Karel Reiner- Hovory

Karel Reiner (1910-1979) was a respected composer of ultra modern music in prewar Czechoslovakia, initially studying law and simultaneously composition with Alois Haba. His constructivist compositions, stemming from mathematical formulations, were performed througout Europe prior to World War II. Unable to escape when his country was invaded by the Nazis, he was an internee at Terezin, Dachau, and Auschwitz, and at the end of the war he was sent on one of the infamous death marches. After his liberation, Reiner's compositions took a more traditional turn, and by the mid 1950s he resumed his modern prewar compositional style. In the last decade of his life he arrived at a synthesis of his compostional methods he had used up to that time. Reiner was subsequently decorated by the Czechoslovakian government for his artistic accomplishments and was a central figure in the Czech contemporary music scene. His catalogue of works is long and impressive including operas, symphonic works, concerti, chamber music, and songs. His two compositions for saxophones include the Due Skladby (Two Pieces) (1967) for alto saxophone and piano, and Hovory (Talks).

Reiner composed Hovory after attending a Raschèr Saxophone Quartet concert given for the composers guild in Prague. On the occasion of that concert, Linda Bangs, the quartet's baritone saxophonist at the time, asked the composer for a piece for solo baritone saxophone. Hovory is the result of that meeting. He chose the flute as the other instrument for the duo because he thought the two instruments would compliment each other. In a letter to Ms. Bangs, the composer wrote that she should "use her musical fantasy in determining which passages should be played with a straight tone and which with a more expressive vibrato, always complimenting the flute part, which is sometimes very pointed, as in the beginning, or sometimes very gentle, as with the tremolo passages. Do not fear either the swinging dance-like rhythms or the romantic melodic expression. Your part sounds to me as though it lies somewhere between the bass clarinet and the bassoon, sometimes sounding more like the one and sometimes more like the other, but always with a baritone flavor."

The first performance of Hovory took place at the Crane School of Music, the State University of New York at Potsdam, on October 4, 1979. It has recently been recorded by Ms. Bangs on the Coronet CD label.

Lee Patrick

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