Robert Muczynski: A Serenade for Summer


Composed in 1976 when Robert Muczynski (1929-2010) was composer-in-residence at the University of Arizona, A Serenade for Summer was first recorded by the Arizona Chamber Orchestra. Along with many other works by Muczynski, A Serenade for Summer is diatonic and hones back to some of his previous orchestral style. 


The Music

Dark in character, A Serenade for Summer is very carefully orchestrated. The soft opening fluctuation from the strings makes way for a solo oboe and bassoon to initiate their short duet. Muczynski’s rich textures creates a warmth within the music, even if the colourful harmony does not always match up. A rumble from the depths of the orchestra leads to the first climax of the piece which is led by an expanding upper string theme. 

The intensity throughout the piece is largely fuelled by the tentative harmonic language, which, although diatonic, is not always sure of where to go next. The thematic material is developed slowly over the course of the piece, and so paired with the anxious harmonic language, makes for an accessible contemporary piece. As the music progresses the more Muczynski’s orchestrations fluctuate between being thin and fully-realised. A rumble from the percussion and low brass are shadowed by decorations from the tuned percussion and celesta. The dichotomy between voicings is intriguing, and adds a new dimension to the music. A Serenade for Summer concludes quietly and the celesta plays a decorative cadenza-style interlude. 


Ⓒ Alex Burns

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