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Orchestral Music    

Cantar de los Cantares (soprano and orchestra) 2007 [24’] Music for Voice

Chiacona (guitar and orchestra) 2008 [12’] Guitar Music

Invocation (soprano and orchestra) 2006 [27’] Music for Voice

Prelude-weaver 1998 [14’]

Motet (On A Theme of Henry Purcell) (for high voice, chorus and fifteen instruments) 1997 [12] Music for Voice

Tres Canciones Sobre Lorca (for medium female voice and orchestra) 1986 Music for Voice

Cantiga Variations (Fractal In One Movement On An Ancient Spanish Song) (for four guitars and small orchestra) 1995 [22’]

Tientos (flute and string orchestra) 1991 [23’]

Rhapsody for Violin and Orchestra 1990 [21’]

Concerto for Bass Clarinet 1988 [21’]

Fantasía Federico García Lorca (for soprano, mezzo-soprano, and chamber orchestra) 1985 [20’] Music for Voice

Ballet of Death and the Moon (for mezzo-soprano and orchestra) 1985 [5’] Music for Voice

Bernarda Alba’s Lament (mezzo-soprano) 1984-87 (orchestrated in 1992) [6’] Music for Voice

‘Canción de Yerma’ (A symphonic song cycle in six movements for Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Baritone, Chorus and Orchestra) [30’] 1981 – 1986 (Orchestrated 1991, revised in 2003) Music for Voice

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Prelude-weaver (1998)   [14’]


Instrumentation: Picc. / 2 Fl./ 2 Ob./ Eng. Hrn./ 2 Clar. / Bass Clar. / 2 Bsn./ Cbsn./ 4 Hrn./ 3 Tr./ 2 Trbn./ Bass Trbn./ Tuba/ 5 Perc. / Strings

Commissioned and premiered by the American Youth Symphony Orchestra, Alexander Treger, Music Director, Royce Hall, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, October 25, 1998.

Published by Peer Music Classical .

Reviews:

"…vividly scored and powerfully pulsed,…with  distinctive world-beat tinges of its own."John Henken, LOS ANGELES TIMES, October 27, 1998
 

.Program notes and performance history:

Prelude-weaver, as its name would suggest, is a ‘weave’ of four distinctly different orchestral miniatures, and exists in two forms, a short weave of only two preludes, and a longer one, using four.  The short version of the work was premiered by Alex Treger and the American Youth Symphony, at Royce Hall, UCLA, October 25, 1998, while the long version was premiered by Jon Robertson and the UCLA Philharmonia on October 21, 2003.

[Notes for the short version] Prelude-Weaver, as its name would suggest, is a weave of two distinctly different orchestral miniatures.  Although each ‘prelude’ shares the same tempo, the first is bold and virtuosic, with sweeping string lines punctuated by stabbing chords and brass fanfares, while the second is simpler and sometimes melancholic.  (A longer version of the piece weaves together four such preludes.)  The first prelude is essentially in four sharps, while the second shifts abruptly between the modes of a-minor, c#-minor and f-minor.  The basic musical materials of the preludes are often extremely simple, sometimes only one or two notes, or a basic scale figure.  But the way in which these parts combine to produce composite textures is often quite complex, and because many of the parts are rather difficult to play, there is much virtuosity, especially in the strings and trumpets.  It is my hope that the listener will be delighted (and not confused!) to hear the two preludes play off each other to produce a continuous single movement structure.

[Notes for the Long Version] Prelude-Weaver (1998), as its name would suggest, is a weave of four distinctly different orchestral miniatures. Prelude One, in four sharps, is bold and virtuosic, with sweeping string lines punctuated by stabbing chords and brass fanfares.  Prelude Two, which shifts abruptly between the modes of a-minor, c#-minor and f-minor, is simpler and, at times, times melancholic.  The abrupt juxtapositions of Preludes One and Two creates a composite allegro section that is interrupted just when it is about to bubble over, by a dramatic shift to a considerably slower tempo.  This invokes the beginning of Prelude Three, considerably darker, and proceeding in dialogue fashion with chorale-like wind chords trading off with intense declamatory passages by a small ensemble of string and double reed soloists. Prelude Four, the only one to ‘modulate’ away from its basic tempo, plays off Prelude Three as a kind of interrupted passacaglia, until it explodes in a burst of energy leading to a resumption of Prelude One, and the high spirits of the first part of the piece.  The ending section of the work is dominated by a return to the ‘weave’ of Preludes One and Two, but the careful listener may detect the presence of Prelude Four  (now in a major key) as a grand counterpoint to the wild, upward-thrusting lines of the high winds and strings.  It is my hope that the listener will be delighted (and not confused!) to hear the four preludes play off each other to produce a continuous single movement structure.


