Adam Gorb - Dances from Crete

Notes from Jungfrau Music Festival Conducting Class 2005

Tim Reynish - revised October 2008

It is important with this piece, as with Adam's Yiddish Dances, not to be too clean about ensemble and intonation. A certain amount of roughness and passion is essential.


In the opening statement, I ask the players to put the subsidiary notes on the beat as in a French Overture - the triplet 16th in measure 2, the 32nds in measure 3. I like a little rubato in 4, held at the beginning and falling forward. In the fast movement, keep the percussion ff sostenuto and then a steep late diminuendo to a light forte ma accompagnato.


I think that the main theme at 1 needs to be phrased carefully since for me it consists of a subsidiary phrase of 1 1/2 measures, with a second phrase starting on beat 3 of bar 2 leading through the repeated D with more urgency, climaxing either on the second beat of bar 3 or the triplet or the 1st beat of 4th bar - it does not matter where as long as there is this forward movement in each version, especially through the repeated notes. Always insist on the septuplet in measure 15 being very strongly sung.

16 show the syncopation clearly and go through the flattened A in 17

BALANCE at 2 is hard, brass are only forte and we need to hear the oboe and clarinet colour as well as the other interjections - Forte is a light dynamic! It is very easy for this writing to become noisy and for all of the detail to be lost, but ensure that muted or fluttertongue effects are clear, eg harmon mutes in trombones 7 before Fig 5 might be a real snarl. Leave crescendi late in bars 21/22 - 37/39

Invite the players to release all tied and dotted notes, eg clarinet 42 - 43 - 46 - 47

This development section is tricky in getting the 16ths especially the triplet 16ths to really sound, and for the woodwind not to hurry and the brass not to be late - figure 6 tuba for instance.

Figure 8 onwards is difficult - take care of contrabassoon, tuba, double bass and bass drum, and show the 4 bar phrases clearly. The saxophones must be very rhythmical without sounding it, the crescendo up to and after 10 controlled - saxophones at 10 are forte accompagnato, high wind forte also accompagnato and as they are so high it might be better to think of mezzo forte. The fortissimo from 6 after 10 must be poco - Adam will want it very loud but we must not anticipate. At 11 I would ask tutti brass to be accompagnato, heavier 2 before 12, heaviest 3rd and 4th of 12, and if this all goes forward, let it go - never stand in the way of a natural accelerando in Eastern European folk-influenced music, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Gorb.


Speed - I think 280 is ambitious, and my colleague Eric Hinton points out that I am about 240 - sorry Adam - in my recording. Take a speed that is natural and clear.

Resist the temptation to BEAT TIME CLEARLY - this is hard unless you are a Cretan peasant, but it must look and sound very easy. It will take time for them to do it easily, so just play and play and don't worry them. I usually do not bother to rehearse the opening to start with until I have played Figure 19 - 27 quite a few times. There the brass and percussion will help the feel of the 5/8, and when everyone is comfortable, you can concentrate on the start and the very hard coda from 27 - 32, hard because each entry is a little different, very exposed.

When it is going well, just get each phrased to have a little crescendo, especially on the long notes from 13 - 14, at 14 perhaps poco diminuendo with the second phrase going through to 15. Make sure also that the repeated notes are articulated with clarity.

Technically, this is a good exercise in the difference between the simple and compound beat, using a little more space on the 3/8 and less on the 2/8, with the rebound controlled and out to the side


The 2/4 should then be almost without any rebound, very militaristic.

FIG 15 is hard, to get the bagpipe quality and also to play rhythmically with this articulation

16 - 17 lots of the muted trumpet late crescendo

I usually begin the molto rit with the Eb clarinet at 32


Beat 7 but feel it in three, as a duple-duple-triple bar with subdivision rather than beats. Let the cor anglais and bass clarinet really sing out espressivo, leaning especially on the "blue" flat notes. The problem in reading is that players forget the accidentals - don't worry them and waste time but if the problem persists, do ask them to pencil in accidentals to remind themselves.

4 before 37 and 4 before 39 ask if there is anyone who cannot play quieter - it is pianissimo possible.

Encourage all the soloists to play with freedom and rubato within the beat, sempre espressivo

39 - 40 notes not quite touching in the accompanying chords

From 40 control the dynamics carefully, high woodwind accompagnato, also the chords, get a good balance between saxophones and trombones and don't let the crescendi come too soon.

Ask the horns to rip the glissandi before 42 and at 42 ask the trumpets and trombones to put the bells up soloistically.Bar before 43 niente- as the whole orchestra plunges into the sea at the end of that hot tramp through the Samarian Gorge.

43 Depending on the acoustic, you may need to wait a little for the sound to clear before the offstage starts

Bridge into Syrtaki at 44 - I think this is a little short so I give a bit more time on the trills and the piccolo fanfares


Long quarter notes, trumpets only forte (strange but true - but in my experience no red-blooded trumpet section will take it down to less than molto forte/fortissimo) make sure 2nd and 3rd are strong, maybe use a little vibrato and try to make sure that the dotted rhythm does not become a triplet, and yet is not too clipped.Horns only forte but wind crescendo and scale with quite zip. I invite the onstage brass section to stand up to welcome in the two wandering trumpets, and sometimes a horn section will take the initiative and stand up also.

6 before 48 do not "beat" the accelerando, just let it happen naturally by encouraging each note to be shorter with smaller and smaller gestures.

Keep this Presto very light until just before 52 and then increase the speed a little

Don't worry the soloists; rehearse it quite slowly once or twice so that they can tackle the dynamics as well as notes, and make sure that you give the Eb player around 55 a few chances just to get confident.

From 56 usual thing about the build-up, the later you leave it the more effective it is, but invite the trumpets 6 before 57 to put their bells up

In the long accelerando 61 is hard and will repay rehearsal, tuba and double bass are important to give the pulse. Whatever happens, it must not get too loud or too fast if you are to make the ending really effective.

Plate smashing should be done very theatrically, probably thrown into a large box in which there are already some broken plates. Theatre staff hates this effect.

Have a lot of fun.