Sy Brandon’s Divertissement for multiple woodwinds and piano is now available for purchase. If you’re a regular reader, you know that I commissioned this piece with funding from a Co-op Press Commission Assistance grant, and you have already read my series of blog posts about the genesis of Divertissement.
The piece is now available for purchase from the Co-op press website [update: now available from JW Pepper, with each movement sold separately]. It’s priced at an extraordinarily reasonable $6.95 for a PDF download (at the time of this writing), and U.S. customers can opt for a print copy for a still-affordable $16.95. The individual movements, any of which would make a charming short piece for a recital, are also available at just under two bucks apiece (PDF).
Among the few pieces in existence for multiple woodwinds soloist, this one has, in my opinion, the fewest logistical barriers to performance: it doesn’t require a large or unusual ensemble (just soloist and pianist), and it doesn’t require any unusual instruments, electronics, or other gear. There is also some flexibility in which instruments are used—movements may be selected from:
- Intrada (flute)
- Nocturne (alto saxophone)
- Valse (bassoon)
- Marche (clarinet)
- Romanza (oboe)
- Galop (piccolo/flute/oboe/clarinet/bassoon/alto saxophone, OR just piccolo)
For flute/clarinet/saxophone doublers, the Intrada, Nocturne, Marche, and Galop (piccolo version) would make quite a nice combination.
I find the work to be challenging but not dauntingly so. I would say the individual movements would be quite playable by an undergraduate music major on each instrument. The piccolo version of the Galop calls for some level of confidence and finesse with that instrument. The multiple-woodwinds version has only two measures of optional piccolo, but it is at the very end of the piece, after a very fast switch from flute, and it goes to high G.
The language of the piece is modern, but with one foot planted in tonality; it’s stimulating enough for an audience of musicians, and accessible enough for lay audiences. The writing is witty, and there’s an extra element of visual humor, especially if you play the Valse (which calls for an optional low A extension tube) and if you play the mutiple-woodwinds version of the Galop (which has a few daringly fast instrument switches).
For a woodwind doubler, this is an appealing, playable piece for very little money.