Yesterday, my friend Chris Cresswell had the premiere of his Nocturne No. 1 for Orchestra. This is a work originally written as a piano solo and performed by Rhimmon Simchy-Gross at the Rising Stars concert at last year’s Cazenovia Counterpoint Festival. The original work was beautiful, and between Chris’ compositional skills and Rhimmon’s talent as a performer, the audience was treated to ever-changing colors and textures.
Chris had the opportunity to re-work this piece for the Syracuse University Symphony Band, and guest conductor James Welsch did his customary masterful job at the podium. Having heard the piano solo, I was anxious to hear how Chris had orchestrated the work, and I have to say that, from the opening arpeggiated gesture to the echo of the last note, I was captivated.
All of the nuance of the original work remained, but the ensemble brought a depth to the work that the piano alone could never achieve. The close harmonies shimmered, the handoffs between percussion, winds, and brass created surprising timbral shifts, and the open spaces, particularly in the short piano solo motif, gave the audience a marvelous “oh!” moment.
If I have any complaint, it is that I wanted more. My seat-mate turned to me while we were applauding and said “We need to have an encore! They need to play it again!”