Four Souvenirs - Paul Schoenfeld

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Digital Download: Flute and piano (Piano Score and Part)

Composer: Paul Schoenfeld (formerly Paul Schoenfield)

Instrumentation: Flute and Piano or Violin and Piano

Duration: Approx. 14 minutes

Date Written: 1990

Commissioned by: Lev Polyakin

Premiered: 1990

Program Note (from the album Last Silence featuring Martha Aarons, Lev Polyakin, and Frances Renzi):

Violinist Lev Polyakin commissioned "Four Souvenirs" in 1990, and first performed it in 1991 with the composer as pianist. Its inception dates back to when Lev heard Paul Schoenfield's trumpet concerto and was instantly smitten with one of its themes. Lev asked Paul to write something for violin based on that melody. Which became the "Tin Pan Alley" movement of this set of short pieces.

The four movements comprise contrasting dance styles.

"Samba" is vivacious and Brazilian-inspired, full of syncopation and swagger.

"Tango" begins with a melancholy, sentimental introduction before launching into its main theme, which is characterized by the typical, sensual rhythm of traditional tango.

"Tin Pan Alley" was the nickname for a New York City neighborhood in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, where publishers of popular music set up shop with pianos on which composers could play their songs, in hopes of selling them. This romantic ballad harks back to the style of popular tunes of that bygone era.

The final movement, "Square Dance", is a riotous showpiece in perpetual-motion, featuring elements suggestive of country-fiddle music along with honky-tonk piano techniques. It provides a brilliant finale that calls on virtuosic skills from both violinist and pianist.

From the composer: "Four Souvenirs was commissioned by the Soviet emigré Lev Polyakin. Although a classical violinist by training, Lev has had a proclivity for jazz since coming to this country. In addition to being a member of the Cleveland Orchestra, he frequently performs at Cleveland's jazz clubs. Specifically, he asked for some short pieces that could be played at "Night Town," a local jazz spot that specializes in bringing old jazz styles to the fore. Thus these pieces are in fact actual souvenirs, music that one could hear during the great radio days of the 1920s."

Performance video:


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