Augusta Read Thomas: Bebop Riddle II for Cello & Piano [Printed Music]
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When playing and hearing BEBOP RIDDLE II the virtuosity, flexibility, and energy of superstar jazz upright-bass players Charles Mingus, Ron Carter, and Ray Brown leap to ear and mind. This force, intersected with other specific musical perfumes formulate a unique sonic palette. Thomas said, “I love how music talks with music.” Imagine the pointillistic intricacy and contrapuntal, conversational, interlocking-lines of J.S. Bach’s keyboard music crisscrossed with Bill-Evans-and-Thelonious-Monk-like harmonies, then further overlapped with the energy of bebop’s fast tempo, rapid chord changes, mood shifts, and instrumental flair. Thomas braids these auras (there are no musical quotes in the composition) into a personal, nuanced amalgam that captures the spirit of improvisation, at turns whimsical, soulful, vivacious, reflective, and animated. Thomas said, “There is a lifeforce when one musician speaks in music with another. Even if from time to time one musician is silent, there is still an animated spirit and energy.” She writes on her score, “Full of spirit; Enthusiastic inner-life for each note, line, and hocket.” This refined composition is a 7-minute conversation between cello and piano as well as a conversation between composer and some of her musical idols. Thomas is composing a series of “Bebop Riddles” all of which are completely independent, unique works. Bebop Riddle I is for solo marimba. Thomas dedicates this work with admiration and gratitude to Ellen Highstein to honor her longstanding leadership of the Tanglewood Music Center. Commissioned by the Tanglewood Music Center and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.