Peter Schickele: A Year in the Catskills

Peter Schickele: A Year in the Catskills

by Blair Woodwind QuintetBlair Woodwind Quintet


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Those familiar with composer Peter Schickele's P.D.Q. Bach persona may be aware that he wrote original music as well. Less common is knowledge of what it actually sounds like, and less common still an awareness that it's far from unrelated to the P.D.Q. Bach compositions. An added bonus is that as of 2009, at age 74, Schickele was still at it: the opening "A Year in the Catskills," composed that year, is a delightfully elegant piece of American neo-classicism. Schickele's essential style has remained recognizable through several decades of tonal fashions, and as heard in these wind-ensemble pieces it's often very funny indeed. Quite like in the P.D.Q. Bach pieces, Schickele relies on a combination of rigorous part-writing and unexpected stylistic shifts. He juxatposes Baroque dances with modern popular ones (a device not unknown in the P.D.Q. Bach recordings), and his ear for amusing musical pictorialisms is keen: sample the three movements of "What Did You Do Today at Jeffrey's House?" for an idea. The third movement of that work, "Then We Did a Carnival with a Haunted House and Dancing Bears," is also notable for its treatment of the blues, a form very rarely convincingly handled in a classical context: Schickele sticks very close to the basic blues harmonic pattern but displaces both rhythm and texture in the added counterpoint in clever ways. His wind writing is rigorous and even difficult enough to tax the Blair Woodwind Quintet at times. The album is full of other pleasures like the three compact, chromatic-impressionist movements of "Gardens" (1968). Highly recommended despite plain sound from a concert hall at Tennessee's Vanderbilt University, with enthusiastic performances from players associated with that institution.

Product Details

Release Date: 08/30/2011
Label: Naxos American
UPC: 0636943968727
catalogNumber: 8559687
Rank: 140619


  1. Diversions, for oboe, clarinet & bassoon
  2. Dream Dances, for flute, oboe & cello
  3. What Did You Do Today at Jeffrey's House?, for horn & piano
  4. Gardens, for oboe & piano
  5. A Year in the Catskills, for woodwind quintet

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