 
 Cantiga Variations (Fractal In One Movement On An Ancient Spanish Song) (for four guitars and small orchestra) xxxxx.(1995)   [22’]

Instrumentation: 2 Fl. (2nd dbl. Picc.)/ 2 Ob. (2nd dbl. English Horn)/ 2 Clar. (2nd dbl. Bass clar.)/ 2 Bsn. (2nd dbl. Cbsn.)/ 2 Hrn./ 2 Tr./ 2 Trb./ 3 Perc. / 4 Guitar soloists/ Strings [12,12,6,8,4 recommended]

Commissioned and premiered by the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet with the UCLA Philharmonia Orchestra, Jon Robertson, Director, Schoenberg Auditorium, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, May 7, 1997.

Score and parts available from the composer. P.O. Box 117, 23705 Vanowen Street, West Hills, CA 91307

Conductor’s Score:         $62.00
Study score:                    $38.00
Parts Rental:                  $500.00

Program notes and performance history:Cantiga Variations was commissioned and premiered by the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet with the UCLA Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Jon Robertson, in Schoenberg Auditorium, UCLA, May 7, 1997.  A concerto for four guitars and orchestra, it is preceded by concertos for bass clarinet, violin, and flute.  Like its predecessors, Cantiga Variations is a single long movement with hints of internal movements, and is as much symphony as concerto.

Although the notion of composing a concerto for guitar quartet might seem rather unusual, even unlikely, it was, perhaps, inevitable for me personally, as I have focused so much of my creative energies over the past twenty years on multiple guitar music.  Prior to the completion of Cantiga Variations, I composed eight guitar quartets (two with voice), two trios, and a duo.  Many of these works have been recorded and performed hundreds of times around the world.  In a sense, composing Cantiga Variations (subtitled ‘Fractal On An Ancient Spanish Song’) was like writing a ninth guitar quartet, only with the orchestra as an additional, vital participant.  I found that this opened up dramatic possibilities not available within the intimate confines of the unaccompanied guitar quartet.  

In the Cantiga Variations the soloists enter in a particularly unusual way.  Only after the orchestra builds a stormy opening argument, developed at some length, do the soloists enter.  And they do so quietly, without the traditional flourishes so typical of the concerto repertoire.  In fact, by design, ones sees the players begin to stir before their sonic presence is established.  This scenario is reversed at the end, where the orchestra cadences long before the soloists make their final fade to silence.  The impression I hope to leave is that we have experienced two overlapping pieces, one given by the orchestra, the other by the quartet; one beginning slightly ahead of the other and concluding earlier as well.  The "plot line" which the orchestra develops is dynamic and, at times, quite harsh, whereas its counterpart, developed by the guitarists, tends toward quietude.  It is the inevitable conflict between these two "musics" that generates the form of the work.  I deliberately courted opportunities to juxtapose the two styles nakedly with little transition.  It is my earnest hope that, as the piece unfolds, I "earn" the right to do this with greater and greater abandon.  

In fact, this is merely the "external" or apparent form of the work.  The internal, "hidden" form is a bit more complicated.  Everything that you will hear, melodies, figurations, ornaments, flourishes, bass lines, internal counterpoint, even the harmonic progressions, are actually expressions of a single melody, a beautiful cantiga from Medieval Spain entitled "Rosa das rosas."  (This is true despite the impression of great surface variety.)  Most of the time statements of this melody are moving too fast or too slow to recognize, or are part of a dense textural skein.  Sometimes it is heard inverted or reversed.  Naturally these manipulations would only be discernible by the studied ear, and it hardly necessary to apprehend them to comprehend and enjoy the piece!  But there are several places where I expose it in its "natural" form: notably near the center of the slow, meditative middle section, and again, at the very end.  As I brought the piece to a close, I found myself wondering aloud what this ancient and timeless melody might sound like if it were performed in a more contemporary, folk-like idiom.  The four guitars lent themselves particularly well to this musing so I allowed the improvisation to stand as the coda of the work, making for an ending as peaceful as the opening was violent.  The orchestra had the first word the soloists have the last.
 
