|John Beck's review of Daniel Dorff's
Concerto for Solo Percussion and Orchestra
(August 1996 PERCUSSIVE NOTES)
Concerto for Solo Percussion and Orchestra is scored for a full symphony orchestra. It is 20 minutes in length and uses the following instruments:
Movement I - temple blocks, small bass drum, tom-toms, woodblocks, small suspended cymbal, bongos, snare drum, tambourine and marimba
Movement II - glockenspiel, vibraphone, three suspended cymbals, triangles, wind chimes, mark tree and bell tree
Movement III - xylophone
Each movement is quite different from the others and challenges the soloist to musically move from one style to the next.
Movement I (Moderato, intense) uses a multiple percussion setup with a constant flow of 16th and 32nd notes from one instrument to the other. This flow of drum timbre produces a rhythmic and melodic theme that is used to open as well as close the movement. In the closing, it is used in an improvisatory style. The middle section of the movement is written for the marimba and is somewhat reminiscent of the outer sections in its rhythmic intensity.
Movement II (Mysterious, flexible tempo) is slow and quite different from Movement I. There is much bowing of the vibes and cymbals, which creates a mysterious atmosphere, and the slow tempo and long musical lines gives the feeling of a movement suspended in space.
Movement III (Allegro volante) is a xylophone solo and could stand alone as just that. In fact, the composer has published it with piano accompaniment as a separate piece. The tempo is fast and exciting, and the flying 16th notes cover the entire range of the instrument. It is written for two mallets.
Concerto for Solo Percussion and Orchestra is an excellent addition to the much-needed percussion concerto literature. Its contrasting movements, challenging solo part, creative orchestration, accessibility to many players and visual interest make this a worthwhile solo for those percussionists looking for a new percussion concerto.
John Beck's review of
Allegro Volante is Movement III from Concerto for Solo Percussion and Orchestra, which has been arranged for xylophone and piano. (The original orchestral version was reviewed in the August '96 issue of PERCUSSIVE NOTES.) The 4½-minute solo captures the technical possibilities of the xylophone. Written in a style reminiscent of a galop, the repetitive 8th-note/16th-note pattern and ascending pattern are challenging yet accessible to many xylophone players. There are several meter changes; however, the quarter note remains the same and a sense of change occurs only for several 5/8 measures. Two mallets are used throughout and for the most part the entire range of the instrument is used. The energetic tempo (quarter note = 144) of this piece gives both the performer and audience a rewarding experience. The piano accompaniment is good and provides the solo part with appropriate support. Congratulations to Daniel Dorff for supplying a worthy extension of his concerto for those looking for a recital-quality xylophone piece.