Marcos Balter – Wicker Park

Brazilian-born, but Chicago-based contemporary composer Marcos Balter’s Wicker Park is a gentle and ethereal piece for solo soprano saxophone. Idiomatically loud techniques like flutter tonguing, trilling at great distances, and fast playing  largely reside in the dynamic spectrum from piano to pianissimo create such fragrant airiness of timbre that I cannot help but think of little bugs and exquisite flowers in the springtime when listening to this piece. The largely consonant and diatonic pitch content surely assists in creating this imagery as well. Typically when I hear a piece that is this unflinchingly consonant, it quickly devolves into utter tedium, but because of the breadth of Balter’s sound vocabulary in timbre, rhythm, and ornaments, it is anything but.

This will be all I can write today because I have much work to finish my semester of student teaching (which is why I couldn’t write at all yesterday [the day before was because of travel]), but I hope you enjoy this charming piece of music.

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