 

Tientos (1991) (flute and string orchestra)   [23’]

Instrumentation:  Flute solo/Strings [4,4,3,4,1 min.] Version for flute and string trio commissioned and premiered by Pacific Serenades with flutist Mark Carlson, violinist Connie Kupka, violist Michael Nowak, and cellist David Speltz, Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles, California, April 14, 1991.  Orchestral version requested by flutist David Janello and premiered by members of the USC, Glendale and Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestras, Jonathan Stockhammer conducting, University Church, USC, Los Angeles, California, October 12, 1991.  Professionally premiered by flutist Marisa Canales, Mexico City Chamber Orchestra, Benjamín Juárez, Music Director, XV Foro de Musica Nueva, Pinacoteca Virreinal, Mexico City, May 25, 1993.

Published by Peer Music Classical .

Reviews:

"In Ian Krouse’s passionately melancholy "Tientos," flamenco music becomes the focal point of an attractive five-part fantasy for string trio and flute.  From its relentless opening rhythmic ostinatos, to more sustained and contrapuntal sections, through an extended flute cadenza and then a recapitulation of the first part, the 22-minute work explores flamenco riffs and the melismatic improvisations of a flamenco singer.  The score also favors the darker, mystical mood of the folk style.   Krouse, a guitarist as well as composer, carefully blends the tonal Spanish idioms with Stravinskyan dissonances and harmonies.  The neoclassical, quasi minimalist result is pleasantly unpredictable as well as inventive, fresh and tightly organized." Gregg Wager, LOS ANGELES TIMES, April 17, 1991
 

"…Tientos explores the same improvisatory paths and energetic moods of the three previous pieces, even though somewhat softened by the mixing of flute and string trio.  All performers show a clear affinity for Krouse’s violent but seductive sound world…" Luca Sabbatini, CLASSICS TODAY, April 2000
 

Program Notes and Performance History:Since its premiere in 1991, by California based Pacific Serenades, Tientos has been played numerous times by such groups as the 20th Century Consort, of Washington, D.C., Dinosaur Annex of Boston, the USC New Music Ensemble, and the Mexico City Chamber Orchestra.  It is part of a series of works that reflect my continuing preoccupation with the traditional music of Spain.

Although the tiento is one of Spain’s earliest surviving forms, its meaning and social function have changed radically throughout the five hundred years of its existence.  The fifteenth century Spanish vihuelists used the term tento for pieces that, by virtue of their unspecified form and improvisatory nature, were like informal cousins to the more highly involved and more contrapuntally rigorous fantasia.  The form survives today not only as a medium for serious composers – often of works for the guitar – but, perhaps surprisingly, as a flamenco guitar form.  My Tientos reflects all of these influences, and many of the formal dynamics are derived from the inherent tensions resulting from the juxtaposition of such disparate languages.  I chose the unusual plural form of the word precisely for this reason:  my piece is not a tiento so much as it is about the tiento.

In my earlier work Bulerías, a guitar quartet also highly influenced by flamenco music, my principle concern was rhythm.  In Tientos, I chose to focus on the supercharged melismatic style of flamenco singing.  The instrumentation of flute and string trio may seem a far cry from the world of flamenco, but I hope something of the profound intensity of that highly complex vernacular idiom survives here.

