Trythall, Richard- Bolero, for percussion quartet (Digital Download)

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Bolero, for percussion quartet includes a score and four parts. 

Print size: Legal (8.5 x 14")

Review from Percussive Notes (2022):

Originally written in 1979, “Bolero” by Richard Trythall is based on the bolero dance and tradition of Spain. Percussionists will immediately recognize the source material from the famous snare drum excerpt that is used as the main theme for this work. 

Utilizing four players, each with large multi-percussion setups, the piece is meant to be performed as an extremely gradual accelerando. As with the dynamics of the snare drum excerpt, the piece starts exceedingly quiet, in this case with performers beginning the piece using only their fingers. Trythall’s work builds much quicker dynamically, and the dynamic variety and range are one of the strengths of this work. Players’ lines are constantly being interwoven with each other using dynamic contrast to allow one line to stand out over another before disappearing to let another line come into the foreground. 

While the dominant texture of the work is membranophones, the composer augments this with smart use of different types of drums (most notably bongos against toms and bass drum), as well as woodblocks, tambourines, and the use of stick clicks. All these lead to just enough variety that the piece rarely feels like it’s too much of one color over its entire 12 minutes. The combination of dynamic contract, textural shifts, and metric ambiguity keep the piece fresh throughout. 

Performers will certainly be challenged by the polymetric nature of the work. While in the first seven bars the meter changes every measure, it is when the composer begins layering different meters over one another that performers will be challenged to stay together. Mature players with a solid sense of time as well as dynamic contrast will find this to be a challenging and engaging piece, working well on a university-level percussion ensemble concert or recital. 

—Brian Nozny