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Bebop Riddle II B for bassoon and piano (2024)

For bassoon and piano [or baritone saxophone and piano; or bass clarinet and piano]

First performance 31 October 2023 by bassoon player Ben Roidl-Ward and pianist Daniel Pesca in the Smith Memorial Room at The University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, IL.
Commissioned by Ben Roidl-Ward and pianist Daniel Pesca.
Duration: 8 minutes and 30 seconds

Range of the bassoon part is C2 to E5
In cases where this work is played by Bass Clarinet, all the sounding notes in the piece can be played on that instrument.
In cases where this work is played by Baritone Saxophone, all the notes in the piece, except the sounding C2, can be played on that instrument. For the 7 sounding C2’s the player should play them one octave higher as sounding C3.

Informal reference recording is available for private listening. If you would like to review the recording please Contact Augusta Read Thomas.

Program Note

Bebop Riddle II B was commissioned by and is dedicated with admiration and gratitude to Ben Roidl-Ward and Daniel Pesca. Thomas has been composing a series of “Bebop Riddles” all of which are completely independent, unique works. Bebop Riddle I is for solo marimba. Bebop Riddle II is for cello (playing only pizzicato) and piano. Bebop Riddle II B, for bassoon and piano, is a transformation and extension of the pizzicato cello version. Bebop Riddle IV is for reed quintet (for which Thomas has made several transcriptions for various wind quintet combinations.) Bebop Riddle V is a duo for soprano saxophone and alto saxophone (for which Thomas has made several transcriptions for various wind duo combinations.)

Thomas’ works always spark and catch fire from spontaneous improvisations. It is music always in the act of becoming. She has a vivid sense that the process of the creative journey (rather than a predictable fixed point of arrival) is the essence. 

Thomas sings and dances when she composes and likes her music to be and to feel organic, self-propelled — as if we listeners are overhearing (capturing) a spontaneously embodied improvisation. She said, “For me, music and dance must be alive; they have to jump off the page and out of the instrument and body as if something big is at stake.”

Bebop Riddle II B is by turns sprightly, spry, energetic, and spirited. Thomas crafted animated, traveling, flexible, versatile, changing, fluid, and buoyant sonic adventures. Iridescent, bold, and scintillating, the carefully sculpted and fashioned musical materials of Bebop Riddle II B are agile and vivacious, and their flexibility allows pathways to braid harmonic, rhythmic, and contrapuntal elements that are constantly transformed — at times whimsical, jazzy and be-bop-like, layered, and reverberating, with lyrical resonance, pirouettes, fulcrum points, and vitality.>

The two equally virtuosic parts, which require highly characterized dynamics and articulations, bubble forth for 8 minutes and 15 seconds, unfolding continuously developing phrases. The music is organic and, at every level, concerned with transformations and connections. Bassoon can be substituted by baritone saxophone or bass clarinet. The range of the bassoon part is C2 to E5.

Ben Roidl-Ward. Photo credit: Lynn Lane.

Daniel Pesca. Photo credit: Caitlin Oldham.

To obtain examination or performance material for this
Augusta Read Thomas work, please contact Nimbus Music Publishing.