Tientos is essentially through composed but, like many of my works, it contains a ‘found object,’ in this case a haunting 16th century villançico, "Con qué la lavaré."  Although hinted at in the opening measures of the work, it makes a late appearance in a recognizable, if somewhat surrealistic manner, during the wild presto section that culminates the first large group of the work.  In this first incarnation it is troped by the flute with darting melismas over a quiet, propulsive drone in the strings.  Later it appears in fragmentary fashion as the main idea of a brooding adagio section.  Near the end of the flute cadenza it is heard, once again in fragments, but otherwise fully fleshed out in a 15th century setting by Juan del Encina, with the strings imitating the sound of a consort of viols.  At the very end of the work the song appears in the style of the opening bars of the work.  The text and my translation are as follows:
 

¿Con qué la lavaré                  With what shall I wash
la flor de la mi cara?               the flower of my face?
¿Con qué la lavaré                  With what shall I wash
que vivo mal penada?             away my sorrow?

Lavo me yo cuitada                 I wash myself to take away
con ansias y dolores.                the anguish and sadness.
¿Con qué la lavaré                  With what shall I wash
que vivo mal penada?              away my sorrow?

¿Con qué la lavaré                  With what shall I wash
que vivo mal penada?              away my sorrow?
Lavan le las casadas                Married women wash
con agua de limones.                with lemon water.


  Rhapsody for Violin and Orchestra (1990)    [21’]

Instrumentation:  2 fl. (2nd dbl. picc)/ 2 ob. (2nd db. Engl. Hrn.)/ 2 Clar./ 2 Bsn./ 2 Tr./ 2 Hrn./ 2 Trb./ 3 Perc./ Solo Violin/ Harp/ Strings Requested and premiered by New York Philharmonic concertmaster  Sheryl Staples, (then a student at USC), with members of the USC Symphony, Mark Barville, conductor, University Church, USC, Los Angeles, California, February 14, 1992. Professional premiere by Madeline Mitchell, violin, with the Ukraine Radio and Television Orchestra, conducted by Joel Sachs, Great Hall, Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Kiev, Ukraine, October 3, 1994. First recording by Maria Bachmann, violin, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by James Sedares, ‘Ian Krouse’, Koch International Classics, Koch 3-7482-2 HI, released February 22, 2000.

Published by Peer Music Classical .

Reviews:

"The Rhapsody for Violin and Orchestra was another surprise shocker, fully orchestrated in floods of endlessly varied sound.  Its texture is neither European nor oriental.  It deserves to be recorded."AL-ARAHM, CAIRO, EGYPT, May 28, 1995

"Here’s a daring pick for the month, but I hope you’ll be swept away in these resplendent works and performances.  Krouse’s "Rhapsody" thrills with its inflamed ecstasy for 21 minutes."Bill Stibor, NEBRASKA PUBLIC RADIO, May, 2000

"…the Rhapsody for Violin and Orchestra sounds like "Barber’s Adagio meets flamenco" before finding a more personal tone with the appearance of the solo violin.  The work’s dramatic outbursts are built up with generous help from keyboard percussion, to great effect.  The lyrical, profusely ornamental solo part floats over the orchestral fabric with grace and poignant intensity. All performers show a clear affinity for Krouse’s violent but seductive sound world, with a special mention to the violinist Maria Bachmann in the Rhapsody."Luca Sabbatini, CLASSICS TODAY, April, 2000

“The long “Rhapsody” for violin and orchestra is the only work to suggest the Celtic influence.  It opens with some four minutes of orchestral exposition followed by a restatement reworking of the same material by the solo violin in the first of two extended cadenzas.  The material is then developed further by the violin and the orchestra to about the halfway point, when a presto section takes over in shorter note values with the harmonic tempo staying exactly the same.  For all the considerable demands made upon the soloist at this point, there is no real fast music in the piece…the result is lovely…” John Story, FANFARE, July/August, 2000

“Krouse’s “Rhapsody” thrills with its enflamed intensity for 21 minutes.” Bill Stibor, Nebraska Public Radio, WET PAINT, CD of the Month, June, 2000

“The “Rhapsody” starts out like the Bruckner 9th, turns into Mahler’s “Adagietto,” and finally becomes the Barber “Violin Concerto.” Since I love that music, you can imagine how delighted I am to have elements of all that together in one piece!  It’s gorgeous.  I can imagine less sensitive critics rejecting it as “derivative,” but I never understood what was wrong with derivative.  I think we need MORE music that sounds like Bruckner, Mahler, and Barber.” Donald R. Vroon, Editor in Chief, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, July/August, 2000


