Michael Welsh: Serenade


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(2003) was funded by an anonymous benefactor.


solo bassoon | harp | strings


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MAPL | ^
MAPL designation for Canadian broadcasters


Performance materials are in preparation and will be available through this site.


Personnel heard on the mozart and well beyond CD


June 9, 2003 - Glenn Gould Studio, Toronto - Michael Sweeney and The Seiler Strings with harpist
Erica Goodman.


Michael Welsh has provided the following programme notes:

"Serenade was commissioned by Michael Sweeney and is dedicated to him for his masterful artistry and out of a friendship of many years. In opposition to a Classical-era serenade, it is in one movement with many episodes of changing tempos, tonal centers and meters. My idea about the piece was more in keeping with a Renaissance serenade - a lover's courting song or homage, played in the evening, out of doors. Natural images of water, the rhythm of waves and wind, are reflected in the use of the harp, and especially in the Barcarolle section beginning in the last third of the work. The florid, lyrical bassoon writing is interwoven with the ensemble and makes use of all registers and colors of the instrument. Although harmonically complex, Serenade is direct in its expression and full of my favorite things." - M.W.


Programme Notes from the mozart and well beyond CD booklet:

My association with Michael Welsh began at university in California in the late 1970s. There, we established a strong rapport centred around our enthusiasm for established modern composers such as Stravinsky and Britten, and (then) cutting-edge composers such as John Adams and Steve Reich.

Eventually, we worked together on a series of Welsh’s compositions for bassoon and keyboard (piano or synthesizer), his chamber works, and incidental music for the theatre. Through this direct contact, and innumerable shared concerts and conversations about music in general, our affinity strengthened and deepened. His acceptance of my invitation to compose a large-scale work featuring the bassoon was an obvious and natural step on our individual paths as composer and performer, and together as collaborators.

Early in the process of developing his materials for this commission, Welsh decided against presenting them in the traditional form of a “concerto,” with its expectations of virtuoso display opportunities for the soloist, and chose instead to compose a kind of hybrid “serenade” drawn from the various definitions of this lyric form through history. All through Serenade one hears long melodies and melodic fragments which, in their vocality, reference Renaissance-era serenades sung by a lover to his beloved. At the same time, the work’s many changes of tempo and metre recall the multi-movement form of Classical-era serenades for diverse instrumental ensembles.

Consistent with the traditions of the serenade across all the style periods, Welsh’s work is primarily concerned with melody – even its harmonies are generated by the interplay of melodic lines. However, it is not simply his interest in melody, but his ability to construct and manipulate melodic lines within the context of a cogent and appealing sound world that identifies him as a postmodern composer.

Like other postmodern composers, Welsh has developed a clear, accessible, and (above all) personal musical language that invites the listener to connect emotionally as well as intellectually with his musical ideas.

© 2004 Michael Sweeney


Critical comment on Serenade


Michael Welsh's compositions are registered with BMI.


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