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Name of Work

Sampson, David (1951-)

Lamentfully (in memory of Alan Balter)
With abandon
With strength


May 21, 1999

Michael Henoch, Oboe
Larry Combs, Clarinet
William Buchman, Bassoon
Gail Williams, Horn
Joseph Genualdi, Viola
Stefan Hersh, Violin
Rami Solomonow, Viola
Christopher Costanza, Cello
Bradley Opland, Double bass
Deborah Sobol, Piano

SAMPSON - Dectet

Composed in 1998

The composer has provided the following comments:

Dectet for oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon, two violins, viola, cello, double bass, and piano, was written on commission for the Chicago Chamber Musicians, and completed on September 23, 1998. It is an unusual work for me because there is no program or narrative impetus in any of the movements except for the second. This means that writing about the music becomes a bit pale compared to the actual sounds themselves, which stand quite well on their own.

I can reveal that the first movement begins ominously with a sustained pedal in the bass and ostinato figures in the other strings while the winds create long line over this texture, but until you hear the actual sounds, this could describe a thousand other pieces. I could mention that the third movement owes its life to Shostakovich with his twisted waltzes and decadent nostalgia, but, until you experience the playfulness of my own twisted sequences, these are just words. I could describe how I love that the fourth movement has this energetic, indomitable quality with a percussive piano, swirling string lines and screaming winds, but you think me merely boastful. The music only lives in the music. If words could truly duplicate or explain, we would not need to sing.

That said, I would like to tell a story around the second movement. After completing the first movement in the middle of August 1998, I began the second. For several days I pondered what might follow the rather "fearful first" with little success. Then, on Friday, August 21st, my family left me for the day to visit relative and I struggled alone with my still born thoughts. Eventually, I wrote down my first tentative notes and before long I was furiously writing measure after measure. I stopped around four in the morning, having completed what I later knew was most of the movement. The next day, when I studied what I had written, I was surprised to find that the movement was a traditional passacaglia with a four-measure ground bass and a strong sense of loss and lament. Its simple directness puzzled me.

I continued revising the movement the next few days. The following Wednesday I received a call from a friend asking if I had heard about Alan. I said no and he proceeded to tell me that Alan Baiter, conductor, clarinetist, and good friend, had died in Philadelphia on Friday night from complications after lung surgery. I was stunned not only for the terrible, wasteful loss of a dear friend, but also because I realized that the second movement was so urgently created at the moment of his passing. The lament now made sense and has added a reverent poignancy to the rest of the work.

Program Notes by Phillip Huscher

Performed May 21 1999

Performance Audio

The audio file for this performance is unavailable at this time.