Polar NightPolar Night
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Polar Night

for percussion quartet
Level: Medium
Duration: 6:30
Personnel: 4 players
State Lists: Missouri | Florida
Release Date: 2023
Product ID : TSPCE23-009
Price: $40.00
Item #: TSPCE23-009

Formats Available:


Description

Polar Night by Erik Texter is a medium-level percussion quartet beaming with unique colors and musical textures. The piece draws inspiration from the world's northernmost settlement, Longyearbyen, Norway, which is known for its views of the beautiful northern lights and long polar nights. Throughout the piece, Texter emulates the stark and frozen landscape through icy and shimmering vibraphone textures, earthy tuned wooden slats, and warm marimba passages.

The piece begins with delicate and fluttering vibraphone textures performed with cardboard dowels and later transitions to bows for increased sustain. Texter then infuses tuned wooden slats and the marimba slowly before a modern groove section takes over the piece. The work closes with a reprise of the opening vibraphone played with cardboard dowel texture.

Polar Night requires one 5-octave marimba and a 4-octave vibraphone, if available.

Polar Night ships as a printed, professionally bound score and includes individual parts in PDF format for printing or tablet viewing.

Instrumentation

2 vibraphones

Marimba (5-octave)

Tuned wooden slats (G3, Ab3, C4, F4, G4, Ab4)

Kick drum

Suspended cymbals (1 or 2)

Reviews

At just over six minutes, “Polar Night” could serve as a solid program opener for an advanced undergraduate to professional percussion quartet. The composer states the piece “explores musical textures inspired by the world’s northernmost settlement, Longyearbyen, Norway...known for its views of the beautiful northern lights and polar nights, in which it is nighttime for over 24 hours.” This inspiration is heard in the combining of both traditional and non-traditional instruments and striking implements.

Set in an A-B-A form, the outer sections are marked by both vibraphone players’ use of cardboard dowels on the instrument bars. These dowels are the cardboard inserts that often accompany wire coat hangers, and create an articulation that is uniquely thick and cloudy against the natural resonance of the pedaled figures. Here, both players execute one-measure notated rubato figures in unison. While this might be tricky at first, the rhythms are straight sixteenth notes in 4/4 that accelerando and deccelerando at the half note, and should become intuitive with a little practice.

After a brief transition featuring antiphonal bowed notes on the vibraphones, the middle section is set at a constant tempo of 108 to 120 bpm and features interlocking quarter-, eighth-, and sixteenth-note rhythms. The most interesting timbral aspect of this section is the interplay between the tuned wooden slats and marimba — creating a new “Frankenstein” wooden sound. While energetic and groove-oriented, this section is intelligently scored for ensemble cohesion, as the composer keeps a quarter-note pulse going (if only subtly at times) in at least one of the parts throughout. The marimba part utilizes repetitive four-mallet permutations, and the second vibraphone’s four-mallet writing is limited to spacious chords and similar permutations.

“Polar Night” is sonically pleasing, and the outer sections certainly convey the “icyness” and desolation inherent in the piece’s inspiration. I would’ve liked to see the middle section developed further, especially given the unique timbral combinations used; it seemed to end too soon. Regardless, I am confident this piece will be enjoyed both by players and audience members, making it a fun experience for student and professional players alike.

—Jason Baker
Percussive Notes
Vol. 61, No. 4, August 2023

Description

Polar Night by Erik Texter is a medium-level percussion quartet beaming with unique colors and musical textures. The piece draws inspiration from the world's northernmost settlement, Longyearbyen, Norway, which is known for its views of the beautiful northern lights and long polar nights. Throughout the piece, Texter emulates the stark and frozen landscape through icy and shimmering vibraphone textures, earthy tuned wooden slats, and warm marimba passages.

The piece begins with delicate and fluttering vibraphone textures performed with cardboard dowels and later transitions to bows for increased sustain. Texter then infuses tuned wooden slats and the marimba slowly before a modern groove section takes over the piece. The work closes with a reprise of the opening vibraphone played with cardboard dowel texture.

Polar Night requires one 5-octave marimba and a 4-octave vibraphone, if available.

Polar Night ships as a printed, professionally bound score and includes individual parts in PDF format for printing or tablet viewing.

Instrumentation

2 vibraphones

Marimba (5-octave)

Tuned wooden slats (G3, Ab3, C4, F4, G4, Ab4)

Kick drum

Suspended cymbals (1 or 2)

Reviews

At just over six minutes, “Polar Night” could serve as a solid program opener for an advanced undergraduate to professional percussion quartet. The composer states the piece “explores musical textures inspired by the world’s northernmost settlement, Longyearbyen, Norway...known for its views of the beautiful northern lights and polar nights, in which it is nighttime for over 24 hours.” This inspiration is heard in the combining of both traditional and non-traditional instruments and striking implements.

Set in an A-B-A form, the outer sections are marked by both vibraphone players’ use of cardboard dowels on the instrument bars. These dowels are the cardboard inserts that often accompany wire coat hangers, and create an articulation that is uniquely thick and cloudy against the natural resonance of the pedaled figures. Here, both players execute one-measure notated rubato figures in unison. While this might be tricky at first, the rhythms are straight sixteenth notes in 4/4 that accelerando and deccelerando at the half note, and should become intuitive with a little practice.

After a brief transition featuring antiphonal bowed notes on the vibraphones, the middle section is set at a constant tempo of 108 to 120 bpm and features interlocking quarter-, eighth-, and sixteenth-note rhythms. The most interesting timbral aspect of this section is the interplay between the tuned wooden slats and marimba — creating a new “Frankenstein” wooden sound. While energetic and groove-oriented, this section is intelligently scored for ensemble cohesion, as the composer keeps a quarter-note pulse going (if only subtly at times) in at least one of the parts throughout. The marimba part utilizes repetitive four-mallet permutations, and the second vibraphone’s four-mallet writing is limited to spacious chords and similar permutations.

“Polar Night” is sonically pleasing, and the outer sections certainly convey the “icyness” and desolation inherent in the piece’s inspiration. I would’ve liked to see the middle section developed further, especially given the unique timbral combinations used; it seemed to end too soon. Regardless, I am confident this piece will be enjoyed both by players and audience members, making it a fun experience for student and professional players alike.

—Jason Baker
Percussive Notes
Vol. 61, No. 4, August 2023


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