I began writing “Capriccio” during the fall of 2008, when the stock market crash heralded the beginning of the ongoing Great Recession. The surreality of the economic news reminded me of Germany during the Weimar Republic, when the arts flourished during a time of financial uncertainty. The musical language of “Capriccio” is inspired by theater and cabaret music.
On the surface, “Capriccio” is joyful and energetic, but shifting meters and dissonances betray an underlying instability. In spite of light, graceful musical material, sometimes the figurations become slightly frantic; sometimes pauses and repeated notes go a bit too long; sometimes “out-of-place” timbres such as instruments playing in an uncomfortable range act as a mild irritant. The effect is that the music becomes both virtuosic and mildly anxious.
This version of “Capriccio,” for brass quintet, is based on an earlier version for woodwind quintet.