in "Percussive Notes"
The Journal of the Percussive Arts Society
the year 2000 a timpani wave was started by Jim Brown, Principal Timpanist
of the Savannah Symphony Orchestra and composer Russell Peck. I am speaking
of "Harmonic Rhythm," a concerto for timpani and orchestra
performed by 39 orchestras.
concerto opens with a crescendoed low-D roll, which leads into a massive
statement by the orchestra, setting the stage for what is to follow
- much like a curtain opening for a play. There are four sections to
the composition: Section I is melodic and centers around the development
of the melodic material. Section II is quite rhythmic and climaxes in
a technical display of three-mallet playing. Section III is slow and
uses such effects as dead strokes, brushes and wood mallets. Section
IV returns to a more rapid rhythmic display with a brief harmonic quasi
cadenza that leads to a dramatic ending.
concerto is written for four standard pedal drums plus a piccolo drum
that may be the hand-tuned type. Besides the orchestration there is
a piano reduction that would be perfect for a percussion recital.
Rhythm" represents not only the rhythmic and dynamic qualities
of timpani but also their melodic qualities. Peck understands the instrument
both for its potential and its limits. I can't help but think that Jim
Brown helped a bit here. From the opening roll to the thundering ending,
Peck challenges the player musically and technically and has composed
a concerto with rewards for the performer and audience.
Reprinted by permission
of the Percussive Arts Society, Inc., 701 NW Ferris Ave., Lawton, OK