Confections (1995)

Instrumentation: oboe (or clarinet) and bassoon

Duration: 8:00

Dedicated to Willa Henigman and Nancy Lutes

Premiered on American Music Week: Faculty Recital; Wichita State University; October 31, 1995.

I. Trifle (Sweet Nothings)
II. Baklava (Snaky Solos)
III.  Jolly Ranchers

Recording: (Headin’ for the Last Rondo)  Willa Henigman, oboe; Nancy Lutes, bassoon WSU Contemporary Music Festival, March 14, 1996.
used with the composer’s permission.

Notes: Confections takes its inspiration from a suggestion by Nancy Lutes,  instructor of bassoon at Wichita State University and principal bassoonist with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra.  The result: three short “character pieces” for oboe and bassoon.  My intent was to contribute to the literature for double reed instruments and to write something that would be pleasant to listen to and fun to play.  The title Confections refers to this quality of lightness (and perhaps “empty calories”),  as do the titles and subtitles of the individual pieces.  No attempt has been made to evoke the “taste” of a particular confection;  the titles simply set a mood.  Trifle (Sweet Nothings) is merely that:  a trifle.  Its playful character arises from the use of changing meter and motivic echoing between the instruments.  The movement is in the Lydian-Mixolydian mode, with some whole-tone inflections.  Baklava (Snaky Solos) was inspired by Willa Henigman,  instructor of oboe at WSU and principal oboist with the Wichita Symphony. While demonstrating the instrument to my orchestration class,  she referred to the many “snaky solos” that are a staple of the double reed literature. Baklava  presents a kind of florid, “snaky” melodic writing and has a Middle-Eastern tinge. Jolly Ranchers  (Headin’ for the Last Rondo) has less to do with little hard candies  than with the idea of,  well, . . . jolly ranchers.  A kind of demented,  polytonal “Western” atmosphere has been created,  and the form is that of a rondo—sort of a joke on “round-up.”

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