - which sounds exactly how you might think a musical
depiction of this common activity might sound. Various themes,
from a romantic TV Western-like melody on horns, to a wild
Mambo, to a fantastic "Sci-Fi" wind theme, take their
turns, on-and-off, back and forth. Our contemporary dwindling
attention spans have never been captured so precisely. The
movement dies out with wailing brass.

Tags: Music

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