Bromeliad: The Epic (extended version) for Solo Horn and String Orchestra or Piano Reduction by Graeme Wright Denniss.
Bromeliad: The Epic (extended version) for Solo Horn and String Orchestra or Piano Reduction by Graeme Wright Denniss. DComposition; dcomposition.com. 2011, revised 2017. Horn and piano, A$25. Horn and string orchestra, price on request.
This programmatic work, inspired by Strauss's Ein Heldenleben, depicts the epic saga of an ancient hero. It is a revision and expansion of the prior version of Bromeliad; some of the composition's material is taken from the composer's Suite Botanica (2010).
This new version of Bromeliad is in a single movement with a three-part structure. In the first section, the soloist plays hunting calls with some disjunct intervals and abrupt tonal shifts, representing the hero's urgent summons to battle. The string orchestra accompaniment adds significantly to the background texture.
The second section begins as a simple song, much calmer and more tonal than the opening, representing moments of sadness as the hero heads off to war. As tension builds, harmonies shift and the melody becomes increasingly dramatic until the hornist breaks away for a quick cadenza, representing the hero departing for battle.
After the cadenza, the accompaniment begins a harsh march overlaid with horn calls that become increasingly obsessive. Musically, this section is reminiscent of the final movement of Tomasi's horn concerto, and represents the hero on the battlefield. Themes build and finally sweep into the recapitulation. After a dramatic climax on c"', Bromeliad rapidly concludes with a final statement of the piece's opening theme. The hero emerges wounded but victorious from the battle and returns home.
This 12.5-minute work is fairly straight-forward technically, using a range from g to c"' (ossia to bb") with a tessitura mostly in the upper treble clef staff. It is clear that the composer, former third horn in the Melbourne Symphony, worked to write a comfortable solo part for the collegiate or professional player. This piece would be an interesting addition to a recital, especially if played alongside other works that reference horn calls and our instrument's historical tradition. Lauren Hunt