james choice orchestra “live at musik triennale köln”

Annette Maye (clarinet, bass clarinet), Frank Gratkowski (alto saxophone, contra bass clarinet, composition), Matthias Schubert (tenor saxophone, composition), Norbert Stein (tenor saxophone, composition), Niels Klein (tenor saxophone, bass clarinet), Michael Heupel (flutes), Benjamin Weidekamp (clarinet), Matthias Mainz (trumpet), Udo Moll (trumpet), Nicolao Valiensi (trombone), Carl Ludwig Hübsch (tuba, composition), Melvyn Poore (tuba), Isis Krüger (voice), Barbara Schachtner (voice), Paolo Alvares (piano), Scott Fields (guitar), Tom Lorenz (vibraphone), Thomas Lehn (synthesizer), Joe Hertenstein (drums), Radek Stawarz (violin), Sue Schlotte (cello), Sebastian Gramss (double bass), Dieter Manderscheid (double bass)

Leo Records (LR 513)

1 Autoportrait (Matthias Schubert) (16:33)
2 – 3 Pyrsos (Frank Gratkowski) (21:48)
4 – 5 Six Chapters in a Rambling Life (Norbert Stein) (16:24)
6 – 9 Trivial Tribute to L.B. (Carl Ludwig Hübsch) (21:26)

Compositions by Frank Gratkowski, Carl Ludwig Hübsch, Matthias Schubert, Norbert Stein (all GEMA)
Published by Alissa Publishing / PRS
Produced by Frank Gratkowski, Carl Ludwig Hübsch, Matthias Schubert, Norbert Stein

“Pyrsos” is the first extended work for orchestra in which I used dense orchestral textures that were generated through probability based techniques. The title Pyrsos is Greek and stands for solar flare or blaze.

The piece is in two main parts. The first part starts by introducing the harmonies of the second part. Then it becomes quite open. The conductor (myself, in this case) cues instructions of musical behavior, games, and written parts for small groups. The transition to the second part starts with a long descending chord that ends on the lowest E-flat of each instrument. E-flat was selected because it is the main note (the note with the highest probability) of the beginning of part two. The second part is almost completely through notated. In part two the orchestra is divided in three groups. 1. strings plus clarinets and flute. 2. brass and saxophones 3. guitar, vibraphone, piano and partly percussion, synthesizer. In the beginning the singer belongs to group 3 and the spoken voice belongs to group 1.

The pitches are derived from a 6-tone row with 6 permutations. Each group’s material is formed from a different transposition of this pitch table.

The density of the orchestral structure rises gradually. Additionally I inserted diferent textures like parallel movements and, to honor Luciano Berio, three quotes from his Sequenzas. Berio was my introduction to modern contemporary classical music and has continued to be a strong inspiration to me.

Frank Gratkowski