After Blue was commissioned by the Paul Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University, for the New Millennium Ensemble. My conception was to use the diverse instrumental resources of the ensemble to create a kaleidoscopic panorama of strongly etched lines of constantly shifting vibrant color. The instruments are combined and recombined in myriad ways, sometimes featuring a soloist, other times tossing melodic fragments back and forth in spirited interplay. The music falls into three large sections. The thematically related outer sections, marked respectively allegro con brio and allegro capriccioso, are bright and extroverted, though not without moments of lyricism. In the centerpiece, marked adagio fantastico, the mood and use of instrumental color become dramatic and atmospheric. After Blue is related stylistically to one of my earlier compositions, A Serenade for Six, for which it is intended as a companion piece.
LA Times Review, March 31, 1999
"... on a fairly riveting note, Richard Festinger's "After Blue" is a cleverly designed showcase for the full sextet, full of hairpin turns and intricate linear puzzle-work. In a language that alternately recalls Elliott Carter and Frank Zappa...."– Josef Woodard
Journal of the Society for American Music Bridge CD
"The result is magical, one of those special moments in contemporary composition where the sound itself supersedes syntax and the music transcends any semantic aspirations we may have for it. In sum, this CD presents an enjoyable program of intellectually and viscerally compelling music that spans much of the career of a living American composer who deserves to be better known."– Josh Levine
Karen Moorman, Classical Voice of North Carolina, 6/11/08
“Move over Haydn! Richard Festinger, composer and distinguished Professor of Music Composition at San Francisco State University, presents a recording of five chamber works… featuring the Naumburg award-winning New Millennium Ensemble … [Festinger] approaches composition with the intellectual curiosity of an academic, the heart of a romantic, and the depth of one totally immersed in the art… is neatly structured and rich in counterpoint and rhythmic intricacy… [Variations for Piano] culls the intricacy of Liszt's Les Préludes and the spaciousness of Webern's piano works… perfectly executed, well-crafted music…. Construction en metal et bois for piano and percussion pushes the boundaries of chamber music… Here Festinger gives us his best and the demanding challenges are met with equal passion. Margaret Kampmeier and John Ferrari, like two fighter pilots, perform at lightning speed and with the intensity of a tarantella…. Festinger's music, like a Mark Rothko painting, is beautiful, even on the surface. And discovering what's beneath makes it rewarding.”– Karen Moorman