A Richard Frazier Original – Duration: 4’ 12”
The Dance Variations on “La Morisque” by Tylman Susato (c.1510-c.1570) composed by Richard Frazier for string orchestra presents five variations on one of the most famous melodies of the Renaissance. Not only was Tylman Susato an accomplished composer and a performer on many wind instruments, he was also a successful music publisher whose shop could be found “at the sign of the crumhorn” in Antwerp. In the sixteenth century a “moresca” was an exotic dance, first performed by the Moors (European Muslims), which often contain mock swordplay and battle imagery. Susato improved on the traditional melody by creating richer harmonies with a distinct tonal center, and his version became the one that survived the ages because he owned the music printing press. Dance Variations opens with a bold statement of the Susato melody and transitions to a jazzy variation featuring the basses and cellos. The second variation presents a round that is merrily passed from one section to another. Variation Three is at a slower and somewhat “bluesy” tempo, with lyrical passion and style to match. The fourth variation plays on the Moorish connection with a droll, minor key melody in the style of the English cousin of the moresca, a Morris Dance. Mr. Frazier has composed a fine fiddling tune in the parallel major for the fifth and final variation that is fitted with a jovial countermelody in the violas and cellos. The final section is an apotheosis where we find the fiddle song paired with the original sixteenth century melody, capped by a rousing and quite virtuosic finish. This piece presents challenges for all of the instruments and offers a fun way to move into the higher positions for the first violins and the double basses.
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