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Scenes from Adolescence (1987)

Scored for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano. Premiered 29 June 1987, Chamber Music Northwest. James Walker, flute; David Shifrin, clarinet; Ik-hwan Bae, violin; Warren Lash, cello; Victor Steinhardt, piano. Delos CD. Published by MMB. 30’.

Comment: My second most popular instrumental piece despite its difficulty; I felt that it marked the beginning of a new phase in my work, bringing my music much closer to jazz and rock. There have been many fine performances but I particularly enjoyed the one by members of the New World Symphony.

Review: “David Schiff’s Scenes from Adolescence, a remarkable quintet for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano received a stunning performance by members of the New World Symphony at the Lincoln theater Sunday afternoon. It is a bracing score including more than mere reminiscences of Schiff’s emotionally turbulent teenage years. Schiff, 49, is a former pupil of that reigning dean of American composers, Elliott Carter, and in a program note he says Scenes from Adolescence incorporates ‘styles of hard bop jazz and Motown rock.’ But to my ears the piece also has strong echoes of Stravinsky—reminiscences of Petrouchka in the formidable piano part which was played with sweeping brilliance by Michael Linville. Also, equally pithy reminiscences of Bartok including a Miraculous Mandarin resemblance to some clarinet episodes. There also seemed to be a tinge of klezmer flavor. Despite this and the Bartok aura Schiff’s harmonic language is highly individual, arresting and of more recent vintage.” James Roos, Miami Herald, 18 April 1994.