Boston Fancies is a string of seven miniatures, played without pause and lasting together about 15 minutes. All the movements are based at least partly on a 12-note theme announced at the outset (though there is no classical serial technique).
The seven movements comprise two interlocking series, titled Ritornelli and Fancies. The ritornelli, all in fast tempo, serve as introduction, linking interludes, and coda; but, unlike their Baroque namesake, they avoid literal repetition in favor of a thorough recomposing of the materials on each recurrence.
The "fancies," all slow, are so-called both because they unfold in free, capricious forms, with none of the hard edges of the ritornelli, and because they give scope for soloistic elaboration. In contrast to the lean, unanimous manner of the fast movements, the fancies focus more intimately on subgroups of the ensemble: strings in the First Fancy, percussion (i.e., marimba and piano) in the Second, flute and clarinet in the Third.
The work was commissioned by the Boston Musica Viva with support from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities. Richard Pittman conducted the Boston Musica Viva in the first performance on November 8 1985, in Cambridge.
- Steven Stucky