"Michael Ippolito’s Nocturne for Orchestra was inspired by Joan Miro’s painting of the same name. The composer wrote the work in 2010 for flute, violin and piano, orchestrating it the following year.
In his program note, Ippolito says he was inspired not just by the languid evening atmosphere suggested by the title but by the more wild and unhinged aspects reflected in Bartok’s “night music” and Miro’s painting.
Ippolito’s Nocturne packs a lot into just ten minutes, beginning in a relaxed pastoral vein with two flutes warbling against tense pedal points in the strings. The music’s flowing, Impressionistic style leads to plaintive piano notes from a distance, as if a hazy nostalgic memory.
The pace accelerates and the music becomes more sharply rhythmic and aggressive with a jagged motif for trombones, which builds to a resounding climax. The tempo slows again and the music quietens with a gentle melody for solo violin before the sound ebbs away to nothing.
Nocturne is scored for a large orchestra, and the 30-year-old Tampa native—currently teaching at Texas State University—writes with confidence and great skill for vast forces. De Waart and the CSO gave Ippolito’s work a fine local premiere, and the delighted young composer took the stage to share in the applause."
- The Chicago Classical Voice
The concert began with a vibrantly orchestrated tone-picture titled “Nocturne,” composed by the young Florida native Michael Ippolito. On his website, the composer cites a 1940 painting of the same name by Joan Miró – with their “fantastical figures and swirling lines” – as the inspiration for “Nocturne.”
Ippolito also acknowledges obeisance within the work to Debussy, Bartók and Chopin. All of that is quite evident in a 10-minute piece fashioned with impressive flair from a very conservative harmonic palette. De Waart and the CSO gave Ippolito’s music a colorful go, and the composer was present to share in an appreciative ovation.
- Chicago on the Aisle
"Inspired by the earthy humor of the Middle Ages, Mr. Ippolito’s “Feast of Fools” is structured in three movements, the first based on the cheeky marginalia found in some monks’ manuscripts, the second on the oxymorons of a Gilles Binchois song (“Sad Pleasure”) and the third on drinking songs of the period.
The polished orchestration — Mr. Ippolito is very much the student of his Juilliard teacher John Corigliano — glitters, from big-shoulders brass to eerily floating strings. In the second movement, the harpist (here, the excellent Katherine Siochi), as a modern echo of the lute, plucks out Binchois’s sinuous melody. This leads to the strings and the flute handing a genially twittering melody back and forth.
The third movement begins with rising phrases, as if the orchestra were awakening, before the dance begins, tipsily uncertain of its meter and increasingly lively before growing frantic by the end."
- The New York Times
"With its simmering, Stravinksyesque discordance, Michael Ippolito’s moody score for string quartet is a counterpart to the minimalist choreography."
- Wall Street Journal (Speakeasy Arts Blog)
"The concert opened with Michael Ippolito's "Nocturne, for Orchestra," with the composer on hand to take a bow.
The piece is broader than the soft, hazy passages one usually expects from a nocturne. From its sighing, contemplative opening bars, it expands into agitated, colorful statements that demand attention, before thinning out to gentle violin and flute lines as it ends.
Part of the piece's significant fascination lies in the broad spectrum of colors and textures it contains. De Waart and the orchestra gave it a focused, decisive performance, full of context and meaning."
- The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Nocturne for Orchestra by 28- year-old Michael Ippolito is an attractive, colorful, innovative work that conjures both whimsical dreaminess and a near-nightmare wild ride. Here is a young composer who works with the traditional orchestra in new ways and still retains audience appeal."
"De Waart opened the program with the Midwest premiere of Michael Ippolito’s “Nocturne” for orchestra. The 28-year-old composer writes in his notes that he was inspired by Joan Miro’s 1940 painting of the same name, and the music matches the painting it its dreamy delicacy. There’s a mood of gentle settling in the first part of the piece, with quiet glissandi in the strings and fluttering woodwind figures. The low strings play a steady walking bass figure as percussion and harp color the upper register. It crescendos into brass bell tones, and a rumbling that gives way to big majestic chords. And it eventually quiets with a playful dialogue between solo violin and the flute (which quotes a figure from one of Chopin’s Nocturnes), then fades out to a whisper of echo-ey string sonorities."
"They gave composer Michael Ippolito a warm welcome, too, after his Nocturne for Orchestra. Ippolito, a doctoral candidate at Juilliard, composed this piece for flute, violin and piano in 2010 and orchestrated it in 2011. Ippolito states in his notes that Miro's Nocturne, with its charged, mysterious atmosphere and whimsical lines and forms, inspired him initially. But that prompted a broader interest in artistic things nocturnal, from Bartok's night music to nocturnes by Debussy, Chopin and Field.
You can hear all of that -- not to mention the influence of John Corigliano, his principal teacher -- in this beautiful 10-minute piece. The long opening section lives very much in the sound world of Debussy, even as it embodies Miro in sound. Swirling figures in harp and piano, snaky lines in the strings and widely disjunct -- almost hocketing -- lines in the woodwinds glide and dart like so many fish trained in counterpoint.
They swim through low drones in the bass instruments until the brasses break into an antic, staccato, shifting-meter bit that reminded me of the "Shrovetide Fair" in Stravinsky's Petrouchka. Ippolito's middle section climaxes grandly as it brings back some of the opening material. But before we go home again, takes us on a side trip into some charmingly surreal and intimate glosses on Chopin for solo violin and a pair of cellos. De Waart and the MSO gave Ippolito a commanding, committed reading with a lot of nuance in the exposed solos, especially in Frank Almond's reading of the melting Chopin."
- Tom Strini (striniwrites.blogspot.com)
"Michael Ippolito's quirky "Nocturne" created a rarefied atmosphere. Precision by Orchestra players prevented blurring of his lilting, overlapping musical lines in this somewhat too-resonant venue. Imaginative, lively forays ventured far from the traditional sense of a nocturne, but the work's final, slightly skewed Chopin quote brought the mood to one of restful repose.
Once again, Marin Alsop and the Festival Orchestra have presented an astounding variety of fresh orchestral works, played with the utmost musicianship."
- Santa Cruz Sentinel
"Michael Ippolito’s concise “Nocturne” after a Miró canvas was exuberant, effusive tone- painting, bursting with beautiful, sensual sounds, whether on alluring flute runs, or hitting the highest and lowest notes of the compass."
"The concert began with Michael Ippolito’s Nocturne for flute (Sue-Ellen Hershman-Tcherepnin), violin (Gabriela Diaz), and piano (Yukiko Sekino). From its initial chromatic rise and fall to its sparkling conclusion, his Nocturne traversed the various moods of night, from tranquility touched by dark dissonance to a scurrying, striving activity, accented by trills, and back to a heavy melancholy."
- The Boston Musical Intelligencer
"First up was Michael Ippolito’s “Vivaldi’s Bicycle,” Concerto for Cello and Baroque Orchestra, played exquisitely by cellist Dane Johansen, an Alaska native.
Ippolito said he tried to capture impressions of Vivaldi’s music as “wild and irregular” by bringing his spinning lines and sense of drama into his music, and he was successful. The first movement even gave a sense of bumps in the road.
Johansen had ample assignment for displaying his musicality, particularly in a plaintive mini-cadenza in the second movement."
- The Saratogan (Saratoga Springs, NY)