Program Notes and Performance History:The Rhapsody is in the form of an extended fantasy –  or wordless motet – on a four-note motive derived from the letters of the name of a friend.   Although this was not the first time I had used the soggetto cavato technique, it was certainly the most involved.  This is ironic, perhaps, given the simplicity of the motive itself, which contains only two pitches (a - a - b-flat – a).  The majority of the materials in this piece are expansions upon this simple idea, including most of the themes, much of the harmonic syntax (largely based upon root movement by step), the harmonic language (which is dominated by the intervals of the second and ninth), and even the form of the work itself.  There are three other themes, including another soggeto cavato based upon my own name (b-flat – g – e), and two ‘found objects’: De los alamos vengo madre, a 16th century Spanish song, and Manuel de Falla’s setting of Asturiana, from 'Siete Canciones Populares', the text of which follows:
 

Asturiana

    Por ver si me consolaba,              To see if it could console me,
    arrime à un pino verde,                 I came close to the green pine,
    por ver si me consolaba,               to see if it could console me.
    Por verme llorar, lloraba.             Upon seeing me weep, it wept.
    Y el pino como era verde,              Since the pine was green,
    por verme llorar, lloraba.              upon seeing me weep, it wept.


The piece begins with a lengthy and fully developed orchestral exposition [a], betraying the Rhapsody’s origin as an orchestral piece, not a violin concerto!  The solo voice emerges naturally as the orchestral swells die away, initiating a second exposition [a’], much more introspective and finely textured than the first.  An explosive outburst from the tutti strings leads to an extended presto [b], periodically interrupted by lyrical episodes, and culminated by an extended solo passage for the violin.  The work concludes with a coda based upon the original adagio [a’’], and fades away inconclusively, alternately attempting to rest on ‘e’ and ‘f’ in turn.

The work was written for New York Philharmonic principal associate concertmaster Sheryl Staples - then a student at USC - who gave its premiere performance on February 14, 1992, with the USC Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Mark Barville.  Since that time it has been performed by violinists Hassan Sharara with the Cairo Philharmonic Orchestra, American Searmi Park with the Armenian Philharmonic in Yerevan, Armenia, both conducted by Jon Robertson; and British violinist Madeline Mitchell and the Ukraine Radio and Television Orchestra conducted by Joel Sachs at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Kiev, Ukraine, among others.  It is scheduled to be played by Mark Kaplan with the UCLA Philharmonia orchestra under the direction of Jon Robertson, in spring, 2001.


 
  Concerto for Bass Clarinet (1988)   [21’]

Instrumentation: 4 FL. (2nd dbl. Picc, 3rd dbl. Alto Fl., 4th Dbl. Picc.)/3 Ob./Engl. Hrn./ 3 Clar. (1st dbl. Clar. in A, 2nd dbl. Bass Clar., 3rd dbl. Clar. in E-flat)/3 Bsn./Cntr.-bsn./ 4 Hrn./ 4 Tr. (1st dbl. Picc. Tr. -- optional, 4th dbl. Bass Tr. - optional)/ 2 Tenor Trb./ Bass Trb./ Tuba/ Timpani (4-5 drums)/ 5-6 Perc. (Sn. Dr., Ten. Dr., Lrg. Sus. Cym., Sm./Med. Sus. Cym., Piatti, Tamb., Bass Dr., Tam-tam, Xyl., High-hat, Mar., Glock., Ratch., 5 Tuned Gongs (C, G., A-flat, E-flat, and E)/Harp/Cel., Solo Bass Clar./ Strings [16, 16, 12, 10, 8]

Commissioned for Ron Wakefield, bass clarinetist, and premiered by the USC Symphony Orchestra,   Daniel Lewis, Music Director, Bovard Auditorium, USC, Los Angeles, California, October 6, 1988.  Professional premiere by bass clarinetist J. Lawrie Bloom and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by James DePriest, Orchestra Hall, Chicago, Illinois, January 12 - 17, 1995.

Published by Peer Music Classical .

