Debut Album Release: Farallon Quintet Originals

FQ coverWe are pleased to announce the release of our debut album, Farallon Quintet Originals. We chose to highlight on our very first CD some of our original offerings by featuring works we commissioned. Preview album tracks, download digital files, or order the hard copy version here.

The album repertoire includes Citizen 13660 by Chad Cannon, Clarinet Quintet by Durwynne Hsieh, and Gymnopédie No. 1 by Erik Satie, arranged by quintet violinist Dan Flanagan.

We want to thank our phenomenal recording engineer Robert Johnson of Sierra Professional Audio & Video Technologies and our incredible producer Rick Shinozaki. We are also deeply indebted to San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music for their generous grant funding which helped to make this recording project a reality.

See below for program notes and we hope you have the chance to check out our album!

 

PROGRAM NOTES

Citizen 13660 is a firsthand, illustrated account of the internment experience during WWII by Ms. Miné Okubo, a U.S.-born American of Japanese ancestry. L.A. composer Chad Cannon (b. 1985) based his musical work (of the same title) on this book and selected eight of Okubo’s phrases as movement titles.

1. “We were outnumbered” refers to the large numbers of spiders, mice, and rats in the Tanforan camp.
2. “The wind was playing havoc with the fine dust particles” refers to the dust that was prevalent at the camps. In this setting, the composer chose the pedal note “D” to represent dust. As if mirroring the actual dust in the desert camp, this pedal note saturates every available octave in the ensemble throughout the movement.
3. “Trying to forget…just staring up at the sky” expresses the boredom that the detainees suffered, having been pulled out of their professions and left with only uncertainty for their future.
4. “Rumors: …the San Francisco Bay Bridge had been blown up” refers to the lack of good information in the camps that caused frenzied rumors and sometimes led to riots.
5. “The clanging of thirty-six makeshift iron bells” represents “chowtime” bells calling the camp detainees to their respective halls. The thirty-six sonorities in this movement vary from sonorous, to emotional, to obnoxious.
6. “We were close to freedom and yet far from it” depicts the detainees initially staying at the Tanforan Assembly Center located in urban San Francisco.
7. “A memorial service to honor a Japanese American soldier” depicts the irony of Japanese-Americans called upon to die for the very country that had imprisoned them.
8. “There was only the desert now” sums up the loneliness that detainees must have felt after suddenly being freed following their 3-5 years of imprisonment. Most were given only $25 and a bus ticket with which to choose a new home and start their lives over.

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Hsieh’s (b. 1963) Clarinet Quintet portrays a progression of feelings through its three movements that in some ways parallels a failing relationship. The first movement is a bittersweet romance with moments of passion but also sadness and loneliness. With each successive movement, the mood becomes more and more on edge. By the second movement, adjectives like “annoyed” and “aggressive” start to appear in the score. By the third movement, words like “angry,” “anxious,” and “disgusted” are featured, although there is still time enough for love, and some level of hope remains. Like much of Hsieh’s other music, this piece juxtaposes completely tonal, even romantic passages alongside more modern-sounding materials to create a diverse emotional landscape.

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Satie’s Gymnopédies are written in 3/4 time and are considered to be an important precursor to modern ambient music—music that today might be associated with yoga or spas. The melodies here use deliberate but mild dissonances against the harmony, producing a piquant, melancholy effect. No. 1, which is featured on this disc, includes instructions by Satie to be played “painfully.” We are grateful to our 1st violinist, Dan Flanagan, for arranging this work for our ensemble so that it could be performed in conjunction with a French Impressionist exhibit at the San Francisco Legion of Honor.

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