Gwyneth Walker

Review of "The Rose, the Briar, and the Bicycle" (2002) for SATB Chorus, Oboe, and Piano

by Thomas R. Vozzella, The Choral Journal

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Read notes for The Rose, the Briar, and the Bicycle (2002) for SATB chorus, oboe, and piano

Those who yearn for a "simpler time" will be drawn to this three movement work. Scored for Chorus, Oboe, and Piano, it is dedicated to oboist Cynthia Green Libby and the Southwest Missouri State University Concert Chorale. 1) "The Rose and the Briar" is based on the ballad of "Barbara Allen." 2) "Dinner for the Family" is a fanciful take on the hunting habits of the fox, sly man or wild beast? 3) "A Two-Seater", bicycle built for two is alive with the sounds of Barbershop/Hair Salon quartet feel. Interludes between movements provide for smooth and colorful transitions. This work is similar to Rachmaninoff's "Three Russian Folk Songs," however, it is truly American and does not require a full-orchestra, making it an extremely useful work for years to come.

Each movement and interlude is intertwined with realisms of rolling bicycle wheels, the chase, quacking and squawking, ringing bells, the prick of death, and loss of love. The oboe plays a most vital role in the creation of the above-mentioned imagines. In many works, the solo instrument can be omitted. To do so in this work would rob the performers and audience of an authentic performance. The unity of chorus, piano, and oboe is a perfect marriage of text and music. Since there is some divisi, the need for independence of the chorus from the accompaniment, and the lush sonorities of all the forces make it an advanced high school or college level work. ....

The score is very clear; dynamics and other expressive directives are easily understood. An able oboist and pianist are required. ...

From The Choral Journal, October 2004