Reviews:

"Bass clarinet is a hard working orchestra member, but few music lovers have its powerful, dusky tone and supple expressive range firmly in their ears.  Krouse’s well-crafted concerto was a welcome chance to fill in that blank. …the 20 minute work is truly a concerto in the sense that it sent soloist and orchestra into sharp dialogue.." CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, January 13, 1995


"The solo part, which the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s J. Lawrie Bloom dispatched with staggering virtuosity, has some compelling effects, florid runs and cadenza-like flourishes that knowingly exploit the instrument’s carnal lower register."CHICAGO TRIBUNE, January 13, 1995

“The focus of the evening was a world premiere of…Ian Krouse.  Krouse’s “Concerto for Bass Clarinet and Orchestra” turned out to be remarkably entertaining.  It began with orchestral chords punctuating a cadenza for the bass clarinet and setting the dark, somber tone which prevails throughout most of the work.  After the opening cadenza begins the movement proper, a technically demanding Allegro molto not let down in intensity for the remainder of the piece.  Krouse features several other instruments in the orchestra and explores others timbres by the addition of two more bass clarinets…as well as other low instruments, such as the contrabassoon.  The lower register of the harp is utilized in unison with the low strings, as well as in solo, for interesting effect.

Instead of contrasting the bass clarinet solo with high, bright instruments, the piece becomes sort of a feature for all the dark, mellow, often overlooked instruments in the orchestra.  Krouse is to be commended not only for his orchestrational skills, but for filling in gaps in the orchestral repertoire and showcasing instruments other than violins and flutes.” Lisa Durbin, USC DAILY TROJAN, October, 1988  

Program Notes and Performance History:

Although many of my works from the same period were preoccupied with various aspects of Spanish art and culture – both ancient and modern – the Bass Clarinet Concerto is an exception to this.  The virtuosity and prominence of the soloist would seem to place the work squarely within the concerto genre, but it is at least as closely related to the symphony.  The form of the work may be described as an extended cadenza followed without pause by a large continuous movement based on the former.  If one listens carefully, however, it is possible to hear "flirtations" with a traditional four-movement structure.  For example, the "bluesy" section heard at about six minutes, or the pulsing, slow section heard towards the end are reminiscent of the sorts of internal contrasting movements with which concertos (or symphonies) abound.

The work is un-programatic, abstract music, but does contain a musical scenario that plays its way out over twenty-some minutes.  This might be explicated as follows: the odd four-note chord first played by muted horns at the outset (E-flat, F-flat, G-flat, B-flat) has a central role in this scenario.  On this, its first appearance, it is easily "silenced" by a hammer blow chord from the tutti.  But on each of its subsequent, and increasingly more intrusive reappearances, the orchestra must expend more energy to expunge the chord from its midst.  The increasingly futile efforts to accomplish this "exorcism" results, naturally, in an overall increase in the tension level and aggravates a growing schism between the soloist and the orchestra.  Towards the end, things have degenerated to a point that, at times, it seems as if the soloist and the orchestra are engaged in a struggle for supremacy in which neither emerges as clear victor.  It is not until the final pages that a sense of uneasy reconciliation is achieved.  

Solo concertos for bass clarinet and large orchestra are, of course, highly unusual.  After all, the bass clarinet is not an instrument associated with the sorts of pyrotechnics that are the sine qua non for virtuoso solo instruments.  However, in the hands of a skilled player, the bass clarinet can be nearly as agile as its smaller relatives, and, as regards its expressive potential, it has few rivals.  Perhaps its single greatest asset, and one that I exploit to the hilt, is the beauty and dynamic range of its lowest register.  Unlike other wind instruments that share this range, the bass clarinet possesses the ability to modulate between a barely audible whisper on the one hand to a full-bodied forte on the other.  This preoccupation with the low register can be heard throughout the opening cadenza, where, after a few bravura upward rushes covering almost the entire range of the instrument, the soloist makes a gradual descent into the depths, finally coming to rest on a low D-flat.  This focus on extremely low sounds resonates throughout the rest of the work, creating rich opportunities to spotlight the contrabassoon, bass marimba, low-pitched gongs, tuba, and double bass.  There are even two additional bass clarinet parts (!) just for fun.