Fantasy on Motives of Burt Bacharach
About this work:
Commissioned by Paganiniana Publications, which world premiered it in 1979 in NJ, Paul Paradise conducting a professional string orchestra. The piece was recorded by the Musical Heritage Society (MHS #4223) in 1980, with Frederick Storfer conducting the Garden State Chamber Orchestra. In the Fanfare review (Jan-Feb 1981), the reviewer called Townsend's music "witty, unpretentious, and candid." He found the Bacharach fantasy a "deliciously pleasurable little morsel," and that "as far as the listener is concerned the satisfactions occur as the Paganini 24th Caprice is played against 'Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head'." The piece is in three sections: a slow introduction; a "serenade" (inspired by the famous Serenade in Haydn's String Quartet, op. 3, n. 5); and a fugue. The piece was performed in Manhattan in mid-February 1981 at the Abraham Goodman House (now Merkin Hall), with the Garden State Chamber Orchestra, Frederick Storfer conducting.
Although Bernard Holland likened the piece to "one of those musical parlor games in which popular tunes filter their way through different traditional styles" (NYTimes 2/15/81), audiences in all decades have uniformly loved the witty work. (See also the string quintet version of this piece in my list of compositions.)
Version: string orchestra version
Year composed: 1979
Ensemble type: Orchestra:String Orchestra
Instrumentation: 1 Strings (General)
Instrumentation notes: May substitute string quintet for string orchestra.