• Joan Tower
  • Island Prelude (oboe and string quartet) (1989)

  • Associated Music Publishers Inc (World)
  • 2vn, va, vc, [opt db]
  • Oboe
  • 10 min

Programme Note

Related works:
Island Prelude (wind quintet)
Island Prelude (oboe and string orchestra)

Island Prelude was composed for the oboist Peter Bowman in 1988; Bowman’s “exceptionally lyrical playing” helped to inspire the piece, along Samuel Barber’s “wonderfully controlled Adagio for Strings.” The premiere of this piece was given on May 4, 1989; Leonard Slatkin conducted Bowman and the St. Louis Symphony.

Composer Note:
This work starts with a very slow-moving consonant landscape that gradually becomes more active and dissonant. Above this terrain, the oboe emerges as a slightly more prominent and melismic line which in turn activates the surrounding chords. Finally, the oboe releases its contained energy in two short cadenzas ruling upwards in a burst of fast notes that lead into a final, quiet coda. This last section is again very slow, sustained, high and distant.

The island [of the title] is remote, lush, tropical with stretches of white beach interspersed with thick green jungle. Above is a large, powerful, and brightly colored bird which soars and glides, spirals up, and plummets with folded wings as it dominates but lives in complete harmony with its island home.

— Joan Tower



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