As a composer, Joseph T. Spaniola has written works for band, chamber ensembles, orchestra, solo instruments, voice, choir, and electronic tape. That astonishing versatility is on full display on ESCAPADE, his first release with Big Round Records. ESCAPADE opens with its title track, performed by The US Air Force Academy Band, which launches into an unrestrained musical exploration inspired by the composition’s first four pitches.
The power of music to evoke memory and meaning propels the three movements that make up Klempirik Farms, performed by the Solar Winds clarinet quartet. Together those movements, light-hearted or solemn, capture the full range of emotions that Spaniola’s family farm, an “ideal, a radiant place, a boundless source of peace, joy, and quiet strength…,” have come to represent.
Blow, Eastern Winds, commissioned by and performed on this album by the Eastern Wind Symphony, metaphorically expresses the dynamic, irresistible energy of the musicians, utilizing the sensation of winds both gentle and turbulent: soft and restrained breezes, a collision of violent crosscurrents resulting in fierce storms, or an exhilarating, free-flowing stream that leaves small whirlpools in its wake.
Spaniola was commissioned to write Dream for euphonium player Danny Helseth, whose technical prowess and interpretive abilities radiate throughout this high-energy piece. This is followed by the re-emergence of the Solar Winds on The Winds of the Quadrumvirate, performing this time in a symphonic setting with the US Air Force Academy Band. In this piece, the “Quadrumvirate” refers to the four clarinetists working together as one, combining their diverse styles into a distinct whole. The album closes with the joyously unrestrained and enthusiastic Der Heyser Bulgar, a klezmer-style piece written for xylophonist Steve Przyzycki. This uplifting, memorable conclusion deftly tops off Spaniola’s successful Big Round Records debut.