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Affections, for recorder, oboe, violin, bassoon and harpsichord (2007), 40′

Commissioned by The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra with generous support from Dobson and Jane West in honor of their 40th wedding anniversary.
Premiere—2010 by the Blue Baroque Band (Cléa Galhano, recorder; Kathryn Greenbank, oboe; Daria Adams, violin; Charles Ullery, bassoon; Layton James, harpsichord), St. Paul, MN.


Movements

  1. Joy (Morning Hymn)
  2. Gaiety (Allegro concertante)
  3. Tenderness (Air)
  4. Jollity (Jig Fugue)
  5. Love (Serenade)
  6. Mirth (Hornpipe)
  7. Fury (Toccata)
  8. Melancholy (Flower Song)
  9. Sorrow (Tombeau)
  10. Reflection (Winter Landscape)
  11. Celebration (Rigaudon)
  12. Contemplation (Chorale)
  13. Wonder (Evening Hymn)

Program Note

Centuries ago, an informal Doctrine of Affections guided aesthetics, suggesting that a single emotion should characterize a movement or work. Affections revives that antique notion, playing on it to celebrate a festive occasion with new music for an old-fashioned ensemble.

A hymn opens and closes the work, as it progresses through a day from Joy to Wonder. As in the Tafelmusik of Telemann, there is a concerto (Gaiety-Tenderness-Jollity), followed by an assortment of dances and character pieces. Affections may be performed in any number of configurations.

Among the many nods to Baroque practice: in the interest of textural variety, the harpsichord moves back and forth between basso continuo, where only chord figures are indicated, and obbligato, where each note is specified. The bassoon is often freed from a bass function, ranging over its three-octave compass. Four recorders are called for, from tenor to sopranino. The violin role is the most varied: it is often called upon to play the tenor in ensemble, though it ranges well above the oboe at times, but its ability to play chords or contribute pizzicato contributes textural variety. The bassoon is often the bass, but it also ranges throughout its compass.

 

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