Stefan Wolpe

Quartet for Trumpet, Tenor Saxophone, Percussion and Piano

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Written in 1950 and revised in 1954, this piece marked the beginning of a new phase of Wolpe's complex work in the mid-'50s. However, it is highly accessible music with gestures and melodic arcs clearly defined, original and emotionally appealing. Wolpe was always influenced by the socially-conscious Gebrauchmusik (music for everyday use) movement in the '20s and '30s in Europe. In the first movement of the piece performed here by the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble conducted by Arthur Weisberg, a central rising and falling somewhat wistful melodic gesture is shared and reinterpreted by each player. In the second movement, the influence of American jazz can be clearly felt in the almost Dixieland complexity of counterpoint; it is still a European idea of jazz, however, recalling textures of Darius Milhaud's La Création du Monde of 1923. New methods of nonlinear continuity (partial canonic imitation, for example) are explored by Wolpe in this work as in others appearing at this time, so the music has fluidity and a captivating modern tunefulness throughout.