More Greek Myths

Susan Nigro, who commissioned this piece, and Mark Lindeblad gave this set of pieces for contrabassoon its first performance in September, 2007, which you can listen to here. The music is available from Jeanné inc.

The basic idea of this set of pieces is a progression from the Apollonian to the Dionysian. Apollo, the god of the sun, represents the ideas of individuality, critical reason, the artistic possibilities of human beings, and the concept of perfection. He is cerebral while Dionysus, who ends this set of pieces, is ruled by passion and instinct. He is the god of wine and is associated with intoxication, pleasure, loss of individuality and dissolution of boundaries. He is the god of excess, while his brother Apollo (both are children of Zeus) is the god of self-control.

After Apollo we get Artemis, who is Apollo's twin sister. She is the virgin huntress. The meter of her piece is 6/8, the usual meter of hunt music (Mozart's "hunt" quartet, etc.), and the ascending arpeggios are supposed to be like arrows flying into the air. The music is kind of self-contained: Artemis is content with her life on her island (where she prefers to live alone with the animals). Before Dionysus comes Aphrodite, the goddess of love. She represents everything that Artemis is not. The image that I had while writing this piece was that of Aphrodite (represented by the sexy voice of the contrabassoon) rising up from sea foam, as represented by the piano's rhythmic ostinato.

In the middle of the set we get Heracles. He is the only mortal in the lot. While all the gods around him get to bask in tonality (and Aphrodite gets all kinds of rich 7th chords), Heracles labors with a tone row, made more difficult by irregular meters, dotted rhythms, and a relatively slow tempo.

February 22, 2007

December 2008 UPDATE: Susan Nigro recorded this piece on her latest recording for Crystal: Original Tunes for the Big Bassoon!

March 2015 UPDATE:

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