“Kenneth Frazelle’s Laconic Variations is colorful, intricate, and innovative.” So notes Chattanooga Symphony music director Kayoko Dan on the eve of orchestra’s October 14 concert. Laconic Variations was commissioned by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO), who premiered the 11-minute work in September 1997, conducted by Jeffrey Kahane. At the time of the premiere, Frazelle was serving as LACO’s composer-in-residence.
Kayoko Dan continues. “I am truly excited to conduct Laconic Variations in the coming week, as this is my first experience studying Mr. Frazelle’s music…it will be a perfect opener for our chamber concert featuring Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4. Through [this] piece, I am also looking forward to highlighting many of my musicians and their skills.”
Frazelle talks about his work. “…Laconic Variations is a set of ten variations on the theme for the final variations of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony and the Eroica Variations. The work also mimics the scoring of the Eroica. I have compressed and spliced the bass line and the dance-like melody of the original theme in a polytonal and discombobulated manner. It is like a collage that is torn and compressed, though everything that happens should be pretty clear to the listener. There is a chain-link effect from one variation to the next; each variation opens up harmonically or motivically to the following one. Most of the variations feature a solo or soli pairing. The title is a pun on LACO, the piece’s commissioner.”