A Serenade for Six
One of the most interesting developments in recent music is the establishment world-wide, in centers of musical activity, of virtuoso chamber ensembles of mixed instrumentation committed to the performance of new musical works. The New York New Music Ensemble, for whom this piece was written, is one such ensemble. When writing for a group of virtuoso performers, it is tempting to take advantage of their skill and artistry not only as soloists, but in their ensemble playing as well. In addition, the composer can explore the virtually infinite possibilities for instrumental color offered by a mixed ensemble of winds, strings, piano and percussion. All of these attractive possibilities went into composing A Serenade for Six.
Much of the music in this piece is dance-like in character, vivacious in the outer movements, and restrained in the middle andante. The first movement begins with an alternation between two tempi, one twice as fast as the other. Eventually the faster tempo manages to establish itself for an extended period before the opening music returns. The second movement begins attacca, resolving the shimmering, unstable, final harmony of the first movement. Felicitous ritards mark the close of each section of this movement, and balance the swirling, accelerating gestures of the first. The finale flies along light-heartedly.
A Serenade for Six is a virtuoso three movement work for mixed chamber ensemble that takes advantage of the performers’ skill and artistry not only as soloists, but in their ensemble playing as well; the instrumental resources also present the opportunity to explore the virtually infinite possibilities for instrumental color and dramatic contrast offered by a mixed ensemble of winds, strings, piano and percussion.
Los Angeles Times
"Festinger's A Serenade for Six proved festive, coalescing flittering, silvery streamers with multicolored fog and dancing, rhythmic juice. The whole was complicated, yet decorative and merry, a musical garland."– Timothy Mangan
"Festinger's classical sensibilities are combined with his usual knack for invention... This is music that sparkles in many directions and on many levels… I have rarely encountered a contemporary piece that invokes such delight… A Serenade for Six is a virtuoso tour de force… as gratifying to perform as it is to listen to."– Andrew Rindfleisch
Beeri Moalem, San Francisco Classical Voice Serenade for Six
“A Serenade for Six and Peripeteia both belong to what I consider the mainstream late-20th-century “modern” style of chamber music. A clarinet frill of 13 or so quick notes followed by a forte-piano, dissonant long note; a low-register cluster; another brief shriek throwing together random quick notes, deliberately not in a key; an off-beat, clipped Bartók pizzicato or two; a ponticello murmur answered by a trill; detached tremolos passed around.... enjoy this type of music by closing your eyes, following the interesting interactions of musical shapes and colors, and sensing the abstract audio drama that unfolds.”– Beeri Moalem
American Record Guide
"Festinger's... classically-shaped, three-movement Serenade spins out kaleidoscopic but transparent contrapuntal elaborations (and, in the lovely slow movement, lyrical lines) with a lapidary craftsmanship and expressive warmth... The Serenade's delicacy and nuance are wonderfully set off by a thrilling final toccata propelled along by jazz-derived rhythmic asymmetries. This splendid work is, for me, the high spot of a